He sat on the dock watching the sunset descend behind the tall pine trees across the lake. Waves slapped the dock as boats passed by, creating a slight breeze.
It had been forty-seven years ago today that he had proposed to his wife, Maureen. She had spread out a red and white checkered tablecloth, two wine glasses, napkins, and plates from her wicker picnic basket. Sal could smell the feast she had prepared before she set it before him: fried chicken, cole slaw, biscuits, homemade jam, and her prize winning fresh baked peach pie.
The first time Sal met Maureen was at the spring dance. She was dancing with another local boy from the county. Her smile lit up the room. All eyes were upon the couple on the dance floor, including his. Her auburn hair cascaded over her shoulders, swaying as the couple moved to the music. Then she turned toward him, her hazel eyes sparkling, giving him a quick nod. He hadn’t planned on dancing, but he wasn’t going to let this gal go. He knew from the moment his eyes met hers, she would be his forever. It was love at first sight.
The couple spent every free hour together for the next two weeks. Sal was mesmerized by her every word, move. Even though they hadn’t been together long, he knew they would spend a lifetime together. He asked her father if he could have Maureen’s hand in marriage.
The next year, they had their first of three children and couldn’t be happier. Sal had a great job at the local sawmill and they were building their first home. Maureen would be at the front door waiting for him to return from work each night, giving him a kiss before he entered. When he walked through the door, the aromas of a home cooked meal filled his heart knowing they were cooked with love.
Their life together was filled with family, three wonderful children and grandkids. Sal had retired a few years back. The days were now spent rocking in their chairs on the front porch watching vehicles drive past. It was difficult going to town, the children’s homes, or to the diner. Maureen could no longer cook meals. Her memory had been fading slowly and was now to the point where she didn’t know who Sal was most days. It wouldn’t be long before he could no longer care for her properly. She would have to be placed in the local nursing home.
Sal would go to the nursing home each day and sit by Maureen’s side, holding her hand when she would let him. Often, she thought he was a doctor or another patient. She didn’t know the kids anymore. Then cancer struck. It wasn’t long before she passed. They had a discussion about how each wanted to be buried or cremated many years prior. Sal honored her wishes.
He continued watching the sunset for a bit longer, still reminiscing. He poured himself a glass of red wine and watched a young couple row a boat toward him, laughing and smiling at each other. Sal reached into the picnic basket and gently lifted out the urn. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he kissed the outside, opened the lid, and let the ashes slide out into the lake. He whispered, “It won’t be long now before we are together again my sweet love.”
Roxe Anne Peacock
This story is dedicated to all who have been affected by a loved one with this debilitating disease. My grandmother, all her siblings, cousins, and her children, including my mother, Dorothy, had Alzheimer’s. I have one aunt still living in a nursing home. It is a difficult time for all watching her go through this disease.