I had not talked to Miss June in awhile, probably not since Christmas when her daughter was in town. Besides, it was Valentine's Day. That seemed as good a reason as any to give her a ring.
" Hi, Miss June." I said when she answered. " Happy Valentine's Day!"
" Ohhhh.." she replied. "Aren't you sweet to call. How are you?"
" Doing great. Cannot complain."
" I hear sounds. Are you in your car?"
" Ummm, yes ma'am. I am. Why?"
" Well, why don't you call me back when you get home honey? That's dangerous."
" Oh don't worry. I have my Bluetooth in. I have both hands on the wheel."
That was true so long as I wasn't taking a sip from the gin and tonic I had on board. But she didn't need to know that.
" So how's it going?" I asked.
" Not too badly. " she said. " I'm doing pretty good for 80. I still can pretty much do as I please. I just don't get to it as quickly as I once did. And I still try to get out and around. I go out with my lady friends once a week. That's always fun."
" Good for you! That's important."
" And I have a man friend."
" Oh yeah?"
" I didn't say BOY friend. He's a man who is my friend."
" You don't have to explain anything to me Miss June."
" I mean, I spent the last 50 some odd years talking to a man every day. I love my lady friends and there's more of us at this stage of our lives than there are men."
" But I don't want to talk to women all the time. So I have a man friend who I talk to on the phone a couple of times a week."
" I think that's just great. Really I do."
" But I want you to understand that he's not a boyfriend. He's a "
" I know. He's a man friend. So what else is going on?"
" Not much. Like I said I try to stay busy around here. Won't be long until it's time to get the yard and the garden ready. I still have all of those pictures of Oather up on the wall. I say 'good morning' to him every morning and I say 'good night' to him every night. The way I look at it they need to stay up as he's the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before I turn in. You probably think that's crazy."
" I absolutely do not! I think those pictures should stay up as long as you want them to stay up. As long as they comfort you, I wouldn't give it a second thought."
" So, tell me. What are you doing tonight?"
"Not much. Probably going to throw some stuff on the grill. Probably going to watch some hoops."
" Isn't it late to be eating, Son?"
"Hell, June. It's 7:15. I'll probably eat around eight."
" That's too late for me. If I eat too late I don't sleep good."
"What time do you eat your dinner?"
"I dunno. Three or Four."
"OK. Now THAT'S crazy."
At this point I needed to jump off.
"Hey, this has been great but I have to go now." I said.
"Are you back home?" she asked.
"No ma'am. I am at the liquor store."
" Lord, you beat all, Son. You beat all."
"So I've heard. You have a good evening, Miss June."
" You too, honey. You know what?"
"It was awfully sweet of you to remember an old lady."
" Nah...I'm just hoping you will cut Judy out of the will and put me in it. I can rewrite that for ya you know."
"You beat all, you know that?"
I have a Roman Catholic friend who has battled cancer of the brain for the past 4-5 years. He and I have good talks about many things. He has a perspective that is obviously unique and I find his insights useful at this stage of my life as I have some things on my mind nowadays. Anyway, he has says that our lives are "but a flicker" and that we should strive during our brief time here to live our lives in such a way that is most meaningful both to ourselves and to others rather than in just in pursuit of money.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with an nice old lady cultivating new friends. We can't have too many friends in this life regardless of our age. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with her starting and ending each remaining day that the Lord lends her with that dear face on the wall.
Unless the Hindus are right, this is our one and only trip. You've got to find yourself some peace and it is up to you to find it. Because life is but a flicker.