I was flying home this weekend from a Wabash Institute Pre-Tenure Seminary Faculty Consultation in Indianapolis and wanted nothing more than to take a nap for the almost 2 hour flight. I was tired after a late night karaoke party on the patio with the other participants and staff. When I boarded the plane I noticed a smiling elderly woman in the seat next to mine. I told her I needed in to take my seat and then settled in for the flight. We did the normal introductions and I took time to ask about her travel plans. She was on her way to visit her son in Boston and to play with her grandkids. She showed me pictures of her grandkids and bragged about her son, the doctor. I asked where her accent was from – “I’m Greek. I’m YaYa,” she said. Next she asked about my family and I showed her a picture of my son, Shelby. She was suitably impressed – as I was with her pictures. As the plane began to taxi I put my head back and closed my eyes. Naptime!!
Then it happened … she asked me what I do for a living. I wondered – “Do I just say I teach or tell her the full story?” I erred and said “I teach preaching to persons training to be pastors.” Oops. Big mistake. “What do you think about a priest who talks about money every week? What about preaching and being boring? Do you believe in a third world war that will start in Jerusalem? (she was born there – she told me five or six times).” Her questions kept on coming - one after the other - about faith, preaching, world religions, church life, etc. I answered with simple but complete statements hoping we could settle back into rest.
As we were flying and talking, I had noticed a few times that she emphatically talked with her hands – and poked my right arm with her finger to emphasize a point. She then began to roll up her magazine and started hitting my arm to make sure I was listening and that I got her point. She would say, “Bravo, bravo” if I agreed with her or said something she liked. And then she would hit or poke my arm. That was our trip – she would ask me a question, I would answer, and she would give me her “Bravo, bravo” and whack my arm.
Several times I put my head back to rest and she would pause – read for a minute or two – then ask another question if I moved a centimeter. I never got my nap – and I have a sore arm today from her pokes and hits. But she was a fun seatmate. Her zest for life at 78 years of age was infectious. Her emphatic belief in what she was asking and saying was amazing. Her joy of life and enthusiasm for interaction was adorable (but also painful – so I may put some Windex on it today - LOL).
I just hope that I am that excited about life, faith and learning when I am 78 years old. So “Bravo, Bravo!” to my YaYa seatmate.