Bill

heart-shaped froth on a cappucino

“How long have you been married, Bill?” asked the man in the ball cap.

“Sixty-two years,” Bill replied.

“To the same woman?!” the man in the hat asked as he chuckled and glanced over at the third man in the group.

“Yeah, and nobody should ever be married that long,” Bill added, laughing.

I laughed, too — so loud, in fact, that I quickly looked down at my phone, pretending not to be paying attention to their conversation.

All week I’ve been overhearing funny comments like this.

A man talking on the phone outside of a cafe: “Well, if you want more of that, there’s Tinder.

A woman responding to one child’s complaint about a sibling: “No one is Mother Theresa. Let’s just keep it real.

Perhaps it’s because I’m more aware of what’s going on around me as a solo traveler, or maybe it’s because I’m more receptive in general, hoping for some divine guidance to help me navigate this major life transition.

These little bits of life happen all around us constantly, but most of us don’t even notice. I never did. I was always preoccupied with my own busyness.

For a few more minutes I sat listening to the three men talk about chores, projects, errands, and trips they were planning — and that’s when Bill noticed my Sprinter van parked outside.

“See that van there?” he asked the others. “You put in a couple of beds, a sink, a refrigerator…”

Yes, Bill, do go on.

“That’s all you need,” he said emphatically.

So right you are, Bill. So right you are.

“Why don’t you buy one, Bill?” asked the man in the hat, clearly the instigator in the group.

“Trouble is,” Bill explained, “she’d want two of ‘em.”

More hysterical laughter broke out.

You have no idea how right you are, Bill.

Their playfulness brought me back to the decade I spent as a consultant dietitian for more than fifty nursing homes. The humor, wisdom, and resiliency of the residents I worked with have probably influenced my life more than I realize.

When we’re young, we take life so seriously. We focus on career advancement, family logistics, retirement planning, job titles, and random metrics that we believe determine our success or failure.

So, when a well-seasoned human like Bill put things into perspective for us, we can’t help but listen.

These friends were simply enjoying an afternoon cup of coffee at Starbucks. They weren’t talking about their net worth, comparing retirement portfolios, or assessing each other’s worthiness. They were enjoying the afternoon, enjoying one another’s company, laughing, and enjoying being alive.

I really hope Bill buys a Sprinter van (or maybe two). I hope he experiences life fully. I hope he collects more stories to tell his friends at Starbucks. I hope he laughs as much as possible. And I hope he thoroughly uses up his life before his time here is through.

That is my hope for all of us.