The Last Glorious Moment

12/28/11

Sunset was stunning yesterday.

It reminded me of someone. 

She, at age 73, stepped out of character.  She packed up a very few things, sold the rest, and went to a place where she knew only one person and could speak only a scant sum of words.  

Unlike her, this was.  Out of the blue, she suddenly had a brimful of gumption.  It started when a man winked at her from across the room.  She glanced away at first, then turned and walked toward him, extended her hand and spoke softly in his ear.  And they began to dance.

She tells me that she had never been so bold and that she never, ever regretted it.   

He was visiting friends.  She was recently widowed.  People she cared about worried, talked, judged.  But she went on to the other side of the world and spent a few years on the waning side of her life with a man she met at a dance for seniors.   

When she talks about that time, she smiles. 

I have looked at her wrinkled face and faded blue eyes and I have heard in her voice the joy of adventure.

The thrill of dropping everything.

The satisfaction of letting go of expectations and obligations.

“Why not?” she said to me.

Why not step out of character and do something that seems scary?

Why give up something because others might talk?

Why not do something you’ve always wanted to do?

The only thing stopping her was herself. 

And she threw away all that had held her back and went to the other side of the world and touched love again.

Now, she has outlived her second husband.  She has returned home, lives alone in a small condo closer to family and doesn’t go to the senior dances.

But she smiles.

She smiles when she talks of him and when she speaks of the things they did. 

She smiles when she talks about the sunsets they watched from the porch of their house that overlooked the hilltops.

There were many, many glorious sunsets, she says. 

She walks with a cane now and makes it as far as the bench that overlooks the lake.  From that point, she can sit and look to the south and see Pikes Peak.   She grew up in its shadow and likes to look out and see it and remember.

And as the sun goes down, she thinks of him.

I admire her nerve.  I admire her smile.  I admire that she chose watching sunsets with a lover over watching television with a cat. 

At the end of the day yesterday, when I took my camera outside to capture the day’s sunset, I thought of her.  I moved quickly so I wouldn’t miss that last glorious show of color and beauty.  If I am not careful, I get lost in the humdrum of evening goings-on and I miss it altogether.  While I’m looking elsewhere, I miss the show.  The sun drops and is gone. 

But it should not to be missed.  There are a few magnificent moments just before the sun disappears and it becomes dark and cold.  Often, the last few moments before the sun goes below the horizon are the most astonishing and breathtaking moments of the day.  A flash of splendid at the end of  otherwise ordinary days.   

She had some astonishing, breathtaking and splendid moments in her time, it seems.

She tells me to never miss an opportunity to watch a sunset with a lover.

And I promise her I won’t.   

And when I am alone I promise myself to look for extraordinary surprises in the midst of the ordinary.

To not let the sun fade away unnoticed.

And to find brilliance at the end of the day. 

85 thoughts on “The Last Glorious Moment

  1. This is so beautiful dear Winsomebella, your photographs are amazing too… So romantic. And how beautiful this lady… Thank you for this beautiful post, you almost dragged me into these sunset moments… Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

  2. If they weren’t so common, people would pay great sums of money to see sunsets like that. Busyness makes us blind to all that beauty. One of my resolutions for the new year: more sunsets! Thank you for the post.

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  4. Oh, my dear Winsome, you again have proven how deeply you take to heart the stories of the people who enter your life. You mull them over, integrate their beauty into the beauty you photograph and pass them on. The message here was strong, but delicately camouflaged in smile provoking words and pictures. I shall return to read this one again. Thank you ever so much.

  5. Dearest Bella, this is one of the sweetest, most exquisite and potent love letters I’ve ever read. It’s a paean to both love itself and love of life–equally wondrous joys! Thank you for this gift of beauty in word and picture. I am the richer for it.

  6. The photos are stunningly beautiful and so appropriate to accompany such a lovely piece. This post brought tears to my eyes and I thank you for sharing such a true treasure of a woman with us.

  7. What a beautiful post. Thank you for the memories, the stories, the pictures. And for letting us all remember that we don’t have to be what we were yesterday. Beautiful!

  8. “People she cared about worried, talked, judged. But she went on to the other side of the world and spent a few years on the waning side of her life with a man she met at a dance for seniors.” I love that, Bella, and so much more that you layered into this beautiful post. We waste so much time wringing our hands and hesitating. This was a perfect reminder of what can happen if we just take a chance — and if we shift our focus slightly to see the beauty that was always there. Thank you for this.

    Happy New Year.

  9. It is 6am here in Australia. Coffee in hand and visiting Niasunset’s blog. She urged us to hop over here to your place for something special. You have both made my day. Nia for sending me and you for such a beautiful, inspiring, magical, wonderful, amazing piece of writing and photography. I will carry this with me forever. not just as a beautiful piece but as a reminder to live, live, live and then….live again. Thank you so much. randomrose

  10. I guess I am now in the sunset years but there is so much still to do and see. I applaud the woman who sold up and moved to the other side of the world. Not many of us are that brave. Thank you so much for sharing her story with us. I would hope that if such an opportunity came my way I would be as brave as she was. 🙂

  11. An inspiring tale so craftily rendered it made me wish I could sidle up to that bench and sit down with her to hear more abut her life. And such soothing pictures to go with a heart-warming story.

    Another wonderful post.

  12. “To not let the sun fade away unnoticed” . I watched again today. As we all eventually turn old and grey it is our memories that stay to comfort us and sometimes it is the memories of others. Thanks for yours.

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  14. I wish there was something I could write to compliment you as wonderfully as you’ve complimented this woman, this moment, this life. But a pause of heartfelt silence and respect is all I have the skill to answer with. Thank you.

  15. As everyone has noted, this is an exquisite piece of writing with wonderful photographs. As a single woman who occasionally worries about growing old all alone, this post touches me. Daring to let go and live our own lives to the fullest is a true gift.

  16. As I was having my first professional pedicure tonight I thought about your story and the lady just did something without worrying what others felt. My son asked me if I was going to get my toenails polished…I thought, “why not?” My feet are like Fred Flintstone’s, I walk in snow many months of the year, so not many people will see them. And when I see them-I get a laugh! So I had my daughter pick out a pale blue polish and told the person, “yes, I want them polished!” Thanks for the “push!” Rich :-)))

  17. I felt as though I was sitting next to her looking out at the hilltops, the sun warm on my face followed by the cool of the evening. Such a moving piece. Really wonderful.

  18. Writing this beautiful makes me cry. You have such an incredible gift, Winsomebella. I hope you know that. You have so many stories to tell, I wish you would write a book. Or have you?

    • I love the way you said to “not let the sun go down on opportunities.” That’s exactly what I was thinking 🙂 Thank you so much for visiting and for making such a perfect comment….

  19. Beautiful sunsets like the one in your photographs are unfortunately not common in Austin (Texas), so I’m wistful about those that I see in other people’s blogs. And people like the woman you wrote about in this post aren’t common anywhere, so you’re fortunate to have come across her story, and we’re grateful to you for bringing it to us.

    Steve Schwartzman
    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

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