My friend, Cheryl, who did a three way with us this summer is also close to Melba. We try to visit her twice a year, spring and fall. This year our fall trip was interrupted by the death of our dear friend Stan whom you may remember me blogging about.
Cheryl came to Stan’s visitation and then the day of the funeral took some other friends of Melba’s with her so she wouldn’t be disappointed. I vowed to get up there in the fall.
So I was thrilled to see that I would be spending some time in her hometown shooting a film and could steal a few hours away to have lunch or tea or dinner with her. Oh, won’t she be tickled, I thought. This will make her day, I was sure of it. I phoned her laying out my offer on her answering machine. Later that day she left a message for me on my phone. She said she was sick about missing me, but that she was booked. Booked for breakfast, booked for lunch, booked for tea, booked for dinner. I know at this point you are thinking, “Poor simple Deb has no idea that Melba does not like her”, but you would be wrong. She adores Cheryl and I. Cannot wait to see us and hates when we leave, so that is not it.
It is simply that she was booked. I called her back, again with the answering machine, and offered dinner the next day after shooting. She called back to say that she had a church social affair. She explained that she would have shifted things around but that she had been booked for some time with these various people and after all, a date is a date. And I quite agree. She said she so hoped we could do it soon and suggested that we try to make it up before Christmas. I called Cheryl to tell her about this, all the while laughing about how booked our 88-year-old Melba was. And not just booked, but booked up the wazoo! Cheryl told me that she and her husband had occasion to pass through Melba’s town recently and thought they would snap her up for a smart tea.
But...booked doncha know!
Man, we laughed. And then I said this prayer:
God, when I am 88 may I be BOOKED.
May I often be double-booked by accident.
May I still need my i-cal to juggle my appointments.
May my days be so filled that I don’t get to my laundry.
May I get off my ass and go out alone to galleries and movies and events.
May I be so full of energy and youthful openness that I blend into events that are youth-oriented.
May I sleep like a log every single night because my day is brimming with activity.
May I only fall asleep in front of TV only at night and simply because I am under the weather.
May I be surrounded by my friends and family who enjoy the same busy life filled with varied and stimulating things.
May something every day shock and surprise the shit out of me.
May I still be learning to play the piano, guitar and drums and may I not be half bad.
May I be interested in what is new.
May I travel to as many of the places I dream of and swoon into the food and culture.
May I still put on a dress I just bought and feel sexy and may my husband tell me that I look it.
May the holidays find me still hosting and juggling invites to several other Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.
May I still celebrate my birthday like a national holiday, excited to wake up to it!
And when my time comes to leave this world, may I be too booked to accept the offer.
Barbara: Deb, your ode to the best of a long life brought tears to my eyes. It is utterly beautiful and yes, YES, me too!! I wish for all those things, for all of us who want it.
You wrote this beautiful piece before we heard the sad news of the far too early death of Steve Jobs. I think as we mourn him, we can also remember––as evidenced by his many brilliant and quintessential quotes––that he also lived his life with a dynamic and powerful mantra reverberating inside him. He is a perfect example of one whose life was fully “booked” until his last breath.
I admire all those who live to this degree, whether it’s your inimitable 88-year-old friend Melba, Deb, or the singular, extraordinary people we don’t personally know but who touch us profoundly and set the ultimate example for us.