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8 months ago

Reflections

Selected Writings & Artwork by Harriett Copeland Lillard

Rosie

Rosie 93

I love old women who smoke. I mean old women, not older women. It displays, panache, rebellion, and a delightfully cavalier attitude towards the world’s shoulds and should nots. Of course, it’s bad for them, but what the hell! They’ve survived this long smoking, why quit now? What’s another year or two off your life expectancy if you’re already eighty? People without vices are crashing bores! … Her name was Rosie. She sat in front of me at the cafeteria. Her hair was a yellow white and she wore it, not in the typical old lady style but short, bobbed, and turned up at the ends. Her face had wrinkled together as if it had been a mask of paper someone had crumpled up. Her long thin patrician nose and high cheek bones revealed the striking woman she once had been. Osteoporosis had taken its toll and she was badly bent and used a cane to steady herself when she walked. I loved her the minute she lit the cigarette. Her hands were thin, the tendons on the back sharply delineated, the fingers long and elegant as she held the cigarette. I would love to know her. Know her joys and pains, her successes and failures. Somehow she convinced me that she had lived, that nothing had escaped her sharp, intelligent eyes. Just think, if she started smoking 50 or 60 years ago, it took great courage to defy conventions and light up. This says something about her personality both then and now. It implies a gusto for life, a willingness to take risks. It makes her more human somehow. Perhaps smoking was a vice she came to late in life. If so, all the more interesting to do something so risky at such a late date. For some of us, like Rosie, life is to live, not merely extend. ˜ 94