Everyone should have a centenarian in their life. Today, January 4, 2012, Gladys celebrated her 106th birthday. What a delight and honor to spend some of her day with her.
Gladys is bright and sharp and quick. She loves rich, engaging conversation… a back-and-forth rally of sharing stories and following them where they will. Most of all, she loves beauty. She loves to SEE, more than anyone I know. A swatch of color or pattern. An architectural detail. Fabric or a fork. What may seem insignificant will stop her in her tracks: “That just floors me!”
These hands of hers have known both beauty and hard work.
In the three or four years that I’ve known Gladys, she’s allowed me to make photos of her and she’s gotten just a little bit comfortable when my camera’s out.
Gladys and I went to the local pub for lunch one day in 2011. The cutlery there is rolled up in a cloth napkin. When Gladys unrolled her silverware, she held up her fork and said, “Will you just LOOK at that fork! Isn’t that just beautiful!?”
This portrait of Gladys at 105 looks like she’s seeing the unseen… like she’s pondering something quizzical. It suits her. (Her late husband made her necklace using fine opals that he put into the cheap setting she had bought; he grumbled about working with it.)
Gladys loves the flowers and shrubs in her yard. One day in 2011 she sent me home with a bouquet of daisies, fresh-picked.
Here’s Gladys in her living room at 104, surrounded by lush pattern and adornment, much of it decorative arts that she has created in her long lifetime.
There are a special few that have received a hand-sewn Raggedy Ann doll from Gladys. She’s done every stitch with her hands and her machine. At 103, she had this doll nearly ready for the next lucky recipient.
How can anyone resist a woman (whether 103 or any age) in that classic and always-outrageous color combination of hot pink, orange and red?!
Gladys, I love you.