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Friday, 04 January 2013

The Magic of Thanksgiving

By Joanne Zimmermann

She was finally finished and stepped back. The table setting was complete. Her Thanksgiving guests would be impressed. Nothing but the best for the group.

The hostess was not serving dinner in the fanciest home on the planet. It was a very nice but modest home in a retirement community. Her guests were not kings and queens – well, maybe they were but in the real world they were older, perhaps wiser, versions of their former selves. Their ages ranged from 93 through the upper 80s down into the 60s.

She had chosen her guests with care hoping to get a congenial mix. Her table settings consisted of gold flatware, real crystal goblets and chargers laden with smaller china.

The fine linen napkins and gilded pinecones sparkled next to the burgundy place-cards. The guest’s names were gold, handwritten in script.

The food was home cooked and beautifully served buffet style. The hostess had asked her guests what special thing each remembered as a must have at Thanksgiving. My associate requested rhubarb pie, and I asked for pilgrims. She confided that she had found rhubarb and was making his dream come true.

The seating was planned with couples separated. My associate, who was 6’ 1” in his , was next to a lady 4’ 8” and cute as a button at 88 to watch. When asked to repeat what he had requested, he said mincemeat pie. The hostess looked distressed and with much coaching from me, after saying “roo, roo, roo,” and finally “roob,” he remembered.

Lucy, the tiny cutie, raved about her Ohio State team and was going to disconnect her phone during the weekend and not answer the door. That could be alarming as in the park they had a system for checking on people.

Next to me was Romeo, same height as Lucy. He was facing some heavy-duty surgery, if indeed he was well enough to tolerate it. He came from Belize and asked to say a special blessing on all that he was grateful for, quite a list.

The host was lucky to be alive after a heart attack on the emergency room table just six months before. Another guest had just completed chemo and my buddy had beaten lung cancer with surgery two years ago.

The lady of the home confided that she had acquired most of the table settings at auction. The gold flatware for 12 was purchased for, get this, $10 including the chest. The whole set of crystal which she pinged with her finger was a whopping $5. And on down the line ticking off the items she had truly created a masterpiece for very little.

Large black pilgrim hats stood on the chairs so my difficult request had been fulfilled.

The 93-year-old lady was an artist but she did not think of herself as such. She said she only started at age 70. She was a beauty - olive skin and white hair - born in Italy. Though Romeo tried to flirt with her, she demurred. Her architect husband had died six years before and he was her only true love.

My associate, being a kind of clown, flirted with Lucy during the meal. Following the dinner, when she got up, he knelt down on the floor in front of her and proposed at her eye level. Everyone had a good laugh.

We exited and toured the host’s “man cave” which he finished following his heart attack. It was about 8 feet by 15 feet, had a 50 gallon water tank and tiny sink with a hand pump. He is a ham radio operator so all his equipment was neatly displayed.

A couch/bed was in there and an air conditioner. He had glued every timber to the metal skin and all was secured to the slab with heavy bolts. It was definitely going to survive a hurricane and the dinner guests were invited to come if such an event occurred.

This was quite an achievement for someone who almost died last summer. He did need help one time when on a top shelf and his ladder fell over, trapping him.

Such is the fabric of life, the spirit of folks who many would think have given up a long time ago. It was the most fun I have had in a long time. I think the other guests all felt the same.

Thank you Jo-An and Charlie. Live one day at a time, live it well with love and dear friends.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a neat story. You have some very interesting friends, especially your associate. You should have taken pictures of him on his knees.
Another great job of story telling

a wonderful story,sounds like lots of fun.

What a good reminder of all the things we can do in spite of Age related problems. I thoroughly enjoyed being with you and your friends for a piece of your holiday.

You know, that is the coolest Thanksgiving anyone could ask for. What diversity! What special hosts! You have been so blessed to have had such an event in your life.

Sounds like a real life experience it was so well- written. Your story takes the reader right to the table where they were dining.

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