Love Birds

When they stand to leave, he holds her arm. They shuffle outside. I see them through the window. It’s an ordeal fitting Old Blue Eyes into the front seat. She buckles him in.

It’s early evening. We are waiting for a table. My wife and I are standing in a long line of people who all had the same brilliant idea—to take the interstate exit and visit Cracker Barrel.

Behind me is a Baptist youth group. Mostly boys. I saw their vans in the parking lot. There must be fifty of them, and they all smell like hormones.

Ahead of me: an elderly couple. She’s pretty, wearing a floral shirt. He is two feet higher than she is, with wide bony shoulders. He is wearing a ball cap and holding her arm.

His hands are trembling. His head bobs back and forth. He doesn’t seem to have any control over his movements.

The hostess calls them.

The woman says into the man’s hearing aid, “Table’s ready.”

He smiles. It’s a nice smile. I wish my smile was half as inviting as Old Blue Eyes.

I see them in the dining room. The man keeps his shaky hands in his lap, but it doesn’t stop him from moving. He looks uncomfortable in his own body.

She is playing the wood triangle game. I’ve never been very good at this novelty test. And apparently, neither has she.

No sooner has the waitress delivered their plates of food than the old woman takes a seat beside Old Blue Eyes. She tucks a napkin into his collar. She spoon-feeds him.

His shoulders start to toss violently. His head jerks to the side. He’s a making a mess.

She stops feeding and waits.

The shaking gets so bad that he starts rocking in different directions. It’s hard to watch.

But not for her. She talks to him like nothing is wrong. And even though he flails, even though the eyes of the restaurant are watching, she’s unaffected.

Finally, he calms down. She feeds him again. She dabs his chin with a napkin. She touches his forehead. She grins at him.

His face breaks out in smiles.

When he’s finished eating, she eats her own food—which must be cold by now. He makes conversation while she cleans her plate.

When they stand to leave, he holds her arm. They shuffle outside. I see them through the window. It’s an ordeal fitting Old Blue Eyes into the front seat. She buckles him in.

Their tail lights disappear.

I don’t know how long they’ve been married. I don’t know which county they’re from, I don’t even know their names.

I don’t know if they have kids, pets, mutual funds, or bizarre political views.

And I don’t care.

Because I know their type. People like them made promises long ago. To stay together during good days and bad. To cherish the hell and the easy living. To visit Cracker Barrels off interstates together.

To feed each other in public, if need be. In sickness and in health. Richer or poorer.

Until death do they part.

And it’s the most remarkable damn thing I’ve ever seen.

28 comments

  1. Melanie Norton - May 16, 2017 1:22 pm

    Beautiful story. reminds me of my grandparents.

    Reply
  2. J - May 16, 2017 1:46 pm

    You are the best, Sean! I just found you this week and I cannot stop reading your stories. This was perfect. Almost as if were sitting there with you in the Cracker Barrel. Keep writing and never stop. You are truly gifted.

    Reply
  3. Patricia Gibson - May 16, 2017 1:50 pm

    Amen!

    Reply
  4. Kay Keel - May 16, 2017 2:05 pm

    Their relationship defines the word “LOVE”!

    Reply
  5. Beverly Raley - May 16, 2017 2:21 pm

    My husband died recently with Parkinson’s. You have described our relationship beautifully. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Mp - May 16, 2017 2:25 pm

    You did it again! Beautiful!!

    Reply
  7. Beverly Mathias - May 16, 2017 2:34 pm

    I had a love like that for 25 years. Lost him last April to COPD. The last year was filled with doctors, hospital stays and full time oxygen. But would have traded our love for anything. It was the best.

    Reply
  8. Sue Cohen - May 16, 2017 2:35 pm

    True love!

    Reply
  9. Sherry Saunders - May 16, 2017 2:38 pm

    I just saw something the other day that this story reminds me of.

    It said Marry Your Best Friend
    Say I Love You Often
    Never Yell Unless The House is On Fire
    Appreciate Each Other
    Respect Each Other
    Never Take Each Other For Granted
    Be Quick To Forgive
    Love Each Other Unconditionally

    The Unconditionally reminds me of your story of the man and woman in the Cracker
    Barrel. Great story of love and commitment. Thank you Sean for your WORDS!

    Reply
  10. Jody Herren - May 16, 2017 2:40 pm

    LOVE covers all

    Reply
  11. Paula Link - May 16, 2017 2:55 pm

    I lost my love bird on January 15, and I know he’s in a better place. That doesn’t mean that I won’t miss him until the day I die. We walked some hard paths together over the 35 years we had, but I never doubted his commitment to me, or mine to him. It was a beautiful thing – thank you for reminding me.

    Reply
  12. Sandy - May 16, 2017 2:58 pm

    Thank you, this is very beautiful. Really appreciate the way you introduce us to ‘real’ life.
    Sandy in the UK

    Reply
  13. Marlene Willis - May 16, 2017 3:00 pm

    My husband and I were like these two, committed to one another for 47 years of love and respect. It was a gift from God.

    Reply
  14. Suzanne Rainey - May 16, 2017 3:12 pm

    I had goosebumps reading this. We just buried our own Old Blue Eyes last week. They were married 50 years. Their names are Jim and Joan Patrick and if you saw him, you saw her and vice versa. She cared for him and loved him till the end of his days…..still does. Always will.
    They are my in laws.

    Reply
  15. Linda Lewis - May 16, 2017 3:13 pm

    I’ve come to depend on hearing from you, Sean. I don’t feel as if my day has started well until I see your post. You have a gift for making me feel as if I’m right there with you, seeing out of your eyes, feeling all kinds of emotion through your heart, feeling your eyes well up and sometimes roll down my cheeks. You have the gift of making me see what is still good in America – caring people. Thank you.

    Reply
  16. paula jones - May 16, 2017 3:59 pm

    Beautiful–the couple and the writing.

    Reply
  17. Arlene - May 16, 2017 4:04 pm

    No one has ever touched my heart day after day like you do….Thank you for sharing humanity with us.

    Reply
  18. deby su sweatt - May 16, 2017 4:09 pm

    please don’t stop reminding us what matter in life…

    Reply
  19. Susan - May 16, 2017 4:13 pm

    I just found your blog and had a marathon session last night, reading dozens of your wonderful stories. I have subscribed to your site & declared I won’t miss another blog. You give us a view of regular folks and a slice of their lives that is pure and down to earth. Thank you for using your God-given talent of connecting with your readers by sharing your stories. Regarding this one, haven’t we all seen couples like this in Cracker Barrel, IHOP, or Waffle House? God bless you, Sean.

    Reply
  20. Jane Carr - May 16, 2017 4:31 pm

    Wonderful story of sincere devotion!

    Reply
  21. Vicki - May 16, 2017 4:57 pm

    True love! Very touching. Everyone needs more it – the whole world. I remember the wooden triangle puzzle with the golf tee pegs. I don’t know how I figured it out as a kid and memorized the moves, but I did at a restaurant while we waited for our food. (and I don’t have a math brain) I recently found that memory stashed away somewhere in my mind and ordered a triangle puzzle. It took me a minute, but I remembered the solution. Childhood memories………thanks for bringing back the good stuff!

    Reply
  22. Dawn Johnson - May 16, 2017 5:08 pm

    Touch my inner Core of love for another. I have been married for fifty years now and hope in the future we will be there for one another like this Sweetie 💕🦋💕

    Reply
  23. LindaD - May 16, 2017 6:22 pm

    He’s been there for her, and now she’s there for him. That’s what true love is all about. Thanks for the touching reminder, Sean. BTW, I loved hearing you speak on the YouTube video that a friend shared. Well done.

    Reply
  24. Susan - May 16, 2017 6:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing your observations through your beautiful words. It is such a gift!
    My blue-eyes & I will celebrate 38 yrs together in September. The road has been occasionally uphill & rocky but I know that I can count on him & he on me

    Reply
  25. Pat - May 16, 2017 7:26 pm

    you never fail to inspire.

    Reply
  26. Martha Tubb - May 17, 2017 5:04 pm

    That is REAL love!

    Wonderful writing….thanks for sharing

    Reply
  27. Marilyn Jordan - May 18, 2017 2:53 am

    Your sweet stories take me away from all the political mess on the news day in and day out! They remind you that there is still love and goodness in this world. Bless you.

    Reply
  28. Rena Newell - May 22, 2017 1:43 pm

    This story brought tears to my eyes! The love of my life has Parkinson’s and early Alzheimer’s due to exposure to Agent Orange so we’ve had our times, as well. I cherish every day we have together and am so glad God chose me to be the one to take care of him. We’ve been together for 26 years and 26 more wouldn’t be enough!

    Reply

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