Several months ago, Dad went with Mom to the Bernina store, the place where she bought her sewing machines and now buys many accessories. While there, she saw a sewing table and fell in love. It was so expensive, she didn't even consider buying it.
The next day, Dad sneaked back to the store and bought the table. Since that time, he's been surreptitiously cleaning out his shop area to make room for his desk, which is now in our sewing/craft area. Moving it will make space for Mom's new table. My nephew, Brendan, and I have carted off a lot of stuff for him.
As part of this effort, Dad finally repaired some of Evan's old riding toys he's had in his shop for four or five years, and we hauled those to my house. He can only go up and down the stairs once a day and can only work a few minutes at a time, so it's been a major project for him, a true labor of love.
On Friday, Brendan and I were slated to pick up the table and deliver it to the house while Mom and Dad were out to dinner. This involved half a dozen phone calls back and forth, mostly to reassure Dad that we remembered, would be careful, knew what time they would be gone, and would leave the table somewhere she could not fail to find it.
When they got home from dinner, it took Mom several minutes to notice the table. Dad hovered near it and talked to her until she looked straight at him, and thus, at it. I don't know how she could not have known something was up. He was all but quivering with excitement all day.
Fifty-eight years. For 58 years, they have loved and irritated, delighted and disappointed, surprised and been surprised by one another. They drive each other crazy and they can't live without one another.
Saturday morning, Dad got ready to leave for the deer woods, an annual weekend with his brother and some long-time friends. He puttered and pottered, making no real progress toward departure. Finally, Mom walked up and put her hands on each side of Dad's face.
"What's wrong, Honey?" she asked and leaned back to look into his eyes.
"I don't want to go. I don't want to be so far away from you," he answered as he bent down to embrace her. She wrapped both arms around his waist.
"Don't worry," she said. "I'll be right here when you get back. I haven't left you yet. It's probably too late now."
After one last hug, Mom turned away, refusing to watch him leave. Dad shuffled out the door, gasping for air. Each wiped away tears they thought the other did not see.
For just a moment, the magic and the tragedy of such deep love grappled in the sunny room, Jacob and the angel wrestling among the dust motes.