I ran into our landlady today. Seeing her is always a treat. She is eloquent and funny, and exceptionally stylish. She might be my mother's age, maybe older. We never talk about age in other terms than it being a fact of life. With her silver hair wrapped underneath a black cap, a stark black and white outfit with large glasses, she gleams on the streets. I compliment her, as I always do. I call her the pearl of our street and she smiles. You can tell she is used to compliments and still appreciates them. She carries a bashfulness but I detect professionalism. A lady responds to kindness with a smile that indicates that my words are exaggerated. Yet we both know they are not. We play this game almost every time we see one another. Neither one of us seems tired of it. Usually, she finally admits to my flattery by saying something of the like of: "At my age, one should celebrate each day." Today, however, she told me about something she had learned during the time she had lived in London. In wonderful British accent she repeated back to me:
I stood there in silence, astonished about the simplicity that made so much sense to me. Yes, I thought. The present is indeed a present. And each day should be lived thoughtfully and wholeheartedly. Just like our landlady does, the pearl of our street.
When Estella asked us to shoot her wedding, we had already celebrated a few weddings together: her sister's as well as her son's. In other words, we go way back. She told us how she had had no plans on getting married. When her partner had brought up the subject years ago, she kindly delayed the issue by saying, that they could think about that when approaching 60. And so it was. On the eve of Estella's 60th birthday, she said yes and the two of them tied the knot. And in the light of the wise little chat I had with my landlady today, I thought about Estella's wedding differently. After 17 years of partnership, I am now inclined to think that she made the present her present. And that is the greatest gift of all.