Funny, I had thought that all the books and movies would have prepared me. Those cleverly scripted emotions paled in comparison to how I felt about Todd. My Adonis was at home with beer in one hand, remote control in the other, he could binge watch one never-ending ball game after another. My ideal Saturday was spent drifting from one art gallery to the next, inhaling the effects each brilliant brush stroke achieved. Todd had bridged our differences with his willingness to share on every level. Now a perfect night was one spent pressed against his muscular frame, soaking in his very essence. I never dreamed that long idyllic hours spent intertwined, physically and emotionally, would become a constant in my life. I treasured the feel of his calloused fingers stroking my shoulder as we spent afternoons whispering childhood stories, hopes and dreams. Our enchanted tales of childhoods spent in peaceful suburbs had created a closeness that far exceeded those in silly romance novels.
I had been delighted when my macho guy had agreed to a quiet stroll through the park. Lost in the soothing companionship, I felt no need to talk. I was spellbound by our interlaced fingers. Breathing in the sights and sounds of this wonderful morning, my eyes settled on a woman nestled on a bench. My breath caught in throat when I saw the small red sweater that was unfolding from her busy hands. She must be knitting for a grandchild, I concluded with a smile. My mind wandering through thoughts of the joyful times this grandmother spent with her grandchild. My musings came to a halt when I became aware that Todd had stopped walking. The realization that my Adonis was crying came like a blow. What could have brought this on? Was it the sight of a lonely old woman? Was there a tragic story involving one of his grandmothers he had not shared?
The Old Woman’s
It was worth the long walk from my tiny home. Sunlight draped me in warmth, the steady stream of people provided plenty of amusement. I devised varied stories for their lives. Automatically my hands reached into the worn tapestry bag and withdrew the long needles and bright red yarn. Red was his favorite color. The amusing scamp was my only grandchild.. He would wear the red sweater like it was a superhero cape. I can see him dashing through the park, welding a branch like a sword. His imagination weaving stores of victory. In a few days it would be done, if my arthritic fingers could hold out that long. Then I would take the bus across town, it only required two changes. Those kneeling buses made it easy for me to climb the daunting steps. The buses were getting taller or was getting shorter. It would be a surprise to Mary, when I knocked on the imposing wood door. That’s okay it was my right as a grandmother. What was that saying? “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain.”
A young couple strolled by hand in hand. What a handsome couple. He the tall broad should athlete, she the petite dancer. The comfortable silence they shared was an indication of the depth of their love. Variations of their love story darted through my mind. I don’t understand. Why is he staring at me like that? Why is he crying? Do I remind him of a treasured grandmother? That must be it. The bewildered look on her face signaled that she was mystified by the outbreak. Thankfully she managed to drag the inconsolable man away. I returned to my pleasant musings.
The gentle breeze wafted through my hair. Encouraged by the strengthening sun, I quickened my pace. Angie smiled and matched my rhythm. More than the grip of her hand, I felt Angie’s companionship. Just as our strides adjusted to match the cadence set by the other, our lives had adjusted to being a couple. I had thought I would resent a time this relationship demanded. I didn’t miss going to the various “games” with my single friends. It didn’t matter that I had missed this years Super Bowl bash. What mattered now was waking up to the citrus scent in Angie’s long brown tresses, feeling her lithe frame pressed against me. For the first time, I felt I had someone to share my deepest fears and feelings. Angie would sit quietly, stroking my hair or hand as I had shamelessly told her of feeling shut out inexplicably by my parents when I was ten. Until I had met Angie, I had not realized the hollow feeling at my core was loneliness.
I took immense pleasure in the simple joy of walking through the park with Angie. I drank in the scent of freshly cut grass. Catching the quick movement of a dog dashing after a ball, my eyes settled on a woman sitting quietly on a bench. The constant movement of her wizened hands and clacking needles drew my eyes. It hit like a blow. Unbidden the sob escaped. The flash of red moving between her knitting needles mimicked the flash of red I had tried to block out since I was ten. The flash of red sweater as my eight year old brother dashed into the street after a ball. I tried to yell, to call him back from the disaster I saw unfolding. The flash of red disappeared under the gleaming black car.