Monday, May 09, 2005

A Visit with Florence

Several weeks ago I related how our 89-year-old friend Florence had suffered a debilitating stroke. Within a short time she had made a remarkable recovery. Since then we have seen Florence at several functions at the synagogue.

She called this past week to invite David and me over to visit. I made her promise not to cook anything. So we agreed on 4:30 on Mother’s Day.

We had never visited Florence at her house. It is located in a “mature” neighborhood, one where there are big trees and substantial plantings. Florence claims to be the only original owner left, having bought the house in 1957 for $22,500. Upon entry into this house, you immediately sense the love and family feeling that were always so much a part of this place. It’s not a great house for an elderly person because of all the stairs between the various levels, but it is obvious that Florence intends to stay here until she dies.

As we visited with her, her 62-year-old son Jerry was preparing the front entryway for the installation of a hand-railing this week. It seems that Florence has convinced the family of her desire to remain in the homestead.

As we sipped Pinot Grigio and ate very blue cheese and grapes, Florence told us about the wonderful impressionist-like paintings that adorned the walls – done by her friend Pearl, her daughter Lydia, her father-in-law, and herself. They were all museum-quality. She read an incredible few paragraphs from her daughter’s high school senior paper on Sylvia Plath. She told stories of their stay in Germany, Italy, Greece, and Hong Kong (where she went to live while her CIA husband Gil worked in Vietnam during the early 70's). She had us rolling in laugher as she described travel scenes with her Yiddish-speaking mother. Apparently age is indeed a relative thing, as Florence repeatedly told us how young we were.

Florence indicated her desire to go on the next Micah trip to Israel next year (“if I’m still around,” she said). I have no doubt that she will do just that if she is still able. I’m sure that the recent stroke indeed took its toll on her, but Florence is living proof that the power of positive thinking can triumph.

As we were on our way out the door, Florence insisted that we load up two big bags with books she is trying to get rid of. For some reason, she had targeted us for the gardening books, despite the fact that we pay someone to take care of our yard. I’ll have to remember this tactic the next time we have guests. It makes a lot more sense that lugging the books to the Salvation Army!

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