Bargell: Traveling alone but not lonely
October 10, 2014
The chance to travel alone, with its attendant solitude, is something that I didn't really want to admit to my family I was looking forward to as an uncommon luxury. Opportunities for silence are appreciated, and I welcomed a convergence of events allowing me to make a brief trip out of state to revisit the grandeur of Utah. The vistas that expose views that go on for miles are a perfect accompaniment for solitude, and the perspective that comes from being surrounded by such perspectives.
My expectation to take it all in with vigor was short-changed one afternoon when I felt out of sorts, and I hurried to the room I'd booked in a quaint bed and breakfast, if only to get off my feet. Upon arrival, I happened upon a few other couples staying in the same spot, who from the moment they saw my ashen face were both compassionate and welcoming. They were a group drawn together by a nearby Shakespeare festival, quite famous I later learned, but one that I was not familiar with.
One older gentleman, traveling with his wife, seemed to take everyone under his wing, and formed the nucleus of a group of folks who visited the place annually to take in a few shows. He and his wife initially seemed like an unusual couple, an amalgam of gregariousness and stillness that left me somewhat puzzled. It was quite apparent the man doted on his wife, making certain she was comfortable, and always by his side. She spoke little, smiled often, but the view she was taking in at the breakfast table seemed quite distant from the laughter that surrounded her. She asked twice during the meal if she'd taken her medicine, and he calmly and quietly assured her that yes, she had. A bit later I overheard him speaking with the proprietor of the inn, apparently an old friend, in quieter tones. "She seems to be much better when she takes her meds regularly" he explained. Both men slowly nodded, further explanation seemingly unnecessary. I was content not to intrude, none of my business really, but the words lingered as we readied to leave.
Just as we prepared to head our separate ways, knowing I would soon pass through western Colorado, the gentleman recommended a winery to visit on my trip home, assuring me that their white blend was to die for. I didn't try to explain that any wine is good wine in my book, and that my palate really was not all that discriminating. Intrigued by the high praise, I took down the name of both the winery and the recommended vintage. A few minutes later, perhaps not entirely convinced I understood how very good the wine was, he exclaimed that if I didn't think the wine was as delectable as he boasted he would buy it off me. With that promise he quietly handed me a business card.
After he and his wife left I took a quick look at the card and noted with interest that the card was not his, but instead his wife's. It simply said her name, followed by the suffix, Ph.D. Now, I have no idea if he mixed up the cards in his haste to leave, or if he handed me his wife's card on purpose, though I rather suspect it was the latter. The card, I imagine now, might have been his way of letting me know how special she was, smart too, trapped somewhere distant inside.
It touched me then, just how much he cared about this person, so much so he was not content until he had shared a piece of her with me. I've not lost an immediate family member to Alzheimer's, but I've seen firsthand the heartbreak that ensues as a loved one evanesces into a shell of his or her former self. Reflecting again on how very sweet they seemed to be together I took a second look at the card, and tucked it safely away with a silent word of thanks for the introduction.
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Cindy Bargell is an attorney and a mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her family. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
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