This is Annie
Annie is 93 years old. I was sitting on a bench in Verdi Park and she was sitting next to me quietly eating a hot dog. No doubt from Grays Papaya on the corner of 72nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. I sat patiently waiting for her to finish her lunch. It looked as if she was enjoying herself too much to be interrupted. It was after all a classic New York City lunch-a warm Saturday afternoon in the park with a hot dog. What could be better?
As a result, she traveled to Africa, Europe, and Asia. Originally, she wanted to attend Columbia as did her mother and said before moving here, her family only knew of the Columbia, Harvard, and Yale Universities. She had never heard of NYU. Her mother sent her to NYU because it was $5 less per credit than Columbia.
I asked Annie if she had ever married and she told me that she never did and does not have any children. She had a friend who said to her a long time ago "I am going to tell you something you are not going to like. You will never get married because men don't want to be married to a woman who is smarter than they are." I said to Annie that I must be the exception to that rule because my wife is smarter than I am. She laughed.
Annie was sitting with a young woman who is her grandniece who comes on the weekend to spend time with her. Annie lives alone and told me that she is motivated to get out every day because she would be very bored staying in her apartment alone. She will go to Hamilton House for meals and socialization. Being outside in New York City with the people on the streets makes her feel alive.
When she was done eating, I simply began talking with her. I asked if she lives in New York City and she told me that she moved here from the Philippines when she was 13. Her father had left the family and her mother wanted to go to college. So her mother, her older brother and she moved to New York City and her mother attended Columbia University and got a bachelors degree and worked as a registered dietitian. Annie mentioned the obvious, about how unusual it was for a woman to go to college in the 1950s, let alone a woman of color. Annie then told me that she had earned a masters degree in business administration from New York University. She then went to work for the United Nations. When she began working for the United Nations, she had to sign an agreement that stated she was willing to go anywhere in the world that the United Nations assigned her to go to.
Annie is fluent in English, which she calls her native tongue even though it was not her first language. Her first language was Tagalog, but she said the language used every day for communications, English, is what she considers her native tongue. She is also fluent in French, Spanish and Italian. Tagalog means river people and her ancestors were people who lived by the river in the Philippines.