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The 15-year-old Kid

Let us age with:

Grace, Humor, Courage, and Confidence

Pass this on to other seasoned women who will enjoy it.


They were in Alphonso’s overpriced office and had just finished laughing at Wiley’s latest joke when Alphonso looked up. “I have a story,” he said.

As he began, Hadley got up, went to the large credenza and picked up the coffee carafe to refill everyone’s cup.

“There was this 15-year-old grocery checkout kid,” he began with a smile. “Times were hard. This was a low-income, working-class community and the couple owning the store had a tough time making ends meet.”

He took a sip of his coffee, “A young mother of four came up to checkout, and the kid knew she was on the ‘do not cash’ list because so many of her checks had bounced. Her cart was full, and it rang up to a couple of hundred dollars. She swiped her card. Rejected. She tried three more times. Rejected.

“The owner saw what was happening and came over. The young mother apologized, said she would put the groceries back and return when she had the money. The store owner thanked her for her business, dropped four pieces of candy into one of the bags for the children, told the kid to carry the groceries to the young woman’s car and went about business as if nothing had happened.

“Ten years later that kid had a part-time job in a hospital while working his way through college. A lady was waiting for a heart transplant and recognized his name. She asked where he was from, and they discovered they were both from the same small town. The lady told him how the owners of the local grocery store in that small town had been so great. Her daughter had lost her job and her husband in the same year. She had four little kids, and the owners of that store had paid for her groceries multiple times over the years, had refused to take money to pay them back and had sent her daughter gift cards for Christmas to buy groceries and four pieces of candy for the children.”

Everything was quiet in the office. Alphonso lowered his head a little, but they could see his eyes were wet. Finally, Mary Rose McGill spoke up. “Alphonso, that’s a beautiful story.”

“Thank you,” Robbie Leary added.

Alphonso looked up. One tear slipped down his cheek. “I was that 15-year-old kid,” he said. “The store owners were my grandparents.”

Joy’s note: Remember: we are all the BOOB GIRLS. We all have Maggie Patton’s toughness, Robinson Leary’s intelligence, Hadley’s grace and poise, Mary Rose’s innocence and Marge Aaron’s Street smarts.

“I want to be with those women!”

Everything Changes: Everything Ages (Buddhist Wisdom)

A Joy Story Alphonso’s story comes from Austin, our young Executive-Director in Training who is stepping in for a few weeks here at Arboretum Village. It reminds me of:

(1) All the fantastic stories that swirl around us. Oftentimes when I’m thinking of something happening to someone or myself or Ted and me, I think of it as a story. Usually starring Glenn Close as Joy Johnson Brown. Seeing life as a story gives it a totally different perspective.

(2) How is it the small things in life turn into the big things that are always remembered.

Marv and I moved to ‘The Arboretum’ twelve years ago. He died here. Our move was a big deal and then living here in this beautiful place became a daily collection of ‘little things.’ Time passed and eighteen months after Marv died, I met Ted, whom I call my ‘current husband.’

This is my birthday week. I am 86 and that surprises me. What surprises me more is that I will have a birthday lunch this week with 12 Best Friends. How many people can say they have 12 Best Friends And every single one of them lives here.

I can walk to each apartment and never go outside. I can call anyone and everyone when I need her. And when I, like Alphonso end the story of how I met each one, and how we love each other, and what we experience as we grow old, get sick, and die in this place we love, I lower my head and a tear of gratitude rolls quietly down my cheek.

Grace Humor Courage and Confidence

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