She stood at the kitchen counter slicing food for dinner while he watched her from his perch on an old wooden stool with green legs that he took with him wherever he went. He smiled as he watched her and played with some magnetic balls on the table with one hand while the other rubbed his neck.
He was dressed in his usual comfortable jeans with an old, homey t-shirt with an out-of date political slogan emblazoned on the front. His socks were rather loud, an argyle in fact, but warm and comfy on his tired old feet. Freshly bathed and groomed, as groomed as a naturally almost hairless man need be, he seemed cheerful but troubled.
She noticed his hand on his neck, a sure sign of tension, and asked “Is something bothering you Dear?” in a voice that left no doubt in a hearers mind that she felt nothing but affection for the old man before her.
“I am not bothered.” He replied, “…just don’t get it.”
Long training at keeping a perfect poker-face kept the hitch fro her voice, this conversation had been repeated many times before; she prayed, as much as it hurt her, that it would be repeated many more… or something like that.
“Do you need to get it?” she asked, trying a new approach.
“Well, no, I guess I don’t.” He re-lied, “I mean it is not like it is something bad I want to get, I like that you take such good care of me, treat me so nice.” He smiled at her, “Just don’t get it. It is not like I help you, I like it here but I don’t understand why I don’t have to work like the people on the television.” He shrugged, guess if I don’t get it I might stop doing what I am doing to deserve it.” He paused for so long she thought he had drifted into other thoughts. “ I wouldn’t like that.” He finally said softly, and went back to smiling and playing with the Buckey balls as she fought back sudden tears.
She tried, but she could not leave him in uncertainty, not because it might build up into a “bad day”, but because she loved him, and wanted the rest of his life as happy as possible, he deserved that much. “You have already earned it!” she said with warmth, you … used to be a person who helped many people understand things, you gave to others, and you wanted nothing but to love them all.” She faltered, “You ‘did that which you should have done and you did not that which you should not have done’. Don’t let it worry you; it makes me happy to make you happy, period, o.k.?”
He smiled brightly, “okay!” he said. There was a short silence, then, “But, why are you crying now?” he asked with his eyes welling up in sympathetic response. “Because I am sad I cannot give you back what it was that earned all this for you.” She said waving at the home around them. “And why I am here with you; I always will be.”
He said with a smile in his eyes, “I am happy, and I love you ‘Baby Girl’.”
He paused.” why do you like that name, anyway? You are an old woman, well, 60 at least!” He pondered. “Maybe, I say it because it tastes right in my mouth, ‘Baby Girl’!”
“But,” he said, “If I did good things, and we have all this because of it, isn’t that a good thing?” “And I don’t want to be that again if it means having to make my head hurt and worry, like you do.” He looked uncertain. “I really did all that stuff that you do… and real good?” He grinned, ‘Oh, the horror’ he said in a mocking voice,” I am the lucky one. I like simple. I must have won a prize or something”
Rinsing some glasses to cover her emotions she then turned and smiled at him. “Don’t worry about ‘getting it’ anymore, that is my job now, your job is to be my husband, and to be loved.”
She wiped her hands on the dish towel. “If you can wait a few minutes on dinner I need to go to the ladies room, I will be right back.” He nodded brightly, engrossed in whether a fly would find the escape of an open window; without seeming to look he swatted her on the bottom as she passed, and her pace quickened though she smiled; he began making bets with himself about the fly in different accents, his worries gone.
She made it to the bathroom and managed to lock the door and even run some water in the sink to cover the noise before she began to cry, but dinner was late that evening; he did not mind, he had found a re-run of Dancing with the Stars to critique.