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.

Letter from the White House

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.


Barack and Michelle

17 Responses to “The White House Checks In”

  1. dehelen Says:

    What fun! My own Mom would have loved that. She almost made 95. When she was 85 my grandson asked if she wasn’t going to live to a hundred “because she’s got a good run on it.” Mom thought that was so funny. Then she nearly made it. I hope Alice makes it! She can be like George Burns.


  2. Beth Says:

    Shopping is an essential life activity for some of us. To score something becoming, or beautiful, preferably at a bargain price, is one of life’s pleasures. Why, just last week I was at the East Side Oregon Community Warehouse and spied (and bought ) a brass apple paperweight. I couldn’t tell you why it was so appealing. It was 20% off $4. It looked like it came from the home of one of my great-aunts, Anne or Lillie, Evelyn or Helen. I’m sure it was donated with the brass carafe from Israel, the little turquoise blue-painted brass flask, and the rather good crayon drawing of a seaport dock. Mid-century Jewish, a subset of mid-Century modern.


    • As Tina Fey’s daughter would say, “Me want to go to there.”
      It’s interesting how certain objects we come across ring some internal bell and we just have to bring them home with us, if only for a while. I’ve had things here that reminded me of my Aunt Mattie, things she never touched but which just appear to me to be something she would have liked to touch, as Anne, Lillie, Evelyn and Helen might have all liked to touch that brass apple.


  3. rivermile14 Says:

    Ha! Who knew they would send that at 98 years! She deserves it. An early “Happy Birthday” to Alice!


  4. Yes they did!!!!


  5. Elizabeth Says:

    That’s pretty darn cool!


  6. Meg Glaser Says:

    What a lovely and thoughtful note from the White House. Sounds like Alice is looking forward to tearing it up on her 98th. Look out Portland!


  7. Sandra Yudilevich Espinoza Says:

    Awesome! You go Alice! Maybe a new hat to go with that lovely and stylish wig! Sandra

    ________________________________________________ Sandra Yudilevich Espinoza, PhD | Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Social Work| 978.542.2300 | Salem State University, 352 Lafayette St., Salem, Massachusetts 01970 ________________________________


    • Funny you should mention hats, Sandra. Just the other day Alice was wondering what happened to a beautiful black velvet hat with a wide brim she once had, and I reminded her that she’d given it to one of my cousins. She was relieved it went to a good home head.


  8. John Says:

    Very cool. My mom, a Tea Party type, would, I’m sure, be thrilled with a card from the Obamas. :-)


  9. Cheryl Says:

    I hope they included a gift card. Wouldn’t it be fun for Alice to say that her friend Michelle Obama bought her a blouse for her birthday? To wear with her very becoming wig?


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