“It was a beautiful yet windy autumn day when I decided to take a walk through the park on my lunch break. Usually I work right through lunch but something kept urging me to go out instead. So, putting on my coat, scarf and gloves, I headed towards the park. As I rounded the bend I noticed a beautiful woman sitting on a bench. I wanted to speak to her but didn’t know what to say. With every step I thought of different approaches. I was one step away when I lost my nerve and decided to walk past. Just then something wonderful happened: a gust of wind blew her hat off and it landed at my feet. As I bent down to pick it up I remembered saying, “thank you, God.” I turned to give her her hat. When I looked into her beautiful hazel eyes I saw our entire life and knew she was the one.”
“How many times are you going to tell that story, Avery?” asked Grace, handing him a drink before sitting on the couch.
“As many times as I can, for as many years as I can,” he said, taking a sip.
“Grandma, is that really how you met Grandpa?”
“Yes, Jackson, it is, but I must admit your grandfather likes to add some creative touches,” she said with a laugh.
“So, Grandpa, does that mean you and Grandma are soul mates?”
Avery looked into his wife’s glassy eyes.
“Son, your grandma and I met under serendipitous conditions. We have been married for 30 years and every day that I see her I remember that day in the park and love her even more.”
“Okay, kids, time for bed,” called Nia.
“Aww, Mom, Grandpa was telling us a story,” said Jackson.
“Well, Grandpa can tell you tomorrow. It’s getting late and I’m sure Santa had to pass this house three times ’cause you, Cecilia and Tommy are still up.”
“Okay, fine,” said Jackson.
The three kids kissed their grandparents goodnight and headed upstairs to bed. Avery and Grace sat on the couch in front of the fire. Grace rested her head on his beating heart. Avery pulled her closer.
“I don’t want this to end,” said Grace, through sobs. “I love our family. I love you.”
Avery lifted Grace’s face. He wiped the tears from both cheeks.
“This will never end. We can beat this. Doctors don’t know God’s plan.”
* * *
“Dad, where are you going?”
“For a walk.”
“It’s freezing outside,” Nia replied.
“Let him go, honey. This is his first anniversary without your mom. Let him take it all in alone,” said Nia’s husband.
I drove to the park. As I rounded the bend, just as I had done 30 years ago, sitting on the bench was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Instead of waiting for her hat to blow off, I sat by her side.
“I knew you would come,” she said, holding my hand.
“Where else would I be on this day? I will love you till death dies.”