Some time ago I had the great priviledge of meeting a (then) 109 year old woman, Evelyn Kozak. She is now 111, one of the oldest people in the country, surely (and presumably) the oldest Jewish person.
Of special interest to me is the fact that Ms. Kozak is a highly literate, extremely intelligent woman, still in full command of her fine mind. And most specifically interesting to me is the fact that she was a writer---and a most unusual one at that.
Evelyn Kozak, in addition to being wife and mother, was what actually amounted to a community scribe: many years ago, in a small New Jersey town, finding a good writer was not an easy matter, and there were people and occasions that demanded written documents.
Writing letters and documents for the less literate in her town was was an act of neighborly kindness Evelyn graciously performed, time and again. When we met, all these many years later, I was amazed by her stories related to what she had done: the turn of events that resulted from the matters she wrote about. Families reunited, scores settled, romances kindled and rekindled.
She also displayed an authentic ingenuous charm when asked by some friends of mine, along to interview her, about the dilemma of signing other's names to her writings---no dilemma at all, as far as she was concerned. She might as well have been sharing a recipe or minding a toddler...there was no effrontery involved, nothing done that was "so important" it couldn't easily be shared.
I gained so much by visiting with her---discussion of the writings of Abraham Lincoln, one of her favorite writers as well as historical figures. A brilliant commentary on her favorite novel, The Longest Walk by George Meegan.
Finally, knowing Evelyn Kozak, reminds me of the poem: When You Are Old. Full of tenderness and echoes of loss, it is one of my favorites. Enjoy...
When You Are Old
When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountain overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
--William Butler Yeats