When I grow up I want to be Marilyn. No silly, not Marilyn Monroe … my 88 year old cousin Marilyn.
I am staggered by her tragedies and heartache; the loss of three children and her husband of 60 years who she adored from the age of 14. How many women not only survive such losses but continue life with grace and love and beauty?
I admire her stamina and attitude, her zest for life, and her personality. She is smart, clever, funny, interested and interesting. Her angels, ghosts and demons are reserved for her solitary nights; crocheting, listening to her audio books, Michael Buble, or watching the Food Channel until she can sleep.
She has crocheted hundreds of small afghans for the terminally ill children at Give Kids the World. Did I mention she is legally blind? Macular degeneration stole her sight slowly so she was able to learn to use her peripheral vision to “see”. She puts on her makeup, takes senior transportation to have her hair and nails done, goes to the liquor store and grocery shops by herself if necessary. She is greeted with smiles and loving kindness everywhere. She acquires new friends wherever she travels making lady-like, smart-ass comments and telling slightly suggestive jokes. She’s a clown and a flirt who loves to make people laugh.
So, when we got the call that she was hospitalized with a broken pelvis we were in a panic. My sister and I have attempted to take care of her long distance since her husband died. Marilyn was visiting her daughter out of state when she decided to do the laundry in the basement and fell down the stairs. She was 83.
After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a rehab center where she enjoyed herself tremendously. She joked round the clock with the nurses, the aides, the therapists and she enjoyed the social activities. She was determined not to become an old lady with a walker. When she was released from rehab, she stayed with her daughter for a short while before deciding that she wanted to go home to her own apartment. She arranged with Delta for wheelchair service and flew home by herself. She and her friends then went to work setting up everything she needed for her home recovery.
We phoned every day and she would say, “Don’t worry. It was only a little tumble down the basement stairs.” And, then she’d laugh, “What’s a broken pelvis among friends?”
Last week was her 88th birthday. My sister and I visited to arrange a gala celebration. She went to the Hard Rock Casino for a little gambling, we took her to her favorite restaurant where she wanted to sit at the bar to drink wine and eat a rib eye steak; we shopped and cooked and had a small dinner party for her with balloons and gifts, linguine with clam sauce and a birthday cheesecake. We enjoyed a two mile walk , sans walker, with her each morning and had trouble keeping up with her pace.
Leaving, we got plenty of hugs and kisses and thank yous for making her feel so special. She joked that she can’t wait to see what we are going to do for her 90th birthday to top this one.
Zip-lining? Any other suggestions?