Veteran Hole News readers may recall stories about my high school sweetheart Barb; how we first met and how we renewed our romance. As I write, Barb lies near death, victim of a stroke.
We were 15 when we first dated. The romance was brief. Within three months she left me for my best friend–a Tennessee Waltz thing. I was surprised to find her 72 years later at Chris Jensen nursing home, where I walked the halls with my Elsie. Barb was alert; mobile on her walker. I paused often on our rounds to chat with Barb. We laughed over the foibles of youth and sighed over the trials of old age.
Elsie died in February, 2009. I returned to Chris Jensen occasionally to lead chapels and visit friends, including Barb. Our growing friendship prompted an evening out at a restaurant where son Kevin was entertaining. I called it a geezer prom and invited friends. I bought Barb a corsage. The staff dressed her beautifully. Cameras flashed as we left for our first date.
On a whim, I had phoned the News Tribune to report I was dating a girl I last dated 72 years earlier. A reporter and photographer showed up. The paper gave the story generous space and we had our 15 minutes of fame. Over the next months we enjoyed haunts of our youth and reflecting on our lives. I wrote Barb often during my Tucson winters.
In June, 2013, when I was allegedly dying, Barb visited me in the hospital. She cried and said, “Lloyd, you can’t die. You promised to take me fishing.” Maybe that’s what gave me the reprieve that led to six weeks of rehab at Chris Jensen. Barb and I visited each day.
Our times together grew less frequent after rehab, as I worked to regain mobility and strength. After my Tucson hiatus, visits resumed. I began to note Barb’s decreasing alertness and mobility. Last Wednesday, word came of her stroke.
I found Barb able to move but unable to swallow. I could detect no awareness of my presence. Today, on my third visit, I held her hand, prayed, and kissed her goodbye. We’ll hold the memorial service at Chris Jensen chapel. Kevin will sing. I will tell about God’s abiding love in Christ Jesus, and how grateful I am that his grace reunited two old codgers for companionship, brightening their final months together with ribbons of memory.
Old Grandpa Lloyd