Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Black History Month and my friend Erma

I just hung the phone up with a 92 year old Black lady named Erma who is in my Bible Study Core Group...she is a delight and I thought I'd tell you a little about her.  First, she says she's "29" instead of 92!  And, when she's not well, she says "I've been better, but I'm doing okay"  You'll never hear a negative thing from Erma and her faith is rock solid, too.

Today, her ankles are hurting and she feels a bit weak.  In my own little obtuse way I asked her  "Erma, why are you feeling weak and achy?  Do you know what's causing it?"   Her voice lowered over the telephone and she said, very seriously but with a smile in it.."OLD AAAAAGE!"  (duh, Z!) 

At a luncheon a few weeks ago, I asked the ladies in the Bible study (about 15 of them) where they put the brunt of their anger and how they cope with it (we pick subjects for discussion which get some good conversations going)....one woman said she's almost 50 and angry that she's wasted 2 years on a guy who she feels she should break up with soon.  Suddenly,  ERMA chimed in with "My dear girl........you'd better get rid of him and find someone new now because it doesn't get easier to meet men when you get older"  (Remember, she's 92!)  She added "I meet men at the Sr. Center but all they ever want to talk about is..........(her voice deepened).....WORLD WAR TWOOOOO"   We laughed and then she added .."...and they want to call you BABY...Baby, baby, baby  What a great woman Erma is!   What spirit!  Her youthful, cheerful humor is an inspiration.

On the phone just now we were talking and I asked Erma what she had done for a living.  She said "I was an LVN!"  And then she added "I've done a lot of things, believe me....when I was growing up in N. Caroline, at the age of six, I cleaned porches and emptied the SLOP....for twenty-five cents a week.  My daughters don't believe me but it's true...."   I asked when she moved to California and she said she met her first husband and then came here........but she added that her family had moved to Virginia in the meantime from N. Carolina....I told her I'd love to sit and talk with her about her life...Finally, she said, not remembering it's March today, not February, "This is Black History Month......Well, Z, you might say I LIVED BLACK HISTORY MONTH!"  :-)

You've gotta love Erma! I sure do!



Jan said...

Oh, Z..what a wonderful lady she seems to be!

No doubt, her good humor, and her deep, abiding faith in God has kept her young at heart, and with no sense of bitterness, whatsoever!

One would have to believe that at her age, and her background, that she's probably had enough to make her bitter and resentful, but something has certainly kept her disposition sweet!

God bless her!

Chuck said...

Great story Z.

I get to meet some wonderful people like this in the ER all of the time.

I remember a time I went out to the waiting room to get a young lady in her early 20's that was having abdominal pain. Nothing wrong, just the usual stuff. She was a total drama queen. Slumped back in the chair moaning and crying like she was dying. I go out later and get a lady who is about 80 years old and had fallen and was having hip pain. I called her, she got up and I asked her if she wanted a wheelchair. She just smiled and said no she would just walk. It was a real disparity in how the generations differ. The young lady had this "it's all about me" entitlement mentality and the older lady was just going to tough it out, she didn't need a hand from anyone.

I see this scenario repeated everyday in the ER.

Beverly said...

Oh, what a delightful post. Thanks for sharing about "My friend Erma."

Anonymous said...

I would definitely love to talk to your friend. Thanks for sharing this warm story.

Z said...

I'm so glad you all find Erma so adorable, too. She's smart, she's warm and friendly, humorous, loves her family........but I THINK SHE'S A LIB! Ah, well...NOBODY can have EVERYTHING! :-)

But, seriously, she's awfully cute to look at, too, especially for 92!

Jan, you make such a good point about how she could be bitter; she didn't sound happy telling me that "clean the porches and empty the slop for 25 cents" story, but not bitter.

Chuck, don't you think it's kind of scary how soft and complaining and egocentric Americans have become? REAL disparity between generations. So sad.

Hi, Bev! So glad you liked it! xx

Mustang, wouldn't you love to sit with her for hours and hear her story? She said today "Well, if you'd like to, Z, we'll go get some JUICE and talk somewhere!"
JUICE!? :-)

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of lady I seek out, Z.

Erma is a light in the world.

Did you know that I work in a long-term care facility (aka, nursing home)?

It's interesting how I look at the residents and think to myself, "That's how I want to be someday". Some people get the most out of life and inspire others to do the same. It's a dose of beauty to spend time in their company.

Z said...

Jen, I didn't know for sure if you were working again......How do you do it with the children, etc etc?!!

People like Erma ARE lights, you're so right! (Man, that 'light' reference has been shining on me for days.. every devotional I read has it in it lately, people keep mentioning it, it was in the sermon Sunday...what am I being TOLD?)
I have another lady, over 80, who's in my group and she had a hip replacement about 2 months ago, and she is doing SO WELL, never ONCE complained of a thing! Just kept thanking us for our prayers!

These people were taught not to gripe, it was unseemly and who had time to listen to complaining!?; Today..notsomuch

Ticker said...

Beautiful story. She is Black History, not the nonsense that the race baiters choose to tell.

Z said...

Ticker, so true...Erma IS Black History, which I think is what she was implying when she said that about it!

cube said...

What a pistol. I like to chat with her too. Maybe you can talk her into blogging.

Anonymous said...

I know a wonderful black lady who's a lot like your friend Erma. Her name's Louise. She's one of those rare people you just want to go over and hug every time you see her.

I met Louise at the dialysis outpatient clinic. She's a mere 75 years old now, but she's been on dialysis for ten years -- a terrible ordeal, if you know anything about it -- and a more cheerful, positive, generous-spirited soul you could never hope to meet.

Louise looks an awful lot like Mammy in Gone With the Wind, and she has the same stalwart dignity, capacity for loyalty, affection, and good common sense of that beloved character.

Louise was widowed before her kidneys broke down. She lives alone, cannot walk, cannot drive, must use a motorized wheelchair to get around, and seems to have little to rejoice about, but she has a GLOW about her that just makes you want to be near her. Part of it is her honest religious faith. She doesn't just "believe," she KNOWS that Jesus is her best friend, and that He's with her every minute of every day.

As a result of this wonderful faith -- and of her own innate goodness and strength of character, I'm sure -- Louise makes it a practice to do whatever she can to brighten the lives of everyone with whom she comes into contact.

As a rule, elderly dialysis patients have very limited mobility and few options for social activity. Louise is no exception, but she took it upon herself to organize a Dialysis Center Dinner Group where patients, who choose to participate, can meet at an appointed time at a different restaurant each week where Louise has made special arrangements in advance to accommodate the often cumbersome crowd nearly all of whom must travel with motorized wheelchairs.

You might think such events might be grim, because it takes a mighty effort for most to get there by special public transport, but six to ten show up each week, and you never saw a happier bunch in your life. Nothing fancy -- just people who share a common problem who have learned how to be happy just to be alive -- and celebrate just being able say they've made it through still another week.

Louise amazes me. Despite her problems she still manages to visit her 103-year-old mother in South Carolina for a month each year, and makes special arrangements to have her dialysis treatments there. Not easy, but worthwhile according to Louise. I believe her.

I have no idea whether Louise is liberal or not. In her case it doesn't matter in the least. She's truly one of the thousand points of light that make living in this world a lot more pleasant than it would be otherwise. Rare and wonderful people like Erma and Louise should be a great inspiration to us all.

Anonymous said...

This was a lovely, positive thread. Too bad it didn't receive more attention.

Thanks anyway for telling us about Erma.