Friday, 23rd November 2018
Currently 2AM, at home
I was having dinner at HEMA between 5:30-6:30PM, and as I was about to leave to meet Joanna, an old man came up to me and asked me what day it was – he was confused as the newspaper he held in his hands was a Saturday paper. I told him it was Friday and he thanked me.
Walking away towards the escalator, I suddenly felt a strong feeling and urge to turn back and carry on the conversation with him. I’m not sure what it was but there was something about him that was interesting to me. He was sitting by himself at a small table as I approached him, and I asked him politely if he was waiting for someone.
“Oh no, I’m by myself today.”
“Do you mind if I join you for a cup of coffee?”
“Oh, yes sure, that would be very lovely!”
He seemed pleased but at the same time surprised at my suggestion. I offered to buy him coffee. By the coincidence of the universe, I learnt that his name was also David (surname Warren) and in his younger days, was also a photographer! He is 88 years of age and originally from London.
He shared with me that he currently lives by himself since the passing of his wife recently in October. She was a Dutch woman named Saskia ‘Beatrix’ van Delft whom he met and married in 1974 (44 years ago). He told me that he comes to this cafeteria routinely for coffee and cakes almost everyday, and that he likes the bustling atmosphere, high ceilings and the cheap great coffee. I noticed that his eyes welled up when he mentioned her – not of sadness, but more of affection and acceptance. I thought to myself: what a beautiful and humbling moment, isn’t that what life is all about? To live well, love and be loved? I truly felt that he has lived a good life.
We agreed to meet again for coffee ‘next Tuesday, 4PM, same place’.
Wednesday, 28th November 2018
Waited for David Warren at HEMA yesterday. Our meeting was set at 4PM. I had a feeling that he wouldn’t show up, or that he might have forgotten about it. But at 4:15PM, I saw him walking through the crowd looking for me – it was such a surreal moment! He didn’t have a mobile phone or email so I thought that it was amazing that we simply set a time, place and date and just showed up. How beautifully simple that was.
We spoke more about his travel and adventures doing photography (he shot regularly for travel magazines and sold his photographs of places around Europe to advertising clients such as the Dutch KLM airline). It was an amazing afternoon, and at the end, I took a portrait of him for memory.