My husband and I stopped by this elderly couple’s home on our way out of town. It doesn’t seem right to call them elderly, even though they are both well into their eighties. The husband still chops wood for the fireplace and his brown skin stretches firmly across his cheek bones. The wife’s face is smooth and round and her voice hasn’t cracked with age. Neither of them look a day over 70. They live in the city. Their row home is humble and warm, and I felt loved as soon as I walked in the door even though they are not family. The wife offers me a seat by the fire and I yearn to spend my vacation there instead of the mountains. She talks about my book. I am there because she wants more copies for her grandchildren. My book sits in a pile of books on a table, its page saved by an envelope. I reach in my purse and hand her a bookmark from a book I am currently reading, titled The Blue Orchard. As she continues to speak, I am blessed by her life story. I have shared my life. Now she feels comfortable sharing hers with me. She says so many profound things that I want to take notes, but don’t. It would ruin the moment. I tell her in so many words that I am moved by her wisdom and wish I had a pen and paper. She says, I’ll remember and I hope I do. I tell her I am surprised that she is enjoying my book.
She says, “Well, the first thing that kept me turning the page was the dedication to your husband because I know how I feel about my husband. We have been married for 66 years and he still makes my heart skip a beat.”
I am so moved by her words. I want to cry. I silently pray that Jeff and I will share many more years together so my heart can skip a beat for him when I am in my eighties.
She tells me, “Your book is for anybody who can read till they can’t read no more.” I will keep writing for that line alone. I trust her.
I ask her about her family, looking around, absorbing memories that fill the room like ghosts. She tells me about how she raised her nine children. She speaks of her son’s death, staring at his picture above the mantle. Her eyes focus on it in a way only a mother’s could who lost a child. She looks at it and looks away from it several times, blinking, and taking deep breaths in-between her words. She is not crying, just caught up in the memories. She talks about how her husband was a good provider. I look over at him and nod while he and my husband are speaking. She is satisfied with him and with her life. Her words, the room, the fire, and her husband with the tight face who loves her deeply makes me feel love completely, universally. I tell her how comfortable I am in her home-how blessed I am in her presence. She points over to the other room and says I keep blankets over there, and more than anyone else in the world, I yearn to be like her.