Tuesday, January 17, 2017


In my mind's eye, I am thin.

Inside my head, I am also young, agile, and clever.

In reality, I am thick.

I am also middle-aged, clumsy, and I frequently walk into a room and can't remember why I'm there. I know the names of all my children, but it sometimes takes me a couple of tries to pin the right name on the son or daughter to whom I am speaking.

I have a friend who is 97 years old. She is deaf as a clay pot, often calls me by my mother's name, and must use a walker to move around her tiny apartment.

She complains because she wants to "go home" to move her potted plants inside from the patio for the winter and to clean out the boxes in her attic and to transplant the pink azalea from the side yard to the front...things she could not possibly do.

Her world has shrunk so small that it is suffocating her. Jigsaw puzzles and TV shows and card games bore her - she is used to doing on a much grander scale. She can no longer engage in vigorous conversations and debates; she cannot even make small talk with a new acquaintance. She cannot hear.

This woman has lived more in her 97 years than I could live in five lifetimes. She has an active mind, and she is accustomed to being physically active. She should be writing her next book, scheduling her next interview, playing her next tennis match, pulling another barrel roll in an airplane.

All the vigor and passion she ever had - it is all still there, trapped behind watery eyes and deaf ears and arthritic knees.

In her mind's eye, she is as young as she ever was.

I understand.

We sit together on her sofa, squashed close so I can speak right into her ear. I want her to know: the woman in my mind's eye sees the woman in her mind's eye. That dynamic, robust young woman, I still see her. She is not lost. I remember.

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