Diminutive in stature but apparently able to eat their weight in steak and dessert every time she took them out for a Sunday dinner, there were two little old ladies who had joined my mother for a meal at least once a month for the past few years. They lived in a retirement home in Tomball, Texas. It’s funny how it all began.
One of the ladies was one of the founding members of the church I grew up in here in North Houston. Well into her late 80s, she’d grown weary of keeping up her house. With no family in the area, she decided to move into an assisted living center in Tomball. Ripe with amenities, but it was far from the community she’d know for at least the past 30 years. On her last weekend at church prior to making the move, she told my mom that she was sad that she wasn’t going to get to see anyone anymore and since Tomball was so far away, people wouldn’t likely visit. Well, my mom said she would. And that’s where it all began.
At least one Sunday a month, mom could drive up to Tomball, pick up Little Old Lady and bring her on down to church. They added lunch to their routine. Soon after, conversations with mom were sprinkled with anecdotes from her Little Old Lady lunches. After a few months, Little Old Lady called mom and asked if one of her friends could join them for church and lunch. Naturally, mom said yes. So Little Old Lady #2 came along and Little Old Lady became Little Old Lady #1. My favorite part of the stories would be how they always had to have two desserts for lunch — one to eat and one to take home.
Well, after a little bit, Little Old Lady #1 and Little Old Lady #2 met my mom outside the home for their trip down to church one Sunday morning. #2 slid into the back seat of the car while #1 dashed behind a post and drug a man out from behind it. “We’ve gotten to to friendly,” she explained to my mom. She deposited him in the car, climbed in herself, and that’s how Little Old Man #1 comes into the story. Now, LOL (abbreviations are in order) #1 was creeping up on age 94 at this point. And turns out, she was a cougar. LOM was only 89 (you go, girl). Before long, they decided to get married.
They were married in my mom’s backyard, she of 94 and him of 90. Upon arriving back at the home, the staff had decided to humor the two and moved them in together. They’d even pushed their beds together (gasp). Stumped for what to get a couple comprised of a 90- and a 94-year-old for a wedding gift, my mom picked up a copy of The Joy of Sex. The book apparently became the center of attention at read-aloud session for weeks to come. LOL #1 and LOM #1 — now LOC (Little Old Couple) thought it was an absolute hoot. Although I will admit — one part of me is trying to get the image of LOC having sex out of my head. The other part is hoping that my life will look like this at age 94 — reading a sexy book out loud to with my husband to anyone who will listen. I can only imagine we’ll be on 3,645 Shade of Grey by then, which by all rights will just not be grey but be something in need of a run through the wash in hot water with bleach. But again, I digress.
Last year, LOL #2 left us. A sudden heart attack, no warning signs. In fact, all three of these birds were fits as a fiddle. Not one used a walker, wore glasses, or even had arthritis. All that remained of my mom’s Sundays with The Birds was LOC. Until LOM #1 suffered a heart attack one Friday.
LOL #1 called my mom and she came straight down from work to the hospital. Upon her arrival, LOM told my mom, “I was waiting for you to get here.” So there my mom sat, with LOL #1 by her side, until Little Old Man peacefully passed away. He was 92 years old.
My mom stayed at the hospital as such things as need taking care of were taken care of. She drove LOL #1 back to the home and sat with her awhile. Having come straight from work, my mom needed to run home. She told LOL #1 that she’d be back the next day, on Saturday morning to check in on her.
The Birds had been worn down by the natural order of things to just The Bird. Fragile and broken, alone. My mother arrived at the home the next day and LOL #1 was quiet. My mom sat with her. And by my mother’s side, Little Old Lady #1 slipped away.
There was a double funeral on that Monday.
I’d heard about The Birds for years now, brightening my mom’s weekends. Tales that would make anyone blush. Yet here I sit in Houston, Texas, bawling in my room on a Friday morning as I tell you a story.
About three people whom I never met.
Desserts and steaks I never saw eaten.
A wedding I never attended hosted at the house I grew up in.
Three funerals my mother did attend for three people of no relation who all entered into her life because she said to a little old lady at church one Sunday, “Well, I’ll come visit.”
And she did. For years.
So she could tell me the whole story one evening over dinner in 2012, with extra anecdotes added this morning over a hug and a cup of coffee.
It’s things like these that matter. That tell me that, wherever my life has been, it’s in the right place. That I couldn’t have asked for a better mom if I’d hand-picked her myself pre-birth. And that sometimes, all that bullshit that clogs up my day-to-day — the worries, the stress, the things, the nonsense — is nothing but bullshit.
If we spend our days so wrapped up in the bullshit, we’ll miss The Birds. Because bullshit hangs out on the ground and The Birds will show us how to soar.
And while this wasn’t my story to tell, I told it. And my mom will read it. And I’ll go downstairs and thank her for making three lives, in addition to those of her three kids, better. Yup. That’s how this goes.