It was a lovely August evening with a bonfire and wine. A muskrat rustled in the bush by the stream while Janice told a story about an old man who lives in her village. Two years ago he was seen for the first time escorting a young Vietnamese woman through town. A few months later they were holding hands and exchanging private smiles. She was pregnant. Now he is often seen by the fountain in the middle of town with his son hanging on to both his fingers, trying to figure out how to walk. The old man looks happy and his wife looks happy. They exchange private smiles over the baby’s head.
Janice and I smiled over the idea that an unmarried man in his later years, chose not to settle in at the local pub and drink beer, watch soccer and wait patiently for the last days before his funereal to pass, but instead to open up a catalog (and possibly a can of worms) choose as best he could and see what happened. We agreed that Love - as a way of life - could turn the world upside-down.
“Pfft, but-but-but the old man was probably just bored and wanted a maid he didn’t have to pay.” sputtered Daniel, our devils advocate. “Haaarh, you girls have heads full of jelly. You are so full of romance you can’t see a business deal when it bites your nose. She was probably very poor and happy to leave that misery and get a free ride into the Western world.”
We ladies advanced the theory that the old man offered the young woman an escape from poverty, received her graciously, and treated her upon her arrival with respect, in effect loving her before knowing her. Or, maybe it was the other way around, he “bought a bride” and she although young, came to keep him company, brought laughter and cleanliness into his home, put zinnias on the table, treated him with respect and joy as a human, not an old man. We were not talking about being “in love”, but about the deeper act of loving. What honest person has the stamina to deny Love and refrain from loving in return?