My seatmate on the flight from Medicine Hat, AB to Calgary was a wonderful, gentle 85-year-old woman. She impressed me in many ways.
She only became a widow a few months ago, after 65 years of marriage, whereas I've been a widow for three and a half years after 40 years of marriage to my soulmate, Al.
This was her first flight without her husband. I've been on many trips since my loss, but I'm also younger and still working too.
She visited family on this trip and had some fascinating experiences, including being sent to an emergency shelter while the town of Irvine, AB was evacuated due to a train derailment. And she went whitewater rafting with some of her children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren.
Yes. Whitewater rafting at age 85. As a new widow. Talk about inspiring.
We chatted about our families and how grateful we are that they've been so helpful and supportive to us after the deaths of our main men. We spoke with gratitude that we had great husbands and how meaningful, funny, and wonderful their memorial services were. We were proud of ourselves and our families.
We talked about where we're living and what is different about our daily lives now. We are learning how to live alone after decades of being a couple. Eating alone all the time - not by choice - is not fun. I told her how I don't eat at the table. I eat in the living room most of the time. She thanked me for telling her. The newly bereaved need to hear that it is okay to change the routine to feel a little more comfortable in this new life. Once again, I was grateful for what I've learned in bereavement support groups.
We talked about what we do to keep ourselves busy and I mentioned my work as a writer and book publisher. She was curious about my work and took a pre-order card for the Flight book with her.
When it was time to leave each other at the airport, we hugged and wished each other well.
I will think of her fondly and aspire to - maybe - go whitewater rafting myself in another 20-some years.
Yes, I will remember this sweet little lady from British Columbia who also lost her husband Al.