She had me at pterodactyl.

“Speaking of pterodactyls, I’m about as ancient.”

That’s how she introduced herself.

A greeting like that from the 91 year old woman who seated her brittle, fossiled bones in the chair across from me was pretty much all I needed that early May morning at an outreach I do for poor senior citizens.

“In paleontological terms, I’m a dinosaur,” she badabumped, and I slapped the table in unison as a drum in agreement like the bad sidekick in a vaudeville duo.  Together, our timing was damn good, and I miss her terribly.

She continued the schtick with a brief lesson of the Mesozoic epoch from which I’m now convinced she came, and told me how she expected to be just as extinct very soon.  In her era, she was a geography professor, but that was decades ago when she had a much larger wing span, the memory of a great Mammoth, and didn’t need a walker to get across her territory.  And indeed, this was her territory.

As much as I needed us to get down to the business that brought her to me, I gave her the stage and she earned every enthusiastic applause. She was masterful at mixing her dino-metaphors with the stories of her life.  She told me how she was deposited in the desert several years ago by loving family members whom she has neither seen nor heard from since.  A pittance would be a generous description of her social security income which pays the rent, keeps the lights on and buys her fewer groceries than she deserves.  This dinosaur had a story to tell.

It’s not unlike most I hear every day among the poor senior citizens who spend their final years scavenging to survive and fending off predators.

We sat and talked for at least an hour that morning. The stories she told me have since–like the dinosaurs–been buried for several months now.  She was one of my most entertaining mornings in recent memory and taught me to be a better storyteller because of it.

There are some people who come for just an hour,

and live with you for the rest of your life.

This one still has me at pterodactyl.