February 3, 2007

A Story in five parts. Part I

A story of two people who refuse to adhere to the laws of nature and time; Of love and devotion and a belief that their love has no boundaries. It's a romantic fantasy, but are we so sure it's a fantasy?


The End Is The Beginning
By Jim Kittelberger

"Jack, could you please help me button this blouse?" asked Ruth, as the arthritis again made buttoning the sleeves difficult. Her daughter had bought her the new blouse for her birthday. A present for her eighty-fifth birthday. She thought again that she would have to look it up in the Hallmark birthday book to see what symbol was representative of eighty-five. Probably a stone, because she had great-grandchildren who thought she was born in the Stone Age.

"Well, maybe I was born that far back," she thought, "I feel like I was anyway." Jack, her boy friend first, her husband second, and best friend forever, for these past sixty-six years, returned his reclining chair to the sitting position and pulled himself out into a somewhat erect position, groaning as all old people are supposed to do. "I'm on my way Ruthie," he said, as he maneuvered his way to her bedroom, which was on the same floor.

This one story house they now lived in was a concession they had to make when it became evident they could not handle stairs anymore. But a small enough problem that was solved easily by trading their house of fifty years for this all-on-one-floor model. They were able to stay together in this new house, which is really, all they wanted.

Jack was approaching eighty-eight years old, and he knew he was failing. He had always been lucky with his health through the years, but now his doctor confided in him that all indicators showed his time might be short. Jack and the doc had been doctor and patient for many years, and had come to an understanding about telling each other the truth, and he appreciated his truthfulness in this final matter.

As he entered Ruth's bedroom, he smiled to himself that he could still do something for this woman. Lord knows their physical lovemaking had ended sometime ago. But the love he felt each time he saw her and touched her had not diminished in all these years.

"So, what kind of predicament have you gotten yourself into now?" he teased. Jack was able to do what Ruth's arthritic fingers could not do, but not without some difficulty. "I remember," Ruth said, touching his arm, "when you didn't have any problem undoing my buttons." "Yes, and I don't remember many objections either," Jack said. "I especially remember those days when we were stationed at that Army post near Washington, before the kids came. We acted like we had discovered something unique that no one else knew about. I couldn't keep my hands off you," he said with melancholy, "Do you remember?" "That seems so long ago, and yet like it was yesterday." Ruth replied, with that far away look that was becoming more common as time went by. "Oh, how I wish," she continued, "that sometimes we could for just one more day feel again that physical urgency to just enjoy each others body with no thoughts other than the pleasure we could give each other. Not thinking about it, but knowing we had nothing but time ahead of us to enjoy whatever life would throw our way. Yes, my sweet one, I do remember."

Jack was chuckling to himself. "So what's so funny McGee?" Ruth asked. "I was just remembering another time right after I got discharged and we moved back here. It was probably the last time until the kids grew up and went out on their own, that we were free from responsibility. We bought that silly yellow Buick and headed for Florida. When we got to Georgia, we put the top down the rest of the way to Florida. That evening, when we rented a motel for the night, we looked like two sweaty Indians. Between the red Georgian dirt flying in our face and the sunburn, it's a wonder they didn't try to rent us a teepee. You looked like you had a white bathing suit on when you peeled your clothes off. I remember that really turned me on. Hell, I was always turned on in those days." Jack sat and took her hands in his. "You still do in fact, because you're still here and my memories are all intact. Just touching your hair can set off an avalanche of moments and we have had our share of them." Jack chuckled again. "I'm glad you stayed around all these years. With you here, all my memories are real. If you weren't here anymore, I wouldn't be positive I was lucky enough to really have had someone like you. I'd start doubting my memory, and my life would be empty." "Go away with you old man," Ruth said with a smile. "If you don't get away and do something useful, I'll forget that we're nothing but feeble bodies held together by memories and I'll try and seduce you. Can you imagine how much damage we'd do to these deteriorating carcasses then? Go, scat." "Ruthie my dear, I do love you." Jack said as he left the room.

Jack and Ruth, Ruth and Jack, It was as one name to all that knew them. As they like to say, they grew up together. In fact that wasn't too far from the truth. From the time they met they were comfortable with each other. During their school days they were not really shy, but not eager to let their personalities carry them in group situations. But together from the very first they were themselves and comfortable with themselves and with each other. As Jack or is it Ruth likes to say, "we started a conversation and until we finish with it, it would be impolite to leave." Six decades and counting later, the conversation goes on. "Heck," Jack likes to say, "look at all the money we've saved on shrinks. All they do is let you talk, well what do we need them for?"

Each of them continues to show the other respect and treat each other with politeness as if their relationship was still new and had to be treated kindly, lest the others feelings would be hurt. But now, as the years have piled up and Jack knows his end is near, his biggest concern is leaving his Ruthie behind alone.

They have talked about this, of course, why would this be exempt from their conversations? But this is a problem that is insoluble and out of their hands. One thing, of which they are certain, they will meet again in that other dimension after this life has ended. To that end they have left instructions that when the last dies, their ashes will be mingled together to be released on a day of bright sunshine in a field bursting with new life. The beliefs they embrace will on that day become realities and they will be together again.

On the day the conversation ended, Jack spent a restless night, his spent heart laboring to keep beating a little longer. As daylight crept into the room, Ruth started to stir. She awoke with a start and looked over at Jack by her side. His eyes were open and he managed a smile. "Please take my hand," Jack said his speech somewhat slurred. "Oh my God Jack, no, no, don't scare me." Ruth said, tears springing to her eyes. "Ruthie, my Ruthie, don't cry too much. I'll be with you in spirit until the day you come to me. Please know that I've loved you all my life and it won't stop just because I'm not here anymore." Jack stopped and sighed, the effort too much for the strength left in him. He went quietly.

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