Ah, the wisdom of the elderly. And the interactions between husbands and wives. Those were some of the thoughts that I had during a brief, but touching experience with an elderly couple in Athens, Greece.
This story begins as I was on my way to the Acropolis to see the ancient sites of this world. On one of the side roads I was taking, I was waved down by an elderly Greek couple who motioned to ask me if I wanted to sit down at a little table outside their home. They must have thought that I looked thirsty, as it was a hot day out. The elderly woman asked me, with only one Greek word, if I wanted a “caffee.” Ironically, living in Seattle, I do not drink coffee, and also since it was hot out, I politely motioned a “no, epharisto,” which is “no, thank you” in Greek. The woman then asked, again with only one word, if I wanted a “berra.” Once again, I politely motioned “no, epharisto,” as I really don’t drink. Then the woman asked if I wanted a “limonada.” Perfect, a lemonade. Nice and cool. “Yes, epharisto,” I nodded. And, well, I was brought a 7-Up. Still nice and cool.
As I sat there drinking my limonada, we could not communicate very much. I kept thinking to myself, as I looked at their beautifully wrinkled faces, of the questions that I wish I could ask them if only I spoke some Greek, or if they spoke some English. What have their lives been like? How many children and grandchildren do they have? What have they done for work? For fun? Where have they been? What has led them to this house they motioned me to join them at? Have they lived there all of their lives? And, if I could really ask them just one question, it would be what words of wisdom about life could they tell me?
When I was done with my limonada, I pointed to my camera asking them if I could please take their picture, and they agreed with a smile and a nod. I wanted to capture the wisdom in their beautifully wrinkled faces. But then a funny interaction happened between the husband and wife. The man had been wearing a baseball cap during the time that I was sitting there, and just before I was about to take my picture, the woman must have told her husband to please remove the hat so that it wouldn’t be in the picture. I didn’t really understand the words she said, but the motions of the man, including the “yes, dear” look he gave her, as he took the cap off, told me what she had said. It struck me as interesting that potentially women all over the world might tell their husbands a bit of what to do, and how to look good. Even the elderly Greeks.
So, I took a couple pictures, and as I walked away saying “epharisto,” I came up with my own words of wisdom that perhaps these two would have told me if I could have asked them: Men, please take off your baseball caps for pictures.