there's not a whole lot going on

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Passing on

It was time. Twenty years of waiting were twenty years too many. It was time. His wife was dead. The one child they'd born was grown. It was time. He donned his hat, threw on his overcoat - the same one his father-in-law had given him twenty-five years ago - and walked out the door.

He passed the flower shop like he always did, but this time he went inside for the first time in twenty years. The clerk greeted him cheerily, but he was more interested in finding the right roses - the slightly off colored ones with a little orange and a little pink. Not that he could tell - he was color blind - but his wife knew them. He shrugged and asked the clerk for help, they were called something like autumn or fall or some season or other.

With roses in hand, he walked toward the parish where they'd been married, where their daughter had been baptized and then married, and where he, at last, would end the waiting. Bittersweet memories brought a little smile to his face when he first looked on the statue where his wife had given every rose to Mary. Kneeling at her feet, he placed one of the roses in the little vase, asking her blessings for his wife, his child and himself. As he passed through the gates of the cemetery where his wife had lain these twenty years, his throat tightened and his eyes watered. Finding her grave with the little marker - as far away from the trees - so that she could see the stars - and as close to the water - so that her dad could go fishing - as had been possible, he knelt in the grass, placing the remaining rose upon her stone. Here he paused once more to ask mercy for his wife's soul, his child's and his own.

Standing, he continued his walk toward the parish. When they had married, it was a secular parish run by the diocese, but the Jesuits and taken it over in the last ten years. Fr. Peter smiled when he walked into the office.

"Andy! It's great to see you! How're things going down at the university?"

"They're good, they're good. How're the Jesuits these days? Running low on new recruits?"

"Oh no, we haven't been low on recruits since we got that new Superior General. The kids just love the guy. It's amazing ya' know, it really is."

"So you're not looking for any old men anymore, is that it?"

"Well, gosh, Andy, I don't know. Do you know any old men that'd wanna join these days? I mean, if there were more guys like you, we'd be doin' great, but you've got your daughter to look after and all."

"Actually, that's what I'm here for. I wanted you to be the first to know that I'm applying to the Jesuits. I also want your recommendation."

"Wow, Andy that's great. That's just great. Sure I'd love to give you my recommendation - don't look a gift horse in the mouth, ok? You know that one right? Oh, hey, did you hear the joke about the Jesuit and the liturgy yet?"

"Yeah, Fr. Peter, I heard that one already."

"Oh, that's too bad. It's a good one, but I guess it gets old after a while, huh? Say, listen, I've gotta hear confessions in a few minutes, why don't you come back after Mass and we'll go have dinner er somethin' alright?"

"Sure, that'd be great Father, I'll see you then."

He smiled as he left. Fr. Peter hadn't changed since they'd met twenty-five years ago. He was a good man. And a good priest, though how he wound up in the US and not in China was anybody's guess. Maybe he shouldn't have agreed to dinner. The last time they'd gone to dinner, Fr. Peter had picked the worst burger place in town. Oh well, it would at least be an experience, and his wife had always liked Fr. Peter. She would be happy for him. She would wish she could join them. He smiled, twenty years was too long to wait, but he still had twenty years left to go.

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