Saturday, February 16, 2013

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ~ Robert Frost

~ rainbow over our condo complex ~
Of course, you never know who you will be seated with on an airplane.  I am one of those people who generally enjoy conversation with those around me, but clearly respect desired silence as well. When I flew back to Florida the other day, the first leg found me seated next to a young woman who immediately put her ears buds in and her laptop up - message received!

The second leg had me seated between two women - one very young - the other much older.  The younger was about 16 or so I would say, and seated in the window seat.  She and I began chatting right away.  She was excited.  She was from Kingston, Ontario and on her way to a sailing completion in Jensen Beach, not far from where we are staying.  Her sailing team had won the first round of a competition, and if they win the second round (sometime this weekend), they will compete in world finals in Cypress.  Their coach was flying in from Brazil - they hadn't seen him since the summer.  She has a fraternal twin sister and they do not look at all alike.  I shared with her that I have two sisters who are also fraternal twins - who also do not look at all alike - she thought that was amazing!  I told her that I have a 25 year old son - which she thought was amazing as well!

A little boy behind her kept kicking her seat.  She told me that when she and her sister were little, they were on a plane with their parents.  Her mother held her, while her father held her sister.  She and her sister - each at the same time - wet their pants. She laughed and laughed as she told me this and said how funny that story is now - but that it probably wasn't funny at the time!  Bubbly giggles - then she fell into curled up sleep. Could I ever curl up like that in a plane seat?  I suppose that at one time I could.

The woman on the aisle seat to my right was definitely older than me, but had the looks - the skin - the hair - the dress - that made her age difficult to gauge.  Conversation came a bit more slowly, but once it did, we chatted the remainder of the flight.  We are both retired and agreed that retirement is marvelous.  A former computer engineer,  retirement was initially a bit of an adjustment for her. She realized that she simply had to find other things to do.  She lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia and was on her way to West Palm Beach for a week.  I told her where I was from and that my husband and I were wintering in Stuart.  I was just returning from my home in Central New York while there on family business.  Her trip was also family business - she was going down to visit her father.

Intrigued - she was definitely older than me - I asked her how old a man her father was.  Her reply - "105".  I clearly had an astonished response because she laughed and said "I know!"  Her father lives in his own home and has help there about 12 hours each day.  Apparently there has always been longevity on her father's side. Her aunt, her father's sister, lived to be 108!  Again, she laughed at my astonished response.  One day her aunt came in from working in the garden, said that she was going to lay down for a nap, and it was her final one.  Amazing!

She travels down every month and a half or so.  She is an only child and we talked about the pros and cons of that. I shared how I know that I have the support of my four siblings when it comes to anything, but at this time in our lives, most importantly - our parents.  She wishes that she had a sibling to lean on.

I told her that I hoped that she had her father's genes.  She got a kind of wistful look on her face as she said, "I don't know if I want that."

I guess that if I could be working in the garden at 108 - well - maybe I would.  But - if at 105 I needed others to care for me 12 hours a day - I needed my only child, who is probably in her 70's  -  to worry about me - to have to arrange for my care - to have to travel to check on me - I don't know.

As we landed, I wished the young lady to my left good luck in her sailing competition.  I wished the older woman to my right good luck, and a good visit with her 105 year old father.  I realized in de-planing, that my seat was in exactly the right spot - somewhere between the youth of my only child - and the aging of my own parents.  


  1. Tell me more Tracy!
    Plane rides do make for interesting conversations - the kind you have with a stranger you'll never see again.
    I agree with your outlook on aging: quality first, quantity second.

    1. I am beginning to see that there is a fine line between quality and quantity - no easy answers!

  2. I loved to read this! Really interesting story and thoughts on this difficult subject... And full of positive energy!

    1. Thank you - It was a lovely interaction, but I found that I was a bit choked up as I was writing about it. I really am on the front line with both sides!

  3. What great stories! And you say listening isn't a strength? You found out more about two companions on a short flight than I ever have. I'm the girl with the earbuds in and laptop out on EVERY flight. :)

    1. A bit late in coming, but thank you. It was an amazing experience, and even more so several months later.