It has been much too long since I posted to Theme Thursday. The fates have been against me it seems. Whenever I was available to play I could not manage to come up with the right photo. When the photo was there, then living a full life would get in the way.
This week's theme is not an easy one. I took a dozen photos of different mirrors over the last week but they all had some glare or bad reflection. I gave up and resigned myself to waiting for another week then, there it was--- the perfect shot, sitting in my archives discovered during an unrelated search this afternoon.
So here I am, late to the party. But, now I have a photo of a mirror and a wonderful story to share about its owner. I snapped this shot of the coffee table in the living room of a very dear friend who came into my life three years ago when I married the Old Salt.
Tess, is 89 years young. Yes, I said young and that is what I meant. I have never met a person of any age as active, creative and productive as Tess, Even though she suffers from gout, and has had both knees replaced; and they are long past the time of needing to be replaced again, she never seems to sit still. She has a stained glass studio in her home as well as a large sewing room, and both are in constant use. A large tin on top of her refrigerator is always full of homemade cookies. Her freezer is lined with neatly stacked and labeled rows of delicious home made casseroles. And, the Old Salt tells me that he has visited with Tess in at least four different homes over the years, and even when he popped in unannounced for a visit, her home always looked ready for a photo shoot by Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
Someone who can do all of the above at a young age is exceptional but to do it, seemingly effortlessly, at an age when most of us would consider walking unaided an accomplishment is amazing. And that is just the beginning of Tess's accomplishments. The most fascinating thing about Tess is not what she does now, but the life she has already lived and all the memories,stories and adventures she has to tell about it.
Tess lost her Mother at a young age and, along with her siblings, spent several years in the care of nuns at a Catholic orphanage. Her father eventually reclaimed them and, though she was not the oldest, the preteen Tess became the chief cook, housekeeper and caretaker of her family once they were reunited. She managed to put herself through business school and became a private secretary in the corporate world long before women became a staple in that world.
I'm sure you have all seen that famous WWII photo of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. Tess's first husband "Paul" was a Marine killed on Mount Suribachi just a day before that flag was raised. She was left with an infant son to raise alone. Her husband's best friend and fellow Marine "Bill" visited Tess in Chicago to return Paul's personal belongings. They stayed in touch. After WWII Bill remained in the marines and was stationed overseas when his wife (in the states) abandoned their children. Tess stepped in and cared for Bill's two children until his return. They eventually fell in love, married and adopted each other's children. Tess spent the remainder of Bill's military career moving around the world. She raised respectful and intelligent children while turning the most humble military housing into a warm and cheery home. She worked tirelessly to become the perfect officers wife so Bill could continue to climb in the ranks. I am continually blown away by the list of people Tess knew. She made halloween costumes for the children of General Chesty Puller when her Bill was serving on his staff. She delivered casseroles to the homes of suffering families of marines who served in three wars, attended parties hosted by heads of state, but mostly she made sure her children and all the children around her were loved during the frequent absences of their fathers.
To this day, her mail box and her e-mail are full of greetings and friendly messages from friends around the world. Barely, a week goes by that someone passing through the area doesn't stop by to spend a night or have a meal. Her guest room is often occupied by old friends who plan vacations around a visit with her.
Tess has outlived two husbands and two of her children. She is a decade older than the friends she regularly visits in nursing homes. She still drives and delivers casseroles to shut-ins and families in crises. She has already arranged her own funeral and written her own epitaph. She talks about the day she will be buried as she puts it, "with her two marines" in the National Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas. We always tell her we hope that day is still a long time in the future because she has unfinished projects to complete and many friends who need her.
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