Remembering …

A phone call and a question “Would you like to go for a car ride this afternoon?” began a day that unfolded in ways I hadn’t expected.

I’d been going on afternoon car rides with a wonderful man for several years. We enjoyed one another’s company, laughed a lot, had great conversations and loved exploring parts of this island neither of us had seen before. That day was no different. Or was it?

He picked me up and off we went with Shandy, his delightful King Charles spaniel – meandering along country roads, beside the ocean, exploring, talking, laughing. The sun was shining and the drive was leisurely and delightful. About an hour later, he pulled into a parking space beside the ocean (a place we’d often frequented on our afternoon drives), and we went for a walk along the ocean shore. At the end of our walk, we sat on a bench overlooking the water’s edge and before I knew it, he had asked me to marry him. Again. And added “It’s okay if you’re not ready. I’ll be here when you are. I’m hoping you’re ready now.”

He’d asked the question several times before, but each time I declined. This time was different. He was a man who was genuine, honest, sincere, could be trusted, was patient (he’d waited years for me to say ‘yes’) and loved me deeply. I knew that I loved this man in so many ways and when he said that he had phoned my son for his blessing, he endeared himself to me even more. My son had a deep respect for this man, was so happy for us both, and wholeheartedly gave his blessing. I was so happy and easily said “yes.” When would we get married? There was so much to do – perhaps in a year’s time?

“Soon, I hope. I’m not getting any younger” he said. “Sooner than later.” Within six (!) weeks, we had put our respective homes on the market … sold both homes … packed up the two homes (each downsizing as much as we could in such a short time) and found our ‘together’ home in a new community … created handmade wedding invitations … made the painful and difficult decision to love Shandy enough to let her go and be at peace from the pain that wracked her body and canine dementia confusion that imprisoned her mind … chosen wedding rings … planned the wedding … got married … moved into our new ‘together home’ … began to unpack the boxes … dealt with the kitchen cabinets that were literally coming off the walls and other unexpected renovation projects that needed immediate attention and more. It was a stressful time, but amazingly, it all seemed to bring us even closer together.

Little did I know how much my life would change when I answered a phone call and went on a car ride with Hans Van Der Werff.

Remembering how it all began … with a simple phone call and invitation to go for a car ride … thank you Alexander Graham Bell for inventing the phone so Hans could phone and invite me for a drive that day. And, … thank you, Karl Benz, for inventing the gasoline-powered car in 1871, so we could go for that lovely drive on that wonderful day in 2019.

Each time I remember that day, there’s a smile on my face and deep gratitude in my heart. Too many friends have recently been diagnosed with a form of dementia and are unable to remember very much. But that special, joy-filled day is firm in my mind.

That gentle giant of a man conquered cancer once – twice – but not the third one. Sad memory, but even so, I am ‘remembering’ much more with Hans — so many happy memories and am grateful for that gift of remembering.

© June Maffin