Yesterday my college girl stopped and got her oil changed on the way to the house.
My Mama would be so proud.
When she came in the door, however, all was not well. The car had cut off on her several times at lights ands stop signs. This was not a problem before getting her oil changed. *sigh*
Okay. I did what my Mama would have done (or told me to do, not sure at this point) and called the mechanic shop. The manager was very apologetic and asked that she “run it back over” and they would fix it. He had a feeling he knew what had happened. I told Aub, but driving it again made her nervous. I get it. But “running it back over” was easier said than done. Highway 96 after 3:30 in the afternoon is a battlefield. You’d better be prepared for anything. And now that they have started the road expansion project, it’s even crazier. All the time. Please don’t think I’m making light of battlefields–you seriously have to be on your game and very aware on that road. Every single second.
I decided I’d drive it back over. It was a rough trip. There was an accident on 96 (thank goodness we know that the worst damage on that one was to the vehicles), so I had to re-route. The car did not cut off on me, but it idled a bit wonky, and reminded me of my days of driving my MGB–a stick shift. And this car is NOT a stick shift.
I made it there safely, thankfully. When I went in, I told the manager that not only would I not be mad if he found they had made an error, but I would be thankful. It is not yet time for this car to start giving us trouble like that. He looked a little startled, “Don’t get mad, ma’am. Don’t get mad.” Well I just said I wouldn’t, didn’t I? It did not take him long at all. Sure enough a vacuum had come “aloose” and once it was popped back in, she ran just as smoothly as the day she was brand new. (I’m assuming here, I mean, it was a very smooth drive back home.)
I decided to stop at the grocery store on the way home. I wanted to find something quick to prepare for supper (Leroy was cooking White Chicken Chili at his house the afternoon before–he flung a craving on me). So I planned on a dash in-dash out-only get the necessities kind of trip. That store is hopping on a Friday afternoon, and I was limited on time.
As I left the produce section and headed over to the canned beans and vegetables aisle, I had to work around several other carts. There was an older gentleman who was looking at the baked beans. I apologized for being in his way as I loaded up on Great Northern beans. He was very gallant, something you don’t see a lot of anymore. He insisted that I wasn’t in his way, and we began our visit.
I could see something in his eyes, a story he needed to tell. All thoughts of my quick “in and out” slipped out of my mind, but it only gave me a moment’s pause–then my word to embrace this year–with–echoed in my head, and I stopped to listen.
Mr. Al, much to my surprise, is 81 years old. He looked younger. He has been widowed right at 3 years. I think the day his wife died is coming up in the next few days. They were married 34 years but they’d known each other 36. He had actually moved away from where she lived, but he couldn’t get her out of his mind. So sweet. They later married. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer and given a life expectancy of 3 years, but with his loving care, she made it more than five years after her diagnosis. Bless him. Looking in his eyes, I could see a kindred spirit. The tears that threatened to come to the surface as he shared–I’ve felt those myself. I apologized to him as we shared stories–losing a Mama and Daddy is not the same as losing a spouse, and I know that. He shook his head. “It’s all hard. It doesn’t matter, if you loved them dearly.” I appreciated his grace. He understands. Grief is…..what it is.
He talked about how much he loved his wife, how absolutely perfect she was. A dear lady he knew came to him a while after his wife died and said, “If you ever think about marrying again…..” He shook his head. No. That would not be happening. He talked about how he loved his precious wife. “We are told that a husband should love his wife as Christ loved the church.” He shook his head and chuckled. “That’s a lot more love than any woman can handle, isn’t it?” But he tried. He said he could get upset sometimes, but that he would get to the bottom of the steps and have to go back in the house. “Well, hello, here comes Mr. Repentant,” his wife would say with her beautiful smile. “I knew you couldn’t stay upset.” And she’d been right. She had seen the best in him and brought it to the surface.
Oh how he misses her.
I don’t know how much time we spent there at the beans talking and listening and tearing up together. Time seemed to fly and to stand still all at the same time.
What do you do with all that love when the person is no longer here to soak it all in?
I don’t know.
Maybe you stand and tell someone who understands in the middle of a grocery store.
Tonight I am thankful for a mechanical error that made a car go wonky. That error led to my unplanned trip to the grocery store and the privilege of visiting with Mr. Al. We may never meet again, but his love story has touched my heart and I will carry it with me for a long time. I am humbled to hear of this love of a husband for a wife that is so great it will last forever. The smile on his face when he spoke of her and the tears in his eyes as he remembered–that right there. What a beautiful reminder of what being “with” is really all about.