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June 14, 2021

Column: On becoming 93

Rosalie Adams turned 93 on April 9. She wrote this remembrance for friends and family.

By Rosalie Adams

I am alive — and I have survived the longest year of my life!

I am so excited. My nephew from Wake County is coming to spend the day with me. It has been a year since we have seen each other. I have mowed my grass, vacuumed a few of the worst rooms, closed a few doors, put some things away that I will probably never find again, and kind of dusted spots where the sun shines most. Cleaning done.

What will he look like? Will I dare touch him? We have both had our COVID shots. What will we do about lunch? Can’t wait, can’t wait! Phone rings. No visit. Wife has fallen. Serious foot injury. Must stay home with her. Both of us so sorry for lack of visit and about her injury.

Phone starts ringing. Lots and lots of birthday well wishes. iPad now works. So many nice birthday wishes. Mail arrives. Lots and lots of birthday cards. View iPad again. A special musical birthday wish from my musical nephew in Virginia. More phone calls, more emails with best wishes.

Two flower arrangements arrive. Beautiful, beautiful. One is from my family expressing so very much love for me. They have always shown a great deal of appreciation and love for me. The other is from a gentleman that I rented to over 30 years ago. A very touching note is attached, telling me thank you for having been an inspiration to him in shaping his life. Such a powerful message to me. We — all of us — do matter.

Just before noon, Perry calls, my only surviving sibling. He has been out to visit his wife, who has multiple health challenges. He wishes me a happy birthday, then asks me to meet him for lunch. It’s 15 minute’s notice, but I go. My first visit to a restaurant in a year. Excited, pleased, grateful. Very few people eating, so I relax and enjoy the food and my brother very much, and the free slice of birthday cake. (He had tipped them off before I arrived.)

I have a fairy godmother who adopted me a year ago on my birthday. Since then, she has been so generous and kind with her time and friendship and food. For almost a year, she has brought me a home-cooked meal and sometimes a gourmet meal weekly. In fact, it’s enough food for two meals. Sometimes, when the weather has permitted, we have sat outside and shared stories and ideas and laughs and friendship.

She also paints. Last year, she painted me a beautiful rose picture for my birthday. This year, she came bearing another painting, a painting of my 100-year-old heirloom chair that she had seen earlier in my zinnia garden. A great picture. Makes my chair even more precious. She was also laden down with a beautiful potted plant (just like last year) to brighten my yard. We sat and chatted a bit, and then she went on her way after her birthday wishes.

I do not get a lot of first-class mail, but check the mailbox daily just in case. Today, I find a beautiful card from my mailman. Yes, my mailman, another kind and caring person.

On the way in from my mailbox, I notice that my front storm door for some strange reason has become a pile of a million small pieces of glass. What in this world? Oh, the joys of owning a home. All right, Rose, just clean up the mess. Put on your oldest and dirtiest clothes, get out the broom and shovel and bucket and wheelbarrow and whatever it takes and clean up this mess. Job reasonably done. I am hot and sweaty, and dirty and disgusted. I go back inside and return and few phone calls, look at the iPad, and start to get ready to take and shower and put on some decent clothes. Lo, a knock on my back door. It is my next-door neighbor inquiring about what is going on in my driveway. I look out.

Oh my goodness! My neighbors and chairs and a table with a decorated cake on it, and a man playing guitar, and everyone holding up their phones, all saying, “Happy Birthday!” And I had not a clue that anyone was around until then. The guitarist strums and all join in singing “Happy Birthday.” One lady is signing the words even though we all hear as well as old people can hear. A surprise birthday party for me. Magical.

After I open my wonderful and useful gifts (yes, they brought gifts), the guitarist plays a medley of songs, including some old gospel tunes, and we all sing along and the signer sings and signs away. So neat. Fun, fun, fun. I almost forget how dirty and disheveled I am.

What a day. This is the kind of day, and the kind of neighborhood, and the kind of country, and the kind of world that I want to live in. And I do. I appreciate all of the phone calls, emails, birthday cards, flowers, presents of all kinds, and well wishes. But the very best present was knowing and feeling and understanding that people really care and that people act on caring.

Humanness. I am grateful. Thanks be to God.

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