The White House Checks In
August 14, 2013
Alice called to tell me she’d received something from the White House in the mail. She said it was all blurry and she couldn’t read it, but described it as a card that “looked official.” It was signed by somebody named Michelle.
“Michelle Obama?” I asked. Michelle and Barack are two people she admires a great deal, and it disturbed me that she failed to connect Michelle with the White House.
She laughed at herself. “Oh, what’s the matter with me? Of course it must be Michelle Obama, but anyway I’m not a hundred years old yet. Why is she sending me something?”
I drove over to see what she’d received. Soon she’ll turn ninety-eight and I had a hunch it had something to do with that, although why the sending of cards would start at that number made no sense. Why not ninety-five? Ninety?
Sure enough, it was an acknowledgement from both of the Obamas. I read it to her.
She laughed again and waved her hands at the card, both dismissive of the attention and flattered by it. “Oh my!”
Ever since Vivian, officially the oldest person at The Place, went into the hospital a few weeks ago, Alice has been on the alert because she is the second oldest. “Vivian’s place mat was still there at lunch today,” she said, “but I haven’t seen her for such a long time.”
A few days later we learned that Vivian had died. “Now I’m the oldest one.”
“How do you feel about that?”
Her feelings were mixed. She’d never expected to live five years longer when she arrived at The Place at a mere ninety-three, she said. She hadn’t wanted to live much longer. On the other hand, wasn’t it something she would soon be ninety-eight years old?
“Let’s talk about something else,” she said. “Like my birthday. What are we going to do that’s fun? Go shopping for clothes?”
This idea did not surprise me, but it might surprise these two.
We wish you health, happiness, and many more visits to the mall in the years ahead.