Beth over at the Daily Devil recently posted about the death of the writer of webdeb90, a woman in hospice care in Columbus, Ohio who decided, at age 90, to start a blog.
I followed Beth's link to her site and was delighted to get an "adult content" warning before I was allowed to read the blog itself. At first, my amusement was at a 90-year-old posting adult content. But on perusing her entries, I chastised myself. After all, what on earth is more "adult" than openly, truthfully discussing aging and end-of-life issues?
When I got to this post, however, I did a double take at Ms. Greene's description of "the city's finest food: Rubino's pizza, City Barbecue, [and] Block's bagels." Folks, those are my go-to spots when I'm in town (Tom's written about Rubino's here before, in fact). Clearly, she lived on the east side.
Suddenly the pieces fell into place: Phyllis Greene must be the mother of writer Bob Greene, in which case, she lived just a couple blocks down from my parents on Bryden Road. Her late husband, Robert, was a WWII vet who'd served in Italy, as had my dad, and in fact, Bob Greene interviewed my dad for his 2001 book Duty: A Father, His Son, and The Man Who Won The War.
My clearest memory, though, is an anecdote that Robert told my dad about his wartime experience, and which my dad also liked to tell occasionally.
At some point during Robert's service, an order came through saying that someone from the division needed to pick up the entertainers who had arrived to put on a USO show. Among them was Jinx "The Body" Falkenburg, a B-movie actress apparently better known for her legs than her talent.
Happily, when the call came in, Robert realized he outranked everyone else, and so insisted that he was the only one who could take on this onerous task. After making a beeline in his jeep to pick Jinx up before anyone could stop him, he then proceeded to take the longest, most roundabout route back to base with his precious cargo.
Somehow that story rooted in my head: I could just imagine the presumptuous young officer chauffeuring the leggy showgirl back to camp, thinking, "If I die tomorrow, it'll have all been worth it."
Well, all I can say is, Robert made the better choice in Phyllis. I'd like to have half her grace, smarts, and eloquence at the age I am now, 45. I hope I can approximate it when I'm twice that.
But it's her words that matter here. Read her blog, and watch this interview she did for the BBC.