Firstly, apologies for the absence of blog posts in the past few weeks. I took the liberty of taking a vacation (I know, imagine!) in a place that had little or no Internet connection (I know, imagine!). Giulian and I had a fabulous time, and for part of our trip, we were fortunate enough to spend time with a wonderful couple named Pat and Jack. (I’m thinking that the sound track for this blog post should include: The Way You Look Tonight, Fly Me to the Moon, As Time Goes By… Play them as you read on and you’re guaranteed to smile…)
Pat and Jack have been married for almost 50 years. Both are in their mid-80’s (they told me that they ‘married late because they were having their fun first’), and each are remarkable in their own right. But what endeared them to me the most was the fact that they are unfailingly polite, completely devoted to each other and absolutely indefatigable: our trip was go-go-go in a part of the world that is very hot and humid. While most of the octogenarians I know tend to nap a lot and take it pretty easy, these two were at the head of the pack at every turn. Pat has had two knee and shoulder replacements but that didn’t stop her from walking up every monument, seeing every site, and marveling at anything and everything. And right by her side was her trusty companion, Jack.
When I asked them how they managed to have so much energy, Jack told me the following story: when he and Pat were in their 40’s, they met and befriended a couple who were in their 70’s. Their new friends invited them to play tennis, on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year. After the first set – where the oldsters beat the younger couple handily – Jack and Pat decided that they would ask their new friends if they could continue their match on the following weekend when it would surely be a little cooler. Their friends demurred, saying that ‘they always played three sets.’ Pat and Jack persevered, losing all three sets. At the end of the debacle, when, disheveled, barely able to stand, they inquired as to how it was possible for folks at such an advanced age to manage three sets in hot weather, the answer they received was simple: “But my dears, we just don’t know how to stop!”
Jack and Pat took that as their life motto, and with their permission, I’m now going to adopt it as my own. When people ask me how I manage to parent, work, teach, write a book, travel and stay (mostly) sane, I’m just going to smile beatifically and say, “But my dear, I just don’t know how to stop.” And perhaps, if I keep saying it long enough, I’ll begin to believe it!