A posy with a purpose

. October 31, 2012.
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It seems as if my meeting Rose Ann, a.k.a. Posy, was somehow always in the cards. I am a believer in the notion that people come into your life for a “reason,” a “season” or a “lifetime,” and even though I met Posy just before her 89th birthday, I knew she was a “lifer.”  

Posy is the dressing on a cold winter’s day; layers upon layers upon layers. She is a woman of philanthropy in staggering proportions. She has helped in acquiring treasures for the Toledo Museum of Art, purchased original book illustrations to delight children and grace the walls of the main branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, founded the Blair Museum of Lithophanes (I would still be clueless as to what the heck a lithophane is if not for Posy), and delighted many a development director from her beloved University of Toledo to the opera with her generosity. This founder of Gateway Preschool (who still bumps into her former “kids” wherever we go) has opened her heart and her checkbook to those in need without blinking an eye. Yet this same woman spends HOURS deciding which of two blouses to purchase for herself at Steinmart, fights with me over the lifespan of items in her fridge and occasionally splurges on Irish butter even though it’s nearly four bucks a pound. Just when I thought I had her figured out, I was on the receiving end of a firm “Dearie what WERE you thinking?” upon my return from purchasing the smallest vodka bottle for Posy and her companions.

It blows my mind that a near-90-year-old downloads photos off her computer when my own mother’s tech savvy is limited to playing spider solitaire on her new laptop. Posy is “with it,” hip by any standard and loves to shock me with her keen wit. Once after venting about a gentleman I briefly dated invading my private text messages she said with a wink, “This is why I don’t put my lovers’ contact info in my cell phone.” Posy is also spontaneously adventurous. She quickly learned that if you express a desire to see your great-grandchildren me, a fellow cancer survivor, a “bucket trip” will surely follow. We loaded up my Ford DGE (it was an EDGE until my youngest backed into the mailbox and lost the “E”), with chocolate,  water bottles, “The Hunger Games” book on tape, massive amounts of Advil and my 14-year-old exchange student from China and hit the road to our nation’s capital. Let me tell you, massive bonding occurs after spending hours in a closed vehicle, breaking only to visit turnpike restrooms.

Posy comes to mind when I think of the poem Nadine Stair wrote when she was 85. “If I had my life to live over, I would take more chances, I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more sunsets.” Our Posy does not need a “do over” life. She has lived life to the fullest with an “attitude of gratitude.” She has traveled to parts of the globe that I don’t know how to pronounce or find without a Google assist. There is a world map in her office where she and her beloved late husband Bob put thumb tacks (a.k.a. push pins *pronounced puuuush piins, to my Southern brother) to mark all the  places they ventured. While helping her tidy up her desk (a daunting task when you are dealing with a sentimental freak of nature) we discovered photos of her on an ostrich, camel, elephant, gondola, and dune buggy. The woman was willing to ride anything (okay, that didn’t come out right, but you get the picture). Last year Posy, a two time cancer survivor, received the news that the disease had returned. She decided to brave surgery despite the concerns of many. She knew it would be a tough recovery but told me, “I’m not ready for it to end. I’ve had a grand time! I have much more living to do.” That she does, and when she finally leaves this world for her next big adventure, I’m sure my “Posy with a Purpose” will be waiting on the other side, cocktail in hand, hoping I have the courage to use up every blessing, every talent and every opportunity I have had at my disposal before joining her.