“No particular accomplishments but she had lots of friends and loads of fun/See Ya!”—Freddie Webb, 92
I love that the hilarious, colorful Freddie Webb wrote this about herself, for her own obituary. And I also love that Dunedin, Florida, residents organized a golf cart parade in her honor, a couple weeks after she died on June 27.
The carts were decorated with an array of bright, shiny ornaments and stuffed animals, and the drivers wore quirky orange hats, like she had.
"Lots of friends and loads of fun." As I previously mentioned, I didn't personally know her, yet she inspired me to write about her (twice now) because her big smile, friendly wave, and perfect uniqueness—her utter authenticity—brought me joy. And spreading joy while reminding people through example to just be themselves is one hell of an accomplishment, Freddie.
You can read the Tampa Bay Times article about her tribute parade here. [Photo courtesy of Barbara Ferguson Carrier via the Tampa Bay Times]
I recently watched If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast on HBO. It's about a group of famous nonagenarians, and it examines whether you can still enjoy yourself at that late life stage. The documentary interviewed such well-knowns such as Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Betty White and Dick Van Dyke. The latter, besides being a bit of a cornball, is a wonder — the man moves like he's 35. And that's what he says is vital to enjoy your 90s: keep moving, and use your brain. (Meanwhile, Betty White is writing books like a demon.)
Since I think, as humans, we are generally wired to be afraid of aging, I found this film both inspiring and reassuring. Because what we can't avoid is that our bodies, like cars or pretty much everything else, start to act up a bit as we age. So Dick's advice is good, and since I have a sedentary job, I have to up my game on the moving front. I have a back full of hardware, thanks to spinal surgery, but that's not an excuse: I can swim. I can walk. I can run. I can cycle. I must do better.
And I can still wreak havoc if I want. In fact, I intend to. There was a woman named Freddie who was 92 in my small Florida town, and she was a rip. She died last week, and I shall miss seeing her. Freddie was a rule breaker: She zipped round downtown in her golf cart, which was decorated with plastic flowers, and she was always accompanied by big stuffed animals. She smiled, waved, and pretended as though she was about to run people over, and then swerved at the last minute while laughing her head off. She loved colorful, floppy hats. She loved color — in fact, she embodied color. She once gave a woman a ride, and Freddie drove her cart where she wasn't supposed to be driving it. The woman asked her, "Aren't you worried about getting in trouble with the police?" Freddie replied, "I'm faster than they are!" and let out a naughty cackle.
She was funny, and fun-loving, and lived life by her own rules. Some people would complain on social media that she was dangerous, or inappropriate, or a menace. I don't ever want to be that kind of person. I shall miss seeing her, and I won't forget her. If I catch myself feeling agitated because of pain, or complaining about having a sore back, or feeling tired, I'll think of Freddie, who was decades older than me. Then I'll shut the hell up, and get off the sofa and go have a good time, and perhaps break a few rules, and laugh my head off. Because we only get one go at this life thing. So I'd better start moving.