Friday, October 1, 2010

Just in case

He had been happily married for 50 years to a woman he dearly loved. The connection was evident because every now and then, when in company, he would lean close to her and whisper something in her ear. She would give him a Look, then crack up laughing, and he’d have a grin from ear to ear and his whole body would shake from silent giggling. The rest of the family would look over and ask, ‘What are you two laughing at?’ to which they would respond, ‘Oh… nothing,’ before breaking off into peals of laughter again.

Like with most things, there was a side to him which most people were unaware of, and it only came to light through the trauma of someone else, as happens with most things of this nature. See, the old man’s grandson had broken up with his girlfriend and was beside himself with grief. She wasn’t his sun or his moon, but her absence was making it difficult for him to get out of bed in the morning.

On a day when the grandson’s grief was particularly pronounced his grandparents visited. While the grandmother and the rest of the family sat in the lounge talking about the weather, the grandfather walked down the hallway to the broken-hearted grandson’s room, knocked on the door and requested entry. The grandson gave his permission and the grandfather entered, ignored all pretence of small-talk, and said, ‘I’d like to tell you a story which you might be interested in.’ Contrary to the grandson’s expectation, the story was not a weak, poorly-constructed but well-told joke. Rather, it was something from the corner of the old man’s memory which the rest of the family had no idea existed.

Over 50 years previously, the grandfather had been in love with a young woman who was not the woman he was married to 50 years later. The young couple had been together for long enough to decide that marriage was the best thing they could possibly do. He was head over heels, and she simply adored him. Finally, someone loved him for who he was, and didn’t loathe his existence like his domineering mother did. On the day of the wedding, the young man, dressed in his best, waited at the altar for his bride-to-be.

He waited.

And he waited.

And she didn’t show.

Nearly heartbroken, and most definitely embarrassed, he went searching for her and eventually found her at home in the company of her family. The family quietly filed out of the room as the bride-to-be, in her wedding gown, told the man she said she would marry that she didn’t love him anymore. He asked why, but she couldn’t give him an answer. He left, and cried himself to sleep for weeks. How could he recover from the ultimate kick to the guts? Most people don’t, but he did when he met a woman who far exceeded the positive attributes of the woman who came before. It was a tentative relationship at first, but it grew and blossomed, and after the due courting period, they married. They bought a house together, they had two children together, and they told each other filthy jokes, even in their seventies.

When he finished telling his story, the old man turned to his grandson and said, ‘Does that help at all, mate?’

‘Yeah, that… that really does. I had no idea,’ the grandson replied.

The old man smiled one of those genuine caring smiles which you don’t see all that often and said, ‘Not many people do. Anyway, I better get back to everyone. Hope you feel better soon, mate.’

The grandfather gingerly got to his feet and slowly walked out of the room, but he left the door open. You know, just in case the grandson felt like following him.