Friday, February 12, 2010

This is true love

I remember as a child wondering 'what exactly is 'true love'.' Of course at that age its akin to spring flowers, birds singing, and butterflies in your tummy. I remember a friends older sister who dated the same boy all through high school. They were always making goo-goo eyes at each other, holding hands and writing love letters into the wee hours of the morn. Okay, I shouldn't tell you this, but one night we snuck into her room, opened up the box she kept under the bed and read every single one of his love notes to her. Hot tamale! From that day forward I knew I wanted a love just like that.

It's not until you grow up that the cold, harsh reality sets in and you realize that true love is really all about not giving in to the urge to stuff a pillow over the face of the person that has been snoring for the past 3 nights. Oh, but we won't get into all that now, will we? After all, it is Valentine's Day and this is supposed to be about romance.

Well, today I have one that will make your heart melt.

It was the spring of 1998. An absolutely beautiful Sunday morning. I'm talkin' about one of those days that makes you feel just happy to be alive. The last of the winter snow has melted, birds are singin', flowers are bloomin' and it's warm. Warm enough to wear your favorite Lily Pulitzer skirt and to tie the cardigan of your twin set neatly around your perfectly pearled neck.

That particular Sunday, we had a visiting preacher I'll call 'Ned.'

When Ned, an elderly gentlemen, probably in his early 80's, stood up to the pulpit he proudly introduced his wife 'Julia' to the congregation. I was sitting about three rows behind and although I couldn't see Julia's face I admired her thick, beautiful, 'still-blonde-with-not-a-hint-of-silver in it' hair. She was sitting next to Wray Smith, a very beautiful, very fashionable, very proper Southern Lady that I, and every woman in the church idolized. Come to find out Miss Wray and Miss Julia had been sorority sisters at a southern university back in the 40's.

After the sermon I made my way up to say 'how do you do' to Miss Wray and introduce myself to her friend. I gently made my way through the crowd until I arrived at Wray's side. By that time she was talking to someone else so I walked around and extended my hand to our visitor.

When I came face to face with Miss Julia I was absolutely mesmerized. Here before me was a woman old enough to be my grandmother and yet her beauty rivaled that of a women in her twenties. Not only was there not a hair out of place, but her makeup was flawless. Her clothing, her jewelry, even her nails were done to perfection. I remember thinking that she looked like a queen.

"I'm so glad you could be here with us today," I said, extending my hand. She looked at me and didn't say anything, didn't offer her hand. Sort of uncomfortable. But that's okay. Some people are shy.

"My name is kathie." Still nothing. Not even a smile. Okay, officially uncomfortable. I look to Wray for help, but she is still engaged with someone else.

"How long will you be here?" I try again. This time I get a bit of a smile, but then she picks up her pocketbook and greets Ned who is now by her side, whispering something in her ear, then turning to answer a question from someone to his right. Which leaves just me and Julia, making eye contact but not saying anything. Very uncomfortable.

That encounter left me more than a little unsettled. Why was she being rude? Would it have been too much to just say 'hello.'

I have to admit that I stewed over that for most of the day. It wasn't until our small group Bible study that night that I found out as, Paul Harvey used to say...the rest of the story.

You see, Julia was in the advanced stages of Altzheimers. Her flawless makeup? Ned. Her coordinated wardrobe/jewelry? Ned. Her perfectly manicured nails? You guessed it! Ned.

Wray told me that for all of Julia's life she had been a great beauty. At the university she had been one of the most sought-after young women on campus, not only for her looks but her cheerful pleasant personality, and the kindness she showered on everyone. It's no wonder Ned took one look at her and fell head over heels in love!

Because of that enormous love and affection he made it his life's mission to keep her dignity intact. He learned to apply her makeup, do her nails, and even made sure she had her montly colorings at the salon and took her for her weekly styling appointments.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, folks. Actually, two valuable lesson. Never judge - sometimes things aren't always as they seem. But mostly I learned the meaning of a true, true love.

Happy Valentine's Day weekend to each and every one of you!



Summer is a Verb said...

I can honestly say that I have found my Ned. better start the grooming traning pronto! XXOO

English Cottage in Georgia said...

OMGoodness, your Valentine's post has me laughing at the beginning and crying at the end...such a beautiful story:-)

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

What a BEAUTIFUL STORY! Thanks for writing it, you have a way with stories, you know! That would make a good movie, or at least a chapter in one of Fannie Flagg's books!

trash talk said...

What's that old saw about not judging a book by its cover? This is a love story I would read from start to finish. I just know there would be even more beautiful stories of true love in their lives together.
As far as my true love goes...if he just keeps me in dry Depends, I'll be a happy woman.
P.S. How word verification is requiter

James said...

How wonderful.

Miss Janice said...

This IS a beautiful story. I have a childhood friend, who was once THE most beautiful girl in, she has Altzeimers. It is so sad!