While searching the room through his gaze, his attention paused at the flower vase. Flowers made Tim think of Jane. His harpy wife who had died 20 years ago after a short illness of multiple sclerosis. Tim was thankful that she passed off without much ado because their marriage wasn’t upholding its buoyancy since many years and also, he didn’t want to strive hard (read care much) for his ailing wife.
Tim was a male chauvinist. He never did anything around the house, especially any house chores or running errands or even taking care of his only son. That he always thought was a job for women.
Now, in his late 50’s retired hurt and staying at an old age home, he was bitter and painstakingly sluggish in his daily life and routine. Life was not looking up at all and there was no respite from this heavily guarded loneliness. His only son John had tried to get rid of him early on just like Tim had tried to brush away Jane. Life had come full circle for Tim and now cold and lonely, he sat in his chilly aloofness, thinking hard about his past and present.
Outside it was snowing lightly and the dim Chicago morning, was giving him pangs of depression. Though the room was warm and quiet, an aching quest filled his thoughts.
What does life hold for me now? What is the purpose of staying alone and aloof in this deprecating old age home, at this juncture of life? He questioned himself!
Suddenly he wanted to be taken care of and be protected. And the lack of it, the hopelessness of it, made him sink.
But then, a few days later, he met someone special! Let us call her Susan. She was an Irish beauty who had come as a caretaker and administrator of the old age house and taken up the responsibilities wholeheartedly. Though in her late forties, she was a beauty, with Irish peach skin paired with a little dash of makeup!
Tim was immediately stirred. He looked at her and immediately thought, what a pretty woman she is! I hope to talk to her a lot, someday! Yes, he suddenly wanted to talk and be talked to! A greediness for life started coming back in jitters.
His abandoned world did not seem like an abyss anymore, rather a ray of godliness light was seeming to burst in all its grandeur. Day after day, Tim would watch Susan carry out her responsibilities around the old house with elan. An infatuation, an attraction was building up its skeletal structure around him. Every day, he would plan and mar, the idea of an interaction with the lady, he would pump up his frail masculine mind to make the first important move. “Hi! This is Tim Allen” he hesitatingly introduced himself, the first time he came face to face with Susan at the recreation night at the old age home.
Susan was a dedicated worker with more energy than anyone else around. Her strong vibrant aura was gregarious and contagious, her sweet caring smile, therapeutic! Though always moving around the old age house, this was the first time ever, she noticed Tim.
“Hi, so glad to meet you Tim! Hope you’re enjoying the recreation night” she exclaimed, Tim nodded in affirmation. Susan moved ahead swiftly to greet others and look over the arrangements for the planned event. Tim was mesmerized. His thoughts about “women” were changing and so were the crass assumptions he had about marriage. He was changing! His chauvinism was melting away and a rationality, humility combined with a longing for a soulmate was peeking in through those crevices of old age. A love bud was braving his dilapidated framework and the cold shivers of Chicago winters; trying to bloom in serenity and serendipity.
He was falling in love with Susan! For the first time in his life, he understood the need and respect for a life partner. What is a soulmate and why do you need one? Somewhere, Tim was feeling blessed to have found one! The chosen one, who will share her life with him. The prettiest women ever, who will expand her horizons to adjust Tim inside it, and Tim who would be part of her days, nights, sleep, dreams, desires, and anticipations. These utopian feelings did not make him cringeworthy, he was rather feeling confident towards his future love.
He started being more around Susan. Talking to her more about everything and growing more familiar with each other in every meet. And each such meet was fanning his vanities even more for her.
Susan who was completely unaware of these brewing emotions, carried on, while discharging duties with aplomb. But the love affair did start making its ripples. Supposedly, Tim had become gregarious and started sharing his heart’s content with his fellow house mates. The word of mouth is the best form of advertisement and travels faster than lightening. As expected, the grapevine reached Susan’s ears and she was astounded to hear everything.
There is no fire without smoke and to expedite the truth, she immediately reached Tim’s room and questioned his sincerity regarding the uproar. “What is your purpose of creating this commotion? How much do you know me, to love me?”
Susan questioned him.
Tim was not surprised. He was aware that this was upcoming and appeared calmer than usual. A zeal of love, life and prudence had enveloped him, engrossed him. “I love you Susan! ”. He spoke with poise, without a fear of failure. Love had persuaded him to commit, to bend and become unprejudiced.
Susan grew swollen, pale. She looked into Tim’s eyes and her heart moved. Something that Tim had said, brought tears to her eyes. The rage melted and gave way to unreasonable grief. Fearing that her cracking voice would display her emotions, Susan left the room immediately. Tim followed her, into her office and sat beside her, sinking in a chair. She looked appalled. Tim continued “listen, I’m sorry that the news reached you like a grapevine, but my love isn’t a facade. I am sure about this! You have the power to expel my loneliness and create a haven of life for me. Please be my doorway” he said.
Susan broke into a bitter cry, hiding her face, behind her slender fingers, “what’s wrong?” Tim asked, surprised at her reaction. “You don’t know, about me…..I have a lump in my breast, that’s malignant. Possibly, I will not live for more than a few years. I keep myself bright and chirpy so that my deteriorating health doesn’t give away” she spoke with slight pauses.
Without a thought, Tim walked closer, held her hand and comforted her, “life has not been fair for both of us, now I’ve found you, I will love you forever and defy death. My question remains unchanged, please marry me! Please” Tim bent down on his knees and extended an arm for proposal. Suddenly his pale disposition had a virile feel laden with emotions. Calm tears rolled down his eyes too.
She took his hand and cried with him, as both hugged for the very first time. The scent of the nape of her neck, the haven of safe loving arms around him, surged his pulse.
“I never thought I would say this to anyone, I love you Susan”, his voice choked.
“Tim, tell me again” she commanded for the first time.
“I love you very much, please come into my life and richly bless me” Tim repeated his words.
And he kissed her lightly on the lips. She pulled him closer and pressed him harder putting arms around him. This was the first-time kiss for real. Amidst the pleasure suddenly, he paused, his attention halted at the flower vase, kept at the end of the room. Flowers made Tim think of Jane. His harpy wife who had died 20 years ago. He loosened his grip over Susan and moved back, sinking into a seat, and started to talk.
“You know Susan, I was married for 10 years and they weren’t the best years of my life. Now that I look back, I realize, she was not harpy, she was rather lenient and subdued, frustrated at my indifference as a husband and father. I remained a bigot all my life and when she fell terminally ill, I became indifferent. Why, did I let her go so easily?” he broke into a sob and continued.
“I was such a loser, male chauvinist pig, who undermined his wife all her life”. He spoke.
Susan gently cradled her hand into his, listening heartily. Tim continued, “You know Susan, that girl loved flowers, but I never gifted them to her. She would even insist for them on birthdays and anniversaries, but I never bothered to care! I never cared for her!” Tim sobbed bitterly hiding his face in his hands.
He couldn’t talk, but his overwhelmed heart didn’t let him stop, he continued, “But after meeting you, I realized what does it mean to love someone? Is marriage just a thing? I realized that I am transitioning as a person and now that I have found you, whatever will happen to me, will be vital and significant. I will share my days and nights, my moments and memories with you, and your love will recuperate me with life’s happiness!! I am going to be a better husband to you because of the woman I lost, early in my life. So, I’ll be the experienced one of the lot and this will surely work for you” he ended the sentence on a little lighter note.
There was a moment of silence, then Tim again said, “I need you Susan, I need you! You cannot die, you have to live for me! I’m going to make you well!” What Susan and Tim needed at that time was each other and they got it!
They both pulled each other tightly and felt comforted. “It’s been all too much, hasn’t it Tim?” Susan said. “I want to live too and live for you now. Please don’t ever let me go” she murmured in his arms. They both had decided to get married, the very next day. And that was just the beginning!!
It was a one-of-a-kind ceremonial marriage at the old age home. A bridegroom in his dilapidated fifty’s, beaming in anticipation and a bride who is terminally ill from the inside but trying to bloom and gamble with life. And boy, did they live together? Was this marriage meant to be? Yes, it was, because there’s no boon bigger than true companionship, there’s no healing greater than love.
Last week, the couple celebrated their 10th marriage anniversary with all the housemates of the old age house with much pomp and galore. Clearly, not just Susan survived the malignancy, she was a jubilant healthy ever so pampered wife. Every year, Tim showers her with gifts and her favorite flowers to celebrate each special moment ….to celebrate a loved life!!
‘This post is written for StorytellersBlogHop FEB 2021 by Ujjwal ( https://mywordsmywisdom.com/short-story-about-happiness/ ) & MeenalSonal ( https://www.auraofthoughts.com/search/label/Short%20Stories )’.