She didn’t expect her life to turn out the way it did. She expected something else. Something mundane.
Let’s back up. She was past middle age, rounding the corner into old age when she met him.
She was a retired hairdresser. A faithful Methodist. Two daughters, a small home, and a Shih Tzu named Bill.
She met him in the doctor’s office. He was with his granddaughter. The little girl was the first to start the conversational momentum.
“Are you a grandmama?” the girl asked.
“Yes, I am,” she said.
That was the beginning of it all. Sometimes, it only takes a few words.
The three of them went to lunch that same day. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. The most fun she’d had in years.
He called and asked her to dinner the next night. She turned him down. It was more out of instinct than anything.
She’d always considered herself a married woman before.
She let a week pass before she called him. Her opening line was: “I changed my mind…”
So they went. She wore a pink suit. Her friend, Maria, teased her hair to perfection.
They ate at a nice place. They ordered wine—which went straight to her head. She told him about her life, her daughters, her grandchildren. And even though she didn’t mean to, she started talking about her late husband.
She caught herself. “I feel so embarrassed,” she said.
He told her not to be. Then, he talked about his late wife. About the stroke, about caring for her.
They stayed out until two in the morning.
And it was easy sailing from there. She took him to church. He brought her to his granddaughter’s musical. She cooked for him. He ate.
They announced they’d be having a ceremony in her backyard after four months of dating.
It was something to see. There was a preacher, fold-up chairs, a guitarist. It wasn’t a wedding. It was promises.
They moved into her place. The years that followed were traveling years. A cruise here. A trip there. They dressed up and went out. They took in movies. Weekends with grandkids.
She tells me they burned through a lot of money, but it was worth it. They brought each other coffee in bed. They helped with chores.
“We saved each other,” she tells me. “That’s how love works, you save each other.”
Nine years of happiness. That isn’t that long when you think about it.
She taps a picture on the wall. A man in the photo wears a straw hat and Hawaiian shirt. He’s got a friendly face.
He’s the one who brought her out of her shell. The one who reintroduced her to fun. He passed in the shower last August. Massive heart attack.
She mourns him every day. But, she wants you to know she’s not sad.
“How CAN I be sad?” she says. “He saved my life, and brought me joy. I won’t ruin that by being sad.”
Then, she hands me a Post-It note covered in pencil writing. She has the kind of penmanship I can only dream about.
She says: “You know how in your stories you always have a line at the end? If you write about me and Tom, I came up with a last line for your story. But you don’t have to use it.”
“Love will find you, wherever you are.”
Happy early Valentine’s Day to those with, and to those without. And may love find you.
Wherever you are.