Mary had the age of 82 and she was still very alive. When she was younger she worked very hard and this had made her muscles strong. Still every week she was tempted to play some arm wrestling with an man that lived in the village to, his name was Jan and he was 84. It became harder and harder for her, but still she won every time. This competitions were held in the local café of the village. Every time when she won she was treated by Jan, he bought for her a Lemon Jenever with sugar. This event was almost like a ritual. During the Summer many tourists came to the village and they were all taken by this lovely play. But that was not the reason why they did it. This was a personal competition. Jan was hoping to win, only just once. This was the thought that kept him going. One time! Just one time he wanted to win from Mary and he really made an effort. But still, till now he didn't succeed.
Mary was living on a old farm with a few cats living in the barn and an old goat. She had, had a beautiful marriage with Levien. But Levien died years ago. Sometimes she lost track of the years, because it was so many years ago. She had never had children and she pitted that, but this was how it was. And in these days you could not force nature.
Al these years the farm wasn't that up to date any more. There was a lot of work to do. But she was not capable of doing that, although every week she was arm wrestling, this was to much for her. And to hire someone that wasn't an option, her pension wasn't big enough for that. The wood of the windows were starting to rot and also the door in the barn was very crooked. But she thought that was giving the farm an nostalgic touch. She always stayed in a good mood.
Every Friday evening it was arm wrestling with Jan. And also this Friday evening. She went on her bike and drove to the center of the village. She put her bike against a tree and walked into the café. Everyone knew her and wished her a very good evening as soon she stepped into the café. Also Jan was very happy to see her. He trained extra hard that week and he knew that the stars were standing good that evening; he was going to win this evening! "First I am going to drink some coffee" and she was laughing towards Jan and she plopped down on her chair. Then when she had finished her coffee she sat down in the opposite of Jan at their special table. She put her very firm forearm upwards. Also Jan's forearm was very big and they were really a challenge to each other. So the battle could begin. In not more than a minute the other people in the café were grouping around this special table. Some favorite Mary and some Jan, they wanted to support booth of them. At one moment Mary and Jan's forehead were filled with little drops of sweat. Now and then you could hear Jan moan under the pressure of Mary's weight. It seemed that Jan was gaining ground but this was more a trick of Mary, she made him believe that he could win. Then suddenly with the full strength of her arm she pushed Jan's forearm against the tabletop. Jan was really disappointed this time and with a sigh he ordered a Lemon Jenever with sugar for Mary. Mary radiated and took a sip of her Jenever and gave Jan a firm slap on his shoulder. Together they were laughing.
A few months went by and it became Summer. The Elderly flower surrounding the farm had blossomed and the smell was very intense. Mary was cutting the blossoms to make some lemonade. On the Summer evenings you could find Mary on her bench in front of the house, the cats were laying at her feet and the goat was roaming the yard. Mary felt a bit under the weatherlately and she felt that she was loosing strength. She was thinking that for her really the Autumn was coming and soon there will be a day that I will loose of Jan. When she was thinking that she had to laugh and the cats were looking at here like they understood why Mary was laughing. On that day Jan will have a different look on his face, she thought. Actually we are becoming a little bit old for these competitions.
That Friday she stepped like always on her bicycle and drove into the village. Again she put her bike down and walked into the café. "Good evening, gentleman" she said and she put herself down at the special table with no hesitation. And Jan she replayed: "How you are feeling this evening"? "Do you feel strong"? "Lets start at once"! "What" said Jan, "no coffee this evening"? "They won't get rich of you, thats for sure"! "Don't whine" Mary said, "give me your forearm". They pulled up there sleeves and there elbows joined each other on the table. There hands clanged together and the game was started. That evening there were a lot of tourist in the café, so a lot of people were watching. The trial of strength could begin! Every visitor was grouped around the table. The tension could be felled. First Mary gained some ground, after that Jan. But he was thinking this is what she does every time and then she is striking back. And there he was right this was her tactic but Mary was also astonished because she felt that she could not resist the pressure of Jan's arm. Jan didn't know what was happening! Mary gave a loud sigh and had to give in to the pressure of Jan's arm. Jan could hardly believed this: He had won! Mary had to laugh about the expression on Jan's face. Jan's face decreased by time had the very happy expression of a child on his face! "Ok" Mary said very loud, you have won"! "A Lemon Jenever wit sugar for this gentleman"!
A young man of 35 years young and who wasn't from the village had watched the game. He had enjoyed the battle and the perseverance of Mary and Jan. For a very long time he was on a search of the deeper meaning of life. And he was convinced that Mary when he looked at her strength also had much wisdom about life. He sat down next to Mary and introduced himself. "Hello Mme", "I am Gerard and I have been looking at the completion". "Just call me Mary", Mary said. She always liked to talk with other people and especially young people. And thats how it was and they started talking and talking and it came to this that Gerard was looking for the deeper meaning of life also was looking for a place to sleep. Mary didn't know what it was, but she trusted this young man. She invited him on the farm to spend the night in trade to do some odd jobs. And thats how it came that Mary and Gerard together left the café. When the people so this happening they made some strange remarks but those two didn't hear a thing.
Mary took her bike and he took his backpack and together they were walking to her farm. At twelve o clock there was still light on at the farmhouse, not so usual for Mary. But Gerard, couldn't stop listening to her, because she had so much to tell. About her youth, her marriage with Levine and...... so much more.
Gerard stayed the next day to do some chores for Mary, liked they agreed about that, but it didn't last by that day. Gerard also stayed the next months, he had the feeling, no he knew for sure, he could learn so much from Mary. Al her experiences she shared with him. He had found his place and....... Mary she liked it this way. She had some fine company after all these years and he was a fine and handy man. De farm was improving and improving after all the work he did.
In the village there was much talk about the "relationship" between Mary and Gerard. They didn't know everything so there was much room for speculations. "Is she going to marry him"? "You hear these funny stories these days"! "He is after her money"! But she hasn't any money", Mrs Baker replayed to her neighbor. "But as soon that farm is rebuilded, it is worth a lot of money"! And then when is has died, he is sitting on roses"! Mark my words. If Mary had heard this talks, she only would have smiled. She knew they were talking about them, but that is how people are. They had a good time together and people can talk but they had their own life.
The years went by very quickly. The arm wrestling days were over and Jan who became very old was one day moved to an old peoples home in another village. She was thinking of him and had to smile he sure would challenge every one there for a game of arm wrestle. Finally a triumph for Jan!
Gerard stayed all these years with Mary and the enjoyed each others company. Gerard praised her wisdom, especially her winged statement: "Every day has a new change to begin something new" "Gerard", she said. "Enjoy your life fully, other wise so much is lost". For seven years they had a good time. For Mary it was the ending of her seven year cycle. And she knew this would be the end of her life cycle. The last halve year of her life, Mary's body was declining. The first months she was fighting this because her mind was still as strong as ever. She became grumpy and stubborn but at the end she was at peace and was radiating with a kind of glow. Gerard was taking care of her these last months with much of love.
And yes, the villagers were right..... Mary had left the farm after her passing to Gerard. But for Gerard it wasn't the same anymore after Mary had left the place. He decided to rent the place for a low price to a young family with a condition that they had to take good care of the animals who were still living there. He packed his few possessions together in his backpack. And he left as he came. He was thinking about the statement of Mary "Every day has an opportunity to begin something new"! Her words became his motto and in this way he kept the memory of Mary alive.