“Be careful, James.”
“Yes Jeanette. How far do you want to go today?”
“Let’s go to the far end of the pond. Maybe the swans will be there.”
James obeyed slowly as he pushed his wife’s wheelchair on the chopped bark that littered path. The lumps and bumps sometimes brought them to a stop. But with a little maneuvering to the left or right they got around the rough areas. It took a little time; James was not the strong man he once was.
Soon they were looking for the white birds. They sat, Jeanette in her chair, James on the bench. The sun’s morning warmth caused a mist to rise and hover above the water, giving it an eerie look. Jeanette was sure James was enjoying the morning as much as her.
Jeanette asked, “Today’s the day?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Will all of them be here?”
“Yes, they said they’d all come.”
“Even Lil Jimmy?”
“You know he hates it when you call him that. He’s fifty-six years old. Why do you continue to call him that?”
“Oh, I don’t know. He’s the baby and somehow it feels like I am not an old woman if I use that name.”
“Well, he hates it!”
“All right, all right.” Jeanette looked at her husband of sixty years. She was not seeing the old, withered hunched form of a man sitting on a bench. She saw the young, handsome man in his navy uniform, the man who stole her heart sixty some years ago.
“James, we’ve been on a lot of walks together.”
“What? Walks? Where do you want to go now?”
“No James, I don’t want to go anywhere,” she said louder. “I said we’ve been on a lot of different kinds of walks…together…you and me…the children, and now grandchildren. Remember when Lil' Jimmy had colic? How we’d take turns walking him while the other one tried to get some sleep. How he must have hurt, still breaks my heart every time I think about it.”
“Time? You want to know what time it is Jeanette? It’s 8:30.”
“No, James. I don’t want to know the time.”
“They why’d you ask me?”
A splash from the far side of the pond drew her attention. There, stepping cautiously, was a deer and her fawn getting a drink of water.
“Look, James, a deer and her baby.”
“Maybe what? Jeanette, you’re full of crazy talk this morning!”
“James, don’t be grumpy with me. You should of put in your hearing aid, but its too late now. You and I’ve put up with each other for a long time.” Jeanette paused, her voice full of concern, “They are going to be here, aren’t they James?”
“Yes, they are dear. Everyone will be here at noon for our sixtieth anniversary. Did you ever think it possible?”
“We’ve been so blessed, James.” Jeanette tried to turn her chair to face him. James, seeing what she was doing, got up to help.
“Say, remember Julie’s wedding? I was never such a proud papa walking her down the aisle. My beautiful little girl on my arm.” He sat down and took her hand.
“Oh James, so do I. Wasn’t that grand? And what about holding our first grandbaby? Then the second and third? And Lil’ Jimmy being an elementary school principal, working with all those precious children and teachers. All miracles from God.”
“Yes, yes, life has been good, Jeanette.”
Jeanette smiled at the love of her life. He might refuse to wear a hearing aid, or leave towels on the bathroom floor and tromp mud in on the clean floors, but that’s just the way he is…just the way she loves him.
“Did you know I thank God for you every morning? That I’m so grateful to have you beside me every step of the way?” Jeanette’s voice began to break up as she finished, "You’ve been a great model of Christian faith, as a father for our children and my husband.”
“You’ve told me that. I love you too, honey.”
“We’ve been down many roads together.”
He chuckled. “Some weren’t always smooth, were they, dear?”
“No, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. We’ve lived a good, long life, walked the way for Jesus, raised two wonderful children who love the Lord.”
“You want more? More of what?”
Jeanette smiled. Life was good.
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