When I first met Rita, she had just turned 90. She was the mother of my boss and a savvy businesswoman.
She was nearly blind, lived alone in her home, and I visited her regularly. But not in the way someone would normally visit a 90-year old woman. These were business visits. She was signing all the checks I had written for her properties.
Don’t get me wrong… we socialized. But I would always have to bring my A-game. She was sharp, and didn’t miss a thing. And she remembered everything. We would continue conversations left off from previous visits.
Each year as Christmas neared, I would come over to go through stacks of catalogs with her as she would pick out items to order for her friends, family and employees.
The definitive southern woman, happy hour was a thing. Entertaining was an art form. Parties were lively and stories were told. Over the years I heard some from her and many from her son and grandson. I wish I had known her earlier… her stories were pretty fabulous.
10 years later, she celebrated her 100th birthday. Still going strong. Still living alone in that same house. Still as sharp, no, sharper than ever.
By this time, her family was my family and I loved them all. She watched as relationships ended and new ones began. Her grandson got married and had his own son. During this time, I went through some rough spots personally and she always wanted to hear how things were going and offer up advice.
February of this year found her celebrating her 105th birthday in an assisted living facility… but by this time, I firmly believed she would outlive us all. I was not alone.
But she left this world yesterday. A woman who had, blind or not, seen it all. It was time to move on. I was lucky to know her for the short time that I did. And luckier still to be included in the group she called family.
Rest In Peace Rita Stones.
Sending love to Rocky Stones, Carson Stones, Sabine Louise Stones, and Andy Haygood