Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Husband and Wife (08/08/14)
TITLE: Loving Memories
By Terry Atchison
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As he had entered The First Baptist Church that Sunday, so many years before, she was standing in the doorway, greeting the worshipers. When she asked him his name, his brain ‘fried’. He remembers looking into those big green eyes, a blank stare on his own face, and answering. “Huh? Yes, that’s it.” Mouth open, eyes wide, lips moving with little coming out, he finally breathed, and “Michael, no, uh Mike”, whispered out of his mouth. That was also the moment, she had told him later, that her heart melted for this seventeen-year-old boy.
“You remember all those dates we went on with your sister, Molly, hanging along? Your mom thought that she needed to keep us in line. It wasn’t until I was in the Army that we ever had any real date, just the two of us. Molly, Molly. Now you two see each other quite a bit, I imagine.” Mike looks skyward with these last words, maybe hoping to see a sign that they are looking down on him.
“Nancy, you looked so beautiful in that wedding gown.” Mike sighed as he wiped his eyes with his fingers. “No other image of my memory compares to that moment when I saw you standing there, waiting for me to claim you as my wife. I still love you as much today, babe.” He chuckles a little. “Your mom sure was a worrier, but was so happy to learn that we were both virgins when we got hitched. Most of the young ones today will never know that special lifetime bond, and deep complicity that results from waiting. Oh how I love and miss you!” More tears, another sigh, a slight pain passes through his chest.
“And Pablo, poor little guy. These past three years have been hard on him. That little dog still sits by your chair at supper time, waiting for you to get up and feed him. At bed time, he sits and whines, every night, on your side of the bed, wanting you to pick him up. Our house can seem so empty these days with just Pablo for company. You really loved that place from day one. Do you remember when we visited it for the first time? We went through each room, deciding on what furniture to put where. You liked the view of the valley and the river from the back porch. We both did. I still drink my tea there each evening, thinking of you.” He pauses, visualizing her sitting with him.
“I remember how angry you were at God when you learned that we would never have children. Isn’t it amazing how He blessed us with others’ children who needed our attention and love? You never stopped thanking Him and you were the best foster mom ever. Our twenty-three ‘kids’ will attest to that. They were all there for me when you passed.”
“Oh my little darlin’, I miss you and love you so much!” Mike sobs and sits on the ground next to the headstone. “I will be so happy to see you again. May it be soon, Lord.” He dries his eyes with a handkerchief, then blows his nose, making a loud noise. “Hope I didn’t wake up any of your neighbors.” He smiles and stares at her name engraved in stone. His shaking fingertips trace each letter. N-a-n-c-y. “I love you, Nancy. I love you!”
The old man leans against the headstone as a very sharp pain stabs through his chest. His eyes close.
He opens his eyes and sees his sister-in-law, Sue, standing before him, holding flowers in her hands for Nancy and Molly’s graves.
Mike opens his mouth and belches as loud and as long as a lion’s roar! “No wonder I was hurtin’. Wow! Excuse me, Sue.” Mike stands and brushes off his pants. “I ate Mexican last night. See you tomorrow, Nancy.”
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