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My Lunch with the Joy Luck Club

My weekly blog is late.  That’s because I threw out what I planned to post and wrote a new one.   I was going to write about buying used or pre-loved gifts and why that’s a good thing, but I decided instead to tell you about something that happened in my life today.

I took my grandpa for lunch, and for anyone who has an elderly relative, knows how much effort goes into simply getting ready and getting there and getting back.  Now I know.  My mom and dad usually take my grandpa out for outings and now I really appreciate how much time, effort and patience that takes.  But that’s not what I want to write about.

I sat at a table with four old friends – 3 of them almost 90.  They grew up together decades ago in Jamaica and then left the Caribbean for other lands only to meet up again late in their lives in Victoria.  I imagined them way back when sitting at the cafeteria table in their school  uniforms, making jokes and whistling at the pretty girls.  Today wasn’t much different except they probably had one good ear and half a dozen good teeth between the three of them.

Once we finally got settled, they starting talking about the old days with such clarity that it could have been last week.  Most of the time my grandpa can’t remember what day it is or how to use the remote, but he remembered people and events of his childhood like he was telling the events of earlier in the day.  

They talked for ages about the people and places from 75 years ago – the Jamaican accents becoming more pronounced as the conversation wore on…throwing in the occasional word that I needed translated.    My Grandpa’s friend then recited a story about a day spent at Lover’s Leap -  a high lookout over the south coast of Jamaica –  and how a group of teenage boys scrabbled down the cliffs to swim but found only a small rough beach at the bottom.  They tried to swim around some rocky headlands but couldn’t as they were getting battered by the waves.  They gave up and climbed partway up the hillside; it was dark by then and the people in the town of Pedro below by now had heard of the group of silly schoolboys stranded on the cliffs above.  He said the fisherman in the village climbed up with torches and led them down to safety.  There they were offered a few glasses of rum and put to bed in the fishing huts for the night – exhausted by the day’s misadventure.  When I got home, I took a look on Google maps and sure enough, Lover’s Leap, the rough beach and the town of Pedro were exactly as described and how I imagined them to be. 

My Grandfather’s friend has very poor eyesight now.  He told me that he golfed for 50 years until his eyes went.  I said something like “that’s too bad” and he responded with “It’s OK.  Not being able to see has opened up a whole new world for me”.  Then he lifted his hands and said “These are my new eyes.  We have to be thankful and positive about what we do have, not depressed about what we don’t”.  Words of wisdom from someone who has seen it all and lived an extraordinary life.

I left that lunch exhausted from the sheer effort of getting my Grandpa there and back, up and down stairs, in and out of the car, in and out of the bathroom, yet felt totally uplifted by the conversation.  These gentlemen have lots of reasons to be morose – failing health, lost wives, lost friends, aches and pains, diminishing independence – but not them.  Together they turned into those handsome young schoolboys all over again…gossiping and laughing, completely caught up in the memories of a different time and place.  I’m sure when they all settled in for their afternoon naps, they dreamt of those happy times too.

On a side note, thanks to the ladies at Purple Garden restaurant for your patience and help.

I live in sweats and slippers. I drink too much coffee. I'm afraid of heights. I love to cook. I love to eat. Running is my therapy. My garden is my temple. My shoe collection is my pride and joy. My family is everything.

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