Saturday, May 28, 2011

One of life's secrets?


I would say that I had humble pie for lunch yesterday but fortunately it was a creamy fruit de mer tarte that was absolutely to die for. The company however, moved me very much. We were at our dear friends Sonny and Michael's house in St. Remy for a special gathering of some of Sonny's closest and oldest friends from several continents. At 41, I was the youngest, followed by Remi and a very elegant interior designer from South Africa in her 50s, then the age went up through the 60s to the 70s until 87. That particular gentleman fought at Iwo Jima in World War II and actually saw the famous flag raise. As a fellow American, I thanked him for all that he had done for our country. From what he made Remi understand, the movies cannot begin to convey the horror of the reality of war. His hearing was blown out at Okinawa and he survived the Battle of Guam. Others at the table remembered family members that fought the Battle of the Bulge. But the conversation was not somber and ranged wildly from what it was like to discover a still unknown (and unmined) Angkor or Bali in the 1960s when the only house on the beach in Sanur was that of the painter Le Mayeur. To the Dominique Strauss-Khan scandal  and disappointment in Obama or the advantages of the Kindle. When we were surprised at their being more technologically on the ball than we are, one of the guests responded "If you don't have the advance at 80, you're going to miss the boat!" with a glorious laugh. 

And everyone at the table is most certainly not missing out. Ideas sparked like firecrackers, with everyone speaking so excitedly over one another that it was difficult to hear. What incredible stories they all had to share. As Remi wisely said at one moment "We are living in your shadow, the spirit of the Postwar." And it is true. Remi and I have had our fair share of adventure but these people have lead such Technicolor lives, so much fuller than what most folks even dream of today. And why is that? True, I do not wish the experience of war on anyone, but that same soldier was also capable of taking a cab uptown to his sweetheart after their first date and proposing to her. What have we been dulled by? Remi and I were quiet in the car coming back, thinking about the experience and how fortunate we were to have been invited. It also made us realize that if they had remained so young in spirit it was because they were still so interested in life and beyond that, to have émerveillement, the wonder of a child. What a fine lesson that is for all of us as we age. 


  1. Hello Heather:
    What a most interesting gathering. It is at such moments that one almost has the feeling of being part of an historic occasion. A special day on which the most remarkable, and yet, perhaps on the face of it unremarkable, guests combine to make a most memorable event.

    We totally concur with the view that it is by showing an interest in all that is new as well as holding on to special memories of the past that keeps one vital and alive.

    A perfect day and one which, no doubt, you will associate with Memorial Day for many years to come.

  2. Les H's, you were better able to express what I was trying to get at than I did! Thank you, thank you. As always, I am so grateful that you are here and very appreciative of your points of view.

  3. What a wonderful day, shared with most interesting people. Keep in mind, your adventures are inspirational to others as well! How fortunate we are that you share such moments with us.

    I agree that continued engagement with life keeps us all young(ish). Thanks for reminding me. :)

  4. Flynn was drafted during Vietnam and though he ( at almost seven feet tall ) was never sent into combat, he said something to me that I found fascinating, "The constant prospect of dying will make you live."
    Unless someone "fixes it", we are all going to die. Maybe that's the only secret we need to live well, but whatever it is these people have it down to a science...

  5. Sounds like it was a wonderful afternoon among friends. I agree with Gldiebr above, you inspire people as well but then again we all touch one another's life even on here. Enjoy your week Heather!

  6. Thank you so much, you wonderful ladies! And yes Debra, I agree, I am so often inspired and learning or laughing from everyone who crosses my path here and elsewhere on the net. Who would have thought that it could be such an amazing gift? Hope that you have a great week too!

    Trace, I think that you are much more up on the tenets of Buddhism than I am but my Mom was talking about a lesson in White Tara practice where in only by embracing the possibility of death can one learn to be happy/ free. It seems to be exactly what Flynn has said.

  7. I couldn't agree with you more. I've always been naturally curious and interested in everything and the older I get, the more grateful I am for it. P.S. I can't wait to hear the whole story of your move and the new apartment. As a fellow wanderer, I'm so excited for you! :)

  8. Thank you Ally! Yes, I know you understand--we have already picked out the paint colors! ;) I just posted about our current apartment which we will miss but it is time to move on...

  9. What a wonderful post. Agree with it all. And on a personal note, my father was a reconnaissance pilot in WWII who was severely injured at Battle of the Bulge. He spent 3 years and more than 25 operations recuperating in Walter Reed afterwards. He only ever spoke about the war on rare occasions, usually in regards to kind French people who gave them wine etc. He met my mother then as she was an art therapist in the Red Cross there. They really both exemplified the best of their generation. My mother passed away at 90 4 years ago and was still full of and interested in all aspects of life. Truly an active participant and an inspiring and delightful companion. I only hope I will be the same!!

  10. Oh Stacey, of course you will be!! You already are and I can't see why a Renaissance woman such as yourself would ever let that go.

    What an incredible story about your parents. To have met under such circumstances, when your Dad had suffered so much. Incredible. One of the women at the table also said that the men in her family never talk about the war, save to tell the "funny" stories and that, rarely. There is so much we don't know.

  11. Dear Heather,

    Regarding your last paragraph (just above this)?....

    My father (who is no one's fool) once told me (when I was about age 17, and we had just endured a dinner during which a near-stranger went on&on&ON with his WWII "war stories"): "Bear in mind that any man who tells too many stories about his sex life or his war-experiences probably has really little-to-none of either."

    In my experience since then?'s absolutely true. People who actually have enjoyable sex-lives don't talk about the matter, and I've yet to meet a former soldier who'll talk readily about wartime experiences.


    David Terry

  12. Thank you, David. As always, what you have to share is illuminative. And yes, I don't want to speak for my new friends, but it seems that it was very rare that this gentleman spoke to Remi. The ladies were at one end of the table and the men the other, perhaps that made a difference?


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