This is a tale, dear readers, about a loving friendship 40 years long. In 1975 my wife and I traveled from Israel to Mexico for a vacation. Mexico is an amazingly beautiful country with an abundance of green trees and flowers of all colors, waterfalls and Aztec pyramids from a previous early age before the Spanish conquest.
In the lovely resort city of Acapulco on the Pacific Ocean, we sat on a long table on the sand watching the waves splash in and out again. Sitting next to us was a very young couple in their twenties and we began a conversation. They were newly-weds celebrating their honeymoon in Mexico.
Alba Tur was a native of Cuba who saved herself and family from the dictatorial regime of Fidel Castro by moving from Cuba to Miami, Florida in the United States. Somewhere she met a handsome young American fireman. The flame of their love was contagious and soon Alba Tur was married to Charles Patton Allison.
We enjoyed friendly conversation with the lovely young couple. Charles (called Pat) did not heed the warnings for travelers not to drink the water, no ice, and no green vegetables. But Pat enjoyed eating his green salad.
He paid a heavy price and became infected with what is known to gringos as Montezuma’s revenge. In plain English it is called dysentery and for three or four days much of his time was spent inspecting Mexico’s toilets.
They were a very loving couple and it was a pleasure to chat with them. Alba was a Roman Catholic but she knew much about Jewish customs and traditions.
After some days, they left for Miami and we for New York and eventually back to Israel.
They are now married for forty years. There is one son who is a professor at a university in the state of Michigan.
Every year since 1975, the Allisons have never failed to send us greeting cards for the Jewish New Year and for Passover and we in turn remember to send them greetings on their December holiday which commemorates the birth of Jesus.
Whenever my wife and I reminisced about our Mexican adventures we never neglected to speak about the loving Allison family. They were very dear to our hearts. Genuine friends who enriched our lives.
When I notified them of my wife’s death in September 2016 they shared our grief for the loss of a woman whom they deeply loved.
My wife’s photo sits on a desk in their home in Florida. They treat her memory with great respect and dignity.
Alba had been ill with cancer in 2003 which required surgery. Now in 2017 she has breast cancer which is being treated by her oncologist. She is a very strong woman with a deep faith in God and in His healing powers. Pat is very supportive of her and is her treasured soul-mate.
I add Alba’s name to my morning daily prayers wishing for her a refuah shelemah, a complete healing and full recovery.
The Allisons and I maintain frequent contact via e-mail and every message from them is one of genuine love, caring and compassion.
Alba had to leave Cuba and go to America to find her husband. And Rahel and I had to vacation in Mexico in order to find such wonderful devoted friends. Forty years have passed and each year remembering Acapulco and our meeting with Pat and Alba has been a blessing.
You have often read my comment on friendship taken from the Aramaic verse in the Talmud written thousands of years ago by our rabbis in Babylon. “O chevruta o mituta”… give me friendship or give me death. A friendless life is an unhappy life.
We have been blessed by the mutual love of a couple whom we met sitting on a bench on the sands of Acapulco watching the waves roll in and out. I cherish those memories. Viva Mexico. Had we not been there we would have lost the opportunity of making a cherished friendship which has lasted for forty years.
Mexico is definitely not the safest place to visit in these times. But once upon a time, we and the Allisons sat together in a paradise.