Monday, October 1, 2012

My Friend Rheba

Last night I talked with Rheba
I have never met her.
We became friends over the phone.
She is eighty-four

I met her last April
when I was frightened about a health issue, and a friend suggested
that I call his Aunt Rheba in Tennessee.
That is how it started

I needed to talk to a woman
who was a lot older than me.
I needed someone to tell me
that everything would be all right.

And  in way she did.
Mainly, she talks, and I listen.
I have listened since that first time
to the story of her life.

When we started up our friendship,
she was living with her little dog Buffy.
She baked pies from her wheelchair,
 and a friend took her to Walmart once a week.

Rheba's condition declined
over the summer months.
One day she told me that she did not think 
she would be going to Walmart anymore.

By August she is in the hospital
She lives there for a few weeks.
Today she is in a nursing home.
She is happy that it does not smell.

A few months back she said that
if she had to give up her Buffy 
and move to a home it would kill her.
But it didn't.

She does not complain, but she does need
to talk.
Last night she asked me if all her talk scared me.
It doesn't. 

Her curiosity about what's coming next is what keeps her going.
She makes little jokes about her circumstances. 
Last night she said that it was kind of scary
not to have an older person to turn to.

I told her I understood.
But right now I have her.
And she has herself.
And maybe that's the most important thing.

At the end of each phone call she tells me she loves me.
I tell her me too.
She says she feels as though she has known me all of her life.
Sometimes friendship occurs in the most unexpected way.

Ilya Schor 1941

Amelin Albin

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