Long Enough

Howard stepped off the city bus, straightened his jacket, and limped into the nursing home.Seasons

“I used to do that job,”he told me, pointing his head at the bus. “Before I retired.”

He made his way into his new job. Howard’s home was an assisted living facility across town.

His wife, Mildred,had been transferred to the nursing home a few months ago.

Howard spent his days with Mildred. “I get my breakfast at the Oaks then  take the bus here. The last bus runs back to the Oaks right after supper so I can eat lunch and dinner with Mildred before heading back. “

Later Howard sat with Mildred at a round of bocce balls, a game a little like shuffleboard but using only balls.  He took his turn, aiming his ball at the target. “Turn left. More!” He directed his ball. “Aw, it doesn’t listen very well.”

Then he gently pressed Mildred’s ball into her gnarled hand. “Roll the ball. Knock that blue ball out of here. “

Mildred stared at the floor.  After his third direction, she lifted her head and dropped the ball. It listed to the left and stopped.

“Pretty good,” Howard said. “Maybe our team will win.”

One day he arrived with matching hats for the two of them. Mildred wore hers all day without saying a word.  In fact, she didn’t say much any day.

But Howard came every day.

“We both lost our spouses to cancer,” Howard told me one afternoon. “We’ve been married 15 years.”

Long enough to cleave for the rest of a lifetime.

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