“Warren’s amazing! I think I’m in love, Rhonda.” I spoke the words aloud for the first time as I washed dishes with my daughter.
Rhonda bolted backwards, dropping her silverware.
“I hadn’t seen you this startled since your father died,” I said, reaching for a spoon.
“Mom! You can’t mean that. You barely know Warren. And, besides, he’s John’s dad. My father-in-law, for goodness sake! Guess little Jacob wasn’t exaggerating when he said he caught you guys holding hands in the woods, yesterday.”
I noted her confused brown eyes, the same color and shape as mine, only younger. She’s never lost a mate. What does she know about loneliness?
“Rhonda,” I said, slowly, taking a deep breath. “You know no one could ever replace your father. If the good Lord hadn’t called Frank home so early, we would have been married fifty years. I never knew I’d find love, again. But now I have a second chance.”
“But Mom! You can’t be in love with John’s dad! It’s just, just…”
“Unnatural?” I finished her sentence.
Rhonda slammed a wet dishtowel on the counter. “Look, Mom, I’ve got to pick Jacob up from school. We’ll discuss this later.” She gathered her keys and dashed out the door.”
I plopped down at the kitchen table, my head buried in my sweaty palms. I knew she wouldn’t understand.
Moments later, Warren cracked open the kitchen door, his step slow but steady. “Not much today,” he said, tossing some junk mail.
He eased his six-foot frame into a kitchen chair, grabbed my hands and stared into my eyes. I studied his caring, comely face and clear Norwegian blue eyes.
He ran a large, gnarly hand through my hair. He held his gaze and smiled. “I’ve always gone for redheads, ” He said in his strong West Texas drawl. He had a smile like Paul Newman’s.
“Even a Lady Clairol #112 redhead?” I chuckled, my cheeks blushing the color of my newly dyed hair. “When the kids invited us both to come visit here at the same time, I’m sure they thought, ‘why not get these lonely, widowed, in-law grandparents together? They can keep each other company, spend hours talking about World War 11, the trauma of losing a mate….’ Don’t think they meant to set us up…” I giggled as an love smitten school girl.
He winked broadly at me. “Yep, your Rhonda’s always been my favorite daughter-in-law.”
Then he squeezed my arm and said, “I may be pushin’ 80, but I feel a young whipper snapper, again, sweetheart.”
“Me, too,” I giggled, again. “Another walk in the woods?” I stood up, extending my hand.
He just sat there, speechless. His eyes grew intense. He stood and pulled me to his side, pressing his moistened lips to mine. I felt I would melt. This was more than the little peck on the cheek he stole on our walk in the woods, yesterday.
His lips traveled down to my wrinkly old neck. Then he held my face in his time-worn carpenter’s hands, not saying a word. His eyes motioned to his bedroom.
“What the hell?” He asked, breaking an awkward silence. “What can happen at our age? We deserve a little happiness. Hey, we’ve got at least twenty minutes until Rhonda gets back.”
Everything in me wanted to rush in there with him. Instead, I heard myself proclaim, “But I’m a Christian. It’s still not right, even at our age.”
This time his face flushed the color of my hair.
“So am I,” he said, staring at the carpet. “You’re right, Esther. What example are we setting for our grandchildren? Just another reason why I love you.”
The words melted in my heart. Musical words I hadn‘t heard since Frank died. ”You love me? I feel the same way about you,” I said. The words tumbled out freely. It felt to say them.
“Maybe, just maybe someday after we get to know each other better, we will get married,” he said, brushing a strand of hair from my furrowed brow. “The kids will see we‘re good for each other.”
We sat on the living room love seat, holding hands. As we intimately shared our faith and more of ourselves, we knew God must have been smiling down on us.
After all, we shared the same grandchildren. We wanted to leave them more than just our worldly possessions, but a legacy in a virtuous Christian life.
A legacy worth leaving.
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