‘Last of the Summer Wine’
By Father Pat Killilea, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa
He is short and scrubby. She is tall and rock jawed. He lives on the first floor, while she lives on the second level right above him. For some unexplained reason, she is his heart throb, while he is her most constant nuisance. For him love is blind, so it is not unusual for him to appear at her door or to climb a ladder to her second-floor window just to catch a kiss from her. Perhaps I should say “snatch a kiss” from her reluctant lips. This duo are but two of the characters in the British TV comedy “Last Of The Summer Wine.” It tells of the escapades of some neighborhood pals in their glory years who often get in trouble with their female counterparts yet live out their years with a certain flair. Yes, I’ve been watching them while I chill out in Ireland.
This could also be said of our golden agers in Kalaupapa. While it is unlikely to see them climbing a ladder to a second-floor window, you may see them working in our grocery store or in the book store. You will meet them at our local social events or in Las Vegas if you yourself happen to visit there. Though their lives have been disrupted and turned upside down by the dreaded Hansen’s disease, it has not prevented them from living life to the fullest. I personally dislike long distance travel but it has not prevented them from journeying to Rome for the canonizations of St. Damien and St. Marianne and they have participated fully in these ceremonies and celebrations. For them, going to Las Vegas is like going down the street for an evening walk.
Of course the golden years are not without aches and pains, especially in the joints. I know that myself, after I’ve walked around the block, followed by one or more of my cats. Yet it does not deter our Kalaupapa golden agers from getting around. I think of one in particular who turned 95 this year but who acts like he is 59. Perhaps in his youth he may have climbed a ladder to a second- floor window to catch a kiss but now he gets showered with kisses on ground level by so many admiring women. Perhaps I should pray to live to be 95.
I write this while lounging in a second-floor bedroom of my brother’s house in County Galway. From my window I can look out onto the rich green fields, not unlike those in that British comedy, and I ponder the adventures of those country town gents and ladies as they drink of the last of the summer wine. Aloha.