Wednesday, July 13, 2022

‘Today is not the last day’

     “Come right in,” says Edith Renfrow Smith, opening the door to her modest single-room apartment on North Sheridan Road. “Have a seat. How have you been?”
     Curious about her. I tell her if turning 107 was a big deal, then turning 108 is also worth notice.
     “One hundred and seven will be gone in three days,” she says.
     Readers might recall meeting Smith last year: the first Black person to graduate from Grinnell College, class of 1937, a woman who met both Amelia Earhart and Muhammad Ali. Who knew jazz great Herbie Hancock as a baby. Whose grandparents were born in slavery.
     She was born July 14, 1914, two weeks before World War I broke out.
     “How was the past year?” I ask.
     “Fine,” she says.
     It was an eventful year. Smith got new hearing aids. “These are much better.” She moved from Bethany Retirement Community, where she lived for 11 years, to Brookdale.
     Why move? It’s complicated.
     “Thorek hospital bought Bethany,” she begins. “They didn’t really want it. They wanted the parking lot. That’s what they wanted.”
     The sale, Smith believes, led to a decline in the food and most everything else.

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  1. "These old men in office..." Beautiful.

  2. Nice column and best wishes to her.

  3. On the day she turned 33, my wife entered this world.


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