Tag Archives: Irene

Day 254: Remembering Irene

16 Dec

When we moved to Portland, my daughter Alexandra was just about two. We lived in an apartment in a residential neighborhood in the southeast section of the city. Behind our apartment was a house where Irene and Victor lived and occasionally we would see them out in their garden in the evening. One day I went out into our very small backyard with Alex and Irene came over to the fence to meet us. While we were chatting, Victor walked over to the fence carrying a tomato he had just picked. He was looking at Alex and me when suddenly Irene said “Victor, give her that tomato!” I could tell by the look on his face that Victor was confused. He must have been thinking, “I thought I just picked that tomato from my garden” but yet there was Irene telling him to give it to Alex. In any case, that was the day our friendship with Irene and Victor began.

When I met Irene she was 86 years old… and I knew her until she died at nearly 104. My own mother had died just two years before we met, and Irene helped to fill the empty place in my heart almost immediately. Often I would get up early before my husband left for work and go over to Irene’s in my pajamas and have a cup of coffee with her and Victor. He was a year or two older than Irene and had already had a stroke by the time I met him. This sometimes affected his speech but not his spirit.

One really interesting fact about Irene and Victor is that they were both married to other people for nearly 50 years before they were married. What surprised me is how much they loved and appreciated each other – as if they had waited all those years for true love to come along – and it finally did!

I caught a glimpse of that bond as I sat with them one morning. Irene was telling a story when suddenly Victor tried to say something. When he was excited he could not speak, because of the stroke, and was making sounds like “ba ba ba” as he tried to tell her what was on his mind. Irene calmly looked at him and said, “You are remembering about your brother… and continued on with what she knew Victor was trying to say. When I looked back at Victor he was nodding, tears streaming down his face, because she was right. Of course by then tears were streaming down my face as well because I had witnessed this tender moment.

Today I was thinking about Irene and missing her and thought I would bring a pie to Irene’s niece, Shirley. Though I’d never been to her house, I just took a chance that she would be home… and I was lucky because she was. We sat and talked for a while and I learned that she has recently been through a very difficult time. And then she told me that tomorrow she and her husband will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. How fortunate that I was able to bring a pie in time to celebrate that amazing milestone. It was when I was driving home that I wondered if perhaps Irene had been whispering in my ear to go and visit her niece and send her love. At least I’d like to think it could have had something to do with her.

Day 167: Irene

20 Sep

Today is the day I have been looking forward to for some time now. It is the day that my daughter arrives from Copenhagen after being gone for two years! We visited with her last spring and then again last winter but she has not been home for so long and we are very excited to see her.

When I thought of the pie for the day, of course I thought of presenting my daughter with a pie at the airport. However, I know that she has been eating differently and I did not want to make her a pie that she could not eat. So then I thought, since I will be at the airport, I should give a pie to a TSA employee. But they would probably take it and then throw it away… and that would not be good.

On to Plan B (or is it C?) Tuesday is Lucky Number Day at Bi-Mart stores, and so today I thought I would honor a Bi-Mart employee who has been a cheerful representative of Bi-Mart for many years: Irene. While I could not tell you a lot about Irene, what I do know is plenty: she hails from Ireland and she loves to tell jokes. Why did the Irishman only put 239 beans in his chili? Because he didn’t want it to be 240 (two-farty).

Here’s a lovely illustration of Irene’s character: A year or so ago I was at Bi-Mart behind a woman who had a child with cerebral palsy. The boy was in a stroller and we were on Irene’s checkout line. When it was their turn to be waited on, Irene turned her full attention on that boy and he was so happy to be acknowledged. His Mom said that the reason that they visited the store was so that her son could visit with Irene. It was wonderful to see the animated exchange between those two – and I greatly appreciated Irene’s consideration of that boy.

For a while Irene was featured in a local paper with her joke of the week (or was it month?) Then came the fateful day when Irene shared a joke that some considered too risque. And that was the end of Irene’s joke sharing. Just like that, it was over. And all because of a silly parrot joke.

Today I presented Irene with an Apple, Walnut, and Raisin Pie. She’s been an integral part of our community and I want to thank her for all that she does to make us feel welcome everyday.