Today's blog features another resident who stood out in my latest experience being a "youngster" in a senior's residence: "B". Since yesterday's moniker was the letter "S" - near the end of the alphabet, it only stands to reason that the next moniker should be near the beginning of the alphabet. I could have used "C" or even "D" but "B" fits perfectly because in my mind this woman epitomizes the essence of inner beauty. Beauty of the soul.
"B" came into my view in a very prosaic way. Matriarch Bear and I sat at the table with "B" and her friend during meals. The reason being: there were already four people at Matriarch's table for four so there was no room for Matriarch's little cub. The ever helpful staff was going to give Matriarch and her cub a table to ourselves but I tend to get very quiet around Matriarch and have trouble pulling her out of her shell, so I asked if there was another table we could join for that week.
That is how I came to meet "B" and her friend.
"B" must have been a beautiful woman in her youth. She is still pretty in her 91st year. Her face framed with a halo of pure white hair, reminding me of an angel. An earthly angel. Her mind alert. Her eyes gentle. Her voice soothing.
What impressed me was her attitude. Widowed in mid-life, "B" forged a new life for herself in her early 50s by becoming a home care aide with three of her friends. She continued in that work until retiring at the tender age of 85. Yep. You read right. She retired from homecare when she was 85.
Her eyes sparkle, her voice comes alive as she talks of the work she did. How she enjoyed going out and helping elderly people who were mostly confined to their homes. Doing things for them that they could not do for themselves. It fulfilled her. Gave her memories to share with others. Memories as a survivor still in recovery from PTSD et al that I needed to hear.
One day our conversation somehow turned to Pearl Harbor and she told me that she remembered exactly where she was when she heard the news. How she worked in a factory during that period of her life while waiting for her fiance to return from the war. Again she shared good memories, positive memories of the people she worked with, how they impacted her. It was as if she was going back through the decades and actually seeing these people once again, as they were when they passed through her life.
She recounted going to Pearl Harbor at some point and how actually seeing Pearl Harbor and the Arizona helped her reconcile the trauma of Pearl Harbor.
As "B" invested herself in others prior to entering the residence, "B" still invests in others. An avid knitter, she is now in a group outside the residence with other knitters. They make hats and mitts for school age children in the vicinity who don't have the money to buy them. Again, her eyes light up as she talks about this group and the various things she has knitted over the years and donated to various causes.
Just before I left, she saw me in the hallway and said that she had made some crosses the night before and had one for myself and Matriarch Bear. That shocked me. After all, "B" had only known me for a few days. Good days, yes, at least for me. How kind. How thoughtful. How generous. Apparently, she has made these crosses every year for some years around Good Friday. I thought her crosses were the traditional, simple palm crosses given out at churches on Palm Sunday. I was surprised to find that her crosses were made with ribbon. How many hours it took her to make these crosses, I don't know. All I know is the light, the gentleness, the acceptance and the love in her eyes as she gave me my cross.
I cherish this momento. Each time I lay eyes on it, I see not the object but the person who gave it to me.