Last night we went to my parents’ house for dinner. They were frying oysters and asked if Stan and the boys wanted to come. They know I don’t touch the things. Oysters on the half shell look like a plate full of snot…take those same oysters and fry them and they look like fried snot. Can you say “EWWWW?”
My parents also invited their 92 year old neighbor to have dinner with us. When they moved here in July, they moved into a gated, 55 year old-plus community. It makes socializing and commaradarie very easy for them. They have gotten back into the swing of entertaining and are enjoying opening their home, once again, to others. Last night was no exception.
My mom busted out the fine china, sterling silver and crystal glasses ~ all for a Wednesday night fried oyster feast (and here I’m complaining about the things looking like fried snot…last night they just looked like fried snot patties on really pretty china. Guess this apple fell a little farther from the tree than most!)
Hester. She is my parents’ neighbor. And she loves to tell you that she is 92 years old. Really, she doesn’t look a day over 80! She is fabulous, sharp, fit, well groomed but lonely. Her husband died many years ago and she lives alone. Her daughters both live here in Richmond and take extremely good care of her, as she loves to tell us. But on a day to day basis, she is alone.
We first met Hester two days after Hurricane Irene this past summer. My parents’ community lost power for several days while our power was restored within hours. As the temperature ratcheted back up to unbearably hot, we invited them all over for some respite from the heat. And all three gladly came trooping over for an afternoon turned evening of food and fellowship. It was then we learned how much Hester loves to talk. And talk and talk and talk…
Last night was no exception. Hester told story after story after story. 92 years worth of stories are pent up in her head, waiting, wanting and needing to be told. If she and someone else started talking simultaneously, she just bulled through, telling her story. And we let her. She’s earned this time to tell her stories. They are good stories to be told and heard and remembered.
Last night Hester told the story of a young Italian man she and her late husband met so many years ago. She told us about his broken English and his struggle to be understood as they went out to dinner. The waitress came, as dinner was winding down, and asked if he would like anything else. He said “No thank you. I am fed up with what I have already eaten.” His translation was probably literal…I am full ~ I am “fed up.” We all laughed and listened to more of Hester’s stories.
I enjoy watching my kids interact with their grandparents and people of older generations. I think they understand that someday we will all be there ~ each of us wanting to have our stories told so they don’t fade away and aren’t gone forever. Hester’s story gave us new material to use. It started last night when I declined desert because I was too full. “I am fed up,” I said.
Too soon I was off and running again to pick up Claire from swim practice and I left my boys, Stan and my parents to listen to more of Hester’s stories.
After we got home, Stan and I started talking about Hester, her constant chatter and her need to tell the stories. She has stories to be told. We are here to listen and learn. My kids learn compassion and patience, sometimes not seen in me, in my busy-day-to-day-hurry up world. It’s good for all of us to just slow down every now and again and hear stories that we will look back on and smile about in years to come
Listening is for the love of my children…