I strolled down to the hotel breakfast room today wearing one of my favourite t-shirts, given to me by my brilliant in-laws Nona and Lance:
Irony: The Opposite of Wrinkly
Nothing highfalutin, just a down home definition.
A woman and her adult daughter were sitting nearby. Hardly ever in my life does someone say hi before I do but today was the day. The younger one greeted me as she got up to replenish her food supplies and mom smiled gaily as they were walking out a few minutes later. Both of them were staring at my chest. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because of my emerging V-shaped body.
Then I talked to an oriental couple, clearly tourists like me. The woman looked surprised that I said hello but she responded warmly. I got to be the purveyor of local knowledge, heartily recommending that they go to Quidi Vidi (see my post of two days ago). They loved the idea and plan on taking a bus there later today. I feel so fine … my good deed for the day. Heck, I might even throw in another deed or two before the sun says goodbye.
Now I’m sitting in the Rocket Bakery in downtown St. John’s. The possibilities of breakfast number two are dangling in front of my eyeballs. My window counter gives me a bird’s eye view of a sidewalk table for two. Ten minutes ago a young couple sat there. She was sure pretty! But I won’t say any more about that. Mostly what I noticed is that she had her face buried in a smartphone for most of the time. He sat there, looking around at the buildings and the flow of humanity. But she wasn’t with him. I was sad.
Now there’s another man and woman at the table, much older. They’re looking at each other! They’re talking! Cool.
Okay. I’m off … to who knows where. My left ankle and right knee are sore, no doubt worsened by the tilting St. John’s streets. But I’m wearing my compression stocking and an ankle brace. Plus I’m being super duper careful about the steps I take. The world needs to be explored!
I walked down by the water and saw an enormous ship approaching the harbour. Since there was a fence in my way, I decided to climb up a few streets for a better view. There beckoning me was a long curved bench in a parkette called Angel’s Corner. A gentleman was sitting there, a cup of Tim’s coffee in hand. I said hello and Terry created something beautiful.
My friend is dying of colon cancer, with less than a year to live. His body can’t take any more radiation or chemo. The morphine does its best to keep the pain down but there’ll be a time when it won’t do the job. Terry is terrified of the pain to come but is willing to look down the throat of death. The tears came. What an honour to sit with this man, hear him give thanks for every day remaining, and watch him cry. It was moment after holy moment.
We talked for half an hour. Terry is surrounded by family and friends, who are naturally torn up about losing their dear one. Thank God for their presence.
“Goodbye, Terry. I wish you a peaceful and pain-free death. It was a privilege to meet you.”
“Thank you for talking to me, Bruce. Have a good trip home.”
Twenty minutes later, I was taking a picture of a painted garbage bin, showing the beauty of a Newfoundland fishing village. I said hi to a woman on a bike, stopped for a red light. Brittany probably missed five more green lights as we talked. My photography behaviour gave me away: a total tourist. She’s a potter who lives halfway up Signal Hill and rides her bicycle up to her home most days. Can you imagine how strong she is? Wow.
What a nice person, so interested in the tourist’s life and willing to share about her own. Fare thee well, Brittany.
And then there were the statues: from behind I saw the man and the girl. He was holding her hand. Here’s the inscription:
There is nothing that recommends a Police Officer to the favourable notice of the public so much as kindness to the poor, to the helpless and to children
John McCowen 1908
I agree, John. And kids are the best.
That’s just about it from St. John’s. It’s a lovely-looking city with lovely people. Tomorrow I fly away to my Ontario home.