Fifty years ago Dad was hitchhiking alone across Europe from Canada. Mom was hitchhiking with a male friend across Europe from Australia. Both were in Thessaloniki for Greek Independence Day. He spotted her at a party. He describes this moment as if he was hit by a thunderbolt. She was sitting on the lap of her travel mate on a tall wicker basket. He assumed it was her boyfriend. Being hopelessly romantic his heart was defeated but his thoughts were consumed by her.
They were staying in the same hostel and he struck up a friendly conversation with her companion, while she was across the room packing her bag. Her friend said he wanted to hightail it to London but that she was determined to go to Turkey and at that time women weren’t allowed to cross the boarder without a male escort. Dad acted swiftly, impulsively. Minutes later he approached Mom with his hand out ‘Hi, my name is Bruce. I just traded you for maps of London’. Mom, 5’6 feet tall looked this 6’5 west coast Canadian up, down and said ‘Alright then. We’re going to Turkey’.
The following day they were jammed in the street watching a parade. She was frustrated she couldn’t see over the heads of people in front of her. He didn’t notice her leave his side till the whole crowd had turned their heads and were pointing up. He saw her, in her short summer dress, shimmying up a guy wire to the roof of a shed above the street. He fell deeply in love. Children scrambled up the wire after her and the shed almost collapsed.
They picked grapes for money in Greece. Hitchhiked through the country on their way to Turkey. They hadn’t eaten or drank much when a little truck filled with glass soda bottles picked them up. Riding in the back of the ute, exposed to the afternoon heat, he moaned ‘What torture this is being surrounded by so much to drink and no way to open these bottles’. She picked up a bottle, smashed the neck across the side of the cab and handed it to him. He said, once in Turkey, he was offered three camels and a small hotel in exchange for her.
My youngest sister and I were looking at this picture talking about how much we love it, how romantic it is. Mom came up and said ‘Some local offered to take a picture of us. Bruce grabbed me and pulled me into him. I pushed him off and said ‘Hey buddy, I’ve barely known you a month!’ Sis and I reexamined the body language in the picture and started laughing.
After several years vagabonding through Europe and Australasia, they married at the justice of the peace in Canada with two best friends as witnesses and ate a black forest cake from the grocery store.
Fifty years, four adult children and the first grandchild on the way. A forty one year, going strong, book business they built together. Fifty years of endless adventure and companionship. They blow us away daily; as individuals and united. They’ve lived. On their own terms, and with a generous open door policy to friends and friends of friends alike. They drive each other crazy and with wild hearts, love one another deeply in all that craziness. Happy anniversary.