Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Measure of Love
I have to confess that this is a repost of a comment that I left on another blog. But I wanted to post something to get the taste of the mail-order bride post out of my mouth, and this was the story to do it. And, hey, as an extra bonus, it was already written. Sorry, T and W.
This is a true story. It happened the final time that Judi and I ate at Wolfie's, the wonderful delicatessen that was in Miami Beach for almost fifty years. It was a melancholy meal to begin with, because it was the last day the restaurant was to be open. It was in 2002, and the man who had started it and run it had just died, and his sons had sold the place out so it could be flattened and a high-rise condo could be built on the spot. But at the table next to us they seated a very elderly woman and man. The man clearly had Alzheimers. Just as clearly, they had been there many, many times. The waitress didn't even offer them menus.
"I want spaghetti," the old man told the waitress.
"Honey," said the old woman gently, "you don't like spaghetti."
"I want spaghetti," the old man said, petulantly.
"Bring him spaghetti," the old woman said to the waitress, "and meatloaf. I'll have soup."
"I don't like meatloaf!" the old man said as the waitress left.
"I ordered you spaghetti," the old woman said soothingly.
"Good!" said the old man.
Wolfie's was a New York-style deli, with the pickles and cole slaw on every table.
"I want a pickle," said the old man.
"Honey," said the woman, "you don't like pickles."
"I want a pickle!"
The old woman handed him a pickle. He took a bite, made a face, and dropped the pickle bite out of his mouth. The old woman was ready with a napkin and caught it.
"That's awful!" he said.
"You don't like pickles," she said quietly, taking the rest of it from his hand.
Their food arrived. The waitress put the soup in front of the woman, the spaghetti in front of the man, and the meatloaf on the other side of the table. The old woman watched expectantly. The old man took some spaghetti on his fork, and, trailing strands behind, lifted it to his mouth. He put the fork in his mouth, then made a face and spit the spaghetti back onto his plate.
"This is awful!"
"You don't like spaghetti," said the old woman gently, and she switched plates with the meatloaf. "Try this."
"I don't like meatloaf."
"Here, just try a bite," she said, and she fed him a bite. He chewed.
"This is pretty good!"
"Meatloaf is your favorite."
The old man picked up his fork and dug in. The old woman ate her soup, but she watched him constantly and cleaned up -- usually anticipated -- little accidents that he kept having.
Judi and I watched without saying a word. After they left, Judi said to me, "She was so gentle and patient! And who knows how many years he's been like that, and how many more he may be?"
And all I could say was, "She must love him very much."
in a way, i wish i could say i didn't know what that was like, but i do. course that means i wouldn't have had the love, either. anyway, good story. =)
What a touching story! Isn't it something that a story can be so sad and so heartwarming at the same time?