I was sitting in the park after work yesterday, reading a book and enjoying the weather, when an older couple came toddling up. They were so adorable. They were holding hands and giggling together. He asked if they could share the bench with me and I said, “Absolutely” figuring they wanted to rest for a bit then toddle on. He took out his kerchief and dusted off the bench for her to sit down. What a gentleman!
Honestly, watching this couple (out of the corner of my eye so as not to appear creepy or stalkery) was like watching to grey haired, wrinkly teenagers in love. No, they didn’t grope each other or me. As they sat there, I just couldn’t help myself, I had to ask “How long have you been married?” She looked at me with a huge smile and said, “We married the day he got home from the Army in 1946!”
They looked at each other in a way I had always dreamed someone would look at me. They held hands like I’ve always wanted someone to hold my hand. They laughed and enjoyed being together and, I openly admit, I was so jealous of them! My heart hurt so much because they knew what love is and I selfishly wanted what they have. I pulled out a tissue and wiped the tear from my eye hoping they would just chalk it up to allergies but they were not fooled. She said, “Honey, what’s the matter?”
To say that I was overwhelmed would be the understatement of my life. I found out her name was Ollie and his name was Ernest and that they walk the park about twice a week so they can share a pretzel and drink. Ernest likes beer with his pretzels but Ollie said beer makes him have to pee too much. Ollie likes a fizzy with her pretzel and Ernest giggled and said he loved it because it makes her burp. Then told me that once, she drank the fizzy too fast and burped her dentures out. And here I am, getting more and more jealous. Ernest told me that they had been childhood sweethearts and his heart had never wavered. Ollie said he used to trade a bucket of milk for a stick of chewing gum when they were kids and they would take turns chewing it.
This encounter was really beginning to break my heart, and I blurted out, “What IS love REALLY?” They both smiled (with a couple of missing teeth) and told me that true love is a decision, it’s not a “feeling” because feelings can change quickly but a decision is binding. I asked if they ever argued, and Ollie said, “Honey, we’ve fought like dogs over the last bone. But….(she winked)…we always made up!” Ernest smiled really big and said “And the make-up sex….ah…..was so amazing!” Well, I’m not a huge fan of sex currently, but I couldn’t help but feel my jealousy grow.
I asked what’s the secret of their love lasting so long. They looked at each other and then Ollie took my hand in her warm gnarled hand and said, “We only get one turn at life. We understand that we are in this one and only life together. We know that, not matter what happens, we will always be there for each other. We accept each other unconditionally. We don’t waste time on trivial things. We make sure to SHOW, not say, “I Love You” every single day. We are part of each other and will always be part of each other.”
She patted my hand as tears gushed from my eyes. He handed me a tissue from his pocket so I could wipe the snot that was bubbling from my nose. Ollie said, “Sweetie, you can’t go looking for love, you have to BE love. Only then will your other half find you.” She hugged me and kissed my cheek as she got up. He got up and kissed my hand, and they toddled off toward the pretzel vendor.
I went home, locked myself in my room and just cried into my pillow. My clothes smell like liniment, and my heart is so full it’s feels like it’s breaking.
Is true love really REAL?