She's almost 98 years old.
She's totally blind.
Snow white capped fluffy hair and glasses perched on top of a nose to enlarge the sightless eyes.
She is my favorite.
At first, she intimidated me. Her bark and her precise orders of everything "just so" in her house and her routine.
We visit her twice a day. Once in the AM to get her up and going, breakfast and clean up, lunch made for later in the day. Then in the evening for her dinner and bedtime routine. Otherwise, she is by herself for most of the day, with only the TV for her company.
"One more fall," the kids tell her, "and it's nursing home time."
She takes her steps as seriously as she takes her caregivers.
After about a month, I discovered this client LOVES to laugh. Sarcastic laughs really *aren't* that sarcastic and she tells me "humor and laughter" really are the elixirs of life.
For Valentine's Day I wanted to surprise her. I wanted her to feel special.
We were headed downtown anyways, a quick stop into the ancient bakery that still stood there from my client's day when she was a cashier at the grocery down the street, wouldn't take up too much time. I headed back into time of my own great grandmother, waiting at the deli counter for her wrapped kielbasa at Easter time, ordering her knot bread for a celebration, or simply staring at the glass case to pick out a pastry treat. They used the number system back then, take a paper ticket and wait. Today, the long circular cases made going through the line a quick journey.
As I opened her door that evening, paper bag with her favorite Kolachi wrapped in paper (a Polish filled pastry) and smelling wonderfully delicious, she knew I was up to something. We discussed what she wanted for dinner.
I told her I had a "field trip" that day to Minneapolis. Could she guess what I had brought her for Valentine's Day treat? Her eyes brightened like a child. I knew she could smell the pastry before I even told her.
"Did you go down Hennepin Avenue?" she asked, with a twinkle in her eye.
"Of course! It's changed, much has been redone, new businesses, and buildings," I answer.
I know the suspense is good, she likes to be told like it is.
"How about that old bakery?" she asked, hope tinged her voice.
"Yep. It's still there!" I answer and watch a smile creep in the corners of her wrinkled mouth.
I rustle the paper bag a bit for effect.
"Now I couldn't remember, was it prune or cheese, that was your favorite?"
She laughs, her sharp bark sweetened with the thought of her treat.
"Oh, whatever is available. At my age, you can't be picky."
"I got both. Which one tonight?"
As I cut up the prune filled pastry for her dessert that night, I remembered how my own grandmother cut sweets up for me as a child. She carefully made sure the filling or icing stayed where it should, that I knew it was a loving gesture to have a bakery treat. One to be savored.
As my client licked the last of her dessert that night, claiming she had literally just tasted heaven, I asked: "Was as good as back then?"
"Even better. Some things just get better with age!"
And that, was a Valentine's gift that cannot be rivaled by any diamond.