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One winter afternoon, two young lovers walked out of a doctor’s office building in a small town in northern Michigan. They seemed giddy and were holding hands. The woman placed her arm around her bulging lower abdomen and smiled up and her husband with excitement. He smiled back at her, put his free hand over her stomach as well, and then kissed her on the lips.
Across the street from the doctor’s building, a tiny Victorian style house sat quietly with a light smoke rising from its chimney. Yellow paint was chipping from the walls, and snow covered the roof, lawn, and naked life-less trees surrounding the house. Upon the white-painted wooden porch, sat an elderly man and woman. They were bundled up in hand made blankets and sipping warm apple cider to keep the cold out of every part of their old, fragile bodies.
“George?” The old woman spoke to her husband without taking her eyes off the young couple as they walked to their car.
“Yes, Mildred?” He asked her calmly.
“Do you remember when we were that young?”
The old man took a soundless sip from his apple cider. “Yes darling. How could I forget?”
“Remember when we met? How young and fresh the air was! It was spring you know.”
“Ah, yes…the spring when were in our last year of high school. Right before I joined the army. How could I forget, Mildred?”
The young married couple had gotten in their car and revved up the engine. The old woman sighed as they drove away.
“We fell in love that summer. While you were training, we spent as much time together as humanly possible. Then you went off to battle, and I went off to college.”
“But we never lost contact. All those letters we wrote to each other…I have them up in the attic in a box. If only our old bones could let us up there.” They both chuckled then were soon silenced by a light wind sweeping across their porch.
“We were married by time of next year’s summer. Remember how you proposed to me?” The old woman smiled and sighed, shifting her cider mug from one hand to the other, an attempt to keep them both warm. “Oh, how happy my mother was.”
“How happy we were,” the old man added.
“Oh, and how wild we were! Going to parties every weekend, drinking, swinging to big band music, and living in the summer heat. Back when love really meant lust, and we took everything for granted.”
“London, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona,” The old man smiled. “we traveled until we had barely enough money to make it back home. We were lucky I didn’t get in trouble for traveling from the army.”
“Actually, Dear, we did run out of money. Remember writing letters to your parents from Scotland, asking for enough money to get us to New York, the cheapest way possible?” The old woman laughed. “How irresponsible we were!”
“Then Lucy.” The old man smiled. “right after our traveling, before I was sent back to the army, towards the end of the summer, god gave us Lucy, and we had no idea what to do. She was born that next spring.”
“I thought we weren’t ready for her. But when I saw those tiny hands, I knew we couldn’t have it any other way. She was meant to be with us.
“Oh, how beautiful she was. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” The old man put his finished cup off apple cider on a small table next to him. A light snow started to make its way to the house roof tops.
“I wish you were there to see her being born. But you were injured a year later, and sent home. You started working for the Ford motor company, while I stayed at home with Lucy. Once you got back, I became pregnant and had Daniel, then John came, and you had to get a double shift. I hated those days.”
“Hated?” The old man asked.
“You were gone all the time. I thought I was hard enough raising Lucy that first year with you in the army, but raising all three of them by myself, while you worked all day, all week, and our only family time was Sunday service. I never felt so alone in my life.”
“I’m sorry, my darling. I had no idea it was a hard time for you.” He turned to his wife, then touched her hand. “I tried to be the best father I could be.”
The old woman sighed. “I know darling, I know. All three of them grew up so fast. When John decided to join the military, I just about nearly had a heart attack.”
“I was so proud of him,” the old man smiled. “My boy going off to war, just like his pop…if only we knew then.”
“Once he got back, everything was so different. You weren’t working any longer, and John had to live with us ‘cause he couldn’t support himself.” The old woman paused for a second. She bit her lower lip to keep tears from coming out of her forest green eyes. “I remember him screaming late at night, George. Waking us up at two in the morning to tell us the bombs were going to explode…We shouldn’t of let him go to Vietnam, George, never should have.” She wiped one rebellious tear from her eye.
“The year the John died, was the year Lucy had our first grandchild.” The old man tried not to remember that John went crazy and killed himself. He shook his dead of the thought. “It was in the fall. Lucy named our granddaughter, Autumn, after the season. She brought joy back into all of our lives. If only John lived to see her.”
“Being a grandparent has been so rewarding, George. After Autumn, Lucy had Ben, and Daniel got married and had Darrell, Megan, Rodger and John JR.” The old woman smiled again. “All those wonderful memories, Holidays, especially Thanksgiving, watching them grow and blossom into teenagers, then graduate. All of them are so intelligent. Lucy and Daniel raised them so well. Now they are off to college, starting their own lives, own adventures, mistakes, and memories.”
The old man stared across the street. “Then one winter they will be sitting on a porch with the love of their life, talking about their lives.” The old man sighed again. A cold breeze danced through the porch and made the old couple shiver.
“Let’s go inside Mildred. My feet are getting cold,” the old man said gently to his wife.
“Mine are too, darling, mine too.”