“What are you reading?”

“A book about writing,” I said, showing her the cover.

“A book about writing … you know, I’d like to write a book.” She put the coffee carafe down on the edge of the breakfast table. “I have seen a lot of things, and I think my kids need to know them. I want to leave those stories for my children.”

“How old are your children?”

Her brow furrowed deeply as she did the math.

“My oldest is … sixty. And my youngest is 45.” She watched my face for a reaction. “And I’m … 82. I’m eighty-two. Two husbands. One kid per husband,” she said, shrugging. “I found love twice in my life.”

“Well maybe you should write some of your stories down? I am sure your children would love to read them.”

“They would. I’ve lived a life worth writing down. I don’t know if I want them to know everything while I’m alive, but I’d like them to know everything eventually.” The lines around her mouth creased into a warm smile. “Like the time I was on a date with this young man. And he was a pilot. We were flying in a two-seater up above Napa Valley, in California, and right up there in the sky he leaned over and tried to make out with me.”

She rapped the coffee carafe against the table to punctuate her sentences. “Right up there! In the sky!! The plane was wobbling all over the place and he just wanted to kiss all over me. I thought we were going to die! I jumped out of the plane … once it was on the ground … and never went out with him again. There’s a lesson there, somewhere.”

I laughed. “Good thing you waited until the plane landed to jump out of it.”

“He was so handsy, I should have jumped out at 20,000 feet.”

“Oh, you should totally tell your kids that story.”

“I should. I will.” She paused. “Where are you from?”

I told her.

“What brings you to the island?”

“I’m here for work.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Well, honey,” she said, the sun catching her metal name tag: Dolores. “You’re going to have to tell that part of my story, because I don’t know if I’m going to get around to writing it down today. Can you do that for me?”

“I will.”

She touched me on the shoulder, pointed to my laptop, and made a swirling gesture towards my computer. A “get on with it, then” kind of motion. I watched as she went to the next table and, where a little boy struggled to butter his toast, and asked if she could help. Her hands, about 80 years older than the boy she was helping, shook a little as she took the butter knife from the boy, but steadied out as she scraped it along the toast.


(originally published at sixuntilme)