The beautiful Mrs. Watson
By biconews On 22 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Anthony Fleg

She’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met. Great smile. Wears nice flower print blouses. Likes to travel. Has worked through some hard times, met some great people and has an ecumenical spirit to her that inspires all.

She’s 91 years old.

She’s blind.

I first met Mrs. Watson last year at the IHS Nursing Home down the street. I spoke with her for the length of an entire conversation before someone tapped me to say that Mrs. Watson couldn’t see.

How mistaken they were! Mrs. Watson sees the world through her daily travels; her mind is always taking her somewhere new. She sees and remembers the hard times of the Great Depression, and working as a social worker to aid others.

She also sees Dr. King rising to the pulpit of her church and a parade for John F. Kennedy in which she rode in the car behind him. In a figurative and literal sense, she sees a world where color and creed differences mean very little, if anything.

When she greets me with her loving smile and cry of “Anthony? Oh, how are you dear?” she makes no distinction based on my appearance. When she takes my hand - an assurance that I am there - she doesn’t worry that our skin pigments are slightly different.

To the contrary, she is always eager to learn about that which is foreign to her. She likes to say with a chuckle, “I never stop learning.” And of all of the parts of her wonderful persona, maybe it is her sense of humor that makes this woman so unique (that’s in accordance with the Native American claim that when we are stripped of everything, it is our sense of humor that distinguishes us from each other). Mrs. Watson jokes, as she puts her hand to her ear as though receiving a call, that when the Lord wants to take her to Him, he’s going to reach her by telephone and tell her so.

At the same time she always takes care to remind me of her claim to youthfulness: “If you turn 91 around, I’m 19 - still a teenager!” Mrs. Watson also likes to tell the story of the three Wise Men of the Bible, claiming that she was a quarter mile behind them bearing cookies she had baked for the newborn King.

Though I hear Mrs. Watson’s jokes and stories over and over, they never seem to get old.

My friendship with Mrs. Watson has given me an ability to live more graciously and with more reverence for life, my health and the Lord. She shows me how to be at peace with “what is” - that through submission and acceptance to the “blindnesses” in my life, I can hope to transcend myself and grow. With nothing more complicated than appreciating and enjoying life, she teaches through her signature phrase “I’m 91 and havin’ a ball.”

The scary thing is that Mrs. Watson is just one resident of a very big home in a world hardly grateful and mostly indifferent to the elderly. From the outside, she’s merely the occupant of Room 5A, another “dying” soul like the woman in 5B, or 6A, or in … .

As I leave the home for the hustling traffic and life beyond, I wonder, “Do we realize that we are not immortal?” These people who are treated as patients of the disease “old age” are socially and physically quarantined from society in a way that is baffling (many at the home do not get as

much as an occasional visit from their relatives in the area).

What a bleak picture for us in 50 years! Labeled as “dying,” as if the state of being 75 years old were the antithesis of “living.” Therefore, in the face of Mrs. Watson I see my future self and hear in my ear the gentle ring of “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

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