She raged toward divorce like a wounded animal the moment he confessed his brief affair. An angry twilight zone descended upon Kathleen. She took her half of their savings and fled to Ireland.
The beautiful green isle stabbed her in the heart. They were supposed to take this dream trip together. But Keith had ruined that. The black numbness followed her on every castle tour, into every shop and pub. More often than not she ended up on the shores of Donegal, staring out at the ocean.
One afternoon the stone cold anger thawed and she let the tears come. The wind whipped her hair wildly but it wouldn’t whip the pain away.
“I’ll take you home again, Kathleen,
To where your heart will feel no pain,
And where the fields are fresh and green,
I’ll take you to your home again.”
The singing came from down the beach, just a short distance away. An elderly man and woman reclined on a blanket. He nodded a hello.
“I heard my name. What a pretty song.”
“Aye, that it is. So you must be Kathleen.” He motioned her over.
“Kathleen Lanahan. I’m from New York.”
“I’m George MacGregor, and this is my wife, Kathleen as well. Her hair was once as red as yours.”
Mrs. MacGregor did not look up, but continued staring out at the ocean.
“I’m sorry. She’s not rude, just unresponsive.”
“No, an accident. Looking up your forefathers, Lass?”
“Something like that.” Pain rose up and choked her. Mr. MacGregor continued his song.
“I know you love me, Kathleen, dear
Your heart was ever fond and true.
I always feel when you are near
That life holds nothing, dear, but you.
“She sees me for a moment sometimes when I sing her favorite songs. I wait for those moments.” He lovingly took his wife’s hand and held it to his cheek. His tenderness twisted her heart. She and Keith were supposed to last until old age.
“Do you care for her? Or have you checked her out of a facility for the day?”
“I care for her myself. I promised I’d always take care of her. I promised before the good Lord when we married fifty years ago. I couldn’t bear for her to come to the surface and not be there when she calls my name.”
“Of course. A car accident?”
“Yes, let’s see, forty-five years ago come September.”
Kathleen Lanahan stifled a gasp. This man had been taking care of his wife like this for forty-five years, five years into their marriage? Her mind raced through all that he had missed, all the personal care he would have had to give her – feeding, bathing, dressing.
“But, how?” So many questions, yet Kathleen couldn’t even begin to form them. This man had kept his commitment under tragic circumstances. She’d run away without even giving Keith a breath of a chance.
“It hasn’t always been easy, especially at first. I had to forgive her.”
“Forgive her? But you said it was an accident.”
“Yes, but it was her fault. She had a lead foot. I warned her many a time, but one day she was driving too fast and plowed herself into a tree. I had to forgive her for taking away our future. But with the help of God, we have created a new life.”
“But that isn’t a life, she doesn’t even remember.” She didn’t mean to be rude, but she needed to know how he got through this.
“I remember it for her. I remember the bonny lass she was, and I remember my promise. The Lord is my example. He promised to never leave or forsake us.”
The silence that followed echoed the years that George MacGregor had lived in a promise kept.
He sang softly an ancient Irish hymn.
“Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”
“George?” Mrs. MacGregor came to life. She pulled his head to her and kissed him with a youthful passion. George spoke softly to her, holding her face in his hands, as though trying to keep her there with him.
Would George ever know that his commitment inspired her to give her marriage a chance? Two days later her plane landed at LaGuardia, and Keith was there, waiting for Kathleen.
*I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen - Westendorf
*Be Thou My Vision, Mary Byrne
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