Now. If one of those women with more money woke up with a stiff neck that quickly morphed into a mini-nervous-breakdown, she’d check her shattered soul into a
Condé-Nast Top Ten Spa to relax, re-align her spine, stop feeling sad and learn to sleep like a baby again. At the very least, she’d retreat to her boudoir, slip into something sheer, buzz the kitchen, ask Leonardo to whip up his Tiramisu and serve it to her in bed.
Me? I stomped out of the house and went shopping at Goodwill.
Those of you who follow this blog know I’ve written lovingly of my used clothing purchases. This past September I posted a veritable rhapsody to a mended cotton shirt, comparing it — and its continued usefulness —to me, my husband, our friends, all of whom are old but not dead yet. (Get it? Get it?)
But yesterday, with my bitchiness in full bloom, Goodwill was not the wisest destination. Yesterday, every shirt, vase, dish, book, chair, shoe, purse, kettle, cup, trouser and scarf looked threadbare, faded, dented, scratched, broken and old. Very old. Yesterday, I stood among the stuff others had discarded and felt as useless as the blue-tagged,
99 cent hoodie with a busted zipper.
On April 15, 2017, Emma Morano died peacefully in Verbania, Italy. She was 117 years, 137 days, 16 hours and some minutes old. At the time of her death, Emma Morano was the world’s oldest person, a woman who credited her longevity to the lack of a husband (she divorced in 1938) and the three eggs - two of them raw - that she ate everyday for nearly a century. She lived in a tiny, two-room church-owned apartment, cooked for herself until she was 112, and laid out a single place setting on her kitchen table for every meal. Her worldly possessions were few. Photos of her parents and eight siblings, a small statue of the Virgin Mary, two rosaries, a few housedresses, several shawls,
and (inside the drawer of her night table) a supermarket anti-aging cream that she applied every evening before going to sleep.
“Her simplicity is sculptural and out of step with modernity,” said Rev. Giuseppe Masseroni who spoke at Emma Morano’s funeral. “We have too many things, too many distractions, too many items offered to us, too many messages.” Ms. Morano was buried in the local cemetery, in the family tomb. A photograph of her only child,
a baby boy who lived from January to August, 1937, was buried with her, according to her wishes.
The Shaker song teaches -
Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.
This morning I made oatmeal, changed the linens, took a long shower and came ‘round right. (A valium helped, too, but that goes without saying.) My hissy fit over, I put on my big girl pants and am trying like crazy to be OK with the fact that I’ve grown old. (Just as I’m trying like crazy to give myself permission to miss what once was.) Yes, old age is not only where I am, it’s the place I ought to be. After eighty-two years, where else would I be? Ah. Forget I asked that question . . .
One more thing.
Even though the Shaker song suggests that when we come round right we shan’t be asham'd, right now I am ashamed. Ashamed that I indulge myself so often in self-pity and grouse about growing old. But I’m especially ashamed on this Yom HaShoah -
this day when we honor the men, women, children and precious babies whose lives were snuffed out as easily as the candles we light in their memory.
copyright Ozzie Nogg 2017