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What's Her Secret?
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"Have you been as busy as I have?” my friend Betty asks when I come to see her. I’m not sure how to answer.

Betty, a retired school teacher and widowed for over 20 years, is now 93 years old. When she first told me her age I thought she was joking because she seems much younger. Betty moves easily around her home, not even bothering to hold the railing when she goes up and down steps.

Betty doesn’t need anyone to live with her. In fact, she’s taking care of the students who live in her basement apartment. She makes sure they eat right, and today she’s doing their laundry.

As we walk into the kitchen I see that her counter tops are covered with items for the care packages she’s assembling for needy families. “I’ll probably end up in the poorhouse someday,” she laughs, “but I love doing this.”

When we move into the living room Betty picks up an overcoat. “Last week I went shopping for Maria,” she tells me. “That poor girl had no decent winter coat!” As she hands me the coat I notice that it is a handsome, high quality, water-resistant model with several outstanding features, including a zip-in liner. My guess is that the garment I’m holding is a nicer winter coat than the one hanging in Betty’s closet. 

Ten Pounds to Lose

On pleasant days Betty is out watering her flower garden or fussing over the little dogwood tree that isn’t growing properly. On chilly days she’s reading magazines about health. “I have to lose 10 more pounds,” she exclaims firmly. “But Weight Watchers is helping me.”

In the autumn Betty starts updating her Christmas card list – no small job for someone who sends over 500 holiday greetings. Because of her failing eyesight she does need help with that.

But today I have come to do some sewing for Betty. “Now you know I’d be doing that myself if I could see better,” she reminds me. I have no doubts that she would. Her deteriorating eyesight is the “thorn in her flesh” which also keeps her from driving. But one of Betty’s many friends is always happy to drive her places. It’s a pleasure to be around Betty because she’s so spunky -- she always has a big smile, a story, or something amusing to relate. "I keep telling my boys they can’t have a birthday party for me every year,” Betty laughs. “They did a big one when I turned 90. Now they just have to wait till I’m a hundred or so.”

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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