A field trip that includes lunch on the town is a special feature of my colored pencil class and everybody looks forward to it. They had pushed tables together to accommodate our group of 19 students in the dimly lit group-seating-area upstairs at the Glenwood restaurant. I chose an awkward seat in the far corner where I would be on the edge of conversations between people who have known each other for years. These were not young students, and I was their least-known, most junior member.
I had planned on being alone in the crowd, but coming my way from across the room, clambering over chairs and smiling, was Irene. She squeezed behind me and forced her wiry frame into the worst seat in the house.
Oh this is fine, I'll just straddle these table legs, she says.
Irene that's an awful seat. Let's move.
Irene turns down her hearing aid and says: I like to watch people's faces. You can read them, you know. You can always tell who has troubles. Look at Adele.
I look at Adele, but she doesn't seem any different. Agreement seems easiest. Yeah.
We don't change seats, but I change the subject.
Irene you look awesome. Girl, what's your secret?
She regards me seriously, and says I have found the source, I really have.
We are in a crowded room with people ordering lunch all around and we stare at one another.
What is the source? I ask.
The source...is gratitude. Everyday I say thankyouthankyouthankyou. I say it all day long. Thank you for this day.
Surpassing the trip to the art gallery, I have just had my favorite moment of the field trip. The waiter interrupts us and Irene talks him into something that's not on the menu. Irene is 93 years old. Everybody should have such a friend.
|Irene's drawing-in-progress of a barn that reminds her of the family's farm in Montana in the 1920's.|