Leave it to Joycie, the woman my younger grandkids would call my “bestest” friend.
Joycie is my non-biological sister who had the audacity to pick up and move across this whole huge country to Portland, Oregon. Boston, where she had lived with her late husband, was closer. Florida, where she was widowed, also was.
But Portland is where Joycie’s only daughter is, and it’s where she needed to be.
So our connection, Joycie’s and mine, has become the modern version of bosom buddies: We talk in cyberspace. Often. At crazy hours. About everything from the most mundane to the most cosmic.
Her e-mails have a way of arriving just when I need them, and Joycie is by far the better correspondent. I attribute it to the peaceable kingdom where she lives now, surrounded by happy, low-key Portlanders.
Her e-mails to me are almost always warm and funny, wise, and occasionally dramatic and message-laden, like the best novels.
I’ll take them any way they come.
My e-mails to her are alternately lyric, cranky, disorganized, raw, joyous, rambling and occasionally stained, at least metaphorically, with tears.
Every now and then, when we chance to call one another, it’s an occasion. E-mails have redefined our connection, for better and for worse.
On a recent Sunday evening when I was recovering from a bad cold and feeling mighty sorry for myself, there was Joycie’s e-mail bouncing on my computer screen at some ungodly hour. I opened it the way I always do, with unabashed curiosity and hope. No matter what, my dearest friend always manages to send something to make me think or smile or feel momentarily closer to what matters.
My pal in Portland didn’t fail me.
This time, it was a two-page musing that was making its way back around the Internet after an earlier incarnation several years ago. Called “Might As Well Dance,” it was written by an 83-year-old woman. Let me share parts of it:
- “I’m not saving anything…We use our good china and crystal for every ‘special event’ like losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped or the first Amaryllis blossom.”
- “I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank.”
- And one of my favorites: “‘Someday’ and ‘One of these days…’ are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or doing or hearing, I want to see and hear and do it now.”
Joycie and I are both at the age and stage where we know that postponing is folly. We’re learning, as proud members of AARP, that the past is behind us and always will be, and that “now” has a new urgency. It’s a lesson we keep trying to transmit to our adult kids, who aren’t listening to us, just as we didn’t listen to our parents. But still we try.
That night, as I read Joycie’s e-mail musing, I thought suddenly of all the time I’d wasted on dust. Yes, dust.
If the house looked messy–translate dusty, in need of vacuuming and straightening and cleaning–I would go into orbit, nagging the kids and my husband to pitch in, feeling sullen and angry if they didn’t.
Amy was my particular target because Amy was born without orderly genes. How am I so sure? Because I was missing them, too, which meant that I recognized the same absence in my daughter.
So Amy and I would go at it for hours, sometimes days. I’d yell. She’d retreat. I’d threaten. She’d turn hostile.
Today, Amy is using her amazing creativity as a gifted producer of children’s TV–and letting her own daughters make all the messes they want. They are, I might add, the happiest of kids.
And somewhere in all of this is the lesson of “Might As Well Dance.” That title, comes from this final line of Joycie’s dispatch:
“Life may not be the party we hoped for,” it reads. “But while we’re here, we might as well dance.”
And I plan to.
But often. And with zest. s