There are some people in this world who never seem to grow old, no matter how old they grow to be. Case in point: my friend Mary Jane.
This past week, I hosted a spring luncheon, and Mary Jane was one of the attendees.
Mary Jane is 95 years young, and I mean young. She lives in a retirement center now and no longer drives. Another friend, Betty, who also came to the luncheon, brought Mary Jane with her.
As has always been her way, Mary Jane arrived impeccably dressed and brimming with good cheer. She still walks with a spring in her step and without assistance. With her sparkling eyes, beautiful smile, and ready laughter, she hasn’t changed a bit.
For many years, while living in her own home, Mary Jane had the habit of taking a morning constitutional through her neighborhood. She still follows that daily routine, now traversing the sidewalk that runs the periphery of her retirement facility. She loves to hear the birds singing as she makes her way along the path and whistles back to them — mimicking their individual tweets and chirps. She is hoping to learn to identify each type of bird by its song.
Mary Jane shared some fascinating stories of her life — both current and from long ago. She earned a degree in economics from the University of Iowa. One day, in an English class, she and fellow students had an exciting visitor — the famous poet Robert Frost, who recited some of his poems.
Lately, Mary Jane herself has been writing poetry and sharing her works with fellow poet residents in her retirement community. One of her recent poems recalled happy days spent with her husband, sailing on a lake in northern Michigan. Her current poem-in-progress is a tribute to the giant rose mallow hibiscus flowers (“dinner-plate hibiscus”), which are now in full glory on the grounds of the retirement facility. Mary Jane said she is hoping to complete this poem just as soon as she finds a word that rhymes with “hibiscus!”
Mary Jane is a breath of fresh air. She inspired us all with her contagious optimism and joie de vivre.
My “Quotation of the Day,” received this morning, seems especially appropriate.
“None are so old as those who have outlived their enthusiasm.” Henry David Thoreau
As the years go by, may we all remain as young and enthusiastic as my ageless friend Mary Jane.