He recalled how they first met. She was a beautiful young woman no more than 19 years old. She was walking from the back of the store to the front counter to greet the good looking young man who was obviously eagerly awaiting her to be his cashier It was a metaphysics shop, loaded with all the usual fair of scented candles, wind chimes and tarot cards and the like. She wore a vale like purple dress, trying for that gypsy look with the oversized hooped ear rings, bangles too many on her left wrist and rings galore on both hands. A shy - look but don’t overly stare at me - glance at the young man, of whom she now let the other brunette clerk take over in her stead. The bait and switch worked for it made the eager customer want to strike up a conversation with the red head all the more. What was her name? That perfume? Her eyes, they - they were beautiful and he could not soak them in enough.
Sally, how could he forget a name like that, never in a million years, nor when they first met over rice and baked beans in the service line of his church’s Fellowship Hall. How he accidentally bumped into her, ruining her Easter dress with his weak red punch. Yet after the cleanup she had hardly remembered it at all because of how they had gotten lost in conversation over their forgotten meal and each other’s eyes.
Really, they had met on their way to a friend’s house. A group had come by a week after his eighteenth birthday; in a friend of a friend’s old beat up ford pickup to be exact. As he piled into the bed of the truck along with the other gaggle of smiling wind-blown faces, the young man locked in on her face. Brilliantly lit eyes, whose slightly round facial features were framed by an auburn Farah Fawcett’s hairstyle of the day. Softy pouting full lips that just beckon to be kissed; yeah that was his first thought of her grin in his direction. She turned out to be the younger sister of a newly made friend of a friend, but at that moment the young man just wanted to know her name. She seemed to have brushed him off into forgetfulness after that first glance, but for him it was love at first sight and he meant for her to know it too. The young man had taken over one of his dearest friend’s girlfriends, but this one here would be his the first time around. There was just something undeniably fascinating about her eyes, and that smile -- he could not get out of his mind. How could he have ever guessed that they would have gotten married and it would last over forty wondrous years.
Her father had offered him a Cuban cigar in the hospital’s waiting room, and as a gift to him for the arrival of the new granddaughter, a fancy promotion as head salesman at his radio station.
Sally never knew her father because he had never been in her life, but her mother and the rest of her extended family of uncles and aunts were there eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child, with balloons and presents to boot.
Actually, it had only been her young nineteen year old husband and just barely a handful to family that joyously greeted their red faced-pointed ear daughter into the world in that small town’s hospital. Taking their new bundle of love home for the first time was scary as hell for him, yet seeing the sheer delight in his young wife’s eyes and those full smiling lips made all the anxiety of how to deal with it all just melt away. Never was there ever a happier day for the two of them as that day when they began their lives so many years ago.
Then again there was the time he had surprised her with a new puppy to cheer her up from having lost her job as a secretary.
Sally had never worked outside the home before, well other than being a nursery worker in the local church they attended, but seeing her receive that singing telegram lit up her face more than he had ever seen.
Seriously, even though he had intended to a thousand times over he had never had flowers delivered to her at home. But seeing her glow at their daughter’s wedding rivaled that of her birth, and the joy with which she radiated.
The old man heard an ambulance round the bend entering the apartment complex’s maze of parking lots. Of all the regrets he had in not making her life better was that of losing her and not being able to have her longer in his life. As he slowly rose off the park bench, and unhurriedly began walking home, he felt content beyond fulfilled - though a little tired. The day was quiet as if someone had turned off all the sound in the world but crying.
Presently, standing outside the faded wood banister of their patio, the old man watched as the coroner loaded the covered body into his station wagon from the sidewalk he himself had paced a thousand times over on his way to work.
The crying that came from beyond the opened door of his own apartment was a deep sobbing gasp. A horrific mournful weeping no man wishes to ever hear from his wife. How would she make it on her own now that he had passed away? He smiled at seeing his daughter and her family gathered about, tough as it was, she would be alright.