Owl-like, the woman blinked at me with big, milky-brown, eyes magnified through thick lenses. She sat wrapped in a grungy bathrobe with her brown, ashy feet shoved into slippers, soft pink and stained.
“Are you my new girl?” she asked me.
I ignored the woman calling me a girl, although, she had every right.
“I’ve never met another 104 year old before,” I said opening my mouth and allowing whatever words would form to spill out and into the air.
“What?” she asked. Of course she couldn’t hear me, her ears were old and I am soft spoken.
This should have been my chance to revise my approach, but instead, I asked, “Have you ever met another 104 year old person?”
She blinked at me with her owl-like eyes again, and smiled, exposing a lovely set of dentures.
“I don’t know, honey. Have I ever met any 104 year olds?”
Before I could answer, she clasped her knarled and veiny hands together, and continued.
“No, I don’t believe I have met any other 104 year olds. I guess I’m the only one,” she proudly declared, and began to giggle.
Her laughter was silly and child-like, unburdened and free from being self-conscious or properly contained.
The sound of a giggling centenarian is rare and fleeting, like a pair of blue herons flying overhead or a perfect solar eclipse. It was refreshing and honest, music to a weary soul, on this afternoon.
It was a simple lesson easily learned; there are some things that a person should never outgrow and some things better left in the past.
Yes, you, my dear 104 year old woman, really are the only one like you.