*Magnify*
SPONSORED LINKS
Creative fun in
the palm of your hand.
Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2179412
Rated: E · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2179412
True Love Never Dies...
Whenever a stranger would spend time in the company of my husband Lucas, it unfailingly left them with the distinctly peculiar impression that, without being aware of having gone there or of coming back, they had somehow slipped back in time about 50 years. And truth be told, he pretty much had the same effect on those of us who loved him and knew him well. That he possessed the easy, gracious charm and impeccable manners of a bygone era was undeniable...but it was more than that. He was just completely within his skin with the things and ways of a much earlier time as well. Old cars. Old movies. Old Spice aftershave...

A number of residents in our small town, even a few that he grew up with, mistakenly viewed him as a harmless but naive Neanderthal, burying his head in the sand and denying the implacable, steady march of technology. But for Lucas, it was never his intention or desire to live in the past, only to honor the good he saw in it that had somehow been unwisely cast aside and left behind by today's bemused and condescending world. He simply refused to fall in step with a throw-away society where the unbridled frenzy to keep pace with the latest electronic gadget or app and the general acceptance of social incivility both polarized and isolated people while offering a life-style void of grace or any real substance. He used to comment that when YouTube allows anyone, whether talented or shallow and vapid, to be accepted as a 'star'...that the magic and mystery of being a real one was diminished for everyone. And while he would never belittle or minimize anyone's hard-earned accomplishments, that didn't necessarily, make them a 'hero' as we are so instantly prone to call them these days. He said that when we're all heroes without any real merit, there's no one left to look up to...

His momma used to say that he was that way because he spent so much growin' up time with his grandfolks. His daddy worked the rotating shift as an operator out at the Gulf Refinery back when it was a job still worth having while she taught the 5th grade class across town at Terrell Elementary, so it was just natural that both sets of grandparents played heavily into his upbringing. Grandpa Jacob taught Lucas everything he knew about working on cars...while Grandpa Eli showed him how to control his fastball while mixing in a wicked curve that left kids twice his age doubled over from swinging at the air in complete frustration. Folks used to say that old cars and baseball were the great passions in his life until I showed up...and he worked me into the mix...

Having two boys and a girl in the first five years of our marriage meant long, hard days for him down at the shop while I stayed home and raised the children, but he never missed one of the boys' ball games...and he wouldn't dream of disappointing Lisa by being absent from one of her school plays. Sundays were a sacred touchstone for his soul, set aside for church and family. And somehow, he always made the time to romance the fool out of me. The only time he ever seemed to have to himself was the occasional evening after supper when he would go out to his shop to work on restoring his '57 Chevy Bel-Air. I remember being in the kitchen with him one evening as he was finishing his coffee, drying my hands on a dish towel and playfully teasing him about his car...asking him if he planned on ever finishing it. He just winked and smiled at me as he headed out the door after saying: "I don't think so, Sugar...that's my prayer time." As the screen door creaked softly shut behind him, I stood there staring at the door, my arms limp at my side as the towel dropped absently at my feet...stunned by the complete realization of the kind of man God had given to me and our children...and the full awareness of how much I loved him...

In the blink of an eye he was gone from our lives. No warning. No chance to say goodbye. I've sometimes thought that we go through this life blissfully unaware of how often we may brush up against that thin veil without falling through it and into the waiting arms of God, but in time we surely will. Some just sooner than others. After the Remembrance Service on Monday, a small army of family and close friends descended upon our household for a few days, lovingly determined to do everything for me while I grieved. But while I needed and treasured their company, they unknowingly denied me the need to function, however haltingly, for myself and my children. And in their misplaced zeal to shelter me from more pain, they clandestinely washed and packed away all of Lucas' clothes until some later time when I would be able to decide what to do with them. They couldn't understand that when I was ready, I would need to be alone to go slowly through his closet and take the time to touch everything just as it was. To dry my tears on his shirts. To smell his essence. To say goodbye. Without that, my tears just wouldn't come despite my completely broken heart. Now that chance was gone...and there was a seemingly unbridgeable gap between where I was and where I needed to be. It was like Lucas wasn't really gone...he was just missing and I couldn't find him...

By Thursday evening everyone had left, in the natural order of things, to resume their own lives after extracting my repeated promises to call them at any time for any reason...or for no reason at all. I gratefully hugged each one and assured them I would...but for now I needed some time completely alone. My mom anxiously agreed to watch the kids for the weekend and put to work her plans to shamelessly pamper them as only a grandma can do. And on a suddenly cold and rainy Saturday in late October as a strong cold front moved through, I was finally alone in my home...and I wasn't exactly sure what it was that I felt so strongly that I needed to do. I brought in an armload of seasoned oak from the back porch and built a small fire in the sun room fireplace before sitting down on the hearth with a glass of wine and a stack of dusty photo albums. But despite the precious memories, my efforts seemed too predictably forced and cliche..and the flat, lifeless pictures left my heart strangely unmoved. The rain came down even harder as the sky darkened noticeably. Things had to give. I had to do something...

I stood at the back door and kicked off my shoes, then held an old, heavily-frayed bath towel over my head as I splashed my way out to the shop...a place where I had spent surprisingly little time over the years. It wasn't that it had ever been 'off-limits' to me, it just seemed to be his only sanctuary and I always tried to honor that. And now, as I hurried in and quickly closed the door behind me, it still felt that way. I draped the damp towel around my shoulders and gently ran my wet fingertips down the length of the pristine, midnight-blue classic Chevy that had sat in the same spot these last 12 years while Lucas tinkered away on it as he faithfully prayed. The fire engine red tool chest that I had surprised him with our third Christmas together squatted Buddha-like at the front of the car. Starting with the top drawer, I began to methodically slide open each one and lovingly caress every tool that had caused such gentle hands to become so heavily-calloused over the years. Sitting down cross-legged on the cold concrete floor, I opened the bottom drawer...and suddenly found exactly what I didn't realize I had been searching for. It was his favorite gray sweatshirt that he always wore when he worked on the car...wrapped carefully around his baseball glove that held the treasured ball autographed by Mickey Mantle. It was as though he had left it there for this moment...and it defined the man as words could never do. I buried my face in the shirt and deeply inhaled the rich mix of baseball glove, craftsman tools...and Old Spice aftershave. Leaning back against the car bumper, I rested my head on knees pulled closely against my chest as a deluge of tears came so fast and hard I was barely able to breathe...

Some indefinite time later, I weakly pulled myself up against the car...steadying myself for a few minutes before returning to the house through the continuing downpour, shielding the tear-soaked sweatshirt tightly under my arms. I was thoroughly wet and had a deep chill, so I immediately brought in more wood and slowly encouraged the fading coals in the fireplace back to life into a steady blaze. As I stood there shivering and rubbing my arms to regain warmth, my eyes drifted over to the ancient Magnavox stereo that stretched along half the wall beside the fireplace; I deliberately moved over to it and tentatively lifted the top. His favorite Nat King Cole album was still on the turntable. I slid the switch on and gently moved the arm over to the record and carefully eased the needle down on the first song...'I Remember You.' Returning to the warmth of the fire, I completely undressed and pulled the sweatshirt over my head, sliding my arms into the sleeves. And as I did, by the grace of God...Lucas was there with me one last time.Flashing that wonderfully-crooked smile that made his left cheek dimple, he looked down into my eyes and put his arms around me as we slowly swayed to the music while the incandescent voice of Mr. Cole poignantly sang about a beautiful love indelibly etched forever in memory...

We spent the afternoon on an aging, overstuffed armchair pulled up next to the fire with me curled up in his lap, my head resting on his shoulder. Through bittersweet tears and gentle laughter, we reminisced about our life together. About the kids. As the day quickly faded, he firmly held both my hands and told me that God would help me through this...only trust and obey. Looking so deeply into my eyes that it startled my soul, he reached out and gently brushed my cheek...and a great weariness came over me. I had to sleep. And I knew that when I awoke he would be gone. God had briefly opened a door allowing me to say goodbye, and I was so very grateful. Lucas effortlessly picked me up and cradled me in his arms as he carried me across the room to the daybed beneath the bay window that looked out across the backyard. He pulled a harvest-colored, patchwork quilt up over me and tucked it in closely under my chin before carefully easing in behind me and draping his arm around my waist. There were no more words that needed to be spoken. And in the silence between us, the only sound to be heard was the rain still coming down heavily. Looking out into the darkness, I watched the crystalline raindrops as they pooled together hopefully on the sympathetic window pane against their inherent, endless loneliness before meandering down the glass to an unseen, timeless place. And as I drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep...my last memory was of the comforting smell of glove leather, the hand tools of a good man...and Old Spice aftershave...


© Copyright 2019 CinderellaMan (youvegotmale at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Log in to Leave Feedback
Username:
Password:
Not a Member?
Signup right now, for free!
All accounts include:
*Bullet* FREE Email @Writing.Com!
*Bullet* FREE Portfolio Services!
Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2179412