Working the sale can be exhausting, and sometimes it’s hard to be ‘little miss cheery’, especially when folks argue with me over a dollar then open their wallet with hundreds of dollars inside. Or complain that the item they came for is already gone and just go on and on and on about it. Mornings are too early for me to take a stranger’s criticism, it makes me want to push my christianity down for a few minutes and explode!
But then there are the times when I see an elderly couple come in holding hands knowingly, like today. I look into the beautiful sky blue eyes of the gentleman who is being led by his partner of the last 60+ years. I can see that he is lost somewhere in the confusion of his mind. It’s the same look my father had in his own baby blues as he fought Alzheimer’s. I stood there for a moment blocking out all other noise, the hustle of people, the whispers of complaints. I locked eyes with the gentleman…mine reminding me of the path I traveled alongside my mother as she fought so hard to keep the only love she’s known by her side for as long as possible…his were straining to figure out if I was someone he is supposed to know. Although I didn’t personally know this man whose blue eyes used to shine with life, I felt like I’ve known him my whole life.
When his devoted wife gently tugged on his hand with her fingers curled around his to move him towards another room, I thought I saw a twinkle, a hint of a sparkle, as if a long lost pleasant memory that brought him joy just passed through is brain like a shooting star! It came and left in a flash of light that became lost in the darkness much too soon. He gave me a split second smile as I returned the favor. I wondered who I was to him in that moment. Was I a lost daughter? A sister who he once teased as a boy? His first crush? A teacher who encouraged him to be the best he could be? I will never know. It helped to put my day back into perspective, reminding me that life is short, fragile and downright unfair at times.
I watched this precious couple leave, her being so gentle and loving with her man of many decades as he tried to figure out the how and why he was there in that strange house. I had to close my eyes to keep a tear from falling because I saw my mom and dad walking down the sidewalk. My parents who started their life together at the tender ages of 17 and 18…laughing, planning, dreaming together for their future in the warm summer sand that they playfully threw at each other. My mom and dad’s golden years didn’t have that fairy tale ending every little girl hopes for. But the love they shared was a Cinderella dream come true.
My father passed away surrounded by the family who cherished him, each of us holding, touching him. Just before he joyfully leaped into the arms of his Savior, he opened up those baby blues, locking them with the tear filled eyes of his special lady, even though the doctors claimed he was already brain dead. And yet, for a few precious seconds, those eyes burned with the young love that began over 65 years ago at the woman who promised ‘until death do us part’. My daddy wanted to say “I love you” one last time to his bride of 63 years.
I’m positive that the elderly couple who are walking the same difficult path as my parents, will have a similar parting when it’s time for them say goodbye to a lifetime of love, and devotion. Forever love is just that, forever.