An elderly woman, choosing her independent lifestyle, flying solo to places in the world, this, is a role model of how the elderly years should be, translated…
The American, Angie, was an elderly woman I looked after as I worked as a caretaker of the elderly when I’d lived in the midwestern states in the U.S. a couple of years ago, she had an open heart surgery, had the stents, she lived alone since her divorce. My primary duty when I visted her was when she bathed, and I’d heard any noises, I was to, rush in, and dial 9-1-1 for her.
like this???photo found online
Thankfully, I’d not needed to do that, in the small living room of her house, with the huge wooden racks, the two of us, around the same age, got along just fine. Turns out, that Angie worked for the Postal Services, at age fifity, due to her arthritis, she couldn’t stand for a long time, so she’d, retired. The wooden racks was bought from the post office, there were, the dozens of slots, used, to display these items; there was also, a porcelain doll dressed in traditional Chinese clothes, and the lamps close by shone that gentle light. Don’t know if it was because Angie’s daughter working in Japan, or she just loved the Asian things, she’d gone to the Buddhist ritauls in Vietnam; and as she’d met me, who’s also, a Buddhist, she’d felt awful, why couldn’t we have, met up sooner!
Before my return back to Taiwan, she’d invited me to her home, with three dogs, five cats to eat, there were, the freshly picked cherries, fresh out of the oven apple pie, pizza, and, there was, a row of various teas in her kitchen, even the tea leaves from the higher up altitudes of Taiwan too. After I’d returned to Taiwan, we’d chatted every now and then via Facebook, two years later, she’d gone to Japan to visit her daughter, and asked if she could visit me in Taiwan too? I was more than ecstatic, to have this friend from afar who was coming to visit me, especially, an American who is, so into, Eastern Asian cultures.
Angie booked her own flight, her hotel online, she got on the shuttle bus of the hotel she was staying, and asked to meet me in Taipei. I’d gone, and, as I walked in, I saw that blonde woman, with her cane in the lobby, she’d first flown for twenty hours to join a Japanese tour group locally, then, made her way to Taiwan for a short visit with me, and, several days as her daughter had the time, she will be flying back to Japan to meet up with her, then, she is to fly back to the U.S. She’d not felt it trying, having to make so many stops on her trip, that was, very surprising to me.
We’d gone to visit the local temples, unsurprisingly, being an eastern culture fanatic, she’d loved the century old temple; as she walked, she was in awe of what she saw, and, we’d bumped into the early evenining rituals, I’d found her a Buddhist verse volume, and she’d, sat on the walkways, and started, reciting along with the monks. There was a Chinese character that she couldn’t recognize, she’d still carried the book of Buddhist verses, and, as the chants continued, she’d, read it aloud, and, got the passersby’s attention.
We’d gone to visit the C.K.S. Memorial Hall, as the guards were changing their shifts, it’d made her so excited, said she’d never seen anything quite like it; we’d gone to the nighit markets, she became so surprised, that there can be, som any different lives that are happening at the same time on just one street; I took her home to stay, my dog started barking like crazy, it’d, scared her so. The following day I took her to a nearby hotel, and, we’d found her room, unlocked the door, there was a small elevator on the right side, on the left, there was her room. And the elevator was, specifically, set up for her personal use, we’d looked at one another, said, “Unique!”, and later, as I read the advertizements of the place—Motel for Rendezvous, and I’d understood, what the elevators were, but I’d not, explained it to her, she came from a small conservative town.
As we entered into the room, Angie placed that golden statue of the Goddess of Mercy, along with the bag of all her needed medications onto the counters. The room was surprisingly huge, the doublebed behind the small living room had that romantic drape around it, Angie said, perhaps, it’s because she’s a foreigner, and the hotel wanted to give her a good impression, that was why they’d, set up her room like such. Other than the sauna in the bathroom, there was a small-sized bathtub resembling that of a small swimming pool, she’d immediately told me to stay with her, to enjoy the hot tub with her!
I’d gone home to get my change of clothes, as I made my way through her motel room door, she had her hair tied up, she had on her glasses, with her long black robe, sat, reading a very thick book, she was so serene, with that fierceness of a high level manager of an office. I’d told her how it’d made me feel, seeing her like this, “Really?”, she’d lifted up her brows, answered lightly, and, I’d, gazed over into her luggage, saw there were, six, seven more books! And, I thought about how my best friend and I would only bring the empty suitcases so we can fill them up with all of the things we bought on our trips, it’d made me feel ashamed, it’s a wonder, that she had that flair about her.
Getting the sea breezes, going to the tea restaurants, having the charcoal spicy fish, several days later, she’d told me, that she’d not felt well at all, and suddenly, it’d dawned on me, that she had, needed the tentative care of a nurse, and yet, I’d, dragged her to all those places, if something were to happlen to her, what will I tell her daughter? Should I, take her to the hospitals? Angie diagnosed herself, “so many weird foods these past couple of days, I think my digestive tract is missing the U.S. now!” is it the burgers and the fries? And so, in the pouring rain, we carried that overturned umbrella hid out into a taxi, searching for what she needed, “simple spaghetti with cheese.”
As we entered into an Italian restaurant, Angie gestured and articulated to the chef how the American spaghetti is made, as she’d devoured the plate of food from the no menu restaurant, I saw how color returned back to her face, and that look of satisfaction from her, and it’d made me realized, that “the human stomach is the MOST patriotic organ!” Like how I’d walked the streets of the U.S., in the drizzling rain, searched, for the traditional Taiwanese noodle soups…………
Seeing how weak she still is, I’d, canceled out all of our itinerary for the final day, we’d, squatted in the motel to read, and to chat, that was when she’d told me something thrilling, that she’d just, undergone a surgery. I’d noted how she’d used her towels repeatedly, that she’d not wanted the maids to come into our room to change the sheets, other than protecting her own privacy, she’d felt that the sheets aren’t that dirty yet, and, this was sharply in contrast with “I’m spending the money, to get all the services!”
The following day, Angie turned back to normal, and was on her way to Japan, and, I’d waved goodbye, to Angie, who was flying solo again, and, imagined if I could one day, fly over tens of thousands of miles away from home, if I’m, immobilized like she.
And so, this, is how this American woman chose to live her life independent even as she is older, and that, is aging gracefully, she’s living her dreams, traveling to all the places she wants to travel to, visiting all the sights, making a ton of new friends, and staying in touch with her old acquaintances too.