Opinion: Finding Meaning 

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“The best is yet to be…” 

By Skip Hellewell

The Beautiful Wife and I are back in picturesque Midway, Utah, nestled in the ancestral home. It’s autumn. The leaves are turning, some golden, others crimson and beginning to fall. The place and season conjures up memories of times past. The first suitor the BW thought she might marry recently bought a large home just up the street. The kids think it funny how he has reappeared in her life and refer to him as “almost-daddy.”  

When in college, I worked in a shoe store for ladies where, from time to time, I would be attracted to a charming customer and maneuver to get a date. This was definitely against corporate rules, but budding love doesn’t recognize such restraints. Perhaps it’s the season, but I was recounting these past attractions to the BW and got the feeling I was straining her patience. It’s more a guy thing, perhaps, how the magic of past romances lingers over the years. The ladies seem more selective in remembering past loves, like that Ella Fitzgerald classic, “My old flame, I can’t even think of his name.” The close of the song, however, reveals her yearning to know what became of that old flame. 

In this reverie of past attractions, a 1975 TV movie with Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier, filmed in their latter years, “Love Among the Ruins,” came to mind. Few remember it, but the plot turns on a law student and stage actress who have a passionate three-day romance before her road company must leave. He carries the memory of her and never marries. Desperate to escape her childhood poverty, she marries a wealthy older man. Decades later, they meet when she, now a widow, is sued and needing a good lawyer is brought to her early love. He has never forgotten her, she claims not to remember him. I won’t spoil the ending, but if you want a romantic movie to enjoy at home, it’s available online.  

The point here is that love, in all its wonders, has a timeless quality that surely lasts beyond this mortal life. The closing line of the movie is his invitation to her, taken from Robert Browning, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be . . ..” I watched the movie alone, the BW was in the other room on a phone call to a college roommate with whom she has reconnected. Many years ago, when her roommate married, the BW was her maid of honor. When the BW and I married, in a practical move, they simply switched dresses. Returning to college, we two couples shared an old home divided into a duplex, each learning how to love, perhaps life’s greatest test.  

At the close of the movie I invited the BW to come and watch the ending again with me. I pulled up a cozy couch, the type known as a loveseat, that had always been in this old 1890 house, and we watched together. You know that closing invitation, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be . . .” has another lesser-known phrase, “The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.” Young couples are quick with passion, but wisdom takes time. As we sat together, my past shortcomings came to mind, and I apologized, grateful for that promise, “The best is yet to be.” But even more, grateful for the belief that love lives beyond this mortal life. There’s meaning in that.  

Bio:  Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.”  Email: [email protected].

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