My Year of Jubilee – Celebrating us

Posted by on Nov 10, 2013 in My Year of Jubilee | 0 comments



He lifts the copper cup that holds their wine and says to the waiter across the restaurant, “It seems to have evaporated.”  I am dining two tables away and have never heard that particular request for a re-fill before and I laugh out loud.  And out of thin air, a beautiful new friendship is forged.


John is travelling through Greece with Clara.  They are both in their seventies, only a few years younger than my own parents.   They met in Spain last year while they were vacationing separately and quickly discover they are from the same area in Brisbane, Australia.  They both had rich, diverse lives before they met. One just had knee surgery, the other is waiting for a hip replacement.   And now they are in love.  Serious, crazy for you baby, love.  They’ve chosen to keep separate residences but spend a lot of time together, much of it seeing various parts of the world between stints of grandparenting and work gigs for John, who is an environmental geomorphologist.  I ask him to say that again slowly so I will remember, as by now I have pulled up a chair at their table, with wine glasses refilled twice.  I am being regaled by stories of how love is bigger than history (which is Peter’s hobby) and religion, and infinitely stronger than the rules of how mostly-retired people are supposed to behave.


I bump into John and Clara twice more after our lovely visit at the restaurant.   The last time I sidle up to them as they are walking home arm in arm, a combination of giddy love and supporting each other’s challenged ligaments.  I gain on them easily and ask them how their ‘hobble homewards’ is going.  Their laughter wakes the sleeping dogs across the street.  They insist on buying me a drink at Fagotto’s, a local afterhours music bar.  Hearing aids are adjusted as needed as we have a round of local wine and speak excitedly, like old friends who can’t believe their luck at meeting again.   


I learn about something called a ‘babymoon’.  Apparently Clara’s youngest daughter isn’t too impressed that her mom isn’t home right now to look after the firstborn grandchild so she can take off for a vacation before the second child is born.  Taking a babymoon, they call it.  Clara just shrugs her shoulders with a tinkle in her eye and the knowledge that her involvement in her grandchildren’s lives will continue to be extensive, but with a new approach, where being a grandmother isn’t just about sitting at home waiting to be of service.  Clara is a woman who loves to contribute to her family with a wealth of ongoing personal adventures and a passion for life. 


John tells me about some of his travels to Canada as part of his environmental work.  I listen animatedly to this well-educated grey-bearded Renaissance man, who shares his life’s work all over the world and intermittently gushes shamelessly about his beautiful luck at meeting the lovely Clara at this stage of his life.


I ask them a question that I’ve started asking locals and tourist alike. 


What’s your favorite celebration? 


Most people answer the question with a reference to a recognized holiday.  These two both blurt out, without taking a moment to consult each other, “US”!  We love celebrating us.  There is no waiting for a reason to celebrate.  We play by our own rules.   NOW is a good time to celebrate!


They make no apology for the choices they make in their lives.  They laugh a lot.  Their connection is palpable.  And I had the distinct and utter pleasure of being invited into that swirl of joy two nights in a row.   


Celebration made a new kind of sense in their presence.


die young as late as possible


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