|Posted by Egonne Roth on September 11, 2014 at 8:20 AM|
On Celebrating Sixty
As I wrote before, on each of our sixtieth birthdays, Judy and I had an open house celebration on the big day. We were lucky because for both of us it fell on a Shabbat and so it was possible to have friends come over to wish us well. But Judy wanted something bigger and so we started planning and saving three years ago to make this dream come true. We rented a villa on the Greek island of Aegina and began inviting friends and family. As I write this we are into the second week of our dream.
During the first week, Judy’s brother with his family joined us as well as old friends from Poland and friends from Nahariya. It was an interesting experience to see how people who have never met before respond when thrown into such close proximity. This week has brought a couple from Berlin and a couple from the Netherlands here and today my daughter with her partner and best friend will arrive – how will they gel? Except for the last week when nearly everyone will know each other prior to arrival, each week offers a new combination of friends and a new opportunity to define friendship. By the end of the six weeks here I suspect we will have been able to come to some meaningful conclusions. It’s a fun experiment.
But in fact, it is more than that for us. It is a way of testing our own ability to cope with differences and turn them into opportunities to grow, to learn to handle situations that are potentially problematic, to see how other couples interact and test our own relationship to what we observe. There have been moments that I have been shocked by my own desire to just withdraw and let the others get on with what has to be done. Early in our time here, I did just that until Judy found me curled up with my Kindle in a corner and asked me what was wrong. “Nothing,” I said but I knew suddenly that I was sulking because I felt she was spending too much time with her little nieces. “Please join us,” she said giving me a kiss. I had to respond. I did and began to get involved with these sweetest of little girls and utterly lost my heart to them. And as little creatures are inclined to do, they responded back giving me lots of hugs and drawing me pictures and making lovely little bracelets for all of us. Once again, the principle that giving is more rewarding than receiving was confirmed. Sara and Leoni, you taught your aunt a big lesson! Thank you.
I have been overwhelmed by our guests willingness to share in jobs and ‘duties’ and how in doing so new friendships were formed while loading the dishwasher or cutting the ingredients for the huge salads that are part of every night’s meal. We are constantly working our way around having several different mother tongues competing to dominate and having to find ways to communicate what we really want to share. Surprisingly, there has been little small talk but rather the ambiance of the villa and the place has led to really talking about issues, be they personal, cultural or political in an open and honest manner. Nobody has felt the need to simply agree for politeness sake but rather most of us have worked at finding new understanding of the subject under discussion. And if all this sounds very serious, I have to say that someone always found a way to relieve a tense moment using humour. Laughter together with good food and plenty of wine and retsina has smoothed away most of the wrinkles.
We are not only living a dream, but we’re learning the value of having a dream that is large enough to make miracles happen.