“I am not here to think, but to be, feel, live!” Johann von Herder
The other day we found a letter from Aunt Mabel. I thought I’d send it on to you. Humor will have to sit in the back of the bus today.
Times are complicated now that the world is inter-connected. But it was not always so. There was a time when things were simple, decisions easier to make, repercussions predictable. Aunt Mabel lived through these times and into the modern times. Through it all she maintained a resilient spirit in spite of her life’s own traumas.
Her world grew smaller. Sufficient even in her late 80’s, she lived alone, having lost a husband and a son. Her daughter and two grandchildren were the extent of her life’s range of motion. The familiar neighborhood she once knew had changed, not necessarily for the better. Her house was small and obsolete by today’s standards. The possibility of refinance would have been impossible for her!
Like others her age, the house was cluttered with remnants of the past, hallways littered with magazines and newspapers stacked floor to ceiling. Her living quarters consisted of a small living room, bathroom and kitchen. Age has problems with discarding the superfluous in fear that it may again be essential. We know better, but they don’t. Life moves on.
She visited us on the island several years ago. I think the highlights of her trip were the Visitor’s Trolley, the light house and the history of the coast. She was especially amazed at the massive oaks. She drove away smiling, as I recall. We smiled with her.
We received this letter on February 24, 2010. Like other elderly, the script is very small, which is probably metaphorical in some sense. It is included in its original content:
“My dear children,
It has been so long since I have heard from you!!! I want you to write me when you can, and tell me all you have been doing.
I still sleep in my recliner every night with all my clothes and shoes on.
When I changed from my old termite company to Terminex, a woman came to my house from Center Point with a big stepladder. She put up two bigger smoke alarms. One over the door that goes to my bathroom, and another over the door into my kitchen.
She also brought a big thing that sits next to my telephone at the end of my living room couch.
She said it was so if my house got on fire, the smoke alarms would go off and the nearest fire station would be notified and send a fire truck to my house at once.
Isn’t that amazing?
Lots of love to you always,
The letter was written on inexpensive note paper with a rose imprinted at the top. Frugality never dies with the aged, it seems. Nor does their penchant for life and amazement. In many ways they are like children, hearing the secret whisper of life speaking to them in the small, simple things they can comprehend. Our generation seems to have lost this innate sense of astonishment in the minutiae.
Aunt Mabel died in 2012, but her letter to us continues to have significance. Yes, her family has moved on. But her memory remains, irrepressible in her zest for life. In spite of the outward appearance of old age, inside her was an indomitable spirit for life.
Isn’t that amazing?