In the small village where I live, in the Northern Cariboo, there are two people in their late seventies, Jeff and Harriet. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Jeff was so shy that he could hardly look you in the face to say, “Good Morning”, and that in a voice barely above a whisper. Always impeccably dressed in shirt and tie and aging dark blue suit, he would keep to himself. Jeff had faithfully nursed his ailing wife for many years. She suffered with a mental handicap that made her fearful of going outside her home, and then it was discovered she had cancer. Jeff cared for her through thick and thin, and Flo died in his arms about a year ago. Jeff retreated back into his house, his very shyness made it difficult for village folk to reach out to him.
Harriet is very gregarious, always having people over, making pies and cookies and taking them to newcomers in town, teaching Sunday School and enjoying the outdoor life with her husband Walter. So it came as a sudden and devastating shock 18 months ago when Walter had a stroke and died.
The village rallied around Harriet and the men would take turns shovelling snow or chopping wood for her, and other manly tasks. However there were strict parameters given by Harriet in order for her to feel comfortable receiving this help. She insisted that the men bring their wives because she was concerned for her reputation. She had a peep hole put in her front door so she could tell if there were any men knocking on her door after dark.
When she first told me this I could not help smirking to myself. “Long time since you were a Playboy Centrefold”, I thought. After all most of us in the village are over 55.
Last Thanksgiving, Harriet, as it is her custom, looked around to see who she could invite for dinner, she decided on Jeff, but she was careful to invite others also, who could be chaperones. As a single woman inviting a man into the house just wasn’t done.
I didn’t hear too much of either of them until this Spring when we attended a local yard sale. There they were together, inspecting the goods for sale. Jeff actually extended his hand to my husband and smiled a “Good Morning”. This we felt was real progress.
Ten days ago I went to town and was loading groceries into the truck when I see Harriet across the parking lot. She gestured to me to come over. I should have guessed from her pink, excited face, that something of major proportions were about to be shared.
“Jeff and I are getting married”, she said coyly, a smile practically splitting her face in two.
I was so happy for them, I felt tears come into my eyes. “When are you getting married?”, I asked.
She just brushed it off saying, “We have a few details to tidy up yet, and we have to find a preacher man”.
So yesterday, on the village grapevine, we learned that they had slipped out of the village without telling anyone and got married the very next day.
I was thinking this morning that there would be more than rocking chairs a-rockin' in that little house down in the village tonight. I wish them all the happiness in the world, however long that may be. One is never too old to fall in love.