Jeronimo Smith, seventy-seven, is having a particularly bad day, and he needs the poems of William Butler Yeats to get him through it. But the book has just been checked out of the Santa Barbara Public Library. When he accosts the widow who has it, he meets the woman who will become of he love of his life. They're an unlikely pair--Jeronimo a retired janitor, Emily cultured and wealthy--and both are coping with troublesome adult children and the indignities of aging. Jeronimo courts Emily by mowing her lawn, and when he impetuously invites her to join him on a road trip to Yellowstone, she stuns herself by agreeing.
Their elopement is a once-in-a lifetime adventure and the setting for a bittersweet love story. The two must wrestle with balancing family responsibilities with their own needs, with coming to terms with old prejudices and with the need to stay close to what is wild in the world and in themselves, despite pressures to age "sensibly." When a life-threatening illness forces them to make a wrenching decision about their future together, they conclude that life, whatever its challenges, is meant to be lived fully to its very end. Call It a Gift is resplendent with profoundly human characters and beautiful settings, unforgettable in the way it reminds us that romance and adventure are not merely for the young. The mysteries and poignant intensity of old age have seldom been depicted with such perception, nor in a story so eminently readable.