"You are so lucky!"

This is an old photo, but it has both girls together, and it's the best photo easily available to illustrate a wonderful encounter the girls and I had on our usual evening walk through the neighborhood today.

There's no denying it: when walking together on a leash and coupler, the girls make a stunning pair and draw people to them.

An older woman was putting out her garbage bin at the top of her driveway as the girls and I walked along the road. She turned to return back down her driveway when she spotted the girls and me approaching. She smiled. She waited.

"You are so lucky," she said, beaming at the girls, then at me.

The girls, sensing an adoring person, headed straight for her.

"Yes, I am!" I said, knowing exactly what she meant.

The woman started petting the girls' heads. I could now see her knuckles swollen and fingers bent from arthritis. She cooed over the girls, asking their ages. I told her they're ten and eight, "...and almost as big as you!" I exclaimed. She's a tiny woman. I'm 5'4" and felt as though I was towering over her as we chatted. She couldn't have been over 4'10" and thin. She laughed and said, "If they stood up, they'd be bigger!"

Then, apropos of nothing, she announced, "I'm eighty-eight." I was shocked. "I'd have pegged you at 65 to 70, tops," I said honestly. Her face held hardly a wrinkle, her blue eyes sparkled, and her blond bob swung as she moved with ease. "I had my hip replaced two years ago," she added. I told her she's an inspiration, that I was quite impressed.

She again told me how lucky I was to have such wonderful dogs. "If I weren't so old I'd get one myself," she said, a bit sadly. Then, with one hand on her heart and the other pointing to the sky, she said, "My love is in heaven, waiting for me. He went there in 1994 and said he'd save me a spot and wait. It's been a long time, and I'm sure he's got an angel next to him by now!" She said this with a smile and laugh. I said I was sure he was still waiting for her.

The girls and I said goodbye and continued our walk. I was happy to have met this incredible woman, someone with tons of spirit and joy, willing to share it with a stranger passing her home. Perhaps she's more than a bit lonely, too, so eager to talk. I'll be keeping an eye out for her from now on, since the girls and I pass her home frequently.