She was bald due to a brain operation. Her scalp was covered with traces of little sutures, which looked like stitches of a well darned sock. She was not a beauty, but her face was homely, and her smile was lovely. Every time she smiled, her face radiated such warmth that I was strongly drawn to her.
I was a grumpy old man, and it was sort of miracle that I felt this way because I was very seldom impressed by a female, especially one who was bald and getting on in years. I was a negative kind of person and had always expected the worst to happen to me. I also neither liked nor trusted people, and I was considered a snob, which I probably was. But suddenly I wanted her to notice me, and I started looking for her company. It was not easy, she seemed to have many friends, especially at the bowling club where we played bowls and socialized in the club’s cafeteria. But I persisted and finally managed to have a dinner date with her. From there on it was plain sailing. We had a lot of fun together, going places, dancing and playing games. She was always happy to be with me, and she was a great companion. I asked her one day, “Amy, how is it that you’re always so cheerful?” She laughed, “I live for today, at our age one must be grateful for each day well spent. In my life there is no time for worries.”
I was not inclined to agree with her. After all, a prudent person must think of the future, and his declining years, and worry about the cost of medical care and the state of his bank account. But I kept quiet. Her favourite saying was, “It’s Okay.” It was OK for her if our plans to walk were put off because of bad weather. It was OK for her if we missed a flower show because my car was out of order. It was even OK when her son who lived in a different part of the country forgot her birthday. She accepted good and bad and all what came her way with the same stoic attitude and readiness to forgive or rejoice.
I fell deeply in love with her, but for a long time I was unable to tell her about my feelings because I was afraid of rejection. Loving her as I did, I often worried about her when she looked tired or bit off color, but she always laughed at my anxiety and said that she intended to live a full and happy life in spite of her, “mature age.”
Finally, I could not wait any longer and I proposed to her. To my surprise she accepted, and told me that she had loved me for a long time. I was like any young man, happy and excited. We planned to live in my old house. I was buying new sheets pillows, duvets and discussing the texture, the size and color she preferred.
I started repainting my house, planning a new garden, thinking of a new car. I was full of ideas and energy. Oh, how happy I was. Amy too was happy, but I sensed some anxiety in her. I guessed that she was waiting for her son’s reaction concerning our forthcoming wedding. Finally I decided to phone him myself, though I had never met him before.
Amy’s son sounded nice, but he thought it was unwise for his mother to get married. When I assured him that I’m in position to give her a comfortable life and all my love and care, he exclaimed, “Don’t you realize that my mother has cancer. I had never told her before because I did not want her to worry about it. She is in remission, but for how long? What’s the point of such a marriage without hope?” I was stunned by his revelation, and I got angry too. I shouted at him, “Where is love, there is hope,” and I put the receiver down.
I was now in a hurry to marry Amy as soon as possible. The wedding took place at the bowling club, and it was a very happy occasion, even though Amy’s son did not attend. Amy said it was OK with her, though for once I was not quite sure whether she was truthful.
Unfortunately, Amy’s son prediction was true. Soon after the wedding Amy’s health started deteriorating, but she tried her best to be cheerful and bright, assuring me that it’s OK to suffer a little because one appreciates better days without pain. She was so brave and convincing that I tried to follow her example and appreciate each moment of our happiness. We still laughed and joked, but when I was on my own I sometimes cried, knowing that our time together was diminishing, “Like sand in an hourglass.”
We started visiting doctors, oncologists and clinics. At last she was told the truth about her condition, and she was willing to succumb to the painful treatments. “It’s OK darling,” she would say, “I’ll get through it, no pain, no gain.”
At night I kept watching her. The illness was changing her face, she would often wake up and on seeing me sitting on her bed, she would smile her radiant smile and whisper, “Don’t be sad, I always dreamed of a love like ours, I’m so happy to be with you.”
Amy’s illness slowly progressed. She could neither read nor write. She was forgetting words; she was more and more frustrated because she could not express herself. She looked lost and I was losing contact with her. I was desperate to try and help her, and I was terrified of losing her, but I could not carry on nursing her. The day had come when I had to agree to take her away. She was taken to Hospice where she spent her last few days. I was there the night she died, holding her hand and choking with tears. I repeated her favorite saying, “It’s OK, it’s OK my darling,” over and over again.
Oh, God! It was not OK, but somehow I knew that she would hear my words, and that it would be easier for her to go. She was in a deep slumber, but suddenly I saw her face wrecked by pain and suffering begin to change, it became smooth and youthful again, and for a moment I saw her radiant smile. She was gone, but I sat for a long time holding her hand and repeated with new acceptance and gratitude, “It’s OK my love. Thank you for teaching me that whatever happens, it is as it should be.”
Image (c) Gettyimages.com