I know an eighty-something woman who is one of the most delightful people I have ever met. She is funny, witty, smart, well traveled, generous, hardworking, and charming. I want to be her when I grow up! I love this woman.
She has had an interesting life. She married twice. Once when she was very young to a man who later developed schizophrenia. That didn't work out. They divorced and she married a man who had been a friend of hers who had also married and then divorced. They knew each other before each of their first marriages and then they married each other. It seemed meant to be. They were both available at the right time and they decided to marry. They have been married for over fifty years. Before he retired he was a lawyer, a good lawyer, well paid for his work.
In the 1950's they bought a beautiful piece of wooded land that sloped down to a brook. They had a very fifties style house built on the upper part. Then she had three children in quick succession. One of them had cerebral palsy. My friend is not a big woman. Her daughter needed to be moved. She couldn't move around on her own. My friend picked her up and moved her throughout her childhood and into her young adulthood. A young woman is not easy to lift by a small woman.
Thirty years ago the daughter who had cerebral palsy met someone who was in a religious cult. She became influenced by the people in the cult into believing that her mother was trying to control her which my friend said was not the case at all. Her daughter moved out of the house and stopped having the close relationship with her mother that she had had before. My friend said that she was furious at the people in the cult. She said that after several years her daughter resumed a normal relationship with her and doesn't talk about that period of time.
My friend has another daughter who is in her fifties now. When that daughter was in her teens, she went through a period when she did what she felt like doing which was not okay with my friend who told her to move out if she was going to be that way. So her daughter did. She moved out. My friend said that she felt as though she couldn't breathe, it hurt so much and she was so afraid. But things worked out and they are good friends. That was long ago. The daughter grew up to be a teacher and a writer.
My friend's husband had a stroke a few years ago and that limits his mobility and has changed his personality. He is still a smart man but his feelings are like that of a child. He is demanding and wants to be in bed by 6:30 PM. Dinner must be made and served and guests must leave before that time and she must be home at night after he goes to bed or he is upset. She accepts this with incredible equanimity. On occasion I have heard her speak of him with anger in her voice but those are the exceptions.
Back before he was affected by the stroke, they traveled the world. Before they built their house and had their children, they lived in another country for years. A country where her parents lived. Her father was a diplomat. She traveled with her husband to many countries. Her husband's hobby is photography. He took pictures in the different places that they went.
I met her four years ago and see her about once a month in the course of my work at a nonprofit. She impresses me so much with her strength of character and her youthfulness. Not that she doesn't look as though she is in her eighties. She has her share of wrinkles. Maybe more than her share. I've seen pictures of her when she was young and she was beautiful. The more I've gotten to know her, the more beautiful she seems to me.
A couple of months ago she and I were talking about people suffering from depression and breaking down. This was after I had witnessed someone going almost "postal". She knew him too. We were talking about what had happened when she shocked me. She told me that when her children were young, she went out to the car and got in. She had it set up so that if she turned the car on and ran it for a while, she would die. She was feeling overwhelmed. Her children were young. The one daughter was disabled severely. Her husband was an alcoholic. She was going to kill herself. She was depressed and felt as though she couldn't handle life any more. But she talked herself out of turning the car on. She found the strength to cope.
I am sure that no one who knows her would have guessed in a million zillion years that she, of all people, could have been in that kind of emotional state ever. I didn't have a clue. I am so glad that she talked herself out of turning the car on. For her sake and for the sake of her family and all of her friends who love her. That would have been such a loss!
I wrote a post about feeling depressed a few days ago and then I thought of her. How depression strikes so many people, even those that you'd never expect to suffer from it. Even strong charming funny delightful people like my friend. Even strong people like me.
I'm feeling much better by the way. I do better when I don't let myself wallow too much in my own old sad memories. Some memories are better left alone most of the time.
Today I did some things I enjoyed doing. I took a walk! Hooray! Since I am exercise-resistant, this is good for me! And I cooked something new. Roasted eggplant with tomatoes and feta cheese. I like to cook. I am amending that statement. Sometimes I like to cook. This is one of those sometimes. Although I have learned that I have just now almost burnt the rice! Like rice is hard to cook?
No, rice is not usually hard to cook. But it IS hard to cook and focus on something else at the same time. Like writing this piece and cooking. So I almost ruined the nice basmati rice. Darn! But there are worse things than burning basmati rice. Far worse things. As they say, "don't sweat the small stuff." When I'm not depressed, I don't sweat the small stuff. Rice is darned small stuff!
Take care and don't sweat the small stuff!