Thursday, June 09, 2005


While working at the health food store, one of my favorite regulars was named June. She was 82 years old and came in every Wednesday always dolled up and looking smart in nice slacks and crocheted sweaters that usually bore a sparkly broach. She loved papayas and green juice, but mainly she always bought remedies and health solutions because she had this terrible skin condition, a severe eczema-like phenomena, and I found out that most of the employees were creeped out by it. Other than the skin thing, she was as spry and bright-eyed as any 60 year old. I'd hug her (other employees cringed) and she was always touching my arm-- honestly I didn't mind the skin thing and I wouldn't have really noticed if she didn't talked about it -- but that was A LOT. Everyone in the store knew June was trying to find natural relief for the itching and peeling and scabbing and flaking and discoloration and scaling and -- you get the idea. She bought probiotics and ointments and alkaline-only stuff and chinese herbs -- whatever was suggested, she would try. And I loved that about her. If she thought dog poo would clear her skin, as long as it was natural, she would've smeared it on herself.

The first time June told me about her Skin Issue, all the other employees scattered in all directions, but I listened intently as she described the scabs on her scalp which lay under her lovely ash-blonde pin-up hair do - no wash and set for June, oh no, and she was so sweet that I couldn't not hear her out. Then she said - after a few seconds of silence,

"It's when they can't tell you what's wrong with your vagina . . .that's the kicker."

I said, "I hear you."

She said, "It's the thing that gives me most discomfort. It's terrible."

“Sure,” I said.

She said, "I'm wearing an ice pack right now."

"Cool," I said.

I got a five page letter from June yesterday. It’s written in that grandma scrawl that seems so comforting and legible because she comes from an age when letter writing was king. The first paragraph describes how she’s studying to be a teacher in some ministry. I’m scared to read the rest (though I know I will) because I don’t want to be convinced into coming in for a baptizing. Not that I’m easily convinced of anything, I just have a soft spot for June. And though she’s kind and hugs me a lot, I think the thing I am really most impressed by June is that even at 82 years old she has not given up her quest for optimal health; in fact she is fantastically diligent about it. And other than the freaky flaking and itching and peeling and scabbing thing, it does really show.

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