Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Evolution Of A Love Affair

My husband was a wonderful man!

Geraldine fidgeted on the exam table with her purse in her lap. Her porcelain skin and quaffed hair were betrayed by hands that carried the wear and tear of eight decades. Her eyes bounced back and forth between my face and the handbag. Eventually she produced a series of aged photographs and handed them over one by one.

The man staring back at me in the first photo was wearing a soldier's uniform. He was handsome and tall with broad shoulders. The edges of the paper were worn and had frayed over years of handling. The second picture showed a young couple and was marked "tenth anniversary".

As I fingered through the pile, the faces became wrinkled and the postures stooped forward. In just a few moments, I witnessed the evolution of a love affair. Young feverish lust became life long companionship.

When he died in 2000, I didn't know what I was going to do.

She was now prim and proper again. Her back straightened against the pull of osteoporosis. I studied her face. The makeup was applied a bit too liberally. But looking back at her photos, that was obviously a lifelong habit. Her feet were swaying back and forth slowly. Every time our eyes met, she would look down quickly.

Her husband died suddenly. Healthy into his mid seventies, she woke up one morning to find his body lying next to her; his soul had departed. The doctors told her that it was likely a heart attack, or a stroke.

After his death, Geraldine tried to maintain the household just how he left it. But over the years the strain became too great. Her daughter swooped into town one weekend and helped her pack. The majority of her belongings would land in storage, but her husband's pictures, framed with a loving hand, would accompany her to the assisted living.

I still wake up every morning and stare into his eyes.

Fifteen minutes into the appointment, I was starting to get a little antsy. I waited for a lull in her soliloquy and then jumped in.

So what exactly brings you in today?

Her face turned a deep shade of pink and again she batted her eyes down toward the ground. Her words were almost inaudible.

I was wondering if you could prescribe some Viagra for my new boyfriend.

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