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The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
15 September 2014
I wrote this several years ago and wish it were still true today: "...here is a woman who, at 88, still volunteers for the Hospice of Marin thrift shop (which she has been doing for some 20 years or so), still drops what she's doing to help a friend or a family member in trouble, is the person that everybody takes their troubles to.
She is slowing down a little now, but she still does more in a week than I do in a month. She lights up any room she walks into. She knows how to talk to people, to make them feel special. She is a gracious hostess who still hosts large dinner parties from time to time, always with beautiful table settings and food perfectly prepared. Plants positively light up under her care. More than one dying plant has burst into luxuriant bloom thanks to her.
She is always impeccably dressed, coifed and made-up, but is neither vain nor a spendthrift--she gets all of her clothes and shoes at the thrift shop where she volunteers."
...I'd be happy if only one of those things were still true today. But at least she is still here.
* * *
We went to a memorial service this afternoon and I was very sad. Not sad because of the decedent, whom I knew slightly, but probably, after all these years, would not have been able to recognize if I passed her in the street.
It was a lovely memorial service, with memories by her family and her friends and then a lovely bunch of refreshments which kind of crept up on you so that neither Walt nor I are hungry for dinner (no cooking ... yay!)
But as I looked around me I realized that the room was filled with the people that I knew best from the time when our kids were in school, when I was in so many activities, when I had friends I saw regularly in town.
I still have casual friends, of course. But as I listened to the memories they had of the decedent, she had the life I always wanted to have in this town, making life-long friends with whom she was still close at the end of her life.
Book clubs. I heard about book clubs and the friendship made there today. The thing I wanted for so long. I would listen to people waxing rhapsodic about their book club and how close as friends they were and I would make a comment about how I'd "always wanted to join a book club." But nobody ever invited me, so I never got involved in the close relationships that these women formed. Now it's too late. They have a lifetime of emotional support, they know each other's inner secrets, have seen each other through triumph and tragedy. I'm still the outsider. The person they all know, but don't really know in that intimate way that close female friends bond at a certain time in their lives.
In fairness, I suspect most of these groups formed as an extension of the Farm Circle, which it seemed everyone I knew belonged to when we moved here. But Farm Circle was for people associated with the University, and we were not. Nobody ever said "oh come on anyway -- nobody cares," so I didn't.
I am finally in a book club, but I may drop out after this year. This is a huge book club with no discussion of books and just a formal presentation each month. There will never be a chance to bond with anyone, since they live in a different town. It's technically a book club, but definitely not what I hoped for.
Whenever I have an experience like today, I know it's me. It's me because I never invited people to our home because I wasn't a good housekeeper, and we had the cacophony of being a quasi International House for so long, and I was embarrassed because I was too fat. I realize I cheated myself out of what I most wanted in moving to a small town and now it's too late.
When you get to this age, you don't make new "best friends" any more. I'm so happy Charlotte is in my life, but she lives so far away and you don't just "drop around" for coffee when you are 100 miles from each other. It's a long schlep to borrow a cup of sugar.
Three different people commented today about how they wanted to learn how to use Facebook and I offered each of them my services if they wanted to have me come and show them some things. They all smiled blankly and moved on. That will never happen and they were just giving lip service to wanting to learn Facebook. I know that. It happens whenever I run into someone who is on Facebook, doesn't know how to use it and knows that I do. I don't care if you ever learn Facebook, but if you do want to learn it, I'd be delighted to work with you. But you don't. Not really. It's just a topic of conversation.
I am very embarrassed about one woman who came up to me, gushing, remembering that time when I had met at so-and-so's pool, with my grandchildren. Well, no. My grandchildren have never been here to my house and certainly not left in my care in this town. Then she went on to apologize about something she'd said, rattling on about the XYZ Foundation and how she realized later that I had founded it and she must have sounded stupid. Well, no. I never founded any foundation and didn't have a clue what she was talking about, so I must have seemed rude when I excused myself to get some lemonade. Walt told me later he heard her say "School Arts Foundation," which I was part of (though not the founder), so maybe that was what she was talking about. Anyway, our chance to have a nice conversation was cut off because I really didn't understand anything she was saying except that she had seen me with my grandchildren and I knew THAT wasn't true! I wonder who it was....?
I don't know how I felt when I left. Happy to see people again, sad that these were once potential good friends who now have their own close circle that never included me. Two different people once offered to go walking with me, many years ago, in the days when I could walk. That only happened once because...I'm fat and couldn't keep up. Neither of them ever invited me again. It might have blossomed into a friendship if I could have kept up, but I couldn't.
Jeri always gets angry with me when I
get down on myself like this. But on days like today I see what my life could
have been if I had been a housekeeper and not fat. I have no one to blame but myself
so yeah, I get down on myself occasionally.
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