Canterbury Bells

Canterbury Bells
Canterbury Bells represent Gratitude in the Language of Flowers

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cousin Lillian

We’re never too old to have a role model, nor can our role models ever be too old.  My newest goal is to be like my cousin Lillian, from Laguna Beach, who just spent the night with me when she came to work in Phoenix for a few days.

Lillian has been a nurse for, I would guess, 54 years and at age 75 she is still at it...going strong.  She flew in yesterday, got her rental car and although I met her at the airport to ride to my house with her, there was never any doubt she could have found it on her own. She travels with her portable GPS, but her internal GPS radiates a spirit of confidence. 

After a late evening where we laughed and talked about our childhood memories, she was up at 5:00 am...well, let me clarify. She asked me to wake her at 5 but when I went to do so, she was already up and preparing for her day.  Donned her white nurse’s uniform and packed up for what would probably be an hour commute in rush traffic to the west side of Phoenix where she would begin conducting eye exams at 8 am.

Vibrant and energetic with no signs of slowing down, she is exactly the type of professional. person you would want in any medical situation...emergency or routine.

But none of this should be a surprise to me.  As a child growing up, I would spend some of my summer vacation at her home in Pennsylvania where her family owned a bakery and hotel. Everyone worked. (They lived above the bakery and what a wonderful smell to wake up to each morning.) She in turn would visit us in Gary, Indiana with summer day trips to the beach on Lake Michigan.  Four years older than me, I looked up to her then... and still do. 

Lillian says her mother was a strong and determined woman (or as she puts it...a pistol) for her day, so she comes by this confidence quite naturally.  I’m sure she witnessed a strong role model on a daily basis.

And I owe a great debt to her mother too.  In 1934, she arranged my mother and father’s marriage...yes, Pandora (Lillian’s mother) thought they would be a good match.  She introduced them and they married ten days later.  (Although there was no Facebook or Twitter involved, I guess you could say this was the first instance of  Speed Dating?) Did Pandora get it right? I guess so...their marriage lasted 43 years until my father passed away.

But what was even more remarkable to me was the story I heard just a few years ago.  Pandora drove my mother from Pittsburgh to Gary (near Chicago) approx 500 miles in one day – remember this is 1934 –to meet my father’s family. In fact, the marriage was all arranged and they were greeted at the front door by my grandmother, Vaska, who welcomed Pandora with these words.  “Thank you for bringing us a bride.”

So even without a GPS, Pandora found her way... and her actions are still showing us still on this earth the way to live life....with courage, determination and a sense of adventure.  Thank you Pandora for choosing my parents... and thank you Lillian for continuing to inspire me.

You could be a poster woman for the saying, “I’d rather wear out than rust out.” 

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