Papa’s parents, Papi and Mamie, are probably the jolliest elders I’ve ever met in my life.
Both over eighty years old, they live peacefully in the nice cozy house at Arcachon, one hour away from the famed wine city Bordeaux. What amazed me was how they did not seem old at all – the duo led a simple life of retirement but they took good care of everything. It was very different from what I see a lot in places I’ve lived. Many elders of this age would be living in nursing homes slowly withering away. But not Papi and Mamie. They have young hearts.
Mamie does stay in the house more often though. While Papi climbed the largest sand dune of Europe with us on the last day of 2017, Mamie stayed home to work her kitchen magic. Decades of experience has made her the best cook on the planet, and I was blessed to be able to have such delicious meals since the afternoon we arrived at their house.
One night while dining together, Papi said to me, “Tell me, what is something that you find shocking here in France?”
At first I was speechless. Sure, there were many things I didn’t know about and everyday I learn new stuff, but I wasn’t sure if there was anything that “shocked” me.
Then suddenly out of nowhere something clicked in my brain as I replayed many scenes I’ve seen with my eyes from the moment our plane touched down in Paris.
“The sky”, I replied.
Papi was surprised. I didn’t know what kind of answer he was expecting, but I knew it definitely wasn’t this.
”I love the European sky. In the morning on my way to school I watch as the sky starts to brighten up, and in the afternoon when it begins to darken. There’s always that moment when the sky is breathtakingly beautiful, which the colors spread across as if it were a vast canvas, decorated with streaks of clouds. Back in Taiwan we never see something like this. The sky shocks me, but in the most wonderful way.”
I love chatting with Papi and Mamie. They are wise and experienced and steady. But what makes me the happiest while being around Papi and Mamie is witnessing their enduring love. Amongst a culture where divorce is a normal thing, their more than half a century affection for each other is exceptionally touching. “Amour”, Papi calls Mamie, never once by the name. They’ve already become a part of each other. They are each other’s life.