I have a 70 year-old friend. I am constantly in awe of my friend, Joyce. Now, I do not believe in the religious idea of reincarnation. But, I do believe that throughout our lives we have been many different people.
My friend amazes me. She never stops. She has more energy than someone 20 years her junior. Certainly more than me. She has had so many past lives. Each one in some way touching someone else.
At 69 my friend graduated as a Chinese Medical DOCTOR! I was so proud to attend her graduation. I couldn’t decide whether to clap, or cry, or whistle. You see I have an ear-splitting, high decibel whistle. So, being me, I did all three! Luckily,it wasn’t just those in the many rows around me heard my whistle. My friend heard it, too.
I know me. If I were her I am sure I would not have made it past the horrible auto accident she survived when she was 54. I am just now 54. I know, without hesitation, there is no way I would have or could have fought back as hard and as long as she did. With most of the bones in her body broken among other damages done she still fights. Not that you would know it but, she endures daily pain. Her love threshold is as high as her pain threshold.
I nearly have one, the pain threshold. But, not the other. Since I met her about 3 years ago it wasn’t long before I realized that I want to be her when I grow up.
I want to be as loving, energetic, inquisitive, and driven as my friend. I am not. But, I want to be. Two years ago she and our friend Ellen generously invited me to join them on a weekend trip to Vancouver, BC. I kvetched about the accommodations. Neither of them had a single complaint. Clearly, I have a LOT to learn from them both.
In her 70th year she still teaches. At 69 she taught me basic Hebrew. I always say I am at the kindergarten stage. I have a definite penchant for not learning languages. I think this makes me all the more happy to hear her layn or chant Torah.
My Chinese Medical Doctor friend also teaches her patients about themselves and how their bodies work and can work better. I know this, because I am one. Sitting next to her several Friday nights at services I, as is my norm, complained about the pain in my neck and shoulders. I am a HUGE skeptic. She gently and consistently encouraged me over many weeks and months to let her try acupuncture on me saying little more than, “I think I might be able to help you.” I resisted until I finally just couldn’t take it any more and made an appointment with her. Before I left my first in-depth session I felt better. The pain had reduced perceptibly. After several more sessions the pain was nearly gone. unfortunately, the insurance ran out before all the pain. But, she helped me SO much. I am now an acupuncture convert.
She also teaches at Camp Rosenbaum. She has taught during the summers at this camp for many years. Teaching kids who might not otherwise have an opportunity to learn. Camp Rosenbaum’s mission is hers. That is “[ ] to show these children they can choose to live a better life away from the troubled paths of dropping out of school, crime, gangs, drugs and violence.”
Even while she was herself learning to become a Chinese Medical Doctor she taught other students acupuncture at this school. Largely, because before she went back to Oregon College of Oriental Medicine for her CMD she became an Acupuncturist. in, what, your 50’s or your 60’s?
My friend had learned, in one of her earlier lives, all about the body as a Physical therapist, in Western medicine. So, WHERE DID HER DESIRE FOR EASTERN MEDICAL education come from????? Please raise your hand if you know. Let’s kibbitz later.
At diffferent points in time my friend will get a telephone call from some upper echelon rank on base and off she goes to teach people how to fly. Really! In another life she was in the military. She is a navigator.
At some point, her past-lives timeline escapes me, she majored in and taught fine arts. One day we were attending a city-wide Shabbat service at Cedar Sinai/Shnitzer Manor and she pointed out the lettering on one of the podiums. “I did that.” I am an idiot and had to ask what she meant. Some decades ago, she tells me, she designed and created the lettering on that podium. It is still beautiful. Very much like my friend. These are only some of the few things I admire about my friend.
Oh yeah, we have both been known to pick bird shit off each others shoulders.
In short, when I grow up I want to be more like her.