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Lions Roar : July 2009
59 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2009 She dressed with a sense of style: a black beret contrasting with her silver hair, a little bit of makeup, a colorful tie, flowing jackets. She walked as though she were striding across the stage. She was a mentor and a promise of what my old age might be. aS tHe yearS paSSed, Julia complained of her failing memory. She said, “i can’t think clearly when it’s cloudy.” She didn’t read long books anymore; she couldn’t remember what had happened in the previous chapter. She spent her days in her dark apartment and tried to reconstitute her disintegrating past. i took her to doc- tors’ appointments, resolved crises that usually concerned missing objects, and attempted to make sense of her checkbook. On fridays, we went out together. it was a little challenge for us both to find something new to do every week: seeing a play or an exhibit at the art museum, having lunch at a place we’d heard about. in keeping her world from shrinking, my world expanded; we showed each other the sights from our different perspectives. She called me whenever she needed me; she called more and more often. She was slowly losing ground, especially on “cloudy days.” But she could still drive, take care of herself and her cat, more or less keep up with the bills. “i’ll be eighty years old in august,” Julia said. She mentioned it every time she saw me. i planned a big party for her. We invited all the people in her address book. Her godchildren traveled to north carolina from connecticut and california. the party was a slice of Julia’s long life: an old friend sitting happily demented in a chair, former students, young neighbors, allies in the feminist struggle. When it was over, she said, “that was absolutely perfect.”