Last weekend a group of ladies went to Prince Edward County to celebrate one of our dear friend’s upcoming wedding. It was a weekend away from the kids, some wine touring, BBQ’ing, Madonna dancing and late night campfires. It was a bachelorette party minus the penis hats and shot glasses (hallelujah!). It was awesome. What none of us expected was that it would end in such a powerful way.
On Sunday morning we schlepped into Picton to caffeinate and were greeted outside the small town café by an impeccably dressed 91 year-old lady with mischievous eyes and one helluva smile. Her name was Betty. She proceeded to ask us what we were celebrating, who was getting married (How did she know?! We must have looked hung over) and told us that she was glad to have friends our age because hers were all dying off.
All seven of us exchanged glances and almost in unison invited her to sit with us and chat over lattes. Here was a woman exactly 60 years our senior with a lifetime of wisdom to share. From poking fun of people walking down the street “not talking to each other, just on their iPhones” to warning us of the “dangers of chat rooms”. Betty had us in stitches. The real climax came in the form of marriage advice to the soon-to-be bride.
1) Kick him in the shins if he does you wrong. Kick them black and blue.
2) Friends are the most important things in life.
3) Pick the right partner. Just pick the right partner. (Click here to find out how TPF writer walked away from the wrong partner)
4) You need money in life (this point was emphasized by Betty vigorously rubbing her index and thumb fingers together).
5) See the humour in things.
Pure brilliance. One of us ran to the car to get the Polaroid camera we’d so fortuitously brought (Betty doesn’t do email) and snapped an instant group picture for this incredible woman to take home as our thanks.
I immediately turned away, put my sunglasses on and started crying. I’m not sure why meeting Betty made me so emotional (and still does as I write this). Maybe because I never got to meet my French grandmother, the one I look like. Maybe it’s because Betty won’t be on this planet for much longer. Maybe it’s because there’s something so universal about an older woman sharing her life’s wisdom to her younger generation.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting married next February and while that’s amazing, it’s also scary for me. Betty’s words of advice felt like a reassuring maternal hug telling me I picked the right guy (he’s funny, he’s not broke, he supports my friendships and he responds well to shin kicking when necessary.)
Here was a woman who has lived through the depression, WW2, the death of her parents, husband and all of her closest friends. Her daughter lives in England and she’s alone in small town Ontario. Yet still, despite a hundred reasons not to, she’s out here striking up conversation, making friends, sharing her wisdom and living her best life.
All Betty needed was someone to listen, and I will forever be grateful that we did.