In the twilight years. That's how my father, who turned 75 this year, refers to the present phase of his life. I always thought it sounded too dreary, but what would I know, I'm not there yet.
It was just about midday at work and I was already knackered. There was no point, I felt like a heap of crap. I could tell I was burning up with a steadily rising fever, so I put my stuff together and called it a day. All I wanted to do was to stretch out under cozy warm covers and sleep forever!! So, I got off the tram on my way back home, picked up a pack of paracetamols and walked into the next restaurant to grab a bite before I downed a bunch. The place was peculiarly dull with faded gilded decor of better days gone by. In it's twilight years too, I suppose. Obviously not a hotspot for lunch, it was almost empty. Which suited me just fine. I was happy for the solitude and the hot food before the fever med's. Whatever bug I had caught was causing a full-fledged skeletally intricate joint ache. Child care for the rest of the day was handed over to my husband. As I was getting off the phone with him, almost ready to continue the commute back home and to my bed, I became aware of a very elderly gentlemen at a table by the window across me. He was waving a dessert cup and yelling out something at me. I hadn't noticed there was anyone else on this side of the restaurant, had completely overlooked him. Looked right through him.
"Want some vanilla cream with fruits" he called out energetically. "It's very good, you really should try it" he continued, as he spooned in some to prove his point. Surprised as I was to hear English in this German city, I was even more taken aback at the offer to share his dessert. His hair was soft snow white tufts and he wore white scrubs like a nurse. His almost Santa-like appearance was belied only by a pronounced stoop that straightened out each time he repeated the offer. Confused, I noticed a wheel chair beside him, as he kept bobbing up and down in his seat insistently. I tried feebly to indicate I didn't want any desert, that I didn't want to share his, that I wasn't feeling very well. He wouldn't have any of it. Before I knew it, I was sitting at his table and we were both spooning in vanilla cream topped with red berries, from one cup. His skin glistened with the folds of age, but his wisened old eyes sparkled with delight and mischief! I don't know how long we talked, I only remember how much I laughed. And by the time I left, I wasn't feeling quite as beat.
That was 5 years ago. Next year my friend will turn 80.
(........to be continued)