Last week I spent my first weekend away from ALL my kids and husband. It was his first weekend as a solo parent and my first weekend alone in a long, long, long time. First, I missed my kids a lot. I enjoy being around them and I love seeing their little faces every day. Second, it wasn’t really as relaxing as I had hoped since I was speaking at a conference and was extremely nervous the whole weekend.
But, it was amazing. For so many reasons. The one thing I want to share about that weekend was my meeting with Larry.
I met Larry on my way home from the conference on my last flight heading home. We were on a little commuter plane powered by propellers and prayers, heading from Portland to Seattle. From boarding to deplaning it was a mere 90 minutes. Larry got on the flight with the help of a cane and a stewardess. He was a little frumpy and smelled like travel. At first, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a LONG 90 minutes or not…but Larry was awesome.
We immediately said hello and he sat beside me and introduced himself. Usually I stick my nose in a book or stick the earbuds in my ears and zone out but I decided to talk to my elderly neighbor instead. Larry was 82. I learned he was on his way back from a solo vacation from Hawaii (where he called himself Lorenzo as he sunbathed and relaxed on the beach imaging himself a young, spry man one more time). The first since his wife past away this past summer from Alzheimer’s disease. I gave my condolences. We then talked about travel. I learned that Larry had traveled all over the world from Italy (over 12 times!) to Ireland, Australia, Egypt, Mexico, Argentina and Germany. He has seem amazing things, had amazing times and lived life to the fullest. I was envious of his adventures and was just relieved that I could share some insight about one place he actually hadn’t been that I had. Prague. He had always wanted to go but his travel companions were weary so he never made it. His travels were winding down because his health was failing and his family didn’t think it was the best idea.
Being the pesky neighbor, I asked him if there was any last trip that he really wanted to take. I saw the sparkle in his eyes and the hint of his youth when he started talking about Kenya. He wanted to go on a safari and see the magnificent wilderness of Africa. Then the sparkle left as he told me about his failing heart, his wobbly legs and loss of balance. And as he talked about his family. The family that wanted him to stay close to home, to the best medical care, just in case his heart had another “incident”. I saw the sadness in his eyes as he thought of his Kenyan dreams as being nothing more than that, a dream.
Of course I told Larry to get on a plane and call his family from the runway. I told him to go on that trip. Don’t leave this life with any regrets. “You only life life once Larry” I told him. I am sure I would not be popular with his family. The sparkle in his eyes returned. I knew that Larry, I mean Lorenzo, was a rebel. I knew he was awesome.
As we were landing I felt a sense of sadness since I knew it would likely be the last time I would see Larry and I didn’t know if he would fulfill his last dream. His dying wish. He had a life that most of us dream about. I wish I had been on those travels and adventures with Larry. I think he would have been a blast. I sure hope that he takes that trip. I kind of hope that he takes his last breath with the amazing African sunset in his view, not in some lonely room in rainy Seattle.
Don’t leave this life with any regrets. Cherish every moment and if you sit beside an older, wobbly, interesting gentlemen named Larry on a plane headed to Africa. Tell him Cheryl says…”have an amazing time, you deserve it.”
Go forth and live joyfully. No regrets.