Empty bobbins are moments in life where we pause and reflect. It’s like when your bobbin runs out in the middle of a project, and you have to pause everything you’re doing to reload. Here’s one such reflective moment.
Mr. S’s Love
Years ago, my kids and I were walking around the curve in our previous neighborhood, which is mostly retired people, when I waved to two older gentlemen talking in a front yard. Their conversation ended as we passed, and one man, now referred to as Mr. S, walked over to say hello to us. We all said hello, and I pointed to our house. He said he remembered when we moved in that we didn’t have kids. I made a comment about no adult supervision, and then he asked if the kids liked candy.
Was it mean that I immediately thought he was going to offer us a Werther’s Original hard candy?
I mentioned we had enough Easter candy, but he seemed eager, so I finally capitulated and accepted his offer of some mints and chocolate covered raisins. And I do love some chocolate covered raisins. He invited us up to the house.
I’d noticed his house before. It was newer and looked very nice and quaint from the outside. It was certainly in a different league from my 1978 doodoo brown ranch house. He opened a side door into the kitchen, and we walked in. (I’ll add I wasn’t too worried about safety as Mr. S lived alone and was 86 years old. Pretty sure I could take him if need be.) Here’s where the moment became more than just candy and mints.
You see, Mr. S was a widower, a fact he shared with me as we entered the house. He said his wife had passed away about six years ago, and they had been married for 56 years. He said, “When you’ve been married for that long, you kinda get used to one another.” I know our younger family reminds our older neighbors of that period in their lives sometimes, so I smiled and figured that seeing me with my 3 year old and 1 year old reminded him of his own family. But later he informed me they had no children.
And then, he proceeded to show off the house. He said his wife had had it built, and that she had passed not long after it was finished. He commented, “She built me a house and then left me” more than once. He mentioned her constantly, too. At times, it even sounded like he was fussing at her for leaving him, but in a good-natured way.
I’ll admit it – the house was perfect. It was just what I would have designed for myself: wainscoting, high ceilings, large kitchen, sun porch, butler’s pantry – elegant but not pretentious. He showed us all around the bottom floor, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. I mean, yes, the house was gorgeous, but we’d come over for candy and mints. I hadn’t commented on the house much at all. Certainly not enough to warrant a tour.
As we walked, I saw pictures of his wife were everywhere. There were pictures of her when she was younger at the early part of their marriage all the way to gray haired dame. And yet, she still didn’t look “old” at the most recent picture I saw. The house looked very sophisticated and decorated, and I figured it hadn’t changed much since she’d gotten it set the way she wanted. And then it hit me as to why we were getting a tour.
Mr. S was proud of his wife. He was bragging on her, even six years after she’d died he was still beaming with pride. Every detail of the house was attributed her good taste and ability. I’d never met Mrs. S, but her presence was everywhere in that home. If I had walked in without Mr. S there to narrate, I’d have assumed she was still very much alive. The house just felt…complete. It didn’t feel like an 86 year old widower lived there. That house was just as much Mrs. S’s today as it was 6 years ago when it was finished in time for her to pass on.
I suppose it’s a good thing that Mr. and Mrs. S had gotten used to each other after all that time because it’s clear she isn’t leaving him any time soon.
Of course, this was several years ago. I have since learned of Mr. S’s own passing. And while it was sad to know that such a kindly old man wouldn’t be waving at us from his yard anymore or offering mints and chocolate covered raisins, I couldn’t help but smile a little because I knew he was finally back with Mrs. S.