His hands were calloused and leathery, probably from years of manual labor. They reached confidently for the cookies and juice offered to blood donors in the post-donation “canteen”. He was obviously relishing the unlimited supply of sugary snacks. Sitting nearby, his wife gently scolded that he was perhaps a little too fond of the treats and should cease partaking at once. He glanced up and winked at me, letting me know that all was well, and promptly complied with his wife’s request.
Her face was weary, yet peaceful, a juxtaposition that struck me as odd at the time. She gazed at her husband with the familiarity of one long known and long loved, and even her chiding was overlaid with warmth. He even seemed to enjoy her fussing, perhaps as the deepest evidence of her devotion. There were no other words between them; they merely sat companionably and radiated love between them throughout the remainder of their required time in the canteen,
I observed this couple at the Red Cross in my hometown nearly thirty years ago and have never forgotten the aura of love permeating the room because of them. Part of me desperately wanted to know their story. I imagined them farming together, enduring the vagaries of the seasons of the earth along with the twists and turns of life. I wondered if some unspeakable sadness drove them closer, rather than apart as it does many couples. Did they have children and grandchildren or hobbies they enjoyed? Were they planning to retire and travel around the country?
Of course, my questions remain unanswered, and perhaps that is best. Maybe it is enough to recall the love they shared and to know that it was real.