I can’t help it! The beat of my heart races against the pacemaker in my chest as I watch the girl of my dreams shuffle around the room. Hands shaking, she places candles, flowers, and napkins on the tables and humming the tune, “Here comes the bride.” Her silvery-white hair shimmers with blue hues under the florescent lights. Married fifty-five years and she still makes my palms sweat whenever she looks my way.
I wonder if I can sneak in a little smooching before our guests arrive. Leaning into my walker, I urge my creaky bones over to her. Hurry old man. The kids’ll be here in thirty minutes. My walker click-clacks each time I set it down and wait for my arthritic joints to catch up. Her back is to me now. My gnarled hand barely touches her shoulder when she stops and warns, “Better behave yourself, David.”
Since when do I behave? Seventy-five years and ain’t nobody accused me of behavin’. I’m just glad her run has slowed to a toddle—easier for me to keep up.
Fireworks go off in my head when she turns to face me. Her eyes sparkle in the light. Awe heck, they sparkle in the dark—cataracts do wonders for the vision; heehee. Just need a little imagination! I lean over my walker, wind a spindly arm around her waist, pull her close, and plant a kiss on her lips. “Wanna skip dinner? Let’s go home and have dessert,” I venture and receive a smack on my forearm before I’m pushed away.
“What will the kids think?” She can’t hide her pleasure under that frown.
“Prob’ly what our grandkids think—eeeewwwww gross!”
“Off with ye--” My head hangs low. I pout and toddle off.
I almost reach the kitchen to fetch a cup of coffee when I hear commotion at the front door. Looking around, I see all the table hosts—waiting. Now we just need some guests. I turn back toward the kitchen, What was I doing? Pinning down my memory lately is like catching the wind.
Something rattles, coaxing my memory back into focus. I point my walker toward the main foyer.
A young man—a kid by my age standard—is rushing toward me. Trailing behind him is a petite red-haired girl, nostrils flaring as she juggles her purse, a dish of food, and the door.
I get a look at her eyes. If I hadn’t lived so long with a woman, I’d have missed the arrows flying into her husband’s back. Ooooeee… That boy’s in for it. He better not try tippin’ that tea kettle tonight. He’ll get himself burned. I oughta know; I slept on the porch plenty ‘cause I was young and stupid.
The man reaches the banquet room and freezes—staring. The woman nearly plows him over. Her dish rattles as she fights to save it. Didn’t she see him standing there? Muttering something, he turns away.
“Young man--” I call as I lunge foreward as fast as my walker allows. “Can I help you with somethin’?”
With a stiff smile, “No, sir…uh…I thought there was a newlyweds’ dinner tonight.”
“Welcome, you’re our first guest! Come sit with us.” Dismissing his exasperated look, I guide them to my table. “Call me Dave.” We reach my girl and I squeeze her close. “And this is my sun and my moon, Libby.”
“Jim and Rachel.” He is formal—starched. I remember those days.
The women wandered off into the kitchen. It didn’t take Jim long to begin complaining, “She’s always late! Why does she need two hours to get ready?” His discourse could go for hours if I don’t say something.
“You didn’t know this before the wedding?”
“Well yeah…but that was just to impress me. Who does she need to impress now?”
This boy needs help! “Son, what was it like the first time you laid eyes on her?”
Wringing his hands, “I couldn’t breathe. Man, she was the most beautiful creature! Every time I tried talking to her, I stuttered.” He chuckled at the memory. “For a long time she thought I had a speech impedi--”
“Don’t ever forget that, son. Look at Libby and me. We’re still honeymooners! If you want that, don’t ever forget!”
Jim gives me a quizzical look. The women return, I pull Libby onto my lap and whisper in her ear. He’ll figure it out if I have anything to say about it.
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