“Good Morning U.S.A., we’re the place for news, weather, and traffic updates, and here’s your host, Diane Mason. Good morning, Diane.”
“Good morning, Dave. Le me introduce our audience to this lovely lady beside me. Mattie Olsen is a member of an exclusive organization called Supercentenarians. At age 119, she is one of only seventy-seven people documented to be 110 years or older. Mattie was born on a wagon train when her parents traveled from Missouri to California. She has seen our nation go from the Old West to our modern age of cell phones, computers, and ipods.
“Good morning, Mattie, and welcome to Good Morning U.S.A.”
“Mattie, you must have seen just about everything in your lifetime.” Diane softly laid her slim hand on Mattie’s gnarled ones. She was stunning in her blue suit and white silk blouse. Her long blonde hair added to her smart appearance. In her thirteen-years as CBS’s senior anchor, she has interviewed Presidents, world-leaders, and a Pope. Never, however, had she anticipated an interview more than this one. To Diane, Mattie represented volumes of unwritten living history.
“Mattie, you’re amazing. May I call you, Mattie?” Diane respected this woman and wanted to show it.
“Sure, that’s my name, ain’t it?” Mattie cackled at her own wit. Although she was bound to a wheelchair, her mind was as sharp as it was at forty.
Diane smiled at the joy radiating from this charming woman. “Mattie, tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, who you are.”
The camera moved in closer, catching the twinkle in her eyes. “There’s really not too much to tell anymore. I’ve outlived my husband, my children, my grandchildren, and everyone I ever knew. I grew up on a ranch in California with my parents, three brothers, and four sisters. ‘Course they’ve all been gone for years. My husband, George, and I were married fifty-five-years when he died.” Mattie’s lips turned up into a mischievous smile. “Those were fifty-five-years of adventure, for sure.”
“Why is that?” Diane was curious.
“Well, we spent the first fifty-years or so figuring each other out. Then he had to up and die on me just when things was gettin’ good.” Mattie’s laughed.
Diane admired Mattie’s sense of humor. Maybe this is why she had lived so long. “Tell me Mattie; to what would you attribute your long life?”
“To lots of things, I reckon.” Mattie slowly leaned forward as if to share a secret. “I guess if I had to say it was one thing it would be I walked the walk, not just talked the talk.”
“Really?” Diane furrowed her eyebrows.
“Yep. I got sick and tired of people who’d tell you how to live and what to do, but didn’t do it themselves. ‘Specially deacons.”
“Yep, deacons. The itinerate preacher used to come to our neck ‘o the woods ‘bout every three months and preach ‘bout how we was supposed to live. Then he’d traipse off preachin’ somewhere else leavin’ a deacon to take care o’ the flock. That was like leaving a fox to guard the hen house. Why, our head deacon, Brother Tripe, would do all manner o’ stuff. Acted like God’s gift to the church, then went and had himself an affair with the school marm.”
“What a shame.” Diane wanted to laugh.
“He sure was ashamed when he got caught.” Mattie doubled over in laughter. “I was just a kid but I decided I wadn’t gonna live like that. I learned a long time ago that even a crib baby is walkin’.”
“What do you mean? Diane was intrigued.
“From our first breath to our last, we’re walking through this world, leavin’ footprints all over the place. Anybody can tell ya what ta do, but only God can help you do it. I met God when I was just a wisp of a girl. I asked Him a long time ago to let me see myself from where He sits, you know, lookin’ down from heaven above. Deacon Tripe talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk. I’ve spent the last 105 years watchin’ where I put my feet, and I think that’s why I’m still around.”
“Mattie, we’re out of time. Thank you for being with us and for your wonderful insights. I’ve so enjoyed meeting you.” Diane smiled into the camera with her usual outward composure. Inside she wondered how God saw her walk. She mused, Yes, Mattie Olsen is still leaving footprints.
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