pearl of wisdom


“Never worry in advance.” beautiful words from Pearl and Sol Schechter

A few weeks ago I had the delightful privilege of flying beside my beautiful new friend, Pearl Schechter. (She gave me permission to share our picture and write about our encounter.)

I saw her getting on a plane ahead of me when I was leaving Raleigh. I thought to myself, now there is a lady I would LOVE to sit beside. This was not to be … not this flight.

On my travels back to Raleigh–and the only flight that I was able to secure my assigned seat ahead of time–I sat waiting for the seat next to me to be filled. The last passenger to board the aircraft. In floated this delightful being carrying a chocolate milkshake, a LARGE one. She hadn’t delayed the plane, but it turned out she had just arrived on the same plane and had a few moments to get off and retrieve a beverage while boarding the newest passengers. She needed a milkshake, although she told me several times that she shouldn’t be having it –it was bad for her. I assured her it was good for her soul.

I smiled at her and realized she was the woman I had daydreamed about sitting beside on the flight the 4 days before. It turned out she had been rerouted quite significantly throughout the day, and earlier that day she wasn’t sure she was going to make it home to Chapel Hill at all. Pearl told me she remembered what her husband always used to say to her, “Never worry in advance,” and here we were… sitting next to each other, my daydream unfolding a few short days later.

Never worry in advance. Words to live by, yes powerfully simple words to live by.

What a gift her reassignment had given me. Pearl and I had over an hour to share and swap stories. Pearl was radiating light and life. She is 94 years-old filled with more life and vitality than most 20 somethings I know. Pearl travels by herself. She is incredibly organized, powerful, efficient and determined. I aspire to be alike Pearl at any age.

She has a loving family she frequently visits around the country. And she has an amazing story of entrepreneurship, during a time when the word wasn’t used.

In 1941 she and her husband relocated from New York (Brooklyn if my 42-year-old memory serves) to Kinston, North Carolina where they started a shirt making factory, when clothing was still manufactured in the US. Shortly after beginning their new life in NC, Pearl’s husband was drafted into the military and called overseas to serve in the Air Force, World War II.

Pearl had to run the business without him, and run it she did –really well– until her husband’s safe return a few years later. Pearl shared that her father helped her with some of the things she didn’t know, but to me, I could tell Pearl has great natural business instincts.

Their business was successful manufacturer and employer for many years. I wish I thought to take notes as she spoke, but I was riveted (plus that would’ve been rude).

Pearl’s husband passed in 2005. I could feel how much she misses him, but I also felt the joy his life and their love for each other gives her today some 8 years after his passing. They had–and still have–a special bond, a love so deep and true.

Dear Sweet Pearl. Thank you for enduring the inconvenience of all the plane shuffling so that I could meet you and be inspired by you and your life. I hope we shall meet again and I wish you many more years PAST 97. (Pearl is currently 94 but I say past 97 because of the Japanese tradition and reverence of people turning 97. 97-year-old people are considered sacred in Japan and 94 year-olds are sacred to me.)

9 thoughts on “pearl of wisdom

  1. Yes a lovely story and a reminder to us younger ones (Im getting there though I’m 69) life does not stop when you retire!

  2. What a lovely lady. And courageous, too. I enjoyed meeting her through you. And I love the addition “in advance” to “don’t worry.” Because it’s true, in the middle of the storm, then it’s time to worry!

    1. Yes, Chris, that’s so right. I try really hard not to worry (and if I do, I try not to worry about worrying :). When I reflect on my past worry I realize how so little of it came to be as my worry would’ve had it!

  3. I want to meet Pearl also — maybe we can meet for milk shakes in Chapel Hill some day. I can’t handle her words of wisdom right now, though.

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