She Was A Library
By Jim Fannin
It was a very long flight. Chicago to Hawaii nonstop was my journey. I sat next to the most wonderful woman. Her name was Jean. She was born in Chicago on August 16, 1922.
Here’s what I learned from this very kind, soon-‐to-‐be 90-‐year old, beautiful soul.
Do you remember the Great Depression? “Absolutely!” She responded without hesitation. What was it like? I questioned. “People shared. You never threw anything out. Someone else might need it or you could find a purpose for it later. We were tough…in a good way.”
What was it like after the Great Depression? We all worked hard. We were focused. It seemed like I always had a little less money than something would cost. In 1937 I needed shoes for communion. They cost $1.75 and I only had $1.67. However, the storekeeper gave them to me anyway. That’s the way it was.
What was it like during World War II? “There was more trust back then. We didn’t believe or expect that someone would take advantage of us even though it could happen. Sometimes it did. Mostly it didn’t happen. Every one was very friendly. I worked as a hostess at a restaurant at Oak and Rush in Chicago. I knew everyone…even the big shots. Everyone was nice back then.”
Were you married? “Yes. My beloved. He made the transition 26 years. I remain his widower.”
Do you have any children? “I have six children. I raised four daughters and two boys. I taught them to help each other. And they did. I was their parent much more than their friend. Parents today want or need to be friends with their kids. That
makes it hard to manage. Respect is less. Now that they’re older, we’re friends but I’m still mom.”
Who is your all-‐time favorite singer? “Elvis…especially when he sang gospel music. He was so soulful. He sang from his heart.”
What advice would you give a young person today? “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
What’s wrong with the world today? “Too much chaos. However, out of chaos comes a new world order. We are in the middle of this happening.”
What helped you most in life? “I never developed a poverty consciousness. I was always positive. This mindset helped me stay healthy all these years.”
What 3 pieces of advice would you give the world?
- “Attract loving people in your life. Try to love everyone even if one seems unlovable. There is a person I know that really makes it hard to love them. I pray for her all the time.”
- “Save for a rainy You never know when it’s going to rain hard.”
- “Be Kindness will always lead you to an opportunity to better yourself.”
What do you do daily that keeps you so young? “I listen to classical music every night.”
How lucky was I on this long trip? Sitting next to Jean was a joy. It was a privilege. I was blessed with her company. Her family kept coming up to her during the flight to check on her. Maybe it was to see if she was bothering me or if I was bothering her. Jean just waved them off and said over and over. “I’m fine. You’re disturbing my visit with Jim.”
I volunteered to give her one of my books. She wouldn’t take it because she wanted to pay for it. I told her she was disrupting my act of kindness. She understood and laughed out loud. Of course, I personalized her copy.
Jean is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience. She is a library. I pray she lives forever. When someone elderly transitions (as Jean would say) from earth, a library has burnt to the ground.
Visit your nearest favorite library ASAP. You’ll be surprised at what’s on the shelves.