“We were as poor as Job’s turkey.” That’s what Verna declared once about her hardscrabble life growing up in Oklahoma and Texas. The expression tickled me—I’d never heard it. Evidently it was popular in the mid-19th century. Poor Biblical Job endured all manner of torment and sorrow, of course. He didn’t really have a turkey, but if he had, it would have been poor indeed.
Verna died yesterday at age 96. I met her two-and-a-half years ago when I was assigned to her through Trinity Hospice, and continued to visit her weekly in her home where she had lived since the 1940s and then in an assisted living facility.
A couple of months after I met her, Verna said cautiously after we’d been chatting generally about world affairs, “I don’t know how you vote, but I’m a Democrat.” Our dim view of Republicans was one more thing we had in common. I took her to vote on Election Day in 2012. By that time it was awfully hard for her to get up the steps at the polling place, but she did it. I told her that her vote had put President Obama over the top to win his second turn, and she laughed.
I snapped this photo not long after she moved into the assisted living place. She looks unusually serious here. The change had been hard for her, but she would tell me simply, “I try not to think about it, and just accept it.”
She may have been poor growing up, but her personality and her life had a richness. Not in money, but in her humor, love for her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, appreciation for every day, and easy laughter. She called me her friend, which was a gift.