Seize the day

June 15
Hiya lovely Agnes…as you seem interested…and there is an opportunity to write…we are plodding along the beautiful though clouded coastline under motor ( wind on the nose!) …..I will tell you yesterday’s story.
We had planned to spend a second day in our harbour but as the morning progressed the boat bucked and fought the mooring lines and we decided to let them free and have a decent sail.
However before all this I had taken my 10 ragged and chipped toes to Alicia for a pedicure. Alicia had been trouved the day before via a very nice lady in a bright tight lemon dress…who, when I pointed to my toes and made enquiring gestures came out of her shop and yelled up a back street…then when that failed yelled at the butcher….well anyway….we found her at last!
So…here I am at Alicia’s upstairs ‘spa’ with my foot on her lap….and she is opening up like an unpicked hem.
I learned of the villagers’ current fears and hardships, plus the inherited prejudices and resentments, also of the tired resignation towards losing the next generation to wealthier job-providing universties and countries overseas.
Before leaving her spotless upstairs room, on this first visit, Alicia suddenly decided to tell me a little story from within her family.
Elena was a beautiful young Greek girl from a tiny village on the edge of the Peloponnese coast.When the war started and Italy became allied to the Germans a boat load of young Italian soldiers was conscripted to her area. These chaps were naive and didn’t understand the role of the invader, instead they played their guitars and socialised with the local teenagers in the village square, happily sharing their biscuits and chocolate rations. One chap. Roberto was especially popular as he carried aspirin, a rare commodity obtained from his doctor father.
When the Italians switched from enemy to friend, Roberto started to more openly favour Elena. When she had a fever he would go directly to her home each night, enquiring after her and dispensing his precious aspirins, the couple began courting….Alicia laughed delightedly as she elaborated. This tender relationship developed without ever any touching, definitely no kissing or holding of hands and there was just one date..or…’appointment’ in her words. This had been to visit some historical ruins. Alicia’s laughter, as she recounted, was a delight.
The war ended and the shy Italian returned home. The two lives continued separately as each became married and had children. He had two fine sons.
Many years later when Elena was at the end of her seventies, another boat arrived at her port. An elderly gentleman wearing a small hat and with a long goaty beard confidently strode off the ferry and made his way along the dusty main street. Suddenly, Elena, who was sitting in a coffee shop window chatting with friends leapt up and scurried out of the back door. Away up the narrow alley and into her home.
Instantly she had recognised her Roberto, in spite of the 50 intervening years she had known his face.
Roberto asked around but no would betray Elena’s wish not to meet her first love again. Alicia paused for my reaction, she had obviously told this story many times before.
I was aghast, such romantic potential, such a wonderful reunion, wasted…why?
Alicia solemnly informed me that her heroine’s generation were very different from her own.
Elena could not bear for Roberto to see her aged face, she preferred for him to keep the picture he had of her as the beautiful young Greek gir,l not the old woman she felt she had become.

Another story to mull over as we quietly head SW…and ironically I am reading a book entitled ‘Seize The Day.’

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