There are people in one's life who provide sterling examples of what life could be. They are not necessarily always older than oneself. Many a young student has given me clarity and insight into how I might rather have been when I was their age, and indeed how I might adjust at my own age. And sometimes such lessons are overt, direct, with intention, yet more often the lessons are by example, gleaned from observation, and realized through re-thinking one's thinking. But the true treasure of being with someone whose every moment is filled with a sense of contribution to life, however subliminally, lies in the invigoration that their presence gives one's soul. To see oneself as one might yet become, and to feel inspired and privileged for the lessons is one thing, but then to be directly known, loved, and cared for by such a person is a great privilege, indeed.
Our last house guest is 72 years old. But she might have been 40. Her energy certainly matched a woman far younger than she. And it was not so much her physical health that impressed us as her youthful spirit; a quality of "yes, let's do that!" on any venture, a sense of "why not?" Then too, there was her perpetual curiosity, the finding out of flower and tree names, the checking of maps, the reading of my Oceanography book and then her delightful explanation of the diurnal and semi diurnal tides that affect our Vancouver Island location. There was the viewing of the memory album of her last great trip, on which she'd treated her entire family to an Alaskan cruise, now artistically scrap-booked for their posterity. There was also our driving up Mount Douglas, and her hiking up the last rocky bit from the car park with my wife to the very top, where one can see for 360 degrees. On coming back down to me in the car they went over to the outlook over the harbor, realized that they would not see the sunset from there, and hiked back up the mountain a second time, just for the better view! Why not?
Jessie Peters brought me her homemade marmalade. She came with love and greeting from her family. She brought her memories and our swapped stories of her beloved husband Vlc, and we reminisced a bit about the ravages of ALS, that awful atrophy of the muscles that claimed Vic, that claimed our friend Hank too, and that was the subject of the play I used to perform, 'Tuesdays with Morrie'. But surmounting this disease is the ongoing vitality of a friendship that is interested in the present, that is involved in our futures, and that invigorates our consciousness. She asked me questions about psycho-geometrics (my upcoming presentation on Dabrowski in Denver). Jessie wants to know.
We feel blessed and privileged to know her, to share time with her, and to be counted amongst her family as their friends too. The visits with her sisters and their kin, as well as her daughter and son, and their kin, have been treasures of themselves. One trusts that you too, reading this, gets to feel love and warmth for the people you know who are not biologically your family, but who have so connected with your sensibilities that there is a feeling of inclusion and acceptance and love for their very being in your life. Marmalade tends to make me feel that, every time I bite into it: marvelously grateful.
Jessie Peters came for a visit. A mere three days. We took her back to the airport and we felt immediately interested in when we might get to see her again. Jessie gave us the most precious gift of all, her caring, considerate, compassionate, and interested presence. So much more than marmalade!