Eleanor
Eleanor Roosevelt & Marian Anderson 1953, source: National Archives

A few months ago, I decided to volunteer for a program in my neighboring town that gives rides to senior citizens who live independently but are no longer able to drive. In a matchmaking lottery, I was paired with Eve, a spunky lady who also happens to be 100 years old.

Eve’s wishes are simple. “The assisted living bus drives me to the doctor, and I take my meals in the dining hall. What I really need, though, is to see the ocean. Will you take me?”

Fridays are my days with Eve. Not only do we both find the ocean comforting and cathartic, we share memories of an older New York City and a love of the Met, the MoMa, Placido Domingo, bacon, chocolate, and stories. “Of all the ways for our paths to cross…I feel so lucky to have met you,” she says. She calls me one of her adopted daughters and always asks me how my writing is going. “Maybe, someday, you will write about Fridays with Eve.”

Every time we start talking, inevitably something reminds me of how much she has lived.

“Years ago I was a shop girl at a boutique on Fifth Avenue. It was right near the [New York] Public Library on 42nd. It was a who’s-who of people that came into that boutique.

“One day, Eleanor Roosevelt walked in with her secret service. She wanted a pair of bedroom slippers from Yugoslavia. That’s not even a country any more is it. {sigh}

“Well, I attended to her, and she was so gracious. The way she spoke to me and treated me, she never made me feel like I was any less than her. She was a great lady, just like she sounds.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman I had read about and admired, came to life through Eve’s anecdotes. As I made my way home thinking about Eleanor and Eve, I tried to imagine all the moving parts of the universe that brought Eve and her hundred years of stories into my life.

She is a great lady, just like she sounds.