“I’m either really stupid or I’m really smart,” she says.
Her name is Becky. She’s one of several retired women of a certain age at the table.
“My life was planned. Now it just happens.”
Women who decided, for reasons of their own, it was time for a change.
“I have friends who are so rooted. I visit their home and the furniture has not been moved in 30 years,” Becky explains. “I find myself sitting there rearranging their furniture in my mind.
“I’d go hiking. I realized one day I’d been hiking the same trails over and over and over. Is that maybe like life? On the same path for so long it just becomes automatic?
“I looked at my life. My marriage was over; my career was over. Was this it? Over and out?”
She got quiet for a minute. Looked out at the lake. Looked back at the other ladies. Ladies just like her.
“People die. There are no guarantees.”
One of the other women said, “Amen!”
“Ajijic started showing up on Facebook and other social media,” Becky says. I read every book on the place. I wanted to retire where it’s warm and where there’s water and where I can afford it. I can’t have all that in the USA on Social Security and whatever little pension I might get. I lived in Santa Barbara. I couldn’t afford to be anything but a beachcomber. I could afford Mexico.
“I didn’t give up anything. I didn’t lose anything. I gained: sunny days, cool nights, breakfast for two dollars and dinners for five or six dollars.”
She swept her arms around the table.
“New friends. Women who think just like me. We like change. We welcome change. We don’t get attached to things or people that will anchor us down. I have three kids, I have grandchildren, my parents are both still alive – it’s an easy travel to get to any of them.”
I asked her to name one thing that she missed.
“I miss my hairdresser.”
I asked if she was here for good.
“I don’t know what for good or forever means.”
Diane, the woman next to her, asked Becky how she wanted her obituary to read.
“My obit? ‘She had fun. She lived life to the fullest. No regrets.’ I want to be cremated but I do not want to be stationary, sitting in a jar on someone’s mantle. My kids will know that. They’ll know to find a nice spot somewhere and toss my ashes into the wind and set me free.”
“Forever free,” Becky says.
William McDonald is an Emmy Award winning writer and published author who, for more than 30 years, specialized in emotional communication in the broadcast industry. For several more years, he was a caregiver and it was there that he met many of the old friends who inspired his stories. His book, “Ole Friends: Endless Love” can be found at Amazon.com.