It was a Christmas Eve, and I was being cross-examined.
I was attending a holiday party at the home of Bob Wheeler and Kurt Kleespies, circa 2008. I was seated on the sofa next to Marie Alaimo, in her late 70s at the time, and she was full of questions for me: "Why do people like Facebook so much?" "What was the difference between Facebook and Twitter?" "When would someone use Facebook and not Twitter?"
Marie asked me how I came to be writing a book, what was it about, and my favorite question, "Who would want to read it?" She laughed, realizing the question didn't come out the way she had meant it.
I answered all of Marie's questions and half-jokingly asked one of my own: "Why do you ask so many questions?"
Marie answered that she had always been interested in what people were doing and what they thought or felt about what they were doing. I'd add that Marie's active mind kept her young and vital, connected to others and engaged in the world around her, especially as Parkinson's disease chipped away at her body and eventually made her home-bound. I suspect Marie was particularly curious about younger generations, as she had many friends who were decades her junior.
I had a 'Marie' moment myself not long ago. I was staying with my nephew, Stafford and his wife Deb near Greensboro, N.C. It was a snowy night, but we decided to brave the weather for a night out at a restaurant. On the way, I peppered Stafford with questions about his work while the kids, Ford and Victoria, fiddled with their Apple handheld devices. I could tell Ford was playing a game. I started questioning him about it, asking what the game was, why did he like it, how was it different from other games? Before long, I was playing the game too (despite the fact that I loathe computer games).
At some point during that car ride, I realized I was doing just what Marie would have done, had she been with us. And so I said a silent "thank you" to Marie, who had passed away two weeks earlier.
There are plenty of anti-aging products on the market, but Marie reminded me that one of the best ways to stay young is to never stop asking questions.
And if there is such a thing as Heaven, I bet Marie is there. And man, does she have a lot of questions to ask.