“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, milkshake in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, “Woo hoo, what a ride!”
When I received an invite to attend the Celebration of the Life of Edna Abbott, the above quote (her favorite) was at the top of the invite, and I knew somehow, some way, I had to get to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Toledo last Sunday to honor my old friend who made her transition not long ago at the age of 97.
My husband, Burt, and I met Edna and Jack Abbott in 1984 at the Naterlin Center, where dog obedience classes were being held. They had an adorable cocker spaniel named Nutmeg, and we had just moved here from California with a couple of rescued wolfhounds. Little did I know the influence Edna would have on my life for the next 30-plus years.
Edna mentored me (and many others) in Toastmasters and helped me get over the fear of public speaking. When I started writing a column for the Newport News-Times, she evaluated each column in writing. When she no longer used her computer, she called our home every Friday exactly at 8 a.m. to discuss the column. My husband got such a kick out of those very precise phone calls. Edna kept this up until a few short years ago.
When I did Bobbie’s Beat on the Air for KNPT, Edna let me know her opinion of every single program. She used what she called “the sandwich system” not just for me, but for everyone she helped. This system meant giving positive feedback at the beginning and the end, while sandwiching in some gentle constructive criticism in the middle.
Knowing I had to get out of this house, wheelchair and all, and show up for Edna, I contacted my old friend, Dave Miller, radio station maven of Newport, and Dave immediately agreed to take me. We both enjoyed seeing old friends who turned out for Edna. I won’t list names for fear of leaving someone out. I know Edna had to be looking down with a huge smile, probably wearing one of her favorite red hats. She loved a good joke, especially jokes about getting older. I’ll leave you with the following:
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An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years, and his doctor was able to have him fitted for hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100 percent. The old guy went back to the doctor in a month, and the doctor said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.”
The gentleman replied, “Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversation. I've changed my will three times!”
Two elderly gentlemen from a retirement center were sitting on a bench under a tree when one turns to the other and says: “Slim, I'm 83 years old now, and I'm just full of aches and pains. I know you're about my age. How do you feel?” ?Slim says, “I feel just like a newborn baby.” “Really? Like a newborn baby?” “Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants.”
Hospital regulations require a wheelchair for patients being discharged. However, while working as a student nurse, I found one elderly gentleman already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet. When he insisted he didn't need my help to leave the hospital, I explained about rules being rules, and he reluctantly let me wheel him to the elevator. On the way down I asked him if his wife was meeting him. “I don't know,” he said. “She's still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown.”?
Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm. A couple of days later, the doctor spoke to Morris and said, “You're really doing great, aren't you?” Morris replied, “Just doing what you said, Doc: ‘Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.’”?The doctor said, “I didn't say that. I said, 'You've got a heart murmur; be careful.'”
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Here’s to you Edna, from all of us whose lives you touched. May we follow your example about sliding out of this life yelling “Woo hoo, what a ride!”
Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor” (Dancing Moon Press). The book (with all proceeds going to Rotary International) is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]