She moved slowly, deliberately, cautiously with her husband. His balance was imperfect, there was no rush. Helping others was something inherent to her core nature, one knew there was no other possibility. It took a few minutes to negotiate the step and to navigate to the picnic table. He pointed to the pasta, the salad, telling her what he thought he’d like in a hoarse, raspy voice. She nodded and helped him push his walker to an empty chair where they could both sit down. The space was confined, busy, full of party-goers. She moved the walker out of the way, and went to get them each something to eat.
When she brought the plates back, they ate together quietly, taking part in the conversation around the weathered coffee table sparingly. The advantage ours, their place here so obvious, ours a mystery. Eating together quietly, something familiar and well suited to a married couple in their 90’s. Finishing, he sought a quieter area of the party. She followed, helping clear the path.
Later, I would find my friend, her son, sitting with them having a quiet conversation. I joined their conversation. It was a perfect day, sunny and warm, but neither bright nor hot. A soft breeze tickling the ash trees overhead, a peaceful place for a slower pace. The introductions were made. Small talk exchanged. A retired school teacher, she loved many children and enjoyed many summer breaks, and actively took part in a rambling conversation.
Her granddaughter appeared, the ebbing party had been to honor her graduation. The grandmother’s old face, full of the wisdom bought by years, beamed bright, spilling a glimpse of her own youth as if through a small crack in the veil of time. “I am blessed with four beautiful granddaughters,” she said. Honest. Succinct. I witnessed her joy in this proud moment as it so clearly shone through her eyes and warm understated smile. This briefest moment accounted for and captured in a photograph, a family history made.
Copyright © 2014 Eric A. Schweitz