Years ago, while I was attending university, I lived in the basement apartment of a retired couple. Around the corner from us, resided my friend, Ruth, her parents and maternal grandmother, Ruth Deringer (known as "Grannie"). Over the years while I was living there, I came to know Grannie very well. She was nearly blind, so our relationship began with my reading to her most days. Then, I noticed whenever I was with Ruth, that Grannie spent a lot of time playing Solitaire. Soon my visits to her included her teaching me Solitaire and watching me play. During our times together, Grannie would tell me about her wonderful life spent all over the world, as she moved with her engineer husband to various jobs. In her homes, she entertained the famous and the infamous. She also told me about her girlhood spent in Mexico with her father and about how one day Pancho Villa's men tried to surround her when she was out for a ride, and how she took her horse and ran at full gallop straight at them. At the last minute, they parted their horses to let her through, waving their hats in the air and shouing "Viva la Senorita!!", so impressed were they by her spunk.
On one of her travels to the Middle East, Grannie's husband, Bing, took her to the Taj Mahal, in India, the wonderful memorial to one man's love for his wife. While they were there, Bing bought Grannie a beautiful silk shawl, embroidered with real spun gold thread.
On my last birthday before leaving University, I celebrated with Ruth at her house. I noticed that Grannie kept coming out of her room to look at me. Finally, Ruth presented me with a gift from Grannie, I opened the box and, lo and behold, there was Grannie's silk scarf from Bing. On top of the beautiful masterpiece was her calling card, which read...
"Happy Birthday. To my real friend. Love, Grannie."
I ran into Grannie's room to thank her for the beautiful gift. I promised her that I would take good care of it.
"Wear it as much as you want." She said. And then she held up her two fingers, crossed them and said, "You and I are like this."
Grannie died years ago. Her birthday greeting is stained and yellowed with age. The beautiful shawl is lovingly kept in my keepsakes drawer. Occasionally, I take it out to look at it and think of my dear, old friend in her worn, polyester pant suits and her regal bearing. No one would have guessed by looking at her what an incredible life she had. But in my heart she is that young, daring horsewoman of old.
"Viva La Senorita!!"
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