Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Grow Old Along With Me




This was originally posted on July 6, 2010.

I watched him slowly navigate the stone stairs leading to the door of the Gallery, one hand tightly gripping the handrail for support. He looked to be in his mid to late 70's, although he could have been much older than that.

He was looking for a certain gallery he'd visited in the area years ago with his wife. A bright smile lit up his face as he described the sculpture they'd purchased there. He was looking for something similar in a smaller version and, as we chatted, I got the sense that it was intended as a gift for someone, his wife, perhaps, or a son or grandchild back home.

I brought out a few works of art for his consideration and, every once in a while, I'd ask a question that garnered the response, "Oh, you'd have to ask my wife about that."

He made his selection quickly and then asked me for a restaurant recommendation where he might enjoy a good meal for lunch. I suggested a great place conveniently located directly across the street.

After that, he wanted to have some ice cream. Where could he get that?

Delighted that everything was within easy walking distance and confident that his 'old legs' would get him there, he went off to enjoy a bite to eat, giving me time to wrap his purchase and get the supporting documents ready.

A couple of hours later, he slowly made his way back up our stairs again.

"How was lunch?" I asked.

"Excellent!" he said and with a satisfied smile on his face, he added, "I had some great ice cream, too!"

Clearly in good spirits, he finalized his transaction with me and as he was preparing to leave the premises, I asked him if he was heading home now.

"Well. This is a bit of a memory trip for me." he said.

And, then his face crumpled.

With a voice that broke with emotion, he fought back tears that threatened to spill over his cheeks as he told me that his wife had recently passed away. His journey, he told me, would take him into the mountains next.

The penny dropped.

He was recreating a trip he and his wife had taken together years ago. Right down to ice cream for dessert.

Had it been their honeymoon? The first trip they'd enjoyed after the kids had all left home?

My heart simultaneously broke for him and celebrated the love he obviously still felt for this woman with whom he'd shared a life.

He hurried out of the gallery, awkwardly fumbling for the door, his eyesight misted with tears.

As I watched him make his unsteady way down the stairs to the street, one hand firmly gripping the handrail for support, I imagined the other one gently holding the hand of his beloved who still walked beside him.

21 comments:

CTG Ponies said...

How bittersweet. I think I would have burst into tears.

Suzanne said...

To be loved like that. Surely, she was a fortunate woman and he a blessed man.

Caroline said...

OMG... How sweet and sad at the same time. Beautifully written. I just want to go and hug that man!!

Breathe said...

A gentleman who owns property next to ours comes to visit his wife buried there every year - but he's become too infirm to do it any more.

He recreated a trip to New York. He took her favorite dress with him.

It's so difficult to be the one left behind.

Maria said...

OMG - this is such an incredibly beautiful story and so wonderfully told. How blessed to have been a part of that.

A New England Life said...

So bittersweet. Hopefully it brought him some peace of mind though I imagine it also brought back the pain of his beloved wife being gone.

deb said...

goosebumps.

and I'm glad it was you that got chosen to share a bit of his love story.

Christina said...

So wonderful and sad at the same time. Some people are so lucky to have found one another. I firmly believe they will be reunited one day. There is something about a man and genuine tears....it always makes me come undone.

Rising Rainbow said...

Somehow I knew the vein this story would take. Such a tribute to his wife and their love.

Kate said...

Beautiful story, beautifully told. How touching.

PurestGreen said...

My grandparents are celebrating their 60th anniversary tomorrow. My grandmother is not well. The stress of it for my grandfather breaks my heart. All these years clinging to the same person, and you can't cling hard enough to keep them from leaving you. But the love would never be as strong if you could.

morningbrayfarm.com said...

Love this post... you wrote it so beautifully Carolynn. You were in the right place at the right time to help recreate an ever so important trip for him. Priceless.

altadenahiker said...

Beautifully done, Carolynn. Now I'm all weepy and it isn't even 9 a.m. yet.

(There's an elderly gentleman who lives around the corner, and has lived there for 50 years. I'd stop to chat when he worked in the garden, asking about this plant and that. His response always was, "You'll have to ask my wife. I just do what she tells me." Now that his wife has passed away, he looks so lost without his orders.)

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

I know that I would have been crying also.

Carolynn, that is so beautiful, my heart aches for him.

Jen

Melanie said...

What a lovely tribute, Carolynn. I could just picture him. His sadness, loneliness,joy and pleasure...ambivalent emotions for sure.

Jan said...

Yes, beautifully written, Carolynn. You were absolutely blessed to bear witness to this man's journey. I find it synchronistic that here you are - embarking on a great love journey yourself. What a beautiful role model to hold in your mind and heart.

Joanne said...

What a beautiful story. Life takes us on the most incredible journeys, sad and happy, moving and stirring, always bringing our emotions and thoughts to new places.

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

Your words are beautiful as you recreate such a poignant interchange. And yes... she still stands by his side holding his hand.

Life Potentials Network said...

This reminds me of my father's parents, so much in love to the very end. I always wanted to find the same kind of love. And I have. It is the luckiest best thing in the world. So sweet...so tender. Thank you for sharing.....

14.1hands said...

Your story reminds me of Nicholes Sparks' book called The Longest Ride.

linmil said...

Your writing (no matter how old) always touches my heart in the sweetest way. I'm so glad I found you in "blogland". I lost my husband in 2007. I constantly recreate our trips and experiences together in my mind. It gives me peace. Blessings to you.

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