We went to Sisters for a cup of coffee. They make the best vanilla lattes at Sisters Coffee House. I drive out once a week to sit there by the massive stone fireplace, drinking one of those lattes and people-watch.
Or to eavesdrop on conversations.
Yesterday there was a woman who looked a lot like Joan Baez offering advice to a man debating about when to buy investment property. They never made a decision but they sure seemed to enjoy debating the pros and cons.
A girl who knew me way back when I was a transfer student at Oregon State University joined me. A tried and true Oregonian, Julie told me stories of her exploration into some of the highest peaks in the Northwest. She’s a seeker of beauty, that one. She has an eye for creating beauty among the thistles and thorns of life. Give her a camera, a brush, a pen, a garden bed, a story, she will uncover the beauty.
Outside, our coffee gone, she coaxed me into a steel carriage for a photo with her spiffy camera that can find the one brow lash gone awry. Only for a friend would I climb into a pumpkin made of steel and velvet.
We were headed back to the car, walking on the sunny side as we are both prone to do, when a woman called out to us: “Are you sisters? You walk like your sisters!”
“Sisters in our hearts,” I replied while Julie laughed and shook her head.
Oh, sorry, said the woman with the head full of luxuriant grey hair and generous smile. She effused joy. I don’t know if it was the sun upon her or her own inner light emitting all around her, but she was literally shinning.
I’ve had the best news, she said, not caring that we were complete strangers.
Tell us, we urged her. We love good news. Who doesn’t these days?
My doctor thought I had Alzheimer’s, so he ran a bunch of tests and they came back negative!
Oh! My! That is good news! Julie and I replied in near unison. Neither of us asked why her doctor may have thought that to begin with, but she told us. She’d had a houseful of company over the holidays in a home suited more for two than for seven.
Is it any wonder they thought something might be wrong with me? she laughed.
I nodded, a little surprised that given the stress of this past year that someone in my family has recommended I be tested for mental lapses. Don’t worry, I won’t be running for president any time soon.
She moved to Sisters 15 years ago now. Volunteers at various places around town. Is part of a book club that is very active. They are reading a book right now about the use of elephants during World War II, fascinating stuff.
And she tested negative for Alzheimer’s.
When is the last time you were hugged? my friend Julie asked. Have you been hugged today?
So we stood there, on that sidewalk in the sunshine, the three of us, and did a group hug. We let out a little whoop-whoop that this woman, who thought we were sisters, had received a clean bill of health because that is worth whooping it up over any day of the week.
Then my sister-friend and I drove away. As we headed down Main Street, we passed a group of people, some waiting to cross the streets, but set back from the road was an white-haired man in a camel-colored jacket, his arm extended, his broad hand resting upon the shoulder of a black man, also elderly, also distinguished looking with his salt-and-pepper hair.
“That would have made a great photo,” Julie said.
There’s probably a great story there between the two of them, I mused.
Maybe they were brothers who found each other in Sisters.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND: A novel (Mercer University Press).