“Why is he alone?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he wanted to come alone. People do vacation solo.”
“Really. I don’t think so. A two week bus tour in Europe and he wants to travel alone?”
My husband and I sit on the same bus and the seats carry the scent of brie and French perfume. My eyes gravitate toward a family of six from Kansas whose teenage girls look like the Spice Girls. Next to them is another Indian couple, whose giggles fill the air. Most of us ignore these laughs and give them latitude because they are newlyweds honeymooning in Europe for the first time. In the very back of the bus, an older man’s blue velvet eyes smile, while he fidgets with his baggage, his chosen companion for this trip.
My thoughts are interrupted by a long, loud bellow from the tan and lean Italian driver of the bus. He looks as if he just stepped out of a GQ fashion shoot.
“People, listen up. The bus will stop for an hour. After this time, I will leave. With or without you. I suggest you use your time wisely and pay attention to the clock.”
We all file out and head to the French countryside cafe, Palmiers and lattes urging us to move faster.
The older man steps behind, his gait fast and waits with us. We order and sit down at our rounded light-brown table, carved letters in the wood give the surface instant credibility.
The man pulls a chair close to us at an adjoining table.
My husband asks, “Would you like to sit with us?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
I recognize his accent, the Australian tone soothing and fun.
We all, without a dress rehearsal, sip our respective drinks and eat our pastries.
Then my husband launches into a question that I am too afraid to ask.
“So is this your first time to Europe?”
With a pause, the old man looks down and up and around. His gaze centers on all the couples in the cafe, the ones who don’t get along, the ones who look like they are getting along but pretend well, and the ones that are bickering about nothing.
“I wanted to travel to Europe with my wife. This is a trip we wanted to take together. But I waited too long. We waited too long. She died a long time ago. So my advice, don’t wait. Travel and experience life together when you are young.”
His name was Wally. I have no idea how his story ended. But on that bright day in a cafe, almost ten years ago, I still remember two words.
Don’t wait – two very important words of advice. That must have been such a bittersweet trip for him…I’m sure he thought about his wife the entire time and was taking the trip for her, and in a sense for him. I’m sure he took joy in seeing you and your husband enjoying the trip together.
Throughout the trip you could sense his longing for the past and his wife. Having other couples around, I suspect, only doubled the sadness he felt in his heart. But he was generous enough to part those words of wisdom.
So wish the blog had a like button!!! This is an awesome reminder. Luv ya dear!!
P.S. I’ll see Radhi tomorrow at her dance event. Will give her a big hug for you!
Thanks Lex. Appreciate the blog love. Hope you and yours are doing well. Have fun tomorrow at the event.
Holy cow!! That story just hit home. Thank you for sharing it. Wow!
I know. Even after all these years, I still remember Wally and his wisdom.
That made my eyes water. Big hugs to Wally. Such an important piece of wisdom.
Having gone through things with my parents and others, I truly believe in that. I don’t want to wait and I always tell those around me, “we have this moment.” Thank you, for sharing. It’s good advice.
Ayala: That is an important phrase. “We have this moment.” It is sometimes very easy to forget, but really, we should begin the day with that phrase. Thanks for this wisdom.
Awesome post, Ru. I tend to live a lot of Life like that, actually. I suppose there is the balance of the everyday need to get done stuff, and it’s not like I’m spontaneous much. In fact, I plan quite a bit, as you know. But there a lot of times when I could find an excuse to not do something, and I see the opportunity for what it is.
My mother never got to see Europe. She sure doesn’t have the retirement she was looking forward to. So this hits home.
My parents also had plans to go to Europe and envisioned dreams of retirement, none of which materialized. Sometimes I look at Mom and her sadness is one that I recognize. It is the same sadness that haunted Wally.
This certainly hit home Rudri. Thank you for the reminder.
Katy, thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you could find some wisdom in the reminder.
You got me. Tears.
Well, now I’m a puddle. Wonderful advice that we should all heed!