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A Close Encounter of the Elderly Kind

Guest Author - Charlene Ashendorf

There was no reason for our paths to cross. She was home bound.

At 91 years of age she hadn’t been behind the wheel of a car for more than ten years. She had her routines. She walked daily, had someone come in to fix her hair weekly and a caregiver visited twice a week to handle the doctor appointments, errands and groceries.

Her social interaction was limited to daily phone calls to a younger brother (“he was in much worse shape than I. My brother was 90!”). She recall how she misses him so.) She didn’t have family close by but her world was full of books. And that was what brought us together.

I delivered books to Bobbie Joe ("BJ") every other week. She loved mysteries, novels and books written by men. She couldn’t stand women writers. She said they must be “loose” to be published.

BJ would read a book, recommend it to me and then we formed our own little book club to discuss authors and tales. My favorite discussion was surrounding the fictional novel about Frank Lloyd Wright and his long term love affair. “Horrors,” BJ would say, "What a terrible thing to do and he was such a prominent man".

She was very proper and old fashioned. She dressed for each visit and we shared cookies and chocolates. She loved when I could visit for a couple of hours over a class of white wine. Delivering books to BJ was a highlight for me. I was a volunteer and she welcomed me into her home. I took her to lunch and breakfast occasionally and we’d also go on an outing to the library once in awhile where she would sit and observe and chat happily for hours. One afternoon BJ squeezed into my 19 year old red sports car and she was thrilled to let her beautiful white hair blow in the breeze. "I feel like a kid again" Bobbie Joe exclaimed.

But our visits ended as abruptly as they had begun. Her son died unexpectedly one afternoon; died of a heart attack at 65. BJ was devastated and her mental health turned quickly and she landed in a deep state of depression.

When I received the call the other afternoon that BJ was moved to a nursing home, I really wasn’t that surprised. She began to believe people were stealing from her; I was lying to her and there wasn’t a soul she could trust any longer.

101 books, a long life and always in my heart. BJ, thank you for sharing your life with me. I will forever miss you.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Charlene Ashendorf. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Charlene Ashendorf. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Debora Dyess for details.

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