The shower was relaxing to a point, but the wet heat pelting his back did little or nothing to relieve the pain and tingling caused by disintegrating discs in his spine due to a lifetime of bending and squatting and lifting and carrying hefty objects.
He was tired. God knows he was so tired. Truly he was more than tired, he was weary.
Soon though it would be time for the reunion and he was actually looking forward to this one. He was going to take his sweet time, all the time he wanted. He had been so busy taking care of his sick wife, working two jobs, worrying about the mountainous medical bills- not to mention a daughter consistently in and out of rehab clinics- that he had not taken a vacation in years. This reunion would be the perfect excuse for some well deserved relaxation and work would be the furthermost thing from his mind
His leg was unusually stiff tonight. Even though he hated taking pills he took a muscle relaxer and went to bed early. The smell of Nita’s favorite magnolia perfume floated from her pillow. Robert dreamed of the day he first saw Nita standing in her parent’s yard beneath a blooming magnolia tree and how her smile made the blossoms look homely.
Apparently he was late again, like always. It looked like the reunion was well under way.
He hung back not wanting to rush in and make a scene. He was considered to be a humble man, but Robert often wondered if it wasn’t more a lack of self confidence than humility.
A teasing breeze wafted to his nose aromas from a myriad of wonderful foods.
Since Nita died nearly a year ago he had survived mainly out of drive-thru windows and microwave ovens. And he was so lonely- especially at nighttime.
A grin crossed his face as he remembered a family reunion several decades ago when he was nine and Uncle Chuck told him, “I’d steer clear of your Aunt Barbara’s cookin’. She cooks beans and peas in the same pot, you know.”
Too young to recognize this as a joke or the very poor play on words Robert missed out on some excellent pot roast and chocolate pie that year.
He scanned the group for one particular individual not certain just how he would react or what he would do or say if indeed they were here. He recognized cousins, aunts, uncles, people he had not seen in years.
“Hello, Robert. Looking for me?”
Robert recognized the voice behind him instantly. He hesitated to turn around, nervous as a school boy.
“Why are you standing way over here and all by yourself?”
“I didn’t want to disturb the party. Not just yet. Everyone seems to be having such a good time.”
“Haven’t you figured it out yet?”
“What do you mean?” Robert finally turned- his eyes welling. He knew.
“This celebration, it’s in your honor. Everyone is waiting for you, Robert.”
The two walked side by side and as they approached the party Robert saw more familiar faces. His mother was putting final touches on innumerable awe-inspiring floral arrangements. His dad had someone, most likely one of the apostles, detained in a long winded conversation. A wink from Uncle Chuck. And there, smiling, standing beneath a giant magnolia tree, was his precious Nita, more breath taking than all the flowers.
“Hey everyone look who’s here.”
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