dear people, please…
the soul is eternal and the life force is what keeps us alive…
so let the man dream, let the man flirt, let the man live until such time that he dies!
20 year olds do not seek to marry 91 year olds, but 91 year olds need the great blessing of dreaming and flirting. They need the energy and the blessing and the blood flow and the life force of dreaming and flirting, it keeps them healthy, gives them strength and a will to live, it keeps them alive!
“Ciao, bella!” Once upon a time it didn’t matter that he was pushing 90 with a walker and I was 19 carrying a piles of books walking home from the community college with skirts up to there and legs up to there…
“Ciao, bella!” Our romantic interludes lasted an entire spring and summer. He had watched me in the distance from his front porch every day and waved to me through the rains of spring. He had made it partway down the drive with his walker to wave and call “Ciao, bella!” as the weather had improved, and now finally in the beautiful early evenings of summer he had taken up walking all the way down to the end of his driveway with his walker to wait at the sidewalk for me to walk by every day… and stare at my legs and sigh:
“Ah bella, how you walk bella…if I could only walk like you I would walk you home these beautiful summer evenings bella, but I just can’t keep up with you, bella.”
“Well, you came all the way down here to say hello, you’re looking much better, you know, you’re looking very good today!”
Each day he walked a little farther, just a little farther with his walker…
so he might walk with me, talk with me, just a little bit along the sidewalk, just a little farther down the sidewalk each day as I passed by…and each day he looked a little better, a little stronger, a little happier and healthier. He had stories of life to tell… stories of the old country, stories about his youth, his wife, long gone… the flowers in his yard… the birds in the trees…
“You know, we’re going to have to stop meeting like this” I’d say “because that madrina in your window just doesn’t approve! She’s watching us again, you know…”
“Pff… la madrina… my daughter! She’s always watching and worrying over me!”
“Well, as long as she’s watching and worrying and going to scold you about being out and about again, cruising the main and picking up strange girls off the street, then I really should hug you and at least make it worth your while!”
"Ah cara bella… but you’re not a strange girl I’ve picked up off the street… you’re a nice Catholic girl too busy studying to go out with my grandson that I’ve picked up off the street, bella mia, and so you see I have had success where he has failed!"
and smiling and laughing I’d hug him, and he’d hug back, smiling and laughing too.
I got a scholarship to the university that autumn and moved away. I got the news over Christmas break that he died that winter. I walked down the empty street where there was no one to greet me “ciao bella!.” There was a “for sale” sign on his empty house where there was no more madrina in the window.
Live until you die, caro bello,
live until you die.