There are dinner guests, then there are dinner guests.
I have been fortunate to have one of the second variety recently and I thought I’d share it with you.
I went to the hotel restaurant for yet-another dinner for one, and a female voice behind me said, “I’m eating alone as well tonight. Would you care to share a table?”
I agreed immediately.
Susan was in Christchurch delivering a course and staying at the same motel.
While we sat and chatted, Susan invited another woman, dining alone, to join us.
Now, before you think I’ll be sending this to the Penthouse Letters section, Susan is late 70’s, and the new dinner partner Elma is early 70’s. They’ve both recently lost their husbands and are still coming to terms with it. No eruption of tears during our time together, but much joy as they shared stories of their lives.
And what amazing lives these women have lived!
Elma and her husband owned 13,000 acres (yes, thirteen thousand acres) with 300 cattle and 3000 sheep, all totally organic. Sometimes the markets were good and they lived well. Other times, not so much. But they were together doing it all for 54 years, up until her husband died. Elma is still coming to terms with it; he died in March so the loss is still sharp and painful.
Susan lost her husband to cancer two Christmases ago. She never did say what he did for a living, she just spoke of their home life, how at the end of the week he’d have a scotch and would bring her a vodka tonic and they’d simply chat away about their week.
A year after she was widowed, she took stock of her situation, sold her property on the North Island and moved to Nelson on the South Island to be closer to the rest of her family.
I am unlikely to meet them again as our schedules take us in different directions. But I consider myself extremely fortunate to have crossed paths with them and to hear their stories. The evening will be remembered for a long time, so Thank You Susan and Elma.