notquiteold

Nancy Roman

An Honor To Meet Her

This week, my husband and I treated ourselves to dinner at our favorite restaurant.

We only eat there once or twice a year. First, because it is fabulously expensive. And second, because it keeps it fabulously special. But oh my, it is fabulous. A charming setting with fine French cuisine exquisitely prepared and served.

Soon after we were seated, an old woman came in. She used a walker and the maitre d’ assisted her to her table. She smiled at us as she sat down and said, “I am allowed to have a little extra help these days because I am one hundred years old.”

Well. She looked old, but one hundred? She was flamboyantly dressed – bright colors and flowy materials, lots of jewelry, generous makeup, and a large royal blue hat.

The waiter offered to bring her a drink while she waited for her dinner companions, but she said what she really wanted was a small table for her hat.

“I don’t think we have anything like that,” said the waiter.

“Oh, yes you do,” she replied. “I eat here regularly and I always have a table for my hat.”

And the waiter went to the maitre d’ who soon came over with a little makeshift table. With a tablecloth.

Her friends came in – a couple also also very old, but probably not a hundred. The thought crossed my mind that if the gentleman were 80, he was “young” enough to be her son. He was certainly solicitous of his wife – a frail tiny woman who also had a walker – he went back to the car for her pillow and her lap blanket, and after much discussion, he ordered for all of them. His manners were old-fashioned and impeccable.

My husband and I had our glorious, leisurely meal. We love the five-course tasting menu – so many small dishes to savor. (My favorite course, which I mention for no other reason but to enjoy it again in my mind, was the arugula ravioli in a white truffle sauce. Not that there was anything wrong with the rack of lamb. Or the chocolate souffle.)

After coffee, before our long drive home, I excused myself to use the restroom. When I returned, my husband was conversing with the old woman and her companions. This didn’t surprise me in the least. My husband engages with everyone everywhere – which is a nice offset to my public shyness. I meet the most interesting people because he just naturally makes friends with everyone.

And that evening was no exception.

I joined my husband at the old woman’s table and introduced myself.

And the old woman introduced herself too, in a quite extraordinary way. I will not give you her name, because she did not know that I am a writer, and this was not an interview. But after she told me her name, she added,

“I’m a famous TV producer. I’ve won many, many awards.”

“Well, it’s a great honor to meet you,” I replied, as I shook her gentle, but not weak, hand.

We left the restaurant shortly afterwards.

And as soon as we got to the car, I pulled out my phone and googled the woman.

She wasn’t exaggerating. She WAS a famous producer. The winner of several Emmy and Peabody awards. And she was one hundred years old.

I read her biography on Wikipedia and several news and feature articles on the drive home.

She didn’t start out with a career in television or media. She had a very practical education and worked in a very mundane job. She took time for her family. It was through some volunteer work that she had the opportunity to produce her first documentary. And she not only excelled – she fell in love with the new talent. And it became her new life.

I thought about our short exchange, I realized that I had been right. It was indeed a great honor to meet her.

She reinvented herself. From an ordinary nine-to-fiver to a world-class producer. Imagine that! Imagine having the confidence to believe that you can produce a documentary when you have no experience in it.

And she’s courageous. Imagine the doubts you might have, but then – you are brave enough to do it anyway.

And imagine discovering a talent – a genius – that others recognized and rewarded.

It was an honor to meet her for her accomplishments.

It was an honor to meet her for her creativity.

It was an honor to meet her for her character.

She’s proud of her age. She isn’t afraid to be old. She used a walker. She needed assistance to be seated. But on the other hand, she wasn’t surrendering either. Her hair was not gray. Her clothing wasn’t drab. She was fanciful and alive in every way.

She wasn’t modest. I was tickled that she introduced herself as “famous.” She’s 100. Does she have time to beat around the bush? Coyness and centenarianism aren’t compatible.

Yes, for bragging rights’ sake alone, it is an honor to meet a famous person.

But what if she weren’t? What if it had turned out that she just had some mild dementia – and she was just a crazy old lady?

An old lady with a great imagination and flamboyant wardrobe.

Still a great honor.

A great honor to meet the old lady that I am hoping to be.

A grand old dame with a table for her hat.

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59 Comments

  1. Age has privileges

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    • And I believe she earned those privileges!

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  2. Wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good for her! Hat and all! I intend to take Lady Clairol to the grave with me.

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  4. Ellen

    Positively enchanting!! A very great honor for you indeed! I think I must start wearing a hat, just so I can order a table for it. Thank-you for this fabulous post!

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    • I fell in love with her the minute she asked for a table for her hat!

      Like

  5. She sounds utterly brilliant, I love her!

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    • I am thinking about writing her a fan letter. I can probably track down her address.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. dragon

    “What a wonderful meeting. Given my propensity for changing colors every couple of months, I’m letting my hair rest at the moment, but otherwise, I’m a hundred percent in this corner

    Like

    • I am just going blonder and blonder. Now that I am mostly gray, the roots blend in quite nicely.

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  7. Can you tell us who she was, merely so we can go find her work? It sounds like something I need to see!

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    • I will email you. I have your email address in the notification of your comment.

      Like

  8. Love this! I hope to be half as classy as I continue to age!

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  9. That’s great!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a wonderful, motivational meeting!

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  12. Donna W.

    It really doesn’t matter to me if you really met this person, or if you just created a character and a story line. I just love your writing style. It’s full of visuals, colors, personalities, and real life experiences spun and woven into an engaging get-a-way. When is your next book coming? I’m eagerly waiting!! p.s. love your illustrations almost as much!

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    • Thanks Donna. And yes, she is real and it happened exactly as I wrote it. I will email you. Next book is coming soon!

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  13. She is who I wanted to be when I grew up. How wonderful to have actually met her. She is an inspiration for female TV Producers everywhere. I’ve always been prone to wearing hats but since I coloured my hair purple I hate covering it up. 😉

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    • Well, I think a royal blue hat would look great with some purple hair peeking out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I tried to follow you on twitter so you could follow back as I would like to send you a private message.

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        • Thank you for the article! You DO have the right person. Isn’t she amazing. Imagine being assertive enough to scold President Kennedy!

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Christine

    I’ve been thinking about letting the grey take over but actually because the purple highlights I’m also planning on will show up better. And I will wear more flamboyant clothes – even though I wore brown today!

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    • You know, I think you would look good with grey hair and purple highlights.

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      • Christine

        But then I saw a love photo of an acquaintance with dark hair who used ice blue on her long pony-tail. Not sure that would work on me. I’ll send you the photo if I can find it. And you know I love neutrals – you’ve been at me for years to change my wardrobe.

        Like

        • Christine

          love photo?? loveLY photo

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  15. I have not been out for a meal in so long and when we do go out it is generally for lunch

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    • I like lunch out too! We like casual dining… but once in a while it is really nice to get dressed up and have something classy.

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  16. jono51

    It is a rare occurrence, but I love meeting people like that. You were fortunate, indeed!

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    • She was extraordinary! We were lucky to meet her. I plan on writing her a little note – some fan mail, I guess.

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  17. and the name of the fabulous french restaurant? do share!

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  18. Great post 🙂
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Isn’t it wonderful when we have an opportunity to meet someone who inspires us? Fame or no fame, sounds like this gal did just that!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I love this for two reasons: one, that she found the courage to reinvent herself later in life and found a terrific career she loved; and two, the way she is living out her “golden years” so fully. That’s exactly the way I hope to do it! I might have to start wearing hats just so I can ask for an extra table.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christine

      There was a lady who came into my office for help on our government program. She was as flamboyant as they come but I was impressed that she was confident to wear the colors and “get-up” that she had on in our little neck of the woods. She was completely comfortable with herself.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I love classy old women as well. But flamboyant at 100? Why not?????

      Like

  21. Love your writing style! I would have been honored as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! She was fabulous, and as soon as she asked for a table for her hat, I was in love!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I would have been too. I hope to be as fabulous!

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  22. Whenever I think of “grand old dames” and someday being one, I think of Katherine Hepburn in the 1994 movie “Love Affair” (remake of the ’39 movie of the same name and a version of “An Affair to Remember”). Hepburn’s character lives alone in a beautiful island home, where she spends all her time loving wild creatures, small children, and her hopeless playboy nephew. She says horribly inappropriate things, watches the sunset every evening from a well-worn spot on her sofa, and wraps herself in lovely lengths of fabric that remind her of the love of her life. One day, I can only hope that will be me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hepburn was one grand old dame all right. She lived life on her own terms. You don’t get more free than that.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. these are the best kind of encounters I wish I had more often.

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    • I have these encounters more often because my husband is so outgoing. I’m so thankful that he is.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. What a great meeting! She sounds like the woman I’d like to be, too.

    I know somebody who is turning 100 next week. She’s not famous, nor flamboyant – she cooked and cleaned and raised a family in our small town, but she’s tough and practical and remembers all kinds of stories from her childhood which are fascinating to hear.

    My grandmother lived to 97, but 10 years in a nursing home with no idea who anybody was. I hope, if I do live that long, that my mind is sharp enough to let me remember the journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Loved your story about meeting this special lady. I love when the unexpected happens like this. Keep on writing, you truly have a gift. 🙂

    Like

  26. Great post. Nicely depicted meeting with special lady. Compelling me to reinvent my passion. 🙂

    Like

  27. Good for her and for you. I love the bragging, why the hell not… live large!

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  28. Myra (Artist. Author. Lover)

    My dream!

    Like

  29. Great post. Although she won all those awards she came off very humble from your post and that’s always good to hear about successful people that don’t let their fame or achievements get to their head.

    Like

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