When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three,
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?
Their names were B, Z, D, and E. I don't recall their real names or if they were my great aunts, third cousin's sisters, or mother's brother's cousin's sisters. Nor do I remember if they were widows or "old maids" like they used to say. To a little guy, these details did not matter. What I do remember is that they were kind and always had stories to tell.
On occassion, my mom would take my brothers and I on the 30 minute drive down Rosecrans and over to Long Beach Blvd. for the type of visit that doesn't happen so much anymore. You see, these were the days before iPhones, video games, email, Facebook, and - gasp - blogs! This was when cartoons were only on Saturday mornings, a long distance phone call meant anywhere beyond your local church, and when you knew the mailman by name because you took the time to care.
Most of the time my brothers and I sat with one eye out the front door and one foot in the house hoping for home baked cookies and a bit of milk before we were allowed to escape outside to play. However, once in a while I would listen to my mother and the sisters talk. They discussed the latest family updates some of the time, but mostly focused on the past - old friends, family members and experiences. Their gray hair matched the clarity of their stories, partially in focus and partially lost like old photographs fading away in the attic.
B, Z, D, and E have left us now finding their way to a greater peace, a peace which good people deserve.
I haven't thought about them or those days for a long while. That was until I sat in Day Medicine at CHOP and watched my girls sit and talk with their mother about the day's news, what's happening in their lives, and in the lives of family and friends. As I listened to the girls in my life chat away, I had to smile. They were discussing stories and living experiences that these two beautiful girls, who are eternally connected through Pompe, will one day be sharing.
In no time at all, these two girls will become ladies and will be sitting side by side just like B, Z, D, and E sharing the stories of their own grandmothers, mothers, and maybe even dear old dad. Their niece will be by their sides chatting up just like my mom once did. And perhaps their grandson will look on, half waiting for the opportunity to step outside to play (if they still do that then) or eat cookies (they'll always do that). And one day, that boy will share the stories of two girls who received treatment twice a month and went on to be the best of friends...when he's sixty four.
Credit to: The Beatles, "When I'm Sixty Four"