The morning of day one we decided to drive down to Lantana to have breakfast at a seaside cafe called Benny's on the Beach. We picked up Granddad in front of his hotel and got on 95 to make the short drive down to south Palm Beach. In the car, Dan brought us up to speed on Turbeville family news. Elise's brother, Dan, and his new bride, Janice, are playing newlywed in their new single family home in Everett, WA, and Dave is continuing to see a girl he's been dating for about six months from Florence. Not Florence, SC but Florence, Florence. She is a jewelry exporter and spends much of her time jet-setting between NY, Palm Beach, and Italy. As the story goes, Dave caught her eye as he was tending bar at the Hyatt where he used to work. She had been staying at the Hyatt on and off for three years, and when Dave broke off an engagement with his previous fiancée, Camilla wasted no time expressing her interest in him.
Dave was initially uninterested. He had just gotten out of one long-term relationship and wasn't ready to start another. When his friend told him that Camilla was interested in him, Dave suggested that he should take her out. Or so the story goes.
Well....as they say...the rest is history. Dave has been to Italy. Twice. And the two of them are getting along great. The yin to his yang, they are saying, and given the pictures I've seen posted to Facebook, I believe every word of it. Elise's parents had a chance to meet her on their last trip to visit Dave in Florida. In describing her, Dan said she was, "the most beautiful creature on the face of this Earth." Or something very close and equally flattering. He went on to elaborate that what she lacked in physical beauty she made up for in grace.
At the time, I was too caught up in the narrative to argue. As everyone who knows Dan can attest, he is quite the orator. One would be hard-pressed to have as successful a career as he has had as a college professor if he couldn't hold an audience. But later on, I got to thinking. Hey....wait a sec...I know someone else who may also be able to hold down that title. I kick myself now for not saying anything then, but in the spirit of family peace, it may have been best that I held my tongue. But I just would like it in the public record that Elise--though not Italian--is also quite stunning.
We have moved on from Florida and are now spending time with Elise's parents in Cheney, Washington, in the home where Elise grew up and went to high school. Photos of her in high school are scattered around the house. On a precious visit, I told her I would have had a crush on her in high school, too, and it is true. We will celebrate ten years of marriage next month, and I think this fact bodes well for our relationship as we grow older together.
Maybe there is something in a father's brain that doesn't permit him to think of his own daughter as beautiful, as a father would not have romantic feelings for his own daughter. I haven't crossed that bridge with Clementine yet. She is still just "cute", though has a beautiful disposition (most days. When she is well-rested and well-fed). I know Dan does not mean to lessen the beauty of his own wife or daughter (In Diane's home office, there is a now-framed card from him detailing the forty ways in which she is beautiful that he gave to her as a gift on her fortieth birthday) in extolling the virtues of his daughters-in-law (Today, in describing Janice, he commented that he could not have found a better daughter-in-law if he had gone down to Colorado and handpicked her himself), and I know I take superlatives too literally. But I can imagine one day thinking of Clementine as the second most beautiful woman on the face of the Earth. I just hope Peter and Sam follow their uncles leads and find women (or men) whose beauty rivals their mother's and sister's (or mine).