There was a chilly mist in the March air, but I love my early morning walks and this gray gloom wasn’t going to keep me from today’s. I stopped midway on a bridge over the creek to watch a pair of mallards silently pick and poke along the muddy bank. Nothing could ruin this perfect serenity.

“Hey!” the shrill voice called. “Beautiful, right?” The spry old woman pointed towards the ducks as she marched enthusiastically onto the bridge to stand beside me. She twirled her arms in several rapid circles, stretched her back, then leaned on the railing and began doing standing push-ups. Dressed in sweat pants and jacket, baseball cap and sneakers, she had all the markings of devoted walker.

“Hi.” I said tentatively, unsure of what was happening.

“You’re from the South, aren’t you? Hiiiii. That’s how you said it. Hiiiii.” She spoke with her back to me as she stretched her calves. “I’m betting from the South. Keep talking until I say stop and I’ll know if I’m right, but I bet from the South?”

“Yes Ma’am.” I answered.

Her head whirled around towards me.

“No need to say more.” She laughed and raised her arms over her head to bend from side to side, counting slowly to herself. “Hiiiii” She said again. “I won’t forget that!”

She stood straight and adjusted her cap. “I’m from Wisconsin.”

Introductions seemed in order. “My name is Stuart and…”.

“Oh, I won’t remember your name.” She stopped me. “But I won’t ever forget what you said.”

A quick set of jumping jacks, a couple of leg kicks, and she stopped to stretch again. “Walk much?” She asked as she jogged in place.

“Most days. And I always see something interesting.” I nodded towards the two ducks now swimming in the creek.

“Love them.” She said. “I see a lot of birds out here.”

The old woman told me about her own morning walks and rituals. Each day she got up and tried to find ways to keep herself busy. She retired thirty years ago, bought a home in the area, but now at age ninety-three had watched all her friends “move away or pass away”.  She looked down at the creek.

“Old age was ok for the first twenty years!” She giggled slightly. “I used to wonder what the point was because nothing new ever happened.”

“I understand.” I said in my most empathetic tone. “I’m fifty-six and getting older can be rough.” I awaited her sympathy.

“Fifty-six?” She adjusted her cap again. “Why, you’re just a little squirt!”

Forced to defend my comment I agreed with her that I wasn’t elderly, but she herself said the older she got the more she wondered why. She couldn’t see the point.

“I said I used to wonder.” She corrected.

“But it dawned on me.” She continued. “I can walk and move and see and enjoy. I shouldn’t start the day just waiting for good things to come and find me. That’s the wrong approach.”

She took off her jacket. I held it as she finished a final set of standing push-ups.

“It’s like this.” She took back her jacket and stared me in the face. “I woke up this morning and that’s more than some people did. The rest is up to me.”

At ninety-three years of age this little whirlwind of a woman had the perfect attitude. I was impressed at the start by her jumping jacks and push-ups, but now she had captivated me with her words. I wanted to hear more. I listened for the next nugget of advice but she clearly had places to go. She put her jacket back on and zipped it up.

“My name is Nadine and…”

“Oh, I won’t remember your name.” I smiled as I interrupted. “But I won’t ever forget what you said.”

Stuart M. Perkins


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234 responses to “Nadine

  1. What a sweet story! I bet that made your day! My Gramma’s name was Nadine and we were so close. She passed at the young age of seventy-three. Makes me wonder what she would have been like at ninety-three!

  2. Tucker perkins

    That’s so well done. What a talent. Great wit p

  3. WoW! What a lady at 93. Brilliant read Stuart. I’m inspired by the way you write.

  4. Stuart, I enjoy your posts, recently, the one about the oak tree rings. I had just written a piece on Old Mulberry Trees. I’ve been a bit quiet on my writing blog because I’ve been finishing my memoir,’Eaglehawk Girl. A Free Range Child’, (I’m from Victoria, Australia) now published by Brolga and available in the US on Amazon – free shipping, I believe. You’ve written a lot about your childhood too and I think that childhood is a rich period of one’s life. All the best. Liz Low.

  5. Ah, but you did remember her name! 😉 Lovely story x

  6. Life is a short gift, enjoy it as it lasts and while you still can. Be like Nadine everyone!

  7. barefootyogini44

    as a carer for a 95 year old who is starting to decline, i really enjoyed reading this. thank you.

  8. Deskraven

    What a precious reminder. Thank you for sharing.

  9. What a wonderful encounter! It sure made me smile. How wonderful to have made this acquaintance;hopefully you’ll run into one another again soon.

  10. Spry little old ladies are wonderful creatures. We lost one at our church on Saturday, very much like Nadine. She would have been 98 on Wednesday. We wont forget a lot of things about her. Wonderful post. Thank you for the smile.

  11. Ennle Madresan

    WOW, this was really GOOD! She puts me to shame…I’m moaning about being mid-60’s while I maintain my sedentary lifestyle, as if “cerebral interests” are somehow superior to making an effort to stay physically fit…guess I got taken down a peg 🙂

  12. This was a really good read. My grandfather’s a nonagenarian and I admire his zest for life. I feel jaded in comparison.

  13. Did this really happen? First time to visit your blog. It’s a great story!

    • Oh yes! I’ve seen her twice now. All of my posts are true. I’m sure I never get exact dialogue, but I put it down as close to what I can remember as possible! Thanks for checking it out!

  14. Marcela

    This is so powerful and lovely 🐰❤️

  15. I love this!! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Reblogged this on THOUGHTS OF A POET IN THE RAIN and commented:
    What a great little story. Very sweet. Great visions. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Exactly what I needed to read on a day like today. This reminds me how much effort it takes to spend a few horrific days in self pity land. And I’m just 59. Just 59.

  18. I love this! I live my life being thankful for every breath and making sure I enjoy each one. She sounds like an interesting person. Great story.

  19. I laughed when she called you a little squirt…at 56…I was going you a spring chicken…

  20. I love the unfolding of the interaction. Very cleverly expressed, and I am so intrigued by how you turned it around at the end to repeat her original phrase. Ironically, I would probably tell someone that too-I am always remembering a story and not someone’s name, so I was definitely enamored by the story and the comment!

  21. Wow. Nadine is quite an inspiration! Thanks for the delightful story.

  22. I was drawn in from the opening sentence right through. The ending rings true.

  23. Bravo, Stuart! Well done with this poignant reminder to seize joy from even the most unlikely places!

  24. Great story and a good advice for us as we gain in years.

  25. Laurie Jarratt

    Made me smile!
    Keep these coming! I love them!

  26. Great blog, thanks for following mine and I’ve reciprocated. Cheers for now from Norfolk, UK. 🙂

  27. What a delightful and memorable ‘slice of life’! You met a wise woman on your walk that day and she met a brilliant writer.

  28. Lovely… I want to learn to write like this…

  29. Stuart, I’ve enjoyed your writing, and this account inspires me. I’m a mere 80, retired 20 years, and after some health problems am too inactive. I do garden, sew, go camping (RV) crabbing, fishing, with my (younger!) husband. And I have recently published a novella and a memoir, available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (type my name in Search). But your story inspires me to get out, be more active and CHALLENGE MYSELF to live life fuller, whatever is left. Thanks.

  30. How kind of you to read my blog! Very pleasantly touched by your story here, and am hoping to always remember your message! Peace and love always!

  31. Ah, a story that made me smile and feel better about my age. It’s all about attitude, ain’t it? 😉

  32. I’d love to meet her!

  33. “It’s like this.” She took back her jacket and stared me in the face. “I woke up this morning and that’s more than some people did. The rest is up to me.”
    I also will remember this.
    Thank-you, Stuart!

  34. This is not only a great story, but also a good lesson in life.

  35. I am loving Nadine! I am 61 and share her philosophy, and I totally plant be her when I grow up 😁

  36. We need to remember older doesn’t mean weak or feeble. Great story 🙂 Hoping for some warriors with wisdom to play LARP battle against this summer.

  37. What a fantastic woman, and I love the way you told it. Thanks for the blog follow.

  38. A really great story, with a message. Thank you

  39. Woo hoo! Love that! Great little story!

  40. Great story! I also liked the one about the rings on the tree!

  41. I have found a lot of wisdom from old women.

  42. what a great reflection of age, and I LOVE the line “Fifty-six?” She adjusted her cap again. “Why, you’re just a little squirt!” 🙂

  43. Hahaha! This was awesome to read. Especially the ending.❤

  44. I really enjoy reading your life’s insights.

  45. Intrigued to see what you write next. Amazing content

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