Over the last year, a lot has changed in my life.
I got married, moved out of my parents' home, and saw the West Coast for the first time.
I also went on my honeymoon to Hawaii. The trip was an experience neither Bob nor I will ever forget. Two sunny, beautiful weeks on the Golden Princess ship sailing the Pacific Ocean to paradise.
During our once-in-a-lifetime vacation, we saw so many beautiful places, such as the rocky beaches of Hilo, the humpback whales during their migration, the bottom of the ocean in a submarine, and the very touching Pearl Harbor Memorial. Each of these places are captured in our minds and through our pictures for all eternity. But the thing that helped make our honeymoon even more special, was the people we met along the way.
We sat at table 108 in the formal dining room each evening. With us, three couples who were well-seasoned travelers and had more stories of their experiences than most.
Konny and Benny were a couple who came from the same small town atmosphere as us.
They lived in the farmlands of Iowa and enjoyed the small things in life.
Konny and I immediately became friends, sharing stories of life and traveling; as well as our love for bread rolls, butter, and especially dessert.
She was a mother of two boys, one of whom passed away after a long battle with cerebral palsy.
Benny was a farmer who lived off the land he farmed.
The next couple, Jan and Ken, traveled the globe during Ken's military days and before settling in California.
They both were retired and enjoyed making people smile.
Their stories of their travels across country in a motor home never ceased to amaze me because that is something I would love to do once in my life.
They also shared their stories of living in California and dealing with earthquakes. I always said I hated winter, but I think I would rather deal with snow than an earthquake.
The last couple, Beverly and Jim, were the most seasoned travelers by far, going on at least six cruises a year; and seeing the country by motor home so they could figure out where they would like to build their home.
They eventually decided on an active adult community in California, as well as in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Every evening, Beverly never failed to amaze me. She looked like a porcelain doll, dressed to impress and ready to dance.
She loved the finer things in life, but stayed away from the simple pleasures like bread because it would alter her figure.
She and Jim have "many, many" children, as well as 13 grandchildren; and stay young by dancing ballroom, salsa, etc.
Beverly's favorite song was "Lady in Red," but she never actually wore the color during the cruise.
The time we spent with these couples was simply amazing. From the first night when we met Benny and Konny, to the last night we shared together as friends, the conversations and laughter never stopped.
They taught us that no matter what you do in life, enjoy it, because ultimately, you only go through life once, so make the most of it.
Each couple, who came from different backgrounds, was equal at that table. We learned from each other and I thank them for that.
Since coming home from the cruise, Bob and I have looked through our pictures and shared stories with friends.
But it was the stories from Jan and Ken, Benny and Konny, and Beverly and Jim, that will stay with us forever.