Early yesterday morning I had to wear my long woolen overcoat over my dark suit with purple shirt and tie. The downstairs party room where we meet opens to the outside when it is warmer and the chill was seeping through the large closed windows. My friends, the original wise elders, were not happy with the current temperature and everywhere was heard loud grumbling coming from under blankets and sweaters.
I had a fresh batch of letters and short replies from the schoolchildren to read to them so I just began over the racket. "Thank you Wise Elders," I began in my loud teacher's voice. "I learned that it is better to give than to receive. They should make a t shirt with that on it."
This brought smiles and a few laughs from the group. Dorothy is quick and loud and she started. "Annie," she booms pointing at the always well dressed woman next to her, "They think you invented that."
Annie says with such a straight face that it is hard to tell if she is really serious when she replies, "I did."
I read more letters and we had a lovely rap session together. Even the usually quiet Molly, a slight woman with Alzheimer's who is quite the artist at 91, said a few things. We reflected about a lot of things and we had a great time doing it together.
My favorite moment came when I read one boy's short note. "Do you know any war stories? My Grandpa used to tell me war stories. What is war?"
Carl is 102 years old. He's still over six feet tall and a veteran of more than a few wars. I was eager to hear what he had to say about this, when Dorothy spoke up first. She said it quietly and spoke matter-of-factly like it was obvious. "War is what happens when people forget how to love."
Carl covered his sudden gasp with a loud clearing of his throat and added, "I couldn't have said it better myself."