Something Old, Something New – Something Special

“I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I doubt I deserved my friends.”
—— Walt Whitman

Yesterday I visited with my favorite Aunt Lucille who lives in Beaumont which is ninety-nine miles east of Montgomery on Texas Highway 105. I always enjoy my visits with her. She’s got spunk, and contrary to Mr. Grant’s opinion of spunk on the Mary Tyler Moore show a gazillion years ago, I like spunk. She refuses to give up her independent living apartment in a retirement community that offers assisted living and other levels of care for which she would qualify. Instead, she keeps her mind active with crossword puzzles and word games in the daily newspaper, and her knowledge of current events acquired through the TV and conversations is as good as it gets. She pushes herself out of bed and showers and dresses and puts on makeup every day. My aunt will be ninety-three years old in May and has a list of ailments and a personal pharmacy to treat them. A recent setback makes movement even more difficult for her, but she has rebounded and makes a determined effort to rejoin her friends at their reserved dinner table downstairs almost every evening. It’s a long walk from her apartment on the third floor to the lobby of the next building for meals. Trust me.

Yesterday she told me one of her friends was coming by in the afternoon for a visit. I recognized the name because she had talked about Jan for as long as I could remember. She told me Jan was recovering from a stroke and her caregiver would be bringing her by. When Jan arrived promptly at two o’clock, Lucille got up from the sofa in the living room and pushed her walker toward Jan’s. When they met in the middle of the room, they both smiled and hugged each other with genuine joy on their faces. After introductions all round, we sat down to talk.

Lucille and Jan met in 1953 when they both lived with their husbands in an apartment complex in Beaumont. They first talked when they were outdoors hanging clothes on the clothesline behind their apartment building. Both women were new to Beaumont and Jan’s daughter was born in the spring before Lucille’s was born in October that year. They were new mothers and became new friends. Their husbands luckily liked each other, too, and the couples got together often. Lucy’s husband Jay died in 1979 and Jan and her husband Otis shared a sixty-fifth wedding anniversary before his recent death.

What struck me as I listened to them talk about their families and what was going on in their lives now was how remarkable it must be to have a friendship that stretches across sixty years of change and challenges. Their bond survived everything life threw at them. Hot and cold seasons came and went for six decades, but their loyalty to each other never got too hot to go up in flames or too cold to freeze and wither away.

In a separate happening this week I was reminded of friendships I’ve lost and the pain of losing them. We are a mobile society and our moving parts rarely stay in the same place for very long. We change our homes and jobs and the people in our lives that go with them. Sometimes we just change the people in our lives. Regardless, a true friendship for sixty years is worthy of a tribute and this is mine for Lucille and Jan.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Something Old, Something New – Something Special

  1. Robyn says:

    We lack 2 years of hitting the 50 year mark! Grateful.


  2. bob lamb says:

    Another keeper, Sheila.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. coyotero2112 says:

    Wonderful tribute. My grandmother at that age was so dejected by the events of her life she volunteered for the assisted suicide campaign in Washington state. She too was feisty, and old, and beaten down…but she didn’t have any friends of the quality your aunt has. Good for her…it’s what everybody needs in a Moving Parts Society.


    • My aunt is my Last of the Mohicans and I’m glad to have this time with her. She has another friend she met two years after Jan. She and Betsy are equally close after a mere 58 years. Good for her is right. Your grandmother was maybe short a friend or two, but it sounds like she was lucky to have a grandson who loved her. That counts.


      • coyotero2112 says:

        So I hear. I liked her more when she was in her 90s…she knew there was no retribution for her actions. Just say the oddest things, and the TRUTH as she saw it about people, which was always interesting.


      • I find one of the oddest things is that we wait until we are old to speak the TRUTH. Truth Speaking is wasted on the old. We have so few people’s attention by then.


      • coyotero2112 says:

        Sitting next to her one X-mas eve, because nobody else dared her barbs. A couple of my mother’s friends – who my GM had never approved of – walk in the door, and, she says loudly, “Oh, you invited THEM?” The reaction in the room was deathly silence, except for me laughing so hard I was crying. No repercussions, no editing.


      • Picturing it. Priceless.


  4. Sheila, you’re nominated for the Liebster Award. Check it out here:
    Luanne (currentdescendent)


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