Drive through my neighborhood on Thursday night and you will see everyone’s identical black trash container lined up like soldiers awaiting their, um, emptying? It’s a weekly reminder that underneath it all, we are all basically the same: We all throw out a ton of crap. Continually. There isn’t a week without garbage. But for me and my incredible neighbor Louise, it’s more than just trash day. It’s a contest. Mind you, Louise is in her 90s. You won’t know it looking at her, or talking to her, she’s simply amazing. She’s got vim and vigor, as my Grandma used to say.
Answers.com defines vim & vigor as: Ebullient vitality and energy, as in He was full of vim and vigor after that swim. This redundant expression uses both vim and vigor in the sense of “energy” or “strength.”
Perfect. They should have a picture of Louise next to their definition. She reminds me a lot of my great-grandma Adeliza Glaze. Addie. She bowled, drove and worked well into her 80s. She loved baseball, the sport of her son, Kenny. Addie also had more than a bit of spit-fire attitude in her, right up until the end. I don’t see the spit-fire attitude in Louise, but I do sense a common desire to not let life stop her from living.
The contest between me and Louise is to see who can roll the other’s garbage can back to their house before the other person does. She continually wins. And I can’t help but smile, and love her a little bit more each week.
Lately, I’ve been leaving early on Friday morning to go visit guys in prison, so I’m not around when the garbage truck rolls by, but Louise usually is. When I pull back into my driveway, there sits my black container, sitting next to my house, like Kirby at the back door, anxious to come back inside after going potty.
I’m not sure exactly why she does this. I know my reason stems from wanting to help her out. You know, she’s old, she could probably use a hand. It’s simple enough for me. I think her desire might be the same, combined with a bit of that fiery determination to show me she’s still more than able.
I just talked to Louise out in front of my house. She looked like a million bucks, like she was going to have lunch with the other ladies from the Country Club. I told her how beautiful she looked.
“I’m going for a check-up,” she smiled.
“Well, I hope it’s a good report.” I tried to be optimistic, forgetting how impossible it is to one-up her chipperness.
“You know, It’s not big deal.”
It seems like all the things I worry about are such a big deal, but as I get older, the things that used to be so big, are in fact quite small, or even non-existent.
“You just have to live life,” she continued. “You can’t worry about tomorrow. Enjoy today. That’s all you have to do.” She keeps reminding me of this truth each time I see her. I believe her. Again, for the first time.
Thanks, Louise. I needed that. I’m glad you live next door to me, and I’m glad that we have trash day on Friday.