A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to chat with a sweet lady named Bee. Bee was 88 years old and still lived alone at her home. We started talking about different things, such as where she lived and what she did for a living. Then the conversation got a little more personal and we talked about her husband, who had passed away about 15 years ago.
First, Bee described the way they met. WWII just ended and she was out at a bowling alley with a group of her lady friends. She explained to me that while the war was going on, there wasn't many men to chose from, so now that the war was done, there were more men out and about. While Bee was sitting down and putting her shoes on, this man came up to her and asked if it was okay if he sat next to her to put his shoes on. Her reply was, "As long as your feet don't smell!" She told me that she knew it was just an excuse to talk to her, since there were a lot of other chairs around that he could have used. When she told me this story, I could see her eyes light up and she laughed and smiled like it had happened yesterday. They dated for a couple months and decided to get married. They were married for over 50 years.
Bee explained to me that there was a terrible accident at her husband's work. He was walking and slipped on some water that had leaked through the roof. He was hospitalized and had a lot of problems with his walking. She thought he was going to be paralyzed, but he made it through and was able to get around well with a walker. So they moved into an apartment that was just for seniors and things were going pretty well, until one day, they were doing the dishes together and Bee's husband lost his balance and fell down. After that, he had to reside at a nursing home. Bee told me that she visited him every day until the day he passed away. When she told me this story, I could see the sadness and loneliness in her eyes. She told me that had done everything together.
I could see in her eyes that it was hard to lose her husband, but I could also see that she was a very strong woman. She started telling me that she became good friends with a lady that lived in her apartment building who also had recently lost her husband and they decided to start traveling. They took a local coach bus that organized different trips with a bunch of different people and also flew to some places. They traveled all over the United States, including Hawaii and New Orleans for Mardi Gras. (Imagine a 75 year old at Mardi Gras!) She told me, "Those girls really do lift their shirts and then beads are thrown at them!" She also told me a story about a man who was on one of the main streets in New Orleans and decided to pull his pants down in front of everyone (But don't worry, his back was to her, so she didn't see anything). I saw the happiness return. The way she reminisced about those trips and the friendships she made while on them. Everyone called her "trouble" and one of the bus drivers had even recently called Bee to tell her that she missed seeing her all the time.
Talking to Bee gave me so many emotions. First, I thought about being in love with your best friend for over 50 years. I want that more than anything in this world. Then I thought about how hard it would be to lose that person and how lost I would be without him. The thought came into my head that, if I am blessed with a long life, this all could happen to me and that one day, I might be going through a similar situation that Bee did.
One thing a lot of people don't think about is the fact that "old people" were once young. At one point in time, they were where we are today. The stories she told me made me think about how time just slips away. One moment you are crying over drama in high school. The next, you are graduating college and thrown into the "real world" where you have to find a job and take on actual responsibility. I've already been in college for two years and I can't believe that I'm halfway done.
It makes me very sad when I really think about the fact that I'll never get a second chance at life. I have this one shot and sometimes I spend too much of it worrying or being upset over things that shouldn't matter. Instead, I should be cherishing the ones around me and focusing on being happy with everything God challenges me with or gives me. Taylor Swift sang it best in her song Never Grow Up, when she sang, "I just realized everything I have someday is gonna be gone."
Don't let life pass you by. I know everyone says it, but look at the people around you. Learn from your elders now. They aren't old, smelly, and slow-moving. They are us in a couple decades. They are full of wisdom and emotion that you would never believe unless you took the time to listen.