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Thursday, 04 September 2008

Focused in Distance (A Love Story)

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Please remember to vote for the August Excellence in Storytelling Award. The nominees are in the right sidebar. Voting remains open until midnight Sunday, 7 September.]

By Gullible of Gullible's Travels

Five eight-by-twelve, home-printed photographs are tacked to the white wall above my computer, pictures that tell a love story. The first, taken forty-five years ago, is of a young woman in front of a Christmas tree in the tiny living room of a tiny house. Light brown hair, wavy bangs, I remember this twenty-one-year-old, though she was an enigma to me then.

Above is another black-and-white photo, this one a replica of a portrait taken in a studio by a professional photographer. The man is distinguished, impeccably attired in a white shirt and suit. His hair is beginning to gray. At times, his countenance appears serious and solemn, at other times a sly smile steals into the dark, penetrating eyes, a smile that hints of the wit and wisdom, humor and mischief within. He is looking straight into the lens of the camera, and the eyes follow me.

On the left is another photo of the same young woman, taken at another Christmas. The hair is longer, blonde, worn up in a fashionable style. There's a smile on that young woman's face, but the eyes are not seen, as they are looking down. Though still a puzzle, I was beginning to know her better and if I could see into her eyes I would see the ghost of heartbreak in them. I would see an inability to forgive herself for ill-considered words, words born of untamed, youthful emotions that sent away the distinguished man.

Next to that, on the right, is a color snapshot of another man taken thirteen years later, when the young woman's sorrow had ebbed to a more tolerable level and she had married. Dark-haired, handsome in a rugged way, the soft, gentle smile on his lips is mirrored in his brown eyes. The eyes hold no hint of the Alzheimer's yet to come, of the dreadful thief that would rob him of his essence, take everything that mattered, and then take the shell that remained.

The fifth picture, taken last year on a sunny deck attached to a log home, shows a gray-haired woman in the harvest season of her life. She is surrounded by friends as dear to her as family. In her eyes I see acceptance, forgiveness, and peace. And something more: a zest for life, an appreciation of the little things that matter.

Of the five pictures, three are a jumble of pixel squares when viewed up close. Only distance sharpens their lines, focuses the images. The digital one, taken last year of me and my friends, is well in focus.

The one taken by the professional photographer remains sharp and crisp after being enlarged to this size. Would that my memories of him, memories with their genesis in those years between holiday seasons, were as clear.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I very much enjoyed this rather hauntingly sad story. Did you ever know whether the distinguished man found love. Did you forgive yourself those rash words?

Once again you bring tears to my eyes and trigger many memories of my own.

This "got to me."
I wish I knew more, but it's okay that I don't.

What an unusual story...you find yourself wanting to know more and more and more...

Dorothy from grammology

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