I like my walk to work. I know where the black lab watches from the upstairs window, his head peaking through the curtain. I know the house where the two pugs stand on the back the sofa on their hind legs, barking wildly, scrabbling at the glass, and leaving slobber marks all over the picture window. I know the gray cat who runs to you when he sees you. I am figuring out who lives where. People wave. I wave too. I watch the squirrels running along the wires, and I notice the neat little details on the houses as I pass. I know where the cool gardens are, and I make up my mind that one day my yard will look like that. I very regularly step over a patch of barf too. Isn't that odd? I imagine someone coming home late at night, after a night of drinking, and barfing on the sidewalk. Multiple times a week. What an existence! I feel sorry for him (or her, I guess).
But back to the sweetness of life: It's been unseasonably warm here lately, and with the birds singing up a storm, it feels like it's spring already.
This morning, I carried my bag, and a balloon. I'm sure that I looked a sight, a gray headed woman with a balloon. I had wrapping paper and an anniversary card in my bag. Today was the 65th anniversary of a gentleman who lives there. I'd been quizzing him about this day all week, hoping that he'd remember that it was his anniversary. "What day is that?" I'd ask, and he'd respond "Well, it's the first day of February," and then he'd smile. "February 1th," he say, pronouncing it one-th, laughing at his own joke. He sounds just like Jimmy Stuart.
"Yep, but what else?" I'd ask. And he'd say, sweetly, "somebody's birthday?"
All week long, I've been telling him that it is his anniversary, his 65th. He'd get a surprised look on his face. "Where does the time go?" he'd say. "I sure don't feel like I'm 65. I feel young." I pointed out that he'd gotten married when he was 21, that he's actually 86. He looked astonished. "Imagine that!" he said, marvelling.
Today, I handed him that card, and reminded him once more that it was his anniversary. He read the card and he smiled. "That's nice," and then he took a pen, and carefully signed that card with his full name, like you would sign a check. I said, "Can you think of anything that you'd want to say to that woman that married you 65 years ago?"
He paused. And then painstakingly, he wrote, "with all my love," and he signed it with the affectionate nickname that she calls him. All by himself. I almost cried. I knew how much those words would mean to the beautiful woman who visits him daily.
He addressed the card, using her full name. He wrapped a gift for her. I walked him back to his room after therapy, and he walked slowly, carrying the gift and card and the heart shaped balloon as if they were all fragile. Once in his room, he set it all on his bedside table.
Before I left, I asked him once again. "Do you remember what day this is?"
He smiled and he said, "It's my anniversary." I said, "Yes, it is, and your wife has big plans for this day." He said, "I think that I will wait right here," and he sat down in a chair, his hands on his knees, watching that heart shaped balloon bob back and forth with a sweet smile on his face. I shut the door on the scene, and I prayed that when his wife got there, he'd still know what day it was.