José María Morelos, Mexican Roman Catholic priest and revolutionary rebel leader who led the Mexican War of Independence. One occasionally finds his broad face in a crowd of Morelians.
Our struggle with finding vegetarian-friendly food had taken us to a neighborhood restaurant not too far from the apartment we were renting in Morelia, Mexico. It was recommended by an aunt, a restaurateur who had adjusted her celebration menus to accommodate our eating habits on more than one occasion. Our gratitude spilled into the hometown eatery, with its simple décor and waitresses dressed in traditional costume. We were elated at the prospect of more than a cheese quesadilla, and though it was late, we cleaned our plates full of enchiladas.
I’m not sure why he needed to talk to me, but a well-dressed gentleman in his 80s who was sitting directly behind me seized my attention and the next thing I knew my chair was facing his and I was looking in his eyes. He spoke tentative English, but asked where we were from and why we were visiting Mexico. I told him our elaborate story of traveling from the U.S. to meet the family of my daughter’s boyfriend, and launching the kids on a South American sojourn. I'm not sure how much he understood, but he held on to the interaction like a small child hangs on to a toy, eyes glued to mine.
He touched my arm, and his eyes filled with ears. “I wanted to travel to America, but we were stopped in Texas.” He lapsed into Spanish and I was lost. He introduced me to his wife. In English he tried again, “I wanted to see the world, but it’s too late now.” I told him I was sorry. He reverted to Spanish and I asked for my daughter’s help. She saw our distress and jumped in with generosity, filling in the blanks the language left between us. Local custom says it is bad manners to keep someone from their meal, so my group was exiting and adding pressure to end our interlude. The dear man gave us their address and invited us to visit them. I kissed him on the cheek and we said goodbye.
I was reminded that whatever in life you are called to do, you only have so much time. Living with regret is heartbreaking. Check out Bronnie Ware’s Regrets of the Dying and get busy creating a life without regret.