One Moment of Joy

True Love Elderly Couple

Tracy watched the old man slowly navigate the corridor of the Rome Hill Nursing Facility. He leaned alternately on the hallway’s handrail and his cane. As he moved, slight winces of pain from his arthritic hip crossed his face.

“Why does he even bother to visit her? She doesn’t even know who he is any more and it’s obvious he is barely mobile himself.” Tracy asked to Rose at the nurses’ station.

Tracy was a young 20-something certified nursing assistant who loathed her job and the patients she “served”, but thought it was better than the McJob she filled before.

Rose, a compact, sturdy black woman 30 years her senior replied, “Honey, one of these days you’ll understand. That’s love child.”

Eloise Watson was seated in her chair, facing out toward the window, when Hank, her husband of 62 years, entered the room.

He stood, steadying himself on the doorframe, and said with his deep voice and with a broad smile, “Eloise?”

El turned her head at his announcement. “Do I know you?”

It was the same routine every morning. Hank had long ago stopped being hurt by it.

“Oh, we’ve met a time or two. I thought I’d come to visit you.”

With that, Hank sat on the chair next to her’s. “Oh, I don’t remember you, but I do like visitors.”

“You look so pretty today.” Hank meant it. When he saw her he could see everything she is, everything she ever had been. In her now dimming blue eyes he still saw the vibrant woman he fell in love with, shared a life with.

“Well, thank you!” was El’s enthusiastic reply. It wasn’t every day a gentleman with such manners would tell you you’re pretty.

“I thought I might read you a story. Would you like that?”

“Oh, yes, I love stories. My eyes can’t read the way I used to.”

Hank pulled the worn book of short stories from his pocket and picked her favorite – he always read the same one. It had been her favorite since her teens and it made her laugh and smile. She never remembered from one day to another, so he always read her favorite.

“I asked him one day,” Rose related to Tracy, “why he always seemed so happy. Happiest man I ever seen. He tole me his whole life his greatest joy was just making ‘his El’ smile and laugh. He said now he gets to do it every day.”

And they could hear Eloise laughing down the hall.

 

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She Died

Mother - Father - Sone

She died.

They found the brain tumor shortly before her 32 birthday and she died before her 33rd. He mourned.  He was angry. Angry with her for dying. Angry at the doctors and chemo and everything they had done to save her. None of it mattered. He was angry with her for dying.

They had been together for eight years. They had a son. She left them alone. Alone. Alone to deal with the world. Sadness. Life went on and she wouldn’t be there, ever again.

He avoided dealing with her “stuff.” Her closet was still full of clothes and shoes. That dress that was “too small” but he loved. Shoes that were “impossible to walk in” but incited his libido.

And, in the back of her closet, were her journals.

During the time they were married he never would have considered reading her journals. They were her private thoughts. Her dreams. Her fears. They were the “real” her.

But now she was dead. The word destroyed him. Never again. Never again would they have anything. Not good nor bad. Just never.

Never plagued him.

After months, he was ready. Ready to read her private thoughts. More than ready. He wanted to know her most intimate thoughts. He wanted to know how she really felt – about him, about their son.

So he read.

He started at the beginning. She was 17. Crushes on boys. Fears about her future. Concerns about algebra.

He skipped to their relationship. “Does he really like me?” “What is he thinking?” Then, “he said he loves me” and “he proposed!”

He cried. He missed her. He wanted to join her, but their son…

Finally, he skipped to her last entries:

“I know you will read this. I loved you always. I will love you and Stephan always. I may be gone, but you will go on and you two will be the me I always wanted to be.”

 

 


Partnership

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Last weekend I spent with Waco, getting the plants and furniture redone for her deck. It was fun and exhausting for both of us. (Yes, that’s really a picture of her deck at the back of Suess House.)

Two weeks ago she had convinced me eventually getting married was a good plan for both of us, whether to each other or not. This past weekend we talked about what we would want in a marriage and how that would even work.

Today, while Waco is in Texas for her daughter’s wedding, I’m thinking through it more.

I’ve seen a bunch of different “types” or marriage. I’m sure you have too. Cold marriages. Sexy marriages. Friendship marriages. Corporate merger marriages. Dependent marriages. Convenient marriages. There are so many kinds.

I want partnership.

Partnership means many things. Mutual respect. Intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy. Trust. Shared goals. Willingly giving yourselves to each other even when it is hard.

Not having a plan B.

I’ve never had partnership before. I’m not even sure what it will look like, feel like.

But one step at a time, I plan to get there.