Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
All Rights Reserved
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Correspondence may be directed to:
Mario V. Farina
Email: [email protected]
These are twelve stories about devotion. The titles of the stories are:
The Girl With Binoculars
The Girl In Red
If You Were The Only Girl In The World
The Heavenly Sacrifice
A Momentous Decision
Play Moonlight Sonata For Me
The Love Of My Life
My Dear It Was You
The Shared Gift
I Gave Her A Single Red Rose
I Will Always Love You
They were just finishing their Macaroni and Cheese. It was delicious, as usual, the way Adele had prepared it. She and Michael, her husband, ate in silence.
“Why have you been coming home late?” Adele asked the question in a quiet voice.
“No special reason.”
“Are you seeing someone?”
“I don’t know. Maybe a little.”
“Please answer the question!”
“Well, yes, I suppose it could be called that.”
“Who is she?” Her lower lip quivered. She had gotten the answer she feared.
“Just a woman.”
“Just a woman? How could anyone, besides me, be the woman in your life?”
“I mean, she’s not important to me.”
“What’s her name?”
“You don’t really want to know.”
“What do you have in mind with this person, who is just a woman to you?”
“Do you intend to marry her, this woman who is not important to you?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Have you made love with this woman?”
Michael was silent.
“Have you made love with this woman?”
“Yes.” He mumbled the answer, barely audibly.
“How long has been this going on?” Tears began to form in her eyes.
“I don’t know, a month, maybe more.”
“And you expect me to accept this?”
“I don’t know what I expect from you.”
“You don’t know what to expect? After almost five years of marriage? What’s the matter with me? Aren’t I good enough for you?” She began crying softly.
“There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s me. I’m the problem. Maybe I’m hypnotized. I don’t know.”
“Don’t come to bed tonight.” Adele went up the stairs to the bedroom.
Michael sat in the living room watching TV. His eyes were on the screen but seeing nothing. On an impulse, he walked up the stairs and into the bedroom. Adele was sobbing bitterly. He watched silently for several minutes without her knowing. He turned and went back to the living room.
He sat on the couch in his usual place, turned down the sound on the set, and picked up the phone. He dialed a number that he had memorized several weeks earlier.
“Irene, I need to tell you something. I just had a talk with Adele. We can’t go on.”
He listened for a long time.
“I know all that. I’m very sorry. It was mostly my fault. It was wrong.”
He listened again.
“All I can say is . . .” He didn’t finish the sentence; the other person had hung up. He placed the receiver back on its cradle.
He lay on the couch. Sleep did not come easily. The next day he left for work without showering or shaving, wearing the same clothing he had worn the day before.
Almost immediately, Adele entered the room and sat in the same place that Michael had occupied the night before. Using the same phone he had used, she dialed a number. “Wilma,” she said, “what’s the number of that psychologist you used when you and Fred were having trouble?”
Listening, she made a note, on a slip of paper pulled from the drawer of the end table nearby. “I’ll get back to you,” she said hurriedly and hung up. Staring at the paper, she dialed the number she had written.
That afternoon, she met with Janet Hilbert, the psychologist whose name Wilma had given her.
Janet was middle-aged, gray-haired, slightly overweight, wearing simple clothing, scholarly looking. She greeted Adele warmly, and invited her to sit in the overstuffed couch near the wall. Janet sat in a simple wooden chair facing her. “Tell me why you have come to see me,” she asked.
“My husband, Mike, told me last night that he had been unfaithful to me. This is all new to me. I need help in deciding what to do.”
“There is no one thing that is the right thing to do,” responded Janet. “Some women will feel that no amount of unfaithfulness can be tolerated. They will demand a divorce immediately. It will not matter what their financial circumstances, whether children are involved, what others may think. A single instance means the marriage is ended. I term these women as being, One Strike and Out. Others, rightly or wrongly, will attempt to save the marriage. It will never be the same; it will never even be approximately the same. But they will feel that a marriage is forever. I term these women, Devotedly Yours. I cannot tell you which type you are because every case is different and must be decided by the woman herself.”
“Is that all you’re going to tell me?”
“You haven’t helped me very much!”
“I believe I have. I’ve told you what you must do in order to decide what you should do!”
At home, Adele dialed Wilma. “I talked to Janet Hilbert,” she said.
“What did she tell you.”
“She told me I needed to decide whether to trash the marriage or fight to save it.”
“I hope you’ve decided to end it!”
“No, I haven’t decided yet. I wondered what you would advise.”
“I’ve already told you! Kick the maggot out! I did, with that rat of mine.”
“Thank you, Wilma. You’ve told me what I wanted to know.” She hung up.
The front door opened and Michael, disheveled and haggard looking, walked in. He didn’t speak.
“You’re home early,” said Adele.
“I was sent home. To clean up,” Ed said.
“You look terrible, Mike.”
“That talk we had last night. It bothered me.” He sank into the couch. She sat beside him.
Glaring at him, she said, “It bothered me too.”
“I’ve stopped seeing her.”
“I called her last night, and told her it was over.”
“That was very brave of you,” she declared sarcastically.
“You’re not making this very easy for me!”
“I don’t know why I should!”
“I want to get back to you, the way it was.”
“That impossible. It can’t ever go back to the way it was!”
“Adele, I don’t want to lose you!”
“Mike, it isn’t that easy! I need to do some thinking. I need to decide what kind of person I am.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I have to decide whether I’m of the type termed One Strike and Out or Devotedly Yours.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“Never mind, you don’t need to. Give me a moment.”
She was silent for a few seconds, then said, “I’ve decided what type I am. Go upstairs, clean up, and take a shower. When you’re done, come back. I’m devoted to you and to this marriage. We need to have a long talk about the future.”
There is a road that runs from Troy to Bennington that has a rest stop halfway up a steep mountain climb. People park to rest not only themselves, but often, their autos as well. There are a couple of binoculars that people can use to scan something like 100 miles into the distance from that point. My home is located on this road not far from this rest stop. For me this Plaza is a convenient point for me to take a daily walk.
One morning recently, I left my home and walked to the Plaza. It had taken perhaps ten minutes. What I would do daily was to stroll from one end of the Plaza to the other. Then I would walk back home. On this day I noticed a young woman whose car was parked nearby. She was using the binoculars to enjoy the magnificent view. As I made my walk, I came very close to her. She turned and glanced at me. She nodded, and I nodded back. Returning to my home I could not get her out of my mind.
She was about five-six, perhaps twenty-five years old, sort of blonde and auburn all mixed together. She had been wearing a blue jacket and a black skirt. She was not wearing a ring on her left hand. I was a bachelor, about her age, and fortunate enough to be able to make a living writing training manuals for various companies in the area. I hadn’t thought much about marriage because my workload was heavy, and I did not have a great deal of time for dating. Besides, where I lived did not make it easy for me to meet women. However this girl at the binoculars had impressed me so much that I felt she might be the one I was looking for.
The next day, I went to my walking place, as I called it, not expecting, very much, to see the girl, but was greatly surprised that she was there at the binoculars, as she had been the day before. As I walked and got nearer to her, she did not seem to notice me at all. There was no glance in my direction, and I did not have the courage to say anything myself. I finished my walk and went home scolding myself.
On the next day, almost the same scenario repeated itself. I could not believe it. There she was, wearing the same clothing as before, with her car parked nearby, as before. She was looking through binoculars, as before. Today, I had decided, if she was there, I would rev up my courage and speak to her. To my great chagrin, I didn’t do it. I had walked by her as before and she had not noticed me, as before. I had not been able to say anything, as before. During the ten minutes that it took for me to walk home, I called myself all the insulting names that I could think of, including stupid, moron, imbecile, and spineless.
I felt I had lost my chance to meet the girl of my dreams. I believed she could not possibly be there on next day. But she was! I began my walk. As I got nearer and nearer to where she was, viewing the superlative scenery, I got within a couple of feet of where she was standing. Suddenly she turned to me, and said, “Aren’t you going to say something?”
Her statement, had come completely by surprise. “I . ., I . .” I couldn’t finish my sentence. “My name is Margaret Wendelken,” she said. “People call me Maggie. You’re Arthur Hillman. I’ve been wanting to meet you. I’ve taken several hours off from work in order to do this. One of us should have had the courage to say something on the first day!”
“You know me?” I said.
“Yes, I work for Hamilton Products in Bennington. We are currently using your manual on Ace Office Works. The instructor, Alexander Smithford, told the class that you live near here, and walk in this rest area every day. Your manual has a picture and a short biography of you. I noted that you are not married.”
“I’m happy to know you, Maggie,” I managed to articulate with some difficulty. “My nickname is Alex. I’ve been coming here several days hoping that we would meet,” I continued.
“I know that,” she said. “And each day I lost some time at work because of it!”
“I’m not very gregarious,” I said. “It’s hard for me to initiate a conversation.”
“I see that,” she said smiling! “And I’ve been coming here hoping that one day you’d open up.”
“Do you live nearby,” I asked.
“In Troy,” she responded. “Your home is about halfway between Troy and Bennington. There are some elegant eating places in the two cities. I see a cute car in your driveway. Are the seats comfortable?”
I smiled. “You know about my Smart Car,” I asked?
“Yes, but I’ve never ridden in one.”
“I’d be happy to give you a demonstration of how the seats feel,” I said bravely.
“My, you’re bold,” she exclaimed! “I’ve been carrying a little slip of paper with my address and phone number on it,” she said. “I’d like to have you phone me.”
“I’ll do that tonight,” I said.
“Just a quick thought,” she said. “Your technical writing is excellent. I’m sure you could write a true to life story as well.”
“Thanks for the suggestion,” I responded. “I’ll try it!”
“I’m late for work. I have to leave now,” she stated.
I watched as she walked to her car, entered and drove off. Smiling, she waved as she went by me. I waved back.
On this day, my walk home was a cheerful one. I couldn’t get over the fact that she said I had been bold. I had never thought of myself that way. I wondered where I had had the audacity to initiate a conversation with a woman that I had never met before!
This is the story of how we met.
My name is Meg Taylor. I am the girl in red! I caught the bouquet! The bride’s name was Mrs. David Turner at the time the picture was taken. That morning it had been Gina Lopez. In the picture, her sister, Maria is standing to my left. When Gina threw the bouquet, she was hoping I would catch it. Maria had a better chance to do this than I did, but when the bouquet came toward us, Maria deliberately threw her arms down to her side, thus allowing me to catch it. Is there a story behind this?
The reason that Maria had intentionally fluffed the catch is because Gina had told her what I had done for her and David a few weeks back. Here is the rest of the story:
A year before the wedding, I introduced David to Gina at my birthday party. At the time Gina and I were friends, not best friends, but enough to say we were fairly close. I was pleased when she and David began dating. For them, it had been the legendary, love at first sight! They immediately set a wedding date for the following month!
Sadly, the couple was involved in an auto accident in which they were both seriously injured. A drunk driver had crossed the center line and hit their car virtually head on. Gina was hospitalized with several broken bones. David’s injuries were more serious. In addition to broken bones, he had suffered a severe head trauma. The bones presented no problems for healing, the head wound resulted in loss of memory. It was sadly discovered that he had no recognition for Gina nor recollection of their planned wedding.
In an effort to have David regain his memory, Gina met with him at his apartment on many occasions. She talked to him about how they had met, what they had done together, the dreams for the future they had fabricated. Despite heroic efforts in these endeavors, there was never the slightest twinge of recollection in David’s mind. Though bright and cheerful when Gina was speaking to David, she’d shed tears uncontrollably at home.
“Gina,” I said to her one day, “May I try?”
“I’ve tried everything that it is possible to try,” she replied.
“I know! But I’m a new voice, a new face, a different set of words. I knew him before you did, and I may strike a new note that you may not have tried. Even the slightest recollection of anything would be a start.”
“You are such a dear friend for wanting to do this, Meg,” she said. “Of course, you may try! There is nothing that can be lost that isn’t gone already.”
The next time Gina visited David, she and I went together. She introduced me to David and went into another room during the time that I spent with him.
“David,” I said. “Do you remember me? I’m Meg Myers. I introduced you to Gina at my birthday party.”
“I’m sorry, Meg,” he responded. “I don’t remember knowing you, and I have no recollection of the party.”
We continued our talk for a little while but realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere. I decided to go home and see if I could devise a better plan than I had used today. Gina dropped me off at my home.
Before leaving David, he had said one thing that bothered me. “I like you better than the other lady he said. I’d be happy to meet with you again.” I thought it best not to repeat this remark to Gina.
I did come up with a plan over the next couple of days. I asked Gina if she would tell me some of the places they had gone to, and some of the things they had done. She gave me a short list. I told her that I’d like to see David again. She readily agreed and said that she would not come with me next times I met with him.
During my next visit, he and I went to Westside Park. Gina said this park had been a favorite of theirs. We walked around, but David never said that he recognized anything.
There was a waterfall nearby and we went to the railing from which we could view it. Again, there was no sign of recognition.
It was getting late, so I suggested that we meet again the following day to visit more places. He happily agreed.
“Before you go,” he said,” I need to tell you that I like you very much. Seeing you today has been like turning on the sunshine on a gloomy day.”
“Thank you,” I replied. “I’m glad.” I knew I was treading on dangerous territory, but felt that continuing to help David should be my most important objective.
We checked off some additional places from the list on the next day. As before, there was no result. We agreed to meet again. As we parted, he said, “Meg, I love you!” Greatly surprised with this turn of events, I said something inconsequential and hastily departed.
I liked David a good deal. Loving him, I felt, would not be difficult. But, I could not respond to his overtures of engaging in a deeper relationship. I thought of the event horizon in space. This is an imaginary boundary that marks the limits of a black hole. Crossing this line meant doom for planets and stars. If I stepped over this domestic event horizon, it would represent disaster for me, and also, as well, for several other persons. I must not do this!
“Good afternoon, dear,” David said as I met with him the next time, “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you. Where are we going today? When we get back, I have a very important question to ask you!”
I had a good idea what the question was! “We’re going to a place not far from here,” I said. “We won’t be long.”
I drove with him to a small copse of trees near the city limits. I parked on the road. We exited from the car. Using a sheet of directions that Gina had given me, I found a large oak tree. At eye level, I saw some initials carved on the tree. Pointing to them, I asked David, “Do these initials mean anything to you?”
He stared at them. “GL and DT,” he murmured. “What do they mean?”
“Gina Lopez; David Turner,” I replied.
Continuing to stare, he repeated the letters to himself several times.
“Do you remember carving these,” I asked?
Seemingly in a trance, he kept staring at them, Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out a small penknife. He opened the single blade and began refreshing the carved areas.
“GL DT,” he kept repeating.
Suddenly, he loudly said, “Gina! Gina!” He turned to me. “I love you G . . .” He stopped abruptly.
“Meg,” he exclaimed. “I don’t understand. Why are we here. Where is Gina?”
Greatly exhilarated, I said, “You’ve come back! You’ve had a touch of amnesia. Let’s hurry. We don’t have a moment to lose. We need to bring the news of your comeback to Gina as soon as we can.”
Bill and Betsy had been Mr. and Mrs. Russell for less than an hour. They were in the sitting room of the Hotel Milton waiting for the reception to begin. There was not a single other person to be seen. She had her head on his shoulder and they were holding hands.
“While you were at that stag thing last night, I was listening to some old-time songs on Youtube,” she said. “How did it go last night.”
“It was OK.”
“That was nice. You were the Guest Of Honor?”
“Yes, I guess one could say so.”
“What do they do at a stag party?”
“They sing songs, tell jokes, kid around, eat a lot.”
“Sounds like you had fun. I’m glad of that!”
“Me too. What kind of music were you listening to?”
“Romantic. I particularly enjoyed Perry Como.”
“Perry Como? I don’t think I ever heard of him.”
“I hadn’t either. I was just browsing when I discovered him. He sang a song that I particularly liked.”
“What was that?”
“The song was ‘If You Were The Only girl In the World.’ I looked it up. It was written by Nat Ayar and the lyrics were by Clifford Grey. It was first published in 1916.”
“Wow, a whole century ago!”
“I memorized a few lines. Would you like to hear?”
“Of course, darling!”
“‘If you were the only girl in the world, and I was the only boy, nothing else would matter in the world today!’ Of course, if the song was being sung by a girl, it would begin with ‘the only boy in the world.’”
“That is so meaningful, for us today. It seems as if the song had been written for you and me!”
“That’s the way I feel,” said Betsy. “The way I love you today, nothing else matters. It would be all right with me if you and I were the only ones in the world.”
“I feel the same, dearest,” he responded. “Did you memorize more?”
“Yes sweetheart, the song also says, ‘a garden of roses just made for two, with nothing to mar our joy.’ Actually, the song says Eden, not roses, but I saw there is a garden of roses outside of the hotel. I hope Mr. Grey won’t mind. “
“That’s very pretty,” he said. “And in addition?”
“‘I would say such wonderful things to you. There would be such wonderful things to do.’“
“I love those words,” Bill said. “I wouldn’t have any trouble saying wonderful things to you! But what if those wonderful things required people?”
“We could still do them, silly!”
“What if we went to a restaurant, and there was no server?”
“We would go into the kitchen, and I would make a marvelous meal for you!”
“And who would take care of the dishes?”
“I’d wash and you’d dry!”
“And what if we were driving on our honeymoon, and ran out of gas?”
“We would walk!”
“You’re right, dear one, we would have no trouble being the only two people in the world.”
“Of course, and we wouldn’t be the first only boy and girl in the world!”
“Thanks for reminding me! What else does the song say?”
“‘There would be such wonderful things to do!’”
“Like taking a walk through the rose garden! Would you like to do that now?”
“Yes, but first, one thing.”
“What would that be?”
He put his arms around her and kissed her on the lips. “That!” he said. “Now let’s take that walk!”
Those in the celestial area of the universe, those saints who observe and protect the planet, Earth, were witnessing an ongoing occurrence that concerned them. A séance was being held during which Harold Lindstrom was being deceived by charlatans, Ross and Lena Stillman. They had convinced Harold that they had contacted his deceased wife, Beatrice, and put him in contact with her.
“Beatrice was killed in an auto accident less than three weeks after she and Harold had married,” St. Edward commented.
“He took it very hard. It’s been years since she died, and he’s still grieving.” added St. Lucie
Sts. Edward and Lucie had been saints for a long time. It would probably have surprised and amazed people on earth if they were able to see that saints dress in ordinary earthly clothing. There are no wings, halos, nor shimmering white gowns. Saint Edward had on a pair of brand-new jeans and a blue sports shirt; St. Lucie was wearing a pink blouse and a red skirt. They were not invisible spirits, as one might expect, but substantive creatures, he, handsome in a theatrical sort of way, and she, very beautiful.
“Ross and Lena have been draining Harold for most of the money he earns,” commented St. Edward. “They have hired an actress who speaks to him at the séances that he attends. He believes that the woman’s voice is that of his deceased wife. What they are doing is indecent and immoral!”
“I agree,” replied St. Lucie.
“It might be useful for you and I to go to Earth and have a chat with this couple,” suggested St. Edward.
“Why not bring them here to the Conference Hall?” responded St. Lucie.
“Good idea!” he agreed.
The Conference Hall was a huge heavenly structure. In Earth measurements, it would have occupied an entire city block. It was several stories high. Inside, it was dome-shaped. Though there were many rooms in the building along the walls, the center part of the structure was a single cavern with an extraordinarily high ceiling. The entire floor was carpeted. There was a single ornate, wooden desk in the middle of the room with luxurious armchairs both in front and back of the desk.
Within a few moments after the saints had decided to confer with the operators of the séances, the two seats in front of the desk were occupied by humans, a man and his wife, and behind the desk, two saints.
The man and his wife were, of course Ross and Lena Stillman. They were indescribably bewildered by their sudden change of surroundings, and, rigid with shock, were staring at each other.
For this meeting, Sts. Edward and Lucie were wearing wings, halos, and had on glistening white gowns.
“Wh-where are we?” Ross stuttered addressing the saints.
“You are in Heaven for the time being,” St. Lucie said with unsaintly-like sharpness. “I am St. Lucie!”
“And I am St. Edward!” said he.
“Oh my God!” gasped Lena Ross.
St. Lucie continued, “We have brought you here for a severe dressing down that you deserve! I and Saint Edward, have been observing the fake séances that you have been conducting. Your current victim is Harold Lindstrom. This fakery must end at once. You are lucky getting this scolding in Heaven. Unless, your fraudulent practices cease, your next reprimand, and the final one, may be at the other place.”
“At the conclusion of this meeting, you will be returned to Earth,” added St. Edward. “You are to contact Harold Lindstrom and say to him that what he has been experiencing at your so-called séances have been scams, and that you and your wife will be returning any monies that you have taken from him. Do you understand what I have just told you?”
“Yes, yes, of course. Lena and I will absolutely do that!”
“There is something that you will not doubt for a moment,” said St. Lucie. “You will never doubt that this experience took place. You will always know that this was not a dream, not a hallucination, not a fantasy, but real-life. You will also never doubt, that if you do not amend your lives, you will find yourself in greater difficulty than you are now! Do you comprehend? I’d be happy to repeat any part what I’ve said?”
“Yes, yes, we absolutely understand!”
“Return to Earth now, and live a more saintly life, no pun intended!” St. Lucie smiled at her inadvertent pun.
Instantly, they vanished.
“Harold has suffered a great deal,” said St. Lucie to her cohort. “Are you thinking the same as I am?”
“Yes, and of course, the decision that Beatrice makes will have to be entirely hers.”
“Let us bring her here and we’ll find out how she feels about it.”
In an instant, Beatrice Lindstrom was in the seat that had been occupied by Lena Stillman.
“You know, of course, why we have brought you here,” said St. Lucie.
“Yes, I do.”
“You know what the condition of the world is?”
“Yes, I do.”
“No one would fault you if your decision is negative. Do you have any questions, before you give us your decision?”
“Yes, instead of going back and making my return a paranormal event that could not be explained, would it be possible to resume my life with Harold at the point where the auto accident took place?”
“Yes, for you and Harold, it would be the same as if your life had not been interrupted by this terrible event.”
“What about the séances that Harold had been attending?”
“It would be as if they had never occurred. We just gave Ross and Lena Stillman a good scolding about them.”
“Just one more thing,” added Beatrice. “Though I have been very happy here, and would never leave except for my deep love for Harold, I would say no to your request. But because of him, I do wish to return to Earth. While there I would want no knowledge that I had been here until we return together.”
“Granted, Beatrice! What you are doing is making a heavenly sacrifice!”
“Well done, everyone,” came a voice that was heard throughout the cavernous room!
It began in October about three years ago. I had gone to Harland directly from work and was getting ready to teach my regular evening class which began at six. As I walked through the school’s library on my way to room 314, I was stopped by a cheery “hello there!”
The voice had come from a young woman who was seated at one of the tables. She was about five-seven, slim, and had long brown hair that came down to the middle of her back. Not being sure that the greeting was for me, I glanced inquisitively at the woman as she spoke again. “You’re Victor Martini,” she said. “You don’t know me, but I know you. I’ll be taking a computer course from you at International in about two weeks.”
“Oh,” I said, “that’s nice.” I really wasn’t interested.
“My name is Susan Thompson,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the class.”
That’s how it started. At the time of the story, I worked at International Communications as a data processing instructor. In the evenings, I taught computer classes at Harland Junior College in the small village of Harland in northern Vermont.
In the company, I had been teaching for over fifteen years. Only employees of International Communications were permitted to take courses that I taught there. At Harland, the people came from many walks of life -- full-time students, employees of various companies in the area, retired folks, etc. Susan was obviously an evening student at Harland and also an employee of International.
The evening was uneventful and I promptly forgot the unexpected encounter.
The class that I was conducting met once a week. The following week I arrived at the school at about the same time and headed for room 314 in the usual way. This route required that I walk through the library.
“Hello there!” It was the same voice. And the same person. I noticed that her eyes were green. “Hello,” I responded. “I’ll be taking your course at international in a week,” she said. “Yes, I remember,” I responded. “I’m afraid I’ve forgotten your name.”
“It’s Susan Thompson,” she reminded me.
During my lecture that evening, I thought about Susan often. She was an attractive woman, I told myself, not beautiful but close to it. Why had she gone out of her way to tell me that she was going to be attending my course at International in the week? Could it be that, in some way, she found me attractive? I’m only five-six tall and was about ten pounds overweight at the time. I had never thought of myself as good looking. “But one can never tell what goes on in a woman’s mind,” I thought to myself.
Also, I was fifty-two years old. She couldn’t be very far into her thirties. She was taller than I. Something didn’t seem right. Besides, why was I thinking this way? I had been married almost twenty-eight years and had three grown children. One child, a daughter, had been married for several years.
The following week, I looked for Susan as I walked through the library. “Hi”, I called out as I spotted her. “This week I remember your name. You’re Susan Thompson and you will be taking my computer course at International beginning this Tuesday.”
Susan smiled. “Yes,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
After class, Susan was waiting for me at the doorway of the school. I had not expected this. “Where are you parked?” I asked.
“Down the street,” she replied “I’ll walk with you,” I said.
There was a nip in the Vermont air. As we walked to our cars Susan asked, “Are you going straight home?” I replied affirmatively, and we parted. Why had she asked me that? Did she want me to suggest that we stop somewhere and have a cup of coffee? Or a drink?
I drove to my home in Fairfax, just a few miles from Harland. During the next several days, I thought about Susan frequently, and began looking forward to having her attend my computer class.
Tuesday arrived. This was one course that I had been looking forward to. Walking into the classroom, I looked around to see whether Susan was in the room, and indeed she was. We smiled our greetings.
As the first session progressed, I found myself addressing my remarks directly to her. When I looked at Susan, she would smile back prettily.
It was somewhat puzzling to me that Susan did not appear to be very interested in the course material. Also, when I gave classroom exercises, she did not do them. I asked her why she wasn’t doing the work and she gave a vague answer. Nevertheless, I excepted the reason she offered without the slightest irritation. With another student, I would have felt much differently.
Susan was wearing a tight white, sweater and I found that my gaze would sometimes settle upon the small, but well shaped mounds that pressed outward from the material. Maybe I imagined them but I thought I could see the outline of the nipples on her breasts. Once or twice, I wondered whether our relationship would eventually mature to the point where I would touch what lay underneath the sweater.
At the end of the first day’s session, Susan lingered after the other students had left. She and I engaged in some idle chitchat. Then she left.
On the following day, Susan listened attentively while I lectured, but, as with the previous day, she did not do any of the exercises.
“You really should be working out the problems,” I told her. Susan agreed and said she would try some of the exercises soon. This was good enough for me. I didn’t really care, though, whether she did the work or not. There were no grades assigned at the end of the course, and I had always felt that a student would get as much, or as little, out of an International course as the efforts that he or she put into it.
Besides, I was more interested in the thin, white blouse she was wearing that had the top two buttons unfastened.
At the end of the second session, I asked Susan in what direction she was going, and she replied that it was back to her building which was about half a mile from the classroom. I said that I would be walking partway in that direction, and offered to walk with her. She accepted, and we did walk together part of the way back to her building.
As we were walking, Susan gave me both her home and business phone numbers. Her home number was unpublished and I felt honored to have been entrusted with it. When we parted, I walked in the direction of my mother’s house. I went to see her frequently after work. Her house was about two miles away. She was elderly, and I visited to see if she needed anything.
The course lasted three more days, and those days went about the same as had the first two. Susan never did try to work out any of the problems. When I questioned her about this, she said that she was getting all she wanted out of the course by simply listening.
I was getting plenty too. Every day, Susan would wear something intriguing like a low-cut blouse, or short tight skirt which displayed her slim well-formed legs to good advantage. From where I stood, the view in Susan’s direction was always enthralling.
“How did things go at work, Hon?” Kathleen asked. It was always the same question.
“Fine,” I responded. It was always the same answer. This was the end of this evening’s conversation concerning work.
It had been a little different today, I thought. I wondered what Kathleen might think if she knew there was a new interest in my life. Somehow, I should have felt guilty about it, but didn’t. I felt uncomfortable more than anything else. I felt that Kathleen’s presence in my life might be a hindrance. It kept me from taking actions that might help develop my relationship with Susan.
Kathleen prepared my meal as she always did. I sat in the recliner in front of the television set, as I always did, and ate with the plate in my lap in the same way as always. Tonight though, my thoughts weren’t on the steak or on the television program. They were on Susan. Poetic thoughts occurred to me. I picked up a pad. Tonight, the computer notes that I usually jotted down while eating, gave way to romantic rhymes.
Two of my three girls were still living at home. The three girls names were Diane, Dorothy, and Dolores -- all Ds (it had seemed like a good idea at the time). Diane was 23, Dorothy 20, and Dolores 18.
The oldest girl had been married three years and lived in Milton. She didn’t communicate with their mother and me very often.
From time to time this evening, the girls wandered in and out of the family room. None said anything to me. On previous evenings, the absence of greetings would not have had much effect, but tonight, it bothered me a little. “Wasn’t there more to life than working and watching television?” I thought.
Feeling that Susan might help put some spark back in my life I decided to invite her to lunch. Monday I called her at the office. I didn’t know how I was going to say it. It had been quite a while, after all, since I had asked a woman for a date.
“Hello, Susan,” I began. “I was sort of wondering whether you might want to go out to lunch with me someday this week.”
Somehow, she didn’t seem shocked. Could it be that she didn’t know I was married? That was possible. I had not worn a wedding ring for a couple of years.
“That would be very nice,” came the voice on the other end. “How does this Friday sound?”
Friday sounded very good to me. I couldn’t believe that I had pulled it off. Somehow, I had managed to ask a young woman for a date and she had accepted. I deemed it a major accomplishment.
Friday arrived, and I put on my best suit, a blue one, and a matching tie. Whether Kathleen, who was always up as I prepared for work, wondered about this. She made no comment.
During the noontime, I picked up my car at the parking lot (the black Cadillac, of course) and drove to her building. In a moment or two, Susan came out of the door looking lovely in beige. I helped her into the car.
As we drove down the boulevard, Susan said, “That’s a very nice suit your wearing and the tie matches perfectly. Tell me, who helps you with your clothes?”
“I guess the wife does,” I admitted hesitatingly. So there it was! Now she knew that I was married. Would it make any difference? My response to her question seemed to have had no immediate effect
“Where shall we go for lunch?” I asked.
"Anywhere is fine," she said. Somehow, it had not occurred to me during the week that it might have been a good idea to have decided ahead of time where to go -- and possibly, to have made reservations.
“Normally, I drink my lunch,” Susan added. This seemed a strange remark. Was this young woman a heavy drinker? I wondered. Did she want me to take her to a place where drinks were served?
I was a light drinker and was not familiar with drinking places. My driving became aimless. “Would you like to go somewhere to have a drink?” I asked.
“No, I was just kidding. Let’s go to Sherman Park.” Now that was more my speed. At least, I did know where the park was. It took only a few minutes to get there and we found a parking place next to a rail fence. I stopped the car and turned in my seat slightly so that I was facing Susan.
“I’m divorced,” Susan began it was an emotionless remark. “My husband and I are still very friendly.”
It struck me as curious that she had used the word husband instead of former husband.
Normally, I listen more than I talk. Therefore, as Susan spoke, my only comments were “uh huh” now and then, or “is that so?”
Susan had had a wonderful man as a husband, she told me. His name was Vernon. They had been married since she was sixteen. Susan was thirty-four now. There were two daughters -- Sheila and Teresa. Sheila was fifteen and Teresa was ten. A coincidence was the fact that Susan's birthday and that of my daughter, Dorothy, were on the same date, -- August first.
One of the men that Susan had known since she was separated was named Jimmy. Susan didn’t say what Jimmy’s last name was. It seems that Jimmy came from a very wealthy family. As a joke, at a card game one day, Jimmy had offered to give Susan a diamond ring that had as many diamonds in it as Susan had years in her life. She had accepted.
Susan showed me the ring that she wore on the ring finger of her left hand. It was gigantic with diamonds superimposed upon diamonds. The most descriptive word that I could think of to characterize it was monstrosity. I did not verbalize this description.
“That was a funny kind of joke,” I commented “no pun intended.”
“Yes, but you’ve got to remember that Jimmy comes from a very wealthy family. His parents own a ranch where they raise horses. Probably, to him, a ring with thirty-four diamonds on it has about the same value as five dollars would have to an ordinary person.” It sounded plausible, but I didn’t completely buy the story.
Susan continued that she was estranged from her entire family. She said that she preferred the relationship this way since the members of her family were of a lower class that she. Besides they just could not understand the fact that Susan went with doctors, lawyers, business men of various kinds and others in the professions. I felt flattered that Susan had consented to go out with me. Could it be that she considered my status to be equal to that of those she had mentioned? I had authored some textbooks that had sold all over the world, and which had been translated in various languages. Upon reflection, I convinced myself that an author was a person with as much status as a doctor or lawyer.
Susan did most of the talking; I, most of the listening. Shortly after one o’clock, we decided it was time to go back to work. About ten minutes later, both of us were back at our desks.
Susan was a most unusual person, I pondered. There was much that was strange about her, and there was much that was unusual about the things that she had told me. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all but decided that I wanted to be with her and talk to her again.
That evening, after dinner, I decided to have an important chat with myself. What was I doing? I was on the track of being unfaithful to Kathleen. Was this me? I had always felt that being faithful to a wife should be a given in any marriage. This encounter with Susan had not been a good example of my keeping that conviction.
I questioned why Susan had introduced herself to me the way she had. I was an instructor, and instructors should not have unprofessional relationships with students. In having gone out with Susan, I had violated this important tenet.
An unfaithful relationship could only result in pain to Kathleen, my children, and my mother. What kind of person would I be, if this consequence was not important to me?
I had to make a decision. The time for it was now. Too much had already occurred that should not have.
The next day was a Saturday. I went into the den at home and dialed her home number. “Susan,” I said, “I enjoyed my conversation with you yesterday. Last night I had a long conversation with myself, and found myself to be less than a decent human being. I don’t believe I have to tell you why. From this point, our relationship, yours and mine, will be strictly as student and teacher. That would be the only way that I would be able to live with myself. I’m making this call is to tell you this.”
“But, . . .” She began and was silent for a long time. Finally, she asked, “Are you sure you want it this way?”
“I understand,” she said. “That’s the way that it will be.”
I had made one of the most important decisions in my life, and I never regretted it.
My name is Matthew Vincent. My wife’s name is Matilda. We call each other by our nicknames Matt and Mattie. Were in their twilight years.
We had our 50th wedding anniversary in March this year. We’ve had a happy, successful marriage, and we’re still in good health with the exception that Mattie cannot use her fingers well anymore. She was a pianist as a youth and gave many recitals. I couldn’t play a note but she didn’t care because she could make all the music that was needed in our home. And it was beautiful music!
The piano that she used is still in the living room. I remember when she would go there and Began playing. Sometimes she would play for hours. I would stop what I was doing and listen. Listening to her play was like taking a slice out of Heaven.
Every once in a while I’d go to the piano and try to pick out a tune. Even a note at a time was difficult for me. Mattie would look at me and smile. Once I tried to take piano lessons. This didn’t work. I just couldn’t make my fingers do what they were supposed to. My mind was able to play the tune, but I couldn’t transfer what was in my mind to the keyboard.
As her arthritis became worse she eventually needed to stop playing. I could see the sadness in her eyes when she would look at the piano and make a wish. I don’t think any of her wishes came true. She wouldn’t complain.
One day, as I was trying to pick out a tune, I heard her say, “I wish you could play.” Her words had not been intended for me to hear, but I did hear, and my heart grieved.
I wondered if I could do something about learning to play. One day when Mattie was seeing her sister in Albany for a few days, I visited a piano teacher. “I would like to learn how to play the piano,” I said. Miss Johnson, a nice lady, replied, “learning to play for a beginner is very difficult. Do you want to do this badly?” I replied, “I cannot tell you with words how badly!”
Ms. Johnson said, “I know a Wilma Wilson, who may be able to help you. I’ll give her a phone call about what you would like to do. Here is her number, do call her tomorrow.”
I did call Ms. Wilson the next day, and she invited me to see her. “I am a hypnotist,” she said. “It may be possible for me to hypnotize you in such a way that you will be able to play a musical piece as beautifully as any artist could do. The method is called, post-hypnotic suggestion. Would you like to try?”
I responded yes.
She asked if I had a piano and I responded that we did. She asked that she visit with me at my home to see whether she could hypnotize me into playing a musical piece. We agreed that she would come the following day.
When the doorbell rang, I opened the door quickly and ushered her into the living room. At her direction, we sat together on a stool at the piano. Then she began talking to me and told me not to respond but just listen. As she spoke, I began to feel sleepy and soon I was in another world. Vaguely, I knew that she had turned on Youtube on the computer and was playing Moonlight Sonata. When she woke me, she told me that I had been hypnotized to play this tune. I would need to hear someone ask me to play using the exact words, “Matt, play Moonlight Sonata for me.”
I asked Ms. Wilson what she you would charge for what she had done and she said there would be no charge. If she could make my wife a little happier, that would be all the pay that she would need. And she said she’d be happy to do it for me again with other tunes, if I wanted.
When Mattie returned from her trip, she excitedly told me about how she and her sister had had amazing adventures together in Albany. I couldn’t wait for her to finish speaking since I wanted to see whether what Ms. Wilson had hypnotize me to do would actually work. Finally there was an opportunity.
I asked Mattie to sit with me at the piano. She did, although she was puzzled as to why I had asked her to do this. “Mattie,” I said, “Would you please ask me to do something.”
“Of course”, she said. “What would you like me to ask.”
“Please ask for me to play Moonlight Sonata for you.” She looked at me and smiled. “When did you begin telling jokes?” she asked. “I’m serious,” I said. “Please do it.”
She became sad, but said, “Please play Moonlight Sonata for me.”
“No, Mattie. The words have to be exactly these: Matt, play Moonlight Sonata for me.”
With a slight smile, she repeated those exact words.
Suddenly the world around me faded into a misty dream. I was no longer Matthew Vincent. I was a part of the musical world. I knew that I had turned to the piano and was moving my hands over the keys but there were no feelings in my fingers. There were no thoughts in my head except the sound of music coming from ethereal place. It felt as if I was using the talents of skilled pianist and those of a gifted composer with their permission. After several minutes, the music ended, and I began to recover the sensibilities of the world. I looked at Mattie. She was crying.
“I don’t know how you did it, dear,” she said. “But, you have made me very happy.” Those few words were worth more to me that any I had ever heard before in my life.
My name is Ted Garner. I’m eighty. I was born, brought up, and educated in Brownsville, New York. I now live in Albany. This is the story of my life and of Judy, the love of my life. I would say that my life has been mostly humdrum; not a great deal happening. However, I believe my wife’s life has been extraordinary and this book is being written in honor of her.
It seemed that Judy and I had known each other forever. When we were going to kindergarten together, she was Judy Hamilton. Afterwards, she became Judy Garner.
All I can remember of kindergarten were days of playing games and trying to learn how to communicate with each other. It seems that our lives were entwined from the beginning. We went through grade school and high school grade by grade at the same time. And we always had the same teachers. Later, we went to different colleges and lost track of each other for a time.
Still later, we rediscovered each other, dated, and got to know each other better. At about the same time I was called for duty in Vietnam. I served there for a year and was honorably discharged when I was wounded.
Judy and I fell greatly in love and with each other and were married within a year of my return from the Army. We had three children, all girls, Sandy, Edna, and Mary. Today, they are grown-up married and have children of their own. Judy and I have been grandparents for several years.
During the early days of our marriage we took trips together to Cancun, Montréal, Bermuda, and Old Orchard Beach in Maine. We have loads of pictures and movies of those adventures.
We bought our first house in Brownsville when we were young. It was a modest home for myself, Judy, and the kids. We needed to do some remodeling in order to provide separate bedrooms for the girls. We did not leave Brownsville until 2000 when my job was transferred to Albany, New York and the family went with it. I retired at age seventy-five, five years ago.
Throughout the years, the lives of my wife and I were firmly interweaved like vines growing on a wall. We were help mates in every sense of the word. However, I never thought of memorializing Judy in some meaningful way. One day it occurred to me that it would be nice if I would write a book about her and our lives together. I was never a writer of any kind so was hesitant about doing this, but felt that the mission was so important and that it must be accomplished.
I wanted the fact that I was writing a book to be kept a secret from Judy until I had finished. I wrote the book over a period of a year whenever I could do so without Judy observing. I had no hopes of selling the book because I knew that my writing would be amateurish, so I decided that I was going to have it privately published. I finished the book earlier this year. There is a picture of it on the cover of this book. It has a little over two hundred fifty pages.
Obviously I cannot show the entire book at this point but I can tell you what is in the Table of Contents.
Table of Contents
First Jobs for Judy and Me
Service in Vietnam
Judy and I Discover Each Other
A Short Engagement
Honeymoon at Niagara Falls
Trips We Took during Our Marriage
First Child, Sandy
Two More Children, Edna and Mary
Transferred to Albany
The Advent of Grandchildren¶
Deaths in Our Families
Retirement at Age Seventy-five
Judy, The Love of My Life
When I had finished the book using Word on my personal computer, I had it published by a bookmaker firm in Albany. I had dedicated the book to the three children. There were only two hundred copies made. I had no intention of trying to sell the book, but I wanted enough copies made so that I could give every member of the family one.
On the day that I picked up the books, Judy was shopping. I knew that I had at least three hours during which I could go to the bookmaker, load the huge cardboard box in the trunk of my car and bring it home. This was heavy work for me since I had lost much of the strength I had had as a youth. Somehow I was able to manage it.
I pushed and pulled the box to a closet in the spare room. I brought one copy with me to the computer room. There, I inscribed the book as follows:
To My Beautiful Wife, The Love of My Life, Ted
I brought some flowers from the garden and put them on the bench in Judy’s sewing room, then placed the book as you see in the picture amidst the flowers.
I retreated to the computer room, awaiting the return of Judy from her shopping trip.
When she returned, I needed to find a ruse for her to go to the sewing room. “Judy,” I said, “there’s a pair of scissors in your sewing room that I could use now. I’m in the middle of something. Would you mind getting them for me.”
“Of course,” she said and began walking toward that room. As inconspicuously as possible. I followed. She saw the book at once and picked it up. There was a puzzled expression on her face which, for me, was a joy to see. She stared at the title on the cover. It had been printed in gold-tinted letters and read as follows:
Judy, the Love of My Life
By Her Loving Husband, Ted Gardner
There was still a look of befuddlement on her face as she opened the first pages of the book and saw the inscription. She flipped a few more pages forward and realized that this was a book about her. Tears welled in her eyes and she began softly crying. I hastened to her and took her in my arms.
“You did this for me?” She asked.
“With great love,” I said, and kissed her.
“Let’s not send each other Valentine Cards this year!” Mary said.
“No Valentine Cards?” The bite of pancake had almost reached his lips but it never got there. “Mary, that’s what we’ve done for four years since we met! Ted objected. That’s what lovers do!”
She smiled. “I knew my remark would startle you! I’d like to suggest we do something better!”
It was late on a Saturday morning. Mary and Ted Wilkins were enjoying a leisurely meal in their breakfast nook. They had been married a little over two years. It was late January.
“What could be better to express our love than a Valentine Card?” Ted asked.
“Valentine cards are written by people that don’t know you and me,” Mary said. “You’re good with words, and you’ve said that I am. Let us tell each other how we feel in writing! Let’s make it something more personal!”
“I like the idea,” commented Ted. “But surely, you don’t want me to send you an email!”
“No, not an email. Not a letter. A poem!”
“Wow,” exclaimed Ted. You have a lot of faith in me. I don’t write poems. I write manuals for smart phones!”
“And I do the same for tractors,” laughed Mary. I’m not suggesting we become Mr. and Mrs. Shakespeare. Write what’s in your heart. Tell me in your own words. If what you write rhymes, that would be fine, but it doesn’t have to. And I’ll do the same for you!”
Ted and Mary were employed as technical writers; she at the John Deere plant in Westbury, and he at Verizon. They had only one car. Each morning, Ted would drive Mary half an hour early to her job then go to his. In the evening he would pick her up and drive home.
“I’m excited! Let’s do it!” said Ted.
Both found the task more difficult than they had anticipated. But each accomplished their objective. With some trepidation, they met at the same table on February 14. The couple had spread a tablecloth on the kitchen table. The ingredients for pancakes were on the range ready to be cooked for a Valentine’s Day celebration. Ted was elected to read his poem first. The following is what he read:
I’m Greatly In Love With You!
I’ve searched my mind
for just the right words
to tell you how great
is my love for you.
But the phrases I crave
have often been said
by a great many lovers
I wish I could say
that I’ve told every star
how utterly lovely
and gracious you are.
I’ve tried Mr. Webster
who offers no hint
of any new words
that I can use.
And I’ve searched
in Roget and found
that he has no solutions,
whatever, at all.
I’ll just have to use
the most simple of words,
the most simple of words
that I know.
My sweetheart, my dear,
I want you to know,
that all I can say is that
I’m greatly in love with you!
“That’s so beautiful,” Mary said. “I don’t know if I can read my poem for you without bursting into tears.”
The following is what she had written:
My Dear, It Was You!
My dear, for the times I was blue,
when you might have been too,
but you spoke to me words
of support and of hope,
I’m so grateful to you.
When I needed someone
to share the pains caused by failing
or the joys of achievement,
I knew it was true, I could call upon you.
For the days when we walked through a park,
and the nights when we dined for a time,
then sat in the dark and gazed at the stars
as they passed in review,
I exult with the joy that all this was done,
all this was done with the presence of you.
When I needed your touch and felt your hand on my arm
and thrilled to the feel of your heart next to mine,
I was thrilled with the knowledge
that the person who touched me
and tenderly kissed me, was you.
Though I’m inept at revealing the thoughts of my heart,
I want you to know there was someone who came
to become an essential part of my life.
My dear, it was you!
Ted rose from his chair, walked to where she was sitting, and kissed her.
“I love you very, very much, my dear,” he said. “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
Jeanie and Ken Wilson were married in June, 2002. The picture you see was taken in 2004 on their second wedding anniversary. A child, Mildred, was born to the couple in August of that year . She was their only child. At the time of this writing, she is 12, a student in junior high school. She is doing well and is a joy to her parents. Jeanie and Ken had met when they were both employed by the State Labor Department. Ken is still there; Jeanie quit her job when she became pregnant with Mildred.
Soon after Millie was born, Jeanie made an appointment with a gynecologist who took a routine blood test. The test revealed there was a problem with creatinine in her blood. She was informed that she had been diagnosed as having fallen victim to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). She had not been feeling tiptop for some months, but had ascribed her malaise to being caused by the after effects of her pregnancy.
“I’m sorry to give you this news,” Dr. Nadine Wendelkin had said when she gave Jeanie the disturbing information. “I’ll make an appointment for you with Dr. Rudolph Rumstead, a Nephrologist. You should see him as soon as you can.”
“How did it go with the doctor,” Ken asked when Jeanie came home.
“They think I may have a kidney problem,” she responded. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious but I do have to see a kidney doctor. My appointment is next Tuesday. Would you come with me?”
“Of course,” he responded. He knew all too well what this news meant. His mother had died from kidney failure at too-young an age.
The meeting with Dr. Rumstead was depressing. Jeanie’s illness was extremely serious. Her kidneys were close to failing. The couple was informed that when kidney failure takes place, a patient has only a few weeks to live. A process called dialysis could keep a person alive for a period of time that varied with the individual. The doctor told Jeanie and Ken that dialysis would not work well with Jeanie. The only real option that she had was for a kidney transplant. He told the couple that only one kidney would be needed to enable Jeanie to live a normal life.
The bad news was that there is a long waiting list of persons needing a kidney transplant. There was also a compatibility problem that needed to be checked out.
While still in the doctor’s office, Ken stated that he wanted to volunteer to donate one of his kidneys. Dr. Rumstead stated that simply volunteering was not enough. There were many factors to be considered in order to insure that the transplant had a chance of working.
“Go home,” the doctor said. “Talk it over fully. Read the information I’m giving you. There would be no disgrace in your determining not to do it. But if you decide to go ahead, we’ll begin the process right away.”
At home, there was an animated discussion.
Jeanie did her best to convince Ken that she would be all right with dialysis. Or, Jeanie’s family could be looked at to see whether there was the possibility of a donation from there. Alice, Jeanie’s younger sister might be a good candidate. In the end, the two decided for Ken to donate one of his kidneys. The decision was made after Ken had said, “When we were married , we both vowed that our marriage was for better or for worse. We’re facing a bit of worse at this time, but can make it better. I love you more than anyone else in the world. Giving you a kidney is a very small token of how I can validate my love. There cannot be any other option.”
Tests indicated there was no compatibility problem. The operations were scheduled. Alice agreed to take over the care of Baby Millie during the recuperation period.
They took place in January, 2005 at Mercy Hospital downtown. It was declared a success.
During the years that followed, a more or less normal life was led by the three members of the Wilson family. Alice, and her husband William, were frequent visitors. Millie would become greatly excited when she heard that Aunt Alice and Uncle Billy would come visiting.
Jeanie needed to take several forms of medicine every day during this period of time but, otherwise than the nuisance this caused, she was healthy and enjoyed caring for Ken and Millie. The donated kidney was doing its job admirably.
Normalcy exploded to smithereens early this year, 2016, when Ken was diagnosed with kidney disease during a routine yearly exam. Giving Jeanie and Millie the news was one of the most difficult tasks that Ken had ever needed to do during his lifetime. A depressing pall fell over the home. His illness was ironically similar to that of his wife.
Dr. Rumstead informed the family that Ken needed a kidney transplant; otherwise his remaining life span would be measured in months. Immediately, Jeanie offered to give back to Ken the kidney he had given her. She said she would take her chances with finding a donor for herself. The doctor said there was no reason why this action should not take place but also declared that it would be greatly unusual and perhaps a first in the medical field.
Ken was adamant in refusing the suggestion. The onus of finding a donor was his, he insisted.
Jeanie reminded Ken of his words so many years before. “I love you more than anyone else in the world. Giving you a kidney is a very small token of how I can validate my love. There cannot be any other option.” She had memorized this verbatim.
An impasse loomed until Alice proposed a suggestion. It was accepted by all. Last week, Millie waited anxiously in the waiting room of Mercy Hospital. Three individuals had been wheeled into the operating room. Jeanie donated the kidney she had received back to Ken; Alice donated one of her kidneys to Jeanie. Millie was informed that the operations had been successful and all were doing well.
“Let’s tell the story of how we got back together,” suggested Julie.
“Wonderful idea,” responded Jim. “Shall we start with the rose?”
“That was so romantic. Yes, let’s.”
“When we agreed to get back together,” Jim said, “I suggested we have dinner at the Olive Garden. I had taken only one suit with me to the YWCA. It was blue but the tie was green. This was the best I could do. On the way, I stopped in at Hudson Street Flower Shop and purchased a single red rose. I was waiting at the restaurant when you drove up. You looked stunningly beautiful in black.”
“Thanks for the compliment. I had spent some considerable time with getting ready. I wanted to look pretty for you,” Julie said
“You looked much more then pretty,” he interjected. “I said, I love you!” Jim continued. “And we kissed!”
“That kiss,” she exclaimed. “That was a kiss that was a kiss! The poor flower was caught between us. You held me so tight the rose was almost squashed!”
“Rose Squash,” quipped Jim. “Sounds like and item on a dinner menu.”
“But it survived,” he said. “That’s the important thing. We enjoyed our dinner, but I don’t remember what we had. Getting home so we could resume our lives together is what was most important to me.”
“How should our story begin,” Julie asked.
Jim said, “I could begin by saying, I had given her a rose, a single red rose, and she had looked for a suitable vase in which to have it reside. But all she could find was an orange juice can that had long since been emptied and tossed to the side.”
“This didn’t happen at the restaurant,” Julie objected.
“Yes, we should make sure we say this happened after we got home.” she said, “I could continue with, Though the vessel was plain, its mission was great for it stood for our love like a sentry protecting our love. The years may go by, but the can will remain, and so will the rose that may wither within. Though it crumble and fall, though it turn altogether to dust, it will still be revered as a symbol, for the love that we have for each other.”
“Beautiful,” exclaimed Jim. He picked up a Minute Maid can from the kitchen table. There was a rose carefully positioned within. “Where shall we put it?”
“How about the mantel shelf in the living room? Julie suggested.”
“Good,” he said and placed the can with its contents, at the middle of the mantel.
She held out her hand for Jim to take. Together, they contemplated what they had dubbed the symbol of their love; then they turned to each other and kissed.
1“I will always love you.”
“Though our paths must now diverge,” I continued, “what I’ve just said will always be true.”
“I will always love you too.” she responded.
We walked hand in hand down the steps to the curb where I had parked my car. There was no good-bye kiss. I did not think it appropriate this should be done at a time when a loving couple has broken up.
I drove to the end of the block and exited from the car. Looking back I saw she was standing at the curb looking in my direction. I waved. She waved back. Her face was indistinct but I thought there were tears in her eyes.
Arriving home, I did not call and she not either. I did not think it appropriate this should be done at a time when a loving couple has broken up. Each of us was making it easier for the other.
The years went by. Five, ten. I heard through a mutual friend that Lynne had married. Though I, had also married, I felt sad.
The years went by, fifteen, twenty. I heard through a mutual friend that Lynne had had two children, a boy and a girl. My wife and I had had children also, two boys. I felt happy for Lynne and I knew she would be happy for me.
The years went by, twenty-five, thirty. I heard through a mutual friend that Lynne’s children had married and were having children of their own. This was also true in my home. I wondered if Lynne was feeling as lonely as I was.
The years went by, thirty-five, forty. I heard through a mutual friend that Lynne had become a widow. I felt sad for her. I, also was feeling sad for I had lost my wife this year.
Though once I had believed it would not be appropriate to call after a loving couple had broken up, I thought it might be all right to do this after forty years had gone by.
“I knew you would call,” she said when she heard my voice. We talked and neither of us mentioned the reason for our breakup.
She was waiting for me at the curb when I drove to her home. I held her in my arms and kissed her. “I will always love you,” I said.
“And I will always love you,” she responded. We walked hand in hand up the steps and through the same door that I had closed behind me so many years ago.