The One For Vi

I know four ladies in the same family, each a generation apart from the next, something like dominoes or nesting dolls, each individual contributing to the larger fun of the game. They are each a hoot.

But would not necessarily be pleased that I told you so.

Particularly Vi, the oldest of the bunch. If you take Vi out to breakfast she will pay. She will ask the waitress to make her coffee extra hot and send it back if it’s not. She takes her coffee the way she takes her life in general: bold enough to make you sit up straight and pay attention. None of this sugar and milk nonsense.

These four generations of ladies share a common denominator or two, and the most entertaining one is their general stubbornness, or as I prefer to call it, “the determination to go forth and conquer”.

I have a separate relationship with each of them and whether I tell a story on the one year old or the 84 year old, the other generations smile and nod and insist “isn’t that just like her mama!”.

Yes. Yes, it is.

In 2014, Ronda, Vi’s daughter, asked me to write something up and speak at Vi’s funeral services. Not that Vi was feeling poorly, mind you. But Ronda wanted to be prepared. In 2015, Vi asked me if I would write up a little something for her funeral. Not that anything was amiss. But you never know.

I laughed and offered a compromise. “Vi,” I said, “Instead of waiting till later, how about I write about you now? That way, you can make sure it’s accurate.”

This pleased her, of course. Not that my writing is objectionable.

Vi was in hospital frequently over the last few years because her blood pressure refused to cooperate and it sent her into fainting spells. I asked her to make me a blog about her experience there. She was delighted at the prospect and was as helpful as possible. She would tell me all of the horrible things the doctors did to her each day and finish with, “You know you can’t write that, right? Don’t you dare put that in your blog.”

“But Vi!” I insisted, “I can make you famous! I can make you a rock star!”

She laughed but she wasn’t buying it. She retained full veto power and wielded it from her perch on the pillows until there wasn’t a hospital story left.

I’m still not sure what, exactly, a smart lady like Vi saw in a silly thing like me, but I suppose if she was willing to have me in her hospital room while total strangers worked her over with instruments of torture, she considered me “in”. With a wink and a nod one day, she informed me that calling for an ambulance brought dashing young men right into her house to tend her with first class service. “So much nicer than driving yourself,” she insisted, “that’s the way to go.”

I might try fainting myself sometime, to see how that works.

Vi’s family was everything. We passed the time talking about them. She took great delight in the fact that I was a nanny for her great-granddaughter and listened forever to my stories about “that little toot”, as she called her.

I finally wrote her blog, “Elderflowers and Rosebuds”, to celebrate the connection between generations and the love and hope that is passed down from grandparents to toddlers. It was a subject we were both passionate about. Please read it.

Vi passed away last week at 93 years young. The eldest of these four precious women went on her own terms, in her own bed at home, and will be missed dearly. There has been a lot of loss lately, in case you haven’t been watching out your window. And no one is having funerals.

We all need somewhere to put our grief. Here is my little piece of comfort. Feel free to add yours below.

Comment (8)

  • Kim| June 15, 2020

    The only item we take with us as we leave this world is the legacy we leave behind. Vi has left an amazing legacy and you honor her in writing about her life and impact. Thank you for sharing her with the world.

  • Kim| June 14, 2020

    So powerful and insightful – what a gift to have you write and remember so many special thoughts.

  • Kiki Dulaney| June 7, 2020

    Beautifully written Jolie. I’m so sorry for your loss. 2020 has been a tough year. Sounds like she was an amazing gal.

  • carol| June 2, 2020

    I am sorry for your loss of a good friend, Jolie.
    I like the title elderberries and rosebuds, evokes such nice visual and olfactory images.
    I always enjoyed my relationships with the older people I knew through work. I miss them.

  • Norm Duke| June 2, 2020

    Very nice Jolie–makes me wish I had gotten to know her better.

  • Linda| June 2, 2020

    Lovely. What a precious family bond expressed beautifully! She had a huge heart. Grateful for her life well lived. my sympathy..

  • Diane| June 2, 2020

    This is wonderful, Jolie!

  • Mary| June 2, 2020

    I wish I could have met Vi. An inspiration of determination and strength. I’m so glad you shared a whisp of her life with us. My deepest condolences. XXOO

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