For almost a decade, I have spent part of every summer at a certain magical place. It’s fully described in this earlier post, so I won’t go into detail again now. Suffice it to say that, this year, we happily enjoyed the usual fun, food and frolic. Each day brought us remarkably perfect weather – save one. On our second-last day, the temperature dropped, the sky turned grey and a dismal rain fell all day, stopping just long enough for my daughter to take out a sailboat, fall into the water, and soak the four layers of clothes she was wearing.
Apart from the sailing, this particular vacation day was mostly made for sitting around: relaxing, reading and chatting, instead of the usual swimming, windsurfing and kayaking. So by early evening, the combination of low activity and abundant cuisine had us feeling antsy. My daughter and I decided to burn a few calories by speed-marching through one of the buildings, up stairs and down hallways, up hallways and down stairs.
It was thus on our travels that we almost ran over Grace, an eightysomething woman staying here for a family reunion. When we met her, she was pushing a walker slowly down the hall to her room, delicately balancing two cups of tea on her mobility device.
“Can we help you carry those?” I asked her.
“No, but you can help me with something else,” she said. “Do you know how to work the heat in these rooms?”
“Actually, we do!” I replied. I explained that we’d just worked it out for ourselves, as my daughter’s dunk in the lake had necessitated a drying out of various garments.
Grace, who’d thought I was a staff person, exclaimed, “Oh, you’re a guest here! You don’t even have to help me!”
As you know, it’s my personal policy that we all certainly do have to help each other, and I freely told her so. The three of us walked at a slug’s pace together, introducing ourselves and chatting. Once we reached her room, I showed her how to adjust the heat.
Grace promptly put it up to 90, the extreme upper limit. “That’s going to feel like a hot summer day,” I warned her. “That’s just the way I like it,” she countered cheerfully.
“Well, enjoy your sauna,” I joked as we turned to leave.
“You’ve been so kind,” Grace remarked. Then she added with a grin: “I hope someone is as kind to you, when you’re as old and stupid as I am.”
For the record: When I am indeed old and stupid (a case could be made that I’m already nearly both), I’m counting on all you younger whippersnappers to be kind to me.
And please remember, always, to book my annual summer vacation.