On a Tuesday Betty sat in the passenger’s seat of her car in our driveway. Her husband, Bob, was behind the wheel. They took our Netflix DVD (we share an account) and drove home. On Wednesday, she became unresponsive at her kitchen table. She suffered a stroke.
On Friday, she was in the ICU for a short time. Nothing could be done.
She went back to her room.
On Sunday afternoon she rubbed Bob’s hand several times and then passed away. She was 86.
We were friends with Bob and Betty for 15 years. We had come to the Adirondacks in 1999, not to camp, but to enjoy a cottage by a lake. The cottage, The Gazebo, belonged to Bob and Betty. It was at the end of that week that Mariam announced that we were going to buy a house…on a lake.
We did. They remained friends since.
I read her obituary today in the local newspaper. It said that she married her life-long sweetheart of 83 years. Wait a minute. That must be a misprint. She passed away at 86 and her “lifelong sweetheart” went back 83 years?
Mistake, I said to myself. Bad editing. Bad fact-checking.
Then I remembered. I remembered the story Bob told us about 14 years ago. He was several years older than she. He knew her all her life, he said. That’s something people say all the time. “I’ve loved that place all my life”, “I’ve been like this all my life”, “I knew her all my life.”
But this was no cliché. It was true. Bob was a little boy when Betty’s mother gave birth to a girl, 86 years ago…at home. Bob stood across the room and watched as this girl was delivered. They named her Elizabeth.
They grew up together. They married. They’ve known each other all her life.
How many people can say that…and mean every word?
My heart breaks for Bob. How often does it happen that one buries a wife 86 years after seeing her come into the world.
Alpha and Omega.