Mr. Charlie is an elderly gentleman who frequents LJ's Coffee and Bakery here in Starkville, MS. He is a dignified sort of fellow with a certain charm and is usually fairly reserved. But today he spoke to me more than I'd ever heard him speak in the past.
Today was his wife's, Lillian's, birthday. She died two and a half years ago of an unexpected heart attack. In the winter, he wears the sweaters she made (I especially like the yellow one, it makes him look downright dapper). He keeps the same housekeeper they had and the same schedule the two of them adhered to. He misses her madly and continues to be married in his mind, finding the idea of dating to be ludicrous and crass. He wears the gold medallion he had made special for her, with her initials, because she wanted it more than the diamond drops he wanted to give her. He says that she was a sensible woman, very rare these days indeed. He says that he would have given her anything, wouldn't have cared if she spent money on anything; but that she never did want any frivolities and scorned expensive gestures. They'd been married 54 yrs when she died, and he told me that she adamantly refused a huge 50th anniversary celebration.
As Mr. Charlie spoke of her, shared his memories and his love for her, I felt myself choking up and blinking back tears. I kept silent, letting him talk and grieve. And when he stood abruptly, saying that he had let too much time get away from him, I thanked him for sharing.
Happy Birthday, Lillian; you are sorely missed.