Good day today I want to share with you a story that was shared with me over thirty years ago. The lady who honored me with her story was a retired college Professor living in the Lambuth area.
When I met Miss Lillian she was 71 retired and still mourning the lost of her sister.
The day was clear and warm for a December morning so we were sharing a cup of hot chocolate on her back porch .
Miss Lillian was laughing and sharing memories of her sister and past holidays. Then she got quiet I looked over and I saw a tear on her cheek. I reached over and held her hand.
“Sweet girl may I share my thoughts of being an invisible person.”
Being at a lost for words I just squeezed her hand.
“My sister and I never married. I came close but he was killed in the service of our country. His name was James Allan Davis he was math wizard and worked for a local bank in Jackson until he enlisted. We had 3 years of courting before he asked for my hand in marriage. The Christmas before he left we went shopping in downtown Jackson. First stop was Kisber’s where he said we were shopping for him some new dress shoes. While we were waiting for him to try on his shoes we were sitting and laughing. Then all of a sudden Mrs. Kisber tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and there she stood with a beautiful Fox wrap in her hands. She placed it around my shoulders kissed my cheek and handed me a card. I was in shock as I read the card. It simply said “My love I want you to be warm when we go to the Christmas Ball at the New Southern next weekend. Love you JAD”
“I will never forget that moment. Mrs Kisber took the wrap and my hand telling James she return me shortly. As a salesclerk put my wrap in a special Mrs Kisber took me to dressing room where 3 dresses were hanging. Since I always shopped at Kisber’s she knew my size and taste.
“She laughed as she told me I was paying for my dress.”
After I tried the dresses on we picked the emerald green evening gown no alternation needed. It was a little expensive but I was allowed to charge it. Then she told me she would have the wrap and dress delivered to my house. Then she told me what shoes to wear and what evening bag to carry. The she went back to work and I floated down to James.
James took my hand and we headed down the street deciding to have a bite to eat at the Fox before heading home. We walked past the Jewelry store and he guided me inside.
“Now we are going to look at engagement rings but that will come later for now we are going to get something else.” He said
I picked out a beautiful ring we got it sized and James put it on layaway. Then we approached the case that had necklaces and earrings. James picked out a simple gold necklace with a small emerald encased in gold with matching earrings.
“By the time we got back to my home I just knew I would wake up and it would all be a dream. It wasn’t our packages had arrived my dress and wrap plus James shoes and his new suit. He took his purchases after we made plans to go to a movie later.
“Now sweet girl I was not a beauty but the night we went to the ball I felt like a princess with my prince. The following Valentine’s I got my engagement ring. Then my dreams crashed before Christmas James had gone to war never to return. I never had the love I had with James again.”
We sat silent for a while.
“Now I have had a good life, I loved my students, living with my Sissy and volunteering in my community. Then I retired life as I knew it changed. I have had health challenges but every Christmas Sissy and I would go to all the Christmas shows. Then on Christmas Eve we would dress up and go to services. On Christmas Day we would prepare a special meal , prepare the table, get dressed up go out the back door. Walk around to the front door and pretend we were a grand party, eat our special meal and exchange gifts while listening to great holiday music. It was such fun.
Then Sissy died and I was alone. Since then I have not decorated for Christmas . One I am not able and then my heart is not in it.
I actually had a neighbor come over and criticize me. I lied and told her I was Jewish . She accepted that the fool sat at the end of the row at the Church I attend every Sunday I could. So let’s talk about being invisible.”
I will never forgot what Miss Lillian told me and how true it still is and how I and many others of a certain age can relate.
Miss Lillian told me when she and her Sissy first retired they could get out and about. They had a great community of friends at Christmas they would get so many cards and little gifts. Then the older they got things changed fewer cards, gifts ,visitors and then neither could drive. Luckily the church would check and if they were up to it send the van to get them church. Then Sissy died and it was like she no longer existed .
She looked at me and said “we weren’t the only ones others our age were going through this. At Christmas all the wonderful charities make sure children and needy families even the homeless are taken care of each year. Unfortunately the ones of us that were not blessed with children , have families that do not have time , or no longer have family alive are alone . Then so many are on fixed incomes and cannot purchase gifts even for ourselves or afford to send cards the invisible.
The next 2 years with help from a few of my friends we made sure Miss Lillian was not alone and enjoyed her final years. When she passed away she knew she was loved and not invisible.
Now my plea to you take time make sure and recognize the individuals in your life they may feel invisible. I so proud to see some taking time to adopt a “grandparent” in their community.
Look around and see what you can do to show respect and love to your elders.
Think about how you would feel if people walked away and forgot all about you. How would you react to being “an invisible person”.