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Mrs. Solloway was a grand old gal. She was caring and welcoming, sweet, smart, and sassy. Mrs. Solloway was a true Southern lady, with a bit of a rebellious streak built in. To me, she was a friend, a confidant, a story-teller, and a mentor.
We would share long afternoons, sipping tea and snacking from her lovely green depression glass plates. She had the whole set, tucked away in a china cabinet. Though they were so much more lovely than my mother's own titanium-strength Corelleware, we ate off of them whenever I would visit. She would always be dressed well, skirts, stockings, jewels galore. Mrs. Solloway wore clip-on earrings so large they made her ear lobes droop from the weight, but she wore them well. She always kept herself up, always wore her best, living her last days to the fullest.
Mrs. Solloway had no children of her own. Rather, she relied on others' offspring to keep her busy. As a young wife, I imagine now that she suffered from infertility. She took on a neighbor's sons as her own, though I never knew whether she truly adopted them, or just loved them as she did me. At any rate, she called them her "boys" and treasured their company. I often wondered why she raised boys, rather than girls, but now I understand the particular joy that a young Adam can bring to one's life.
When I would visit, nearly every day, we would never play traditional games. While my granny was good for a hand of rummy or blackjack, or to play backgammon or work a puzzle, Mrs. Solloway would weave stories of her youth, of her husband, her boys, her life during the war. She always asked about school, too. Though Mrs. Solloway was born over a century ago, she was an educated woman. She had learned how to drive a car, and was one of the only older ladies in the apartment complex who did drive. She had co-written some book about our community's history for the historical society. She would show me parts of the book from time to time, though as a young girl, I took no interest in history. She encouraged me, and loved me, and taught me many things. I do not recall how we came to meet, but I am so glad we did.
Mrs. Solloway passed on back in 1997. She had fallen and broken her hip, then became very ill while in the hospital. It was her time. Over the ten years that I knew her, she taught me many things. Among them, be true to yourself, share your time with others, help however you can, be a volunteer, practice hospitality, don't take yourself too seriously because you can't possibly be perfect, keep a tidy home that is always open to guests still working on this one, and that life is fleeting, so live it to the fullest and make memories every day. Mrs. Solloway made many memories during her ninety-some years in this world. I plan to do the same.
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