A few years ago, I met an adorable elderly gentleman in the mammogram waiting room. I had kidded him by asking if he was sitting there because it was a good place to pick up “girls.” He smiled; no, he was there with his wife, Edie. She came back from her procedure. He lit up, radiating love.
So began a friendship and email correspondence that was saddened a few years ago when she died.
He started signing his emails: “Andy without Edie.”
Even though he was sad, there was so much beauty in his grief. He wrote:
“Sometimes I wonder if I will ever stop missing my little Edie. It is by day and by night. But only yesterday I figured out what’s wrong with me, and why I am feeling so unstable. It’s this:
“Ever since I was 19 years old, I have been in love. I have always had my little mate alongside me, by day and by night.
“We both agreed that the Lord brought us together. I never touched any other woman during all those years. Now I have lost it all — no little lady — no one beside me. I have learned that one can’t turn love on and off like a lightbulb.”
Here’s what really touched me: the thing he missed most was holding Edie’s hand.
They were close and went everywhere together. “I always felt good if I could take her hand and find that it was cold, then take the other one and find it cold, too. A cuddly hand-warming session took place and the cold hands problem was cured up.”
He recollected: “Holding hands and driving a car don’t go together, so we didn’t. But we had a fun hobby when we got out of the car. As we walked along holding hands, if she pulled away suddenly, I knew that she had spotted a lost penny on the sidewalk.
“This got to be fun for us oldsters, and we did it for years. One time after we’d spent about $10 to eat, we were walking across the parking lot when I had to pull my hand from hers to investigate something that turned out to be a lost $10 bill under the snow.”
He wrote, “Edie’s Parkinson’s disease often kept her hands moving for no reason. Sometimes I’d just take hold of one to stop the action. Being a full-time caregiver, I often found myself holding her hands for no reason other than to communicate. Many persons don’t realize that the hands can ‘talk.’
“Often, as we walked along and chatted, if a heartwarming subject or thought should pop up, an extra squeeze of the hand would let us ‘talk’ it over by hand. A turn toward me and a smile from those pretty brown eyes, and my heart and hand would melt into hers. What wonderful times we had.
“As we grew older, holding hands grew into more of an emergency grip if she lost her balance or began to fall for any reason. I made sure that I was always there, with a subconscious effort to keep her safe. This worked many times over, and if we weren’t holding hands, I’d have my hand under her arm to prevent her from falling. She never fell when I was with her.”
He wrote this poem:
Now that I can hold your hands no more,
I miss you by day and by night.
I cling to my memories of you all alone,
I thought that I’d never let you out of sight.
But now time has passed, and you are gone.
I remain to cherish our true love.
You were such a wonderful gift from God,
Now I know that you’re with Him up above.
Oh, Andy. Dear Andy. Now you, too, have passed away.
It makes me sad. But I also rejoice with you, knowing that you are in heaven with your precious Edie. Your spirits will always walk together, hand in hand . . . with the One Who joined your hands together in the first place.
From the forthcoming book, “The Elderberries,” by Susan and three of her “senior Valentine” friends.
By Susan Darst Williams • www.TheDailySusan.com • The Elderberries • © 2016