When I'm 85 I hope I can look at my life and be satisfied.
There were no patriotic songs at the nursing home today, although four little boys did sing a song about singing. I arrived just in time for a Relief Society meeting, and after that visited with my friend. Oxygen and all, it didn't take much to get her going.
She told me more about her husband (they met after World War II on the day he broke up with his other girlfriend) and he told her afterward that she was just the absolute right one for him. They went dancing and golfing and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company.
After she and her husband retired, they got a mobile home and drove the contiguous 48 states, with a little bit of Mexico and Canada on the side. She was in Houston when the Challenger blew up; she remembered watching NASA employees try to answer questions while they were dealing with the pain of the worst tragedy they'd ever endured.
She told me she was in California on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and heard his words, "One small step for man, one giant step for mankind" on the radio. She said the when she heard the knews, she looked up at the moon and pondered the enormity of what had just happened.
Then she said that same day, they pulled up next to a hippie VW bus that that had a greyhound on the side and the words, "The greyhound stray hound" painted on the side. It's good that I drove a station wagon and wasn't wearing anything tie-dyed, so my friend had no idea I was a little bit of a hippie.
They were in New York shortly before Sept. 11, 2001; she has pictures of each of them standing in front of the Twin Towers.
In journalism, death is almost always too soon. We rarely write about the people who lived good long lives and died quietly at home. Even in my life, it has come too quickly. But often, this is not the case. And that makes the gateway between life and death so much easier to consider.