The Old Diner Couple

February 5, 2013
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“Richard, I really don’t know why you insist on us going to this diner every Sunday! It’s really unnecessary,” Martha said to her husband as he opened the door of the diner for her.
“This is the place where I met the most beautiful woman in the world: you,” Richard gave her a kiss on the cheek as she passed by him. A little bell jingled as they entered the diner.f Once inside they made their way over to their usual table by the window overlooking the tall oak tree. Sixty years ago it had been planted there, it was merely a sapling then, and the old couple had watched it every Sunday grow more and more just like their love for each other did.
“Oh Richard, I do love you,” Martha sighed and held his hand from across the table. Just then the waitress came by to take their order.
“What will it be today folks?” But when the waitress saw their faces she recognized the couple. “Well if it isn’t old Martha and Richard! I should’ve been expectin’ you here, but I had just plain forgotten it was Sunday! How are the two love birds on this fine afternoon?”
“Oh we’re just fine, Betty,” Martha smiled. “You’re looking well today.”
“As well as can be expected at fifty,” Betty huffed and shook her head. “I still can’t believe you two have been together for sixty years! If only my husband and I were as passionate for each other as you two are. Let me guess…the usual?” Martha and Richard nodded simultaneously. “Right then, I’ll be right out with your order.”
When Betty had retreated back to the counter, Richard and Martha turned their attention back to each other. They sat in comfortable silence, staring into each other’s eyes, hands interlocked, until Betty returned ten minutes later with Richard’s two eggs and ham and Martha’s chocolate-chip pancakes. Betty also carried on her tray two glasses of orange juice.
“You know, it’s been quite a day here today,” Betty chattered excitedly. “About twenty minutes ago a little boy came in here, runnin’ away he was. Joanne talked to him a bit and before long, the Troopers were here to collect him! Oh, it was so excitin’!” Richard and Martha only nodded and smiled; they were used to her ramblings every time they came to the diner. “You two enjoy your meal. And happy anniversary!” Betty clapped her hands together with a grin and then scurried away.
Richard and Martha began to eat their weekly brunch, talking all the while about little things; how the neighbors were doing, whether they should get new curtains for the parlor, if Martha should continue her gardening because she has been feeling a little under the weather lately. But while they were chatting, Richard couldn't help but notice a beautiful young lady sitting by herself a few tables down. She was crying a little and right in front of her on the table laid a little black box. Richard knew what it was, since he had bought a very similar thing sixty years ago for the love of his life, Martha. Suddenly the girl looked up and caught him staring at her. She wiped her eyes and stood up in a frantic. She began to leave the diner, taking the engagement ring with her, but as she passed the table in which Richard and Martha were seated she faltered for a moment and looked at them.
Martha looked up at the young woman and smiled. “Hello, dear. My, what a stunning girl you are! And that lovely blonde hair…the man who winds up with you will have to be quite a man.” Martha winked and looked at Richard who smiled and squeezed her hand. The girl looked down at her feet in deep thought. But after a minute she looked up again, her face bright and shining with happiness.
“Thank you,” She beamed and continued towards the door in a hurry.
Martha watched the girl leave wistfully. “I wish we were as young as her again.”
“I don’t wish that, Martha. I have enjoyed everyday I've spent with you. Growing old together has been the highlight of my life,” Richard’s old mouth curved in love. But Martha didn’t smile back. She sank back in her seat and it was then that Richard noticed she had hardly touched her food. “What’s wrong, my love?”
Martha breathed heavily and said, “I’m just tired I guess. It’s been a long day.”
“The day has hardly started. This isn’t like you…maybe we should go see a doctor.” Richard started to get up but Martha pulled him back down gently.
“No, Richard. I want to stay here. We’ve spent every Sunday here since the day we met, and I’m certainly not going to let a little drowsiness take that away from us. Maybe if I had a little water-” All of a sudden Martha was on the floor, her hand to her heart. Richard flew to her side.
“Somebody call 911!! Betty! Joanne!”
“Betty I just got this letter in the mail. Come quick! It’s from Martha and Richard!” Joanne shouted and Betty came running to her side, wiping her hands on her apron.
“It’s a good thing we haven’t opened the diner up yet; I’m a mess!” Betty muttered under her breath. “So, what does it say?”
Joanne read silently, her eyes darting across the letter. “It was written the day before they died. Here, read it for yourself.” Joanne handed it to Betty and she read aloud:
To our dearest friends,
We thank you for all the kindness and hospitality you have shown us over the years. You two old gals are one of a kind, truly. I regret to tell you that Martha is dying, as am I. After Martha’s heart attack last week, she has been quickly deteriorating. And in turn, I feel old for the first time in my life. My Martha will be going soon and I won’t be long after her. So inside this letter I’ve enclosed a copy of part of Martha’s and my will. It was Joanne’s parents who owned the place when we met, and they were very kind to us. We’re so happy you were able to keep your family’s diner going, Joanne; it has brought so many people together over the years. Friendship, love, and happiness are what you bring to all your customers here in this old town. Choosing your friend Betty to help run the diner with you was a very wise choice. We couldn’t be more proud of you two; you’re like daughters to us. We hope our donation will be of help to your cause there at the diner. Promise us you won’t abandon it? Coming to your diner is a very special experience for everyone. Thank you for everything. I’m sure we’ll see each other again someday.
Richard and Martha
Could you reserve our table every Sunday at ten? Remember, it’s two eggs and ham for me and chocolate chip pancakes for Martha.

“Wow,” Betty wiped her eyes on her sleeve. “They were like one, those two. I still can’t believe they both died the same night in each other’s arms.”
“They couldn’t live a day without each other,” Joanne whispered. The two women stood in silence for a few minutes, both overcome with grief. Then all of a sudden there was a pounding on the door.
“Hello! Are you open yet?” A woman’s voice came from outside in which the sun had hardly risen yet. Betty smoothed out her apron and then hurried to the door and unlocked it.
“Come in, come in!” Betty opened the door wide for the woman. Then she noticed there was a man with her as well. Betty also noticed after a second that she recognized the couple. “Weren’t you in here the other week?” The girl nodded. “Rachel is it?” Rachel nodded again. She looked as if she were about to burst from excitement. “Now let’s see…there is something different about you. I just can’t put my finger on it.” Rachel laughed and ran her left hand through her hair dramatically, letting her hand linger in the air for a while.
“Is that a ring I see on that finger?” Joanne shouted from across the empty diner.
“It sure is!” Rachel said proudly.
“Oh how excitin’! But oh no, I’ve clear forgotten your name, honey. I’m gettin’ old I’m afraid,” Betty gave a small laugh and the man next to Rachel smiled.
“It’s Jack,” Jack said softly, pulling Rachel next to his side.
“I have a feeling we just met the next Richard and Martha,” Joanne whispered to Betty and the two old women laughed as they pulled the newly engaged couple into a warm embrace only old diner girls can give.

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