I collect stories in my notebooks and blog about people while I travel instead of souvenirs. Photographs help, too. Often they become beloved characters in books and examples of this or that in columns.
One time before the Arab Uprising, my husband I were in Egypt on a trip that took us back in time. The sites and artifacts were magnificent, and the cultural understandings gained put the region in a proper perspective. I could go on and on.
That's not what I want to tell you, though.
There was a male traveler recently retired from a teaching career in our tour group, and he was traveling around the world solo. He hooked up with our group in Cairo for three weeks. Being a man with a rather out-going personality, he made the rounds of people and we all got to listen to his particular story. I might add that he was a caring individual who took the time to hear from you, too. Some people are like that.
This male traveler - his name doesn't come back to me - explained that his wife and him had planned to travel the world after retirement. Unfortunately, as often the case, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her husband immediately wanted to abandon the idea. She told him to promise her to go anyhow after she died in her memory. in fact, she helped him organize every part of the adventure from her hospital bed, and studied the travel guides, too.
So, here was the gentleman fufilling his promise, and on and off I would see him leaning over the rail of the Nile River cruise ship looking off into nowhere. Well, I bet that he was talking with his wife and sharing the moment.
Sure there were tears shed in conversations with us, and yet, there was hope, too, when he mentioned the future. He once said that life didn't exactly turn out as he thought it would, and he was learning acceptance of things that he couldn't change.
On the final night of the trip when we were getting ready to fly home, our male traveler was continuing on in Eastern Europe. We all wished him well, for by that time he had immersed himself into our lives, too, teaching us an invaluable lesson.
It's inevitiable that my husband and I talk about him periodically, and it makes us smile reminiscing about how fortunate we were to have had him wander into our lives.