Making New Friends

Yesterday I got an email from Elaine, a woman I met on our most recent Oceania cruise.    She and I struck up a conversation by the pool.  We’ve continued the conversation with occasional text messages and emails.  I may have sent her a snail mail letter at one point.  Elaine and husband Alan live in Baltimore.

The whole vacation experience was excellent and fancy.  We visited Barbados and a bunch of other Caribbean ports I can’t remember.  Just think sun, sand, and drinks topped with tiny paper parasols.  We spent ten days eating food cooked and served by someone else, enjoying turn-down service, and being lazy, happy, slobs. The staff did everything but spoon the chow into our mouths.

Our cabin had a full-size bathtub.  Each afternoon I would carry a cocktail to the room, climb into the warm water, sip my drink and follow it up with a long nap.  I said to Jim, “Honey, this is great.  It’s so darn relaxing.”  He responded, “Why don’t you continue doing it when we get home?”  No dear.  On vacation it’s called R and R.  On a daily basis at home it would be termed “alcoholism.”

Following my nap, I’d be wide awake to enjoy the evening’s song and dance shows.

The cruise line offered many excursions, but we’ve found it best to hire cabbies and let them drive us around, explain the sights, travel at our own pace.

New friend Elaine is friendly, upbeat, and optimistic.  All in the midst of suffering several debilitating auto-immune diseases.

One afternoon Elaine and Alan joined us for our drive-about.  Up-front Elaine knew pushing so hard, with all her health issues, might create a set-back.  She walked slowly, but she never complained.  She simply smiled and endured.  I admire that.

Elaine’s mother was a Holocaust survivor.  As a tiny child, her parents hid her between a mattress and box spring.   They told the Nanny where to find the little one, then they were all carted off to concentration camps.  Nanny pulled the small girl out from under the mattress, hung a crucifix around her neck, and kept her safe until the war ended.  She then sent her to live with American relatives.

Perhaps Elaine’s ability to suffer cheerfully has roots in her Mother’s experience?   What would it be like to have that life journey?  How does it mold you, and mold all the generations to come?

Elaine and Alan are interesting people.  They may be coming to Florida.  I’m hoping they will stay with us a night or two.  We would enjoy getting to know them better.  I’d like to ask Elaine more about her mother, how her mother’s experience shaped Elaine’s life.

Maybe I can lure them here with promises of turn-down service, drinks topped with tiny paper parasols, and offers to put on a show.  I’ll buy tap shoes.  Jim and I can dance in the family room wearing spangles and sequins.

Elaine, trust me, this is a show you won’t want to miss.