Many of you have a special place in your heart for my dear friend Annie. Many of you have asked me how is she doing because I haven't written about her in awhile.
It is not because I have not wanted to, but because it is/has been hard for me to see my friend age. And aged she has.
A friend of Annie's was visiting her the other day, before she left she pulled me aside: "Annie's age is finally catching up with her, isn't it." She said it more as a statement, as a matter of fact, rather than a question. I didn't have to answer with words, I simply nodded. A lump formed in my throat as Annie's friend continued talking about how it is a fact of life, how Annie had lived a good life. How there was little we could do... I could barely stand it. At one point I interjected, "Each of us only has the moment at hand. No matter how old or tired we are." Annie's friend didn't really agree with me. But that is another story I'd rather not get into.
Ninety four is something to cheer about. Though I must say I don't feel like cheering. Rather I have been sitting by her side, holding her hand and often watching her sleep. It has been a sweet tender joy. Bittersweet to the point that I started reflecting about our friendship instead of writing about it.
Also as I watch Annie, age I imagine my mother... who lives so far away, or I should say I live so far away. It is unbearable to think about.
A few months ago Annie's very good friend (also in her nineties,) died.
We had gone to see her a week or so before. Annie's friend was very weak. It was awfully sad as she could barely open her eyes. Though when she did, she looked at Annie with a faint smile and whispered, "My beautiful Annie." Their friendship was as ripe as any juicy plum. I felt honored to see their affection for one another: Their understanding swirled between them, heart to heart, beyond the hospital, through the olive orchards, and along the river which bleeds into the ocean.
I have thought about what it must be to grow old and see most of your friends and family (Parents, Aunts, Uncles, siblings, cousins,) go before you. Annie often says it takes courage to grow old. As I see it, courage must be stirred with desire.
Yesterday, I grabbed the sack of lace I bought at the brocante, and headed towards Annie's home. Annie was a modiste (A hat maker.) in her day.
You see lately Annie hasn't had the desire to do much of anything. She spends most her day sleeping or sitting with idle hands. When I ask her if she wants to paint, or play cards, or read, or go for a walk... she wrinkles her nose as a way to say, "No."
I plunked the sack of lace on the floor beside her. I took a handful of lace and put it on her lap. Then I grabbed some for myself and started to untangle and fold it. Annie sat up, "Where did you find this? Oh look this is a napperon (Doily.). Oh this piece is made for the edge of a bed sheet, can I have it? Oh this piece is a collerette (lace collar). You could wear this because you are young." Annie rolled and folded lace alongside of me while saying, "Oh" and "Look at this" and "Can I have this piece too?"
She was in her element. I was pleased to see a spark sizzling around her.
I took the pile of napperons placed one under her phone, another under her clock, a third under the fish bowl where Matthieu and Jeremy live, another under the candle holder by the Blessed Mother statue on her dresser.
When we folded every last piece I gave Annie a kiss good bye. Then she stood up and walked me to the door. She hadn't done that in months.
Before I left I said, "Tomorrow I am going to come over and make stuffed grape leaves." Her eyes widen as she offered, "I have almost everything you need."
Courage and desire.