Reader advisory- This post contains stuff that made me bawl my eyes out. Proceed with caution.
Working in aged care has its benefits, especially for a writer like me. Older generation has a different take on life than most of the younger generation these days. Contrary to popular belief, spending time with elderly is actually an uplifting experience. Whenever I am hit with a writer’s block, or a character conflict, all I have to do is drop by to see one of my clients. It is in my prowl for ideas for my new story when I met this cute couple.
Both in eighties plus, with their share of health issues. But they had settled into the village life style smoothly. He was a Glass half full kinda guy. Always had a joke or two to make you smile on your crappy day; a real ladies man. A charmer. She on the other hand was this serious school ma’m type, but she too had a sense of humour and a dry wit that often left your speechless. Some thought they were like chalk and cheese.
One day when I couldn’t contain my curiosity anymore, I asked him how they met. Because there had to be a story. Everybody got one.
With a secret smile, he began.
He said he had known her all his adult life, and loved her since the first moment they met. But she didn’t feel the same about him. Not then, anyway. For years, he carried his love in his heart, pasted a smile on his face and carried on with his life as if everything was okay. But the blow came when he heard that she was going to marry his best friend. Like a trouper, he braved through the wedding as a best man.
For years since then, he deliberately kept himself away. It was only when he had an accident and couldn’t work anymore, he returned home.
He said watching her raising another man’s family had been pure torture. But there was nothing he could do. He was an outsider, she was his best mate’s wife. There was an unspoken bro-code that he had no intention of breaking. Her kids grew up calling him ‘uncle’ and he wouldn’t have jeopardised that for anything.
Thirty years fast forward, his best mate passed away due to lung cancer. In the years that followed, he was there to support her and her family.
At this point of the story, I got really mad at him. Why, I asked, did he keep his love a secret from her at that point? His best mate was dead, she was a widow. To me, it was a black and white scenario.
He laughed and shared a smile with her at that moment. He said, “I knew her more than I knew myself. I knew she wasn’t ready. I had waited a life time for her to see me. The real me. A few more wouldn’t have killed me.”
So how did they end up together? Believe it or not, it was she who made that decision. One day after her kids had moved out, and loneliness had become an unbearable burden for her, she sold her house, put her savings in a bank, wrote her will, and packed her bag. She didn’t wait for him to say yes or a no. She simply used the spare key he had given her for emergencies and moved into his house.
The story goes that seeing her in his house made his heart go all gooey, and he ended up with a pacemaker to get it back up and running. At least, that was his version. But she claimed it was too much bacon and sex which made his heart go all stutter!
I for one didn’t want to dig deeper into that particular point. So I left them alone to their late marital bliss.