Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Hartwell Chronicles ... tales of the old

Hartwell is a town filled with a lot of retirees. Their numbers probably rival some cities in Florida (after all the entire state is filled with nothing but senior citizens).
There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes senior citizens can be irksome.
Like when they’re driving. I am a speeder, so anything less than 60 is too slow.
Nothing like a little old lady creeping at 25 in a one lane road when the speed limit is 45. Sometimes I just want to shout a few choice words – like I do to other drivers – but I can’t.
I just say “Bless them Lord.”
I even said it to that 100 year old lady who was about to broadside my car. Had she been about 35, she would have gotten the beat down. But I digress.
Silver haired grandmothers. No haired grandfathers. Great-grand aunts and uncles playing bingo at the senior center. Older neighbors going to their lake houses at night. Hartwell is full of them
However, aside from the bad driving skills of some, most of them are incredible storytellers.
Have you ever just listened to their stories?
I’ve heard tales of international travelers, talked to war survivors and even met a few with stories so astounding you can hardly believe they’re real.
But real they are.
Life has a funny way of doing that.
One of my first profiles was about this phenomenal piano teacher. She tried other things, but her first love was music. Her student stories are as diverse as she is.
My new hairdresser, who at the very least is 60, shared her career tales with me. She was a nurse before becoming a hairdresser. There weren’t too many black nurses in her day, especially in Mississippi.
Just today, I interviewed a man who is swiftly approaching 91. He grew up in the days of the depression and moonshine. He’s been through a war, a job and even two marriages.
That’s barely even scraping the surface of what they told me. It would take me a packed lunch and then some.
My grandmother always used to tell me “Just keep on living.”
Now I understand why.
One of my favorite quotes, an AJR original, is “I chronicle life because it is my muse.”
I’m adding a new one in honor of seniors, “Your life is my muse.”
It’s tre-cooler to write about older people. I could just eat their stories up.
One of the objectives in SISTUHS is seek guidance from elder African-American women.
Well, I’m seeking stories from any and everyone. Plenty of their stories provide guidance.
I think a lot of the single senior citizens in Hartwell get lonely.
Spouses have passed away. Children are too busy with their own lives. Grandchildren live out of state.
Sometimes they just want someone to talk to. I can relate to that.
If they need an ear, I am more than glad to listen.
I love talking, but I don’t mind hearing an interesting tale or 10.
It just doesn’t get any better than the tales of the old.

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