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Reflections February 2013

Agelessly Yours

Old Crows And Cute Chicks

By Karen White-Walker

Bob is such an inspiration he makes you want to embrace old age, not fear it in any way. According to him, anybody under the age of 80 is nothin' but a snot-nosed, green-behind-the-ears "youngster," but in some ways those who eat and drink too much and who are afraid to laugh, act older than he is.

"By special invitation only" — this is the only way you can gain entrance on a Saturday night to a converted chicken coop owned by a 101-year-old gentleman named Bob. No smoking, swearing or hanky-panky, but you're allowed to eat, drink and gamble playing cards for nothing higher than quarters. Big Deal! You might scoff. Well, you better believe it's a big deal because the waiting list to get in is longer than those waiting for an appointment with a world-renowned sexual dysfunctional specialist.

It's not just the rustic, toasty, inviting room that ropes you in, but that snappy senior citizen who has been around since William H. Taft was president.

Bob never forgets who dealt the cards last, what trump is, or the latest racy jokes that he tells from memory. Those 35 years his junior always ask if it's their turn to deal, and they use one of those dorky hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades cubes to remind them what trump is. When telling jokes they read them off some paper with the aid of reading glasses.

Bob doesn't wear glasses.

But Bob isn't my favorite — Vi was, a young dynamo of 94 when I first met her. She never hobbled up to the food table but kept in step with whatever lively tune Bob had playing from his old- time collection. A mere 112 pounds, and lips that looked like they had been injected with collagen, only they were natural and real — like all of us should aspire to be, peeling back any pretenses that may have gotten in the way of our true selves.

I once felt compelled to ask her how she could go on after she had buried her family and almost all of her friends. "You remember the good stuff, honey, and you try and make new friends. Of course they can never replace your loved one, but you learn to cherish the new ones too."

She befriended me along with so many others, so those weren't empty words that came out of her mouth with those gorgeous lips; she actually lived what she preached.

Vi is gone now, but a big picture of her hangs on the converted chicken coop's wall as a reminder. As if we needed a reminder, she was one unforgettable chick. I used to love it when she'd name trump, but if she had a weak playing hand she'd lead out with an off suit and say kiddingly, "I gotta mess around!"

On a recent Saturday night when I was bidding and I had a weak playing hand, I came out with an off suit and teasingly echoed Vi's words, "'I gotta mess around.'"

You can't imagine what happened next. Bob leaned over, winked and loudly called out for all to hear, "I'd love to!"

I was among friends, we were all adults to say the least, and so I felt safe to voice a question that I have often wondered about centenarians.

"You mean, Bob, you still could?!"

"Don't know, but I'd sure as heck like the opportunity to try!"

Immediately my husband slid his chair so close to mine, and for once, his timing was impeccable because everybody in the room burst out laughing for he's not the funny type, and nobody has ever seen him move that fast! It was Bob who laughed the longest and the hardest — could that be one reason he's lived so long?

I believe there are others.

Like he eats small portions and never stuffs his belly like he's dining at the '”Last Supper.” Yes, he drinks, but he sips, not gulps or guzzles, so obviously there's a correlation between moderation and longevity. And he doesn't seem to agonize over trivialities, like the night the kerosene stove pipe got clogged and the fumes backed up into the room and we could have all maybe died of asphyxiation. He just opened all the windows, banged on the pipe until were all breathing clean air again, and continued playing cards as if there had been no interruptions.

Bob is such an inspiration he makes you want to embrace old age, not fear it in any way. According to him, anybody under the age of 80 is nothin' but a snot-nosed, green-behind-the-ears "youngster," but in some ways those who eat and drink too much and who are afraid to laugh, act older than he is. Sure wish you could meet him at the old chicken coop, but special invitation only, remember?

 

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