The old man chopped the cloves of garlic and stuffed them into the raw pork roast. His gnarled, aching hands trembled as he rubbed the roast with salt and sprinkled it with parsley, and set the baking dish in the oven. At eighty-seven, it was getting more difficult to do all the little things it takes to make this meal but he didn’t mind. He had been cooking his wife’s favorite dinner every anniversary for sixty-five years. He had no plan to stop now.
After placing the dish of candied yams on the rack below the roast, he shut the oven door then set the timer for two hours.
That should give me more than enough time for a nap, he thought.
He stopped at the refrigerator to see if he remembered to put in the bowl of cranberries. He was relieved to see them sitting there. Putting the roast in to cook at noon should give him plenty of time to make it to the flower shop before they closed.
The smell of roasted garlic and pork woke him up.
“Oh no, I overslept!”
Getting out of the recliner too quickly, old Bill felt dizzy and had to reach for the arm of the chair to steady himself. Pausing for just a second to get his legs back, he headed for the oven, grabbed the potholders and carefully removed the yams. He was relieved they weren’t dried out.
“It’s almost ready, Hon. Doesn’t it smell great?”
After setting the table, he cut the roast and filled both plates, and then sat down and said grace. He ate slowly and finished every bite. Just as slowly, he drank his glass of milk. As he cleared the table a tear fell onto the plate still covered with food.
I should just make it to the florist, he thought as he got in the car and backed out of the driveway.
A little angry with himself for oversleeping he calmed down when he remembered Daylight Savings Time was in effect. He didn’t have to worry about it getting dark anytime soon.
“Closed. Well girl, I managed to miss the florist. At least the market is still open.” he said as he drove past the flower shop.
Walking out of the store with a dozen beautiful peach colored roses, her favorite, he held them close and took in their scent. Once in the car, lost in thought, he nearly backed into a huge Ford Expedition that was driving past him in the parking lot. His neck hurt from jerking to a stop.
“Sarah, maybe I’m getting too old to drive,” he mumbled as he backed out a little more slowly.
About a mile down the road he turned into Mount Olivet Cemetery. He felt a pain in his chest but ignored it, as he was very familiar with it. Taking the curve to the left, he saw the large statue of an angel and pulled to the side of the narrow road. Picking up the bouquet he slowly got out of the car. Walking carefully down the grass covered hill he spotted the large red granite headstone. As was his custom he read it once more.
Sarah Rhea Fitzalan
Beloved Wife of William
January 3, 1920
September 24, 1995
“Hi Hon. I brought you flowers. I made your favorite meal. (But I guess you know that) Yeah, I know I forgot to get the cranberries out of the fridge but I fell asleep and was running late.”
He paused to listen to a voice that only he could hear, and then continued.
“What do you mean making a plate for you is wasteful? You know very well I always make that meal for you. If I want to cook dinner for you once a year then I’m going to do it! Can’t a guy do something for his girl once a year?”
Bill leaned one hand on the tombstone and lowered himself slowly to the ground trying to avoid hurting his knees too much. The tears were flowing, but he continued talking, almost in a whisper, to his love.
“Do you like the roses? They’re your favorite. Aren’t they pretty? I wish you could smell them. They sure smell good. I miss you. I love you. Happy Anniversary Sarah.”
Wiping his tears, Bill leaned up against the granite and closed his eyes. It was his intention to rest just a minute before going home.
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