I met an older gentleman while in Norway this summer. I was innocently having a cup of coffee outside this adorable neighborhood called St. Hanshaugen. It was just one of those beautiful Scandinavian mornings. His name was Olav and he was quietly sitting next to me as I was feverishly checking my phone for the latest American news. He giggled, smiled and said, “Your coffee is getting cold.” I smiled and laughed. Then did what I would normally do which is to start chatting. He had a bit of a raspy voice so I just assumed he had a cold. We talked everything Norway, my hiking adventures, his family, the neighborhood he has lived in for over 26 years called St. Hanshaugen. He told me about his children…they were all successful in their mid-30s and I then asked if he had grandchildren…”No, I am afraid that is something I won’t get to see and looked down.” I just assumed that meant his children were just career driven or had decided they didn’t want any so I said, ” That bond between grandchildren and their grandparents is so special…” Olav bursted out in tears in a way that felt like he had been holding it all in for way too long. I felt terrible….like the American who asked too many questions or went too far. “May I hug you?”, I asked. He smiled. I hugged him and apologized.
I took off my sunglasses because I wanted to look him in the eyes and show I was present with him. He thanked me for that later. It turns out he has stage 4 lung cancer and is recovering from recent surgery. He tries his best to keep his spirits up but the medicine he is taking fatigues him. On a sunny day at 10 am, you will find him outside this coffee shop reading the newspaper….trying to find some resemblance of normalcy in what is a difficult time. My eyes watered when he told me about a young neighbor who gave him his number and said,”If it rains…call me. I will pick you up.” Such an example of small human compassion.
Olav told me that one of the things that bother him about being sick is that his voice isn’t the same. He strains his cords to speak and that he feels people shy away from him. I explained to him that I received and connected with all of him raspy voice or not and just assumed he had a cold. I encouraged him to keep connecting with people because the voice change was merely a butterfly transformation but the essence of who he is …who the world sees is still there and then I went all New York and stated, “And, whoever doesn’t like it can take a hike 😇😜. ”
I tried making an effort to see him again but our paths did not cross again before I left.
I know all those cliches exist but it is so important to connect now with humanity. There are life lessons to be learned and beautiful messages being given To Live in the now, Have Gratitude for what We Have, To Love those who are present in our lives and to Realize that Tomorrow is not a guarantee. #adventuresinnorway
Until next Time my Lovelies,