Less than two weeks ago, I celebrated my fifty fourth birthday with my daughters Molly and Emily, and I began to do a lot of thinking about my life....about the past, yes, but mostly the future, and I began to realize that I still have unfulfilled dreams and goals that I want to turn into reality. I decided that life is too short to settle for less....whether it's love or a goal that I'd like to accomplish. This short story is about a seventy six year old Italian man named Reno, who came into my life at a very interesting time, and through his wisdom and experience taught me much. Our conversation was in Italian, and so I've tried to translate it as best I can into English.
I watched him as he stood with his back toward me, dangling a make shift fishing pole over the side of the stone wall, into the stream below. He was a fixture of sorts in town – everyone knew him as Reno. He had to be at least seventy-five years old, but he had this fantastic smile that lit up his whole face – and his eyes rivaled the blue of the August summer sky.
After parking my bicycle, I sat down on the bench, and he turned to look at me.
“What’s that you’re reading?” He pointed to the book in my hand, leaned his fishing pole against his bicycle, and then proceeded to take a seat beside me. He listened intently as I summarized the plot.
“You’re not from around here, are you?”
I laughed, thinking my Italian accent had been pretty good.
He said it was a hobby of his – guessing where people were from. Told me I was from America – I smiled and told him he was right.
We talked for over an hour – about the changes he had seen in Italy over the years – the different cultures moving in – businesses coming and going. He told me a little about himself and asked a lot about me.
“Almost 3:00,” he said, glancing down at his watch. “How would you like to have a drink with me?” He nodded in the direction of the little restaurant on the corner.
“I’d love to,” I smiled. And so we sat with our drinks, talking for close to an hour, and I learned even more. Finally, he asked me how old I was.
“I just turned fifty-four,” I smiled and sighed for a little added drama.
“You’re just a girl. I’ve got twenty two years on you.”
We talked about life a bit more - his and mine - and I told him my thoughts and realizations.
“You’re right to think about your life…where you’ve been and where you’d like to go.” And I listened as he reminisced.
“But it’s not over yet,” he said, referring to his own life, then finished the rest of his beer.
We rode our bicycles side by side for the next several minutes, talking from time to time, yet comfortable, too, in the silence.
“This is where I have to say goodbye.” And as I looked at him, I noticed how he smiled not only with his mouth, but his eyes.
“I hope to see you again soon, Reno.”
“You know where to find me.” He waved, but before riding away, he said, “Don’t ever let them tell you you’re too old. Don’t ever let anyone belittle your dreams. They’re what make life beautiful…they’re the reason to wake up every morning.”
He smiled and started down the road.
“Reno!” I called after him.
He looked back over his shoulder as he stopped his bicycle.
“Reno, do you still have dreams?”
“Yes,” he smiled. “They’re about a fifty four year old American girl with long blonde hair.” He laughed hard, said, “See you,” and rode off.
I waited there, watching after him with a smile on my face, thankful for having met this incredible man who taught me so much about life in a few very short hours.
Dawn - Enjoyed your recounting this meeting. We may never be able to travel to all the distant lands we wish to for new adventures, but there are always new people to meet and that is the most profound adventure of all. - David
“Don’t ever let them tell you you’re too old. Don’t ever let anyone belittle your dreams. They’re what make life beautiful…they’re the reason to wake up every morning." We can take and deposit that statement to the bank. The memory bank. For this advice is worth more than gold. I love old wise Italians, I hope to grow up to be one someday! Eh! God Bless you Dawn!
Reviewed by zari mai
Even more proof that age means very little past 25. I really enjoyed this and wanted to know more. Thank you so much for this.
THE ENCOUNTER SOUNDS...DREAMY. I'VE NEVER ACTUALLY BEEN TO ITALY BUT I CAN 'FEEL' AND 'SEE' PLACES I'VE NEVER BEEN THROUGH MUSIC AND STORIES. THANKS FOR REWARDING MY WAKING UP THIS MORNING AND...YOU WERE BORN IN CONNECTICUT AND ENDED UP TEACHING IN ITALY...DREAMS. THIS PRICELESS WORK IS SO...SATISFYING. GOD BLESS.
JOYCE * HIS INSPIRATIONS
Absolutely heartwarming, lovely story! I so thoroughly enjoyed this. I was just reading recently about life and how our culture has got this notion that once one hits mid-life, things ought to slow down and become somehow "less." However, the truth is that our unfolding finally brings us to the point where we can be at our "most" in mid-life - we have the deepest, richest and most textured part of ourselves to offer in the most profound and creative offerings.
Age is no barrier to romance and friendship Dawn
It is the beauty within that sparkles like a diamond
And age is no barrier to our dreams either.
We should mature with age and wisdom and have the wherewithal and drive to realize all our dreams and aspirations
Dawn - Informative and enjoyable! Thank you for the slice of life opening for you new challenges and opportunities. Many out her admire you and your writing, so keep us posted along the way, please. With love and wishes for more of it in your life. - Bill
What a beautiful story. What you gleaned from that experience will live with you forever. I know I feel blessed for having met you and when I think of you and your Mom, I smile a little.
Reviewed by Jerry Bolton
Damn! I'm jealous! Of course I am not seventy-five-years-old, I'm shy of that by five years. I sincerely hope that what you have left to hope for comes to fruition and your life, the rest of it, will be wonderful.
A lovely and friendly story. Those old timers have a lot of grit,k stamina and wisdom. When I was a child I loved old people because they were friendly and could tell wonderful stories. (Just imagine all the wonderful stories that never got written.)