I wanna be her when I grow up

Sorry I posted such a sad story yesterday. Let me tell you a less-sad story so maybe you’ll keep coming back.

This woman’s name I don’t remember, but my dispatcher said I’d be bringing her to “the meeting of the blind,” something I later learned was a monthly occurrence.

I ended up at a trailer park on the border of Angeltown and Nowhere At All, with excellent directions. I loved when they gave me directions better than “There’s a tree on the corner — you’ll turn a few blocks before that.” Try to imagine life in the days before Google Maps could get you anywhere — actually, imagine Apple Maps after it’s belted half a bottle of bourbon. Anyhow, this woman gave me quaint landmarks like street names, and directions like “left” and “right” instead of “it’s around there somewhere.” I pulled into her driveway behind a Monstrously Old Brown Car.

She told me her story as we drove: her husband had died a couple of years ago, and afterward, she had gone blind.

She did exactly what anyone would do in that situation, of course. She organized a city-wide support group for blind senior citizens.

That was how this woman spent her days now: on the phone organizing support group meetings and telephone-counseling the elderly who were losing their vision. Right. She was living on her own even though I believe she had family in the area who wanted her to live with them. She apologized for getting a ride from me, but her son had to work. She told me how stubborn the city hall folks were about providing more elderly transportation services and how they kept limiting public transportation. I could tell City Hall would be her next target.

Two huge losses in a few years, and yet she was so upbeat.

When I brought her back home, she pointed to the Monstrously Old Brown Vehicle. “That’s my car.” And then she added, “I can’t bear to sell it. That would be admitting I’m never going to drive again.”

Blind. Never driving again. Good call. Just don’t admit it, and you’ll be fine. And she was.

I understand that kind of spirit doesn’t come out of nowhere. She’d cultivated her resiliency over a lifetime, somehow, day by day. But you know what? When I grow up, I wanna be like her.


  1. Normandie

    Me, too!

    1. philangelus

      It’s so good to have a landmark, you know? 🙂

  2. Marie

    Me too.
    I once had a neighbor who couldn’t drive, but had a car with insurance. Her son explained why. Whenever she needed to go someone where she’d call church and someone would give her a ride. They could take her car if they preferred and save wear and tear and gas on their own (although most preferred to drive their own vehicle). And whenever someone at church needed a car for a couple of days – scheduled maintenance, unscheduled repair, etc., they were welcome to borrow her car.
    She was too proud to accept help, but was happy to trade favors without keeping track of who had done more recently (from what she said, she had had a very happy marriage).

    1. philangelus

      That’s pretty neat!

  3. k8e308

    Me four. My grandmother was like that, until just before the very end when, I believe, dementia truly overcame her Person. She was gone to us before she gave up.

    1. philangelus

      I’m so sorry for your loss. That fire inside is such an amazing trait.

  4. Ken Rolph

    Interesting that you assume some of those electronic maps actually work. In Victoria people who follow them end up in the Wimmera, get bogged down and have to be rescued before they die of thirst.

    Not that my own directions are much more up to date. I recently directed a friend to a model railway shop, tucked away in a back street at the edge of the shopping centre. There’s a major road heading out from the railway station. I told them to walk up it and go through the arcade that has the Post Office Cafe on one corner.

    A few minutes later they phoned to say they had walked right out of the shopping centre but could not find any Post Office cafe. They had turned around and were walking back towards the railway. Of course, I remembered, the PO Cafe had changed hands, so it was probably called something else. It used to be called the PO Cafe because it was opposite the post office. Friend said that the post office was in Main Street. Oh yeah. They moved that 15 years ago. So I said, look for a small old brick building being used as a classroom for the primary school. If you get to a side street where you can see the library at the end you’ve gone too far. Friend said there were no schools, only a pocket park with large trees and a picnic table. There WAS a side street, but it lead into a large car park. The library was behind him, up the hill.

    Can you see an arcade, I asked. Yes, but it was flanked by a dry cleaner and a combination barber/African video store. That’s it, I said. You are in the right spot. Go through the arcade. The model railway shop is tucked away in a tiny place at the back where the rents are very cheap. It is run by hobbyists and staffed by volunteers. It is still there.

    But then I remembered it is Monday. They don’t open on Mondays. Can’t get enough volunteers to cover the whole week.

    I have a perfect map of our city centre. But as it was 25 years ago when we moved here. I’m thinking of offering myself to the local historical museum as a living exhibit.