Thirty-Seven Years --
"Is it really just about the dating?" asked my daughter, Becca.
"What do you mean?" I replied.
"In the Movies... it's all about falling in love... they never show afterwards....Do you stop having fun and playing around once you are married?"
"Well, when you are dating... you aren't focused on 'making a living...taking care of children... you are only focused on each other. But... you should still try to be your husband's girlfriend... and he should try to be your boyfriend... that's why we have date night. Besides, romantic movies are.... Hollywood."
Becca looked doubtful so I told her, "I'd be lost without your father, Rebecca. If anything happened to him, I'd be devastated."
Later that afternoon, I took my VCR/DVD player to this little mom and pop shop in a nearby town. I'd been taking my sets to the tv repair shop for years and the owners recognize me. Jerry fixes things, Janie runs the front office. TV's spill out of the front door of the crowded shop onto the parking area. The VCRs, Flat Screen TVs, DVD players, computers, stereos and combo sets are on ever spare square inch of the building. Janie had a desk, a phone and a computer at the front window with a sliver of floor space to work.It was close quarters. More times than not, Jerry was peeking over her shoulder with his magnifying glasses propped up on his head. Jerry and Janie were a good team. As the technicians carried in your equipment, Janie would write up the ticket and Jerry would chime in a few words of advice about what to buy and what not to buy in the rapidly changing world of electronics.
It was late when I got there.. nearly closing time and I noticed Janie was missing. A young man wrote up my ticket and chuckled when I told him my name, "We know you."
"Yeah, usually it's my combo set for the kids school, but this time I've got my DVD player. You guys just need to teach me how to fix this stuff myself."
Jerry leaned over from tinkering on a circuit board and said, "We could hire you as a technician, but If I did anything it would be to get you to answer the dang phone. I can't get anything done."
"You wife does that.. hey, where is she?"
Everybody in the cramped shop stopped to turn and stare at me. Jerry, his blue eyes filling with tears blurt out. "She's dead."
"WHAT? What are you talking about... was she sick?"
"No... she had an asthma attack...died in my arms at 5:00am in the morning on September 11th."
He went on to tell me about the morning.. ever detail. His concern at the rapidity of her breathing....his helplessness to stop the attack... his efforts to get her to the car... his fear when she fell ...and his anguish as he heard her take her last breath.
We were both crying by the time he finished.
Jerry looked around at the cramped office and his technicians' worried faces before he said, "I just didn't realize how much she took off of me around here. I'm lost without her. We were married thirty-seven years. Have you got a minute... I want to show you something."
I walked over to the ancient computer that he'd 'souped' up to get DSL. He opened a file with her name on it.
"If you've got time.. I wanna show you a poem a wrote for her."
I just about lost it. I read the poem and he showed me her picture 'ad' he'd placed in the paper on her birthday in November. "That was the worst of it, her birthday. But once I put this down on paper.. and I wrote it all out, I felt better."
It was a sweet tribute to the woman he loved.. 'his lady of class.'
Later that evening after dinner, the my whole family ended up in the den watching a movie. Becca was taking up half the sofa while her Daddy took up the other half. I asked her to move so I could sit next to him and tell him about my day. After much complaining, she plopped over in a chair and huffed. When I finished telling them about Jerry and Janie, my husband looked at me and said, "He wrote her a poem." Then he shook his head, cleared his throat and reached for my hand.
Becca wiped tears from her eyes and said, "I guess romance can last longer than dating... theirs lasted thirty-seven years."
She didn't mention the sofa again.
Keep the Faith,