THE SECRET TO OUTLIVING EVERYONE YOU'VE EVER KNOWN.
Seven or so years ago, I was in Palm Springs for a weekend (as I am wont to do) & decided to visit with my Great Aunt Ide. She was, give or take 100 years old & on her deathbed. Given that the vast majority of our family is east of the Mississippi, I visited her when I could. Not so much out of obligation, but because she was a great storyteller & supremely funny. She'd only given up driving a few years before.
Previous to buying her house off South Palm Canyon Drive for maybe $25,000, she lived in Laurel Canyon when it was still primarily a mountain lion hunting community. She was a Vaudeville dancer, pals with the Three Stooges and by far, my blondest, tannest & most glamorous relative. She was known by my cousins and I simply as "Aunt Ide from California". The exotic one.
She told me tales of sex with Isaac Stern and her outspoken opinions of Bob Hope when we'd see him at Canyon Country Club.
Her lovely Filipino nurse had just made us some really average tuna fish sandwiches & left us to visit in her room.
Perhaps 15 minutes had gone by without anyone saying anything. As most of you know, I don't have much of a filter & the following conversation took place.
Me: So you've outlived everyone you've ever known?
Ide: (Her eyes open & sparkle. She grins). Every last one of em.
Me: Is it lonely?
Ide: No dear. It's the best.
Me: What's the secret?
Ide: Do you really want to know or are you just uncomfortable sitting here quietly with me?
Me: I really want to know.
Ide: Life's a very simple game, made complicated by us. I never worried about a God Damned thing in my entire life. My friends who worried the most died first. My friends who worried the least died last. And I worried less than them. I win.
Me: You never worried?
Not during the great depression, not after the death of my husband. Not ever. I knew that everything would always work out, because it always does. I smoked, I drank, I stayed out late. I had fun.
Me: That's it?
Ide: Yes. You know... more than one person called me a whore in my life.
Me: I'm going to get something to drink. Do you want anything from the kitchen?