It was early on a Tuesday morning.
I dropped my daughter at training at 7.00 am and I went to my usual spot at a local cafe to write and sip coffee in the hour I could enjoy to myself before I needed to leave for work.
Tuesday mornings have become an opportunity for me to write, uninterrupted, every week amongst by busy schedule of working full time, studying and writing.
As I travelled back to my 20’s recording a moment in my life, I noticed an elderly gentleman who sat down at the table next to me.
We acknowledged one another and smiled as he said, “it was a bit cool this morning, wasn’t it?”.
We exchanged pleasantries, and continued chatting while he ate his breakfast and sipped his coffee.
I momentarily felt an anxiousness rise in me as I thought of the precious alone time I was losing, and then I let it go, realising that this beautiful man just wanted to chat.
I’m so glad I did. He made quite an impact.
He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was working on writing my story. He said, “that’s good, we all have a story”.
He asked me what my story was about. I briefly explaining that it was about my mother passing away when I was 16 after suffering through breast cancer, then my grandmother for the same reason and that I too had been through my own breast cancer journey.
He said, “that’s a good story”!
I then asked him what his story was.
He told me of some of his adventures, like the one about owning the fastest motorbike in the world that he eventually sold for $160,000, his road trips and how much he enjoys his life. He spends six months living in Queensland during winter, and six months in Adelaide where his two daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren live.
He said “gotta make the most of life”.
With pride he told me he was 88 and loves travelling around in his motor home that he still drives everywhere himself, including that distance between the two states.
Anyone who has made that trip will understand how far it is!
We talked about days gone by and what life was like for him growing up. He shared his concerns about drugs, land sales in northern Australia and the lack of jobs for our youth.
We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time!
He then went quiet while he finished his breakfast and enjoyed the last sip of his coffee.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I wondered why he was alone. He didn’t mention a wife or partner, and through his stories I got the feeling he had been alone for some time.
We smiled at each other again as we said goodbye, and I wished him well for his journey back to Queensland.
I hoped he would be safe.
I watched him as he left. He knew all the staff, asked them how they were and they were obviously as fond of him as I had become in that brief encounter.
I didn’t even know his name.
He reminded me of my Dad.
I recognised the same kindness in his eyes, and imagined what a loving father and grandfather he must be to his family.
What a gift to share those few minutes with someone so wise, who reminded me of the choice we have every day.
The choice to truly live.
All we ever have is right here, right now, and there is much to enjoy.
With love, Ali.