It was kind of a random blah day and I was avoiding writing a paper for my class, and trying to get something ready for dinner when I realized I needed carrots. Not generally the most exciting life, I know. So I grump my way to the car, because it just is no fun to be down to the last ingredients and realize you are stuck. I usually shop at this Grocery Store by the Cows, at the edge of our town, on the edge of farmland, still sells their own dairy's milk, does not carry the eight million "got-to-have it" products that the mega-store does, and where all of the baggers still wear a tie. A place where when you look confused someone actually asks if you need help and means it, and the place where I now know that "George" works.
So I am in the checkout line and I see that my bagger is an older gentleman who is wearing a wide and vivid Stars and Stripes design tie, with… matching suspenders. I compliment him on his tie, and he smiles, and proudly pulls up his pant leg to show me his "USA" socks. About now is when my husband hates being at the store with me, but lucky for him, and for me, he is not here to drag me away from spontaneous banter. There is no one behind me and I ask "George" if he has a special tie for Valentine's Day also, making random conversation as my order is being totaled.
He tells me he does not, but that maybe someone will get him one, because it is his wedding anniversary, adding that he has been married for six years. Instinctively, he must say that he was married to his first wife for 40 years before she died. He remarried a mere nine months later- married his wife's friend, a widow in town. They had known each other since they were kids. They had all been friends, and their kids had played together. They had undoubtedly been attending all of the milestone moments of life, weddings, graduations and funerals for nigh on 60 plus years. They had always been friends. Getting married after all of this time, probably felt kind of like putting on a comfy old sweater. He says it was his idea to get married on Valentine's Day so he could not forget their anniversary, he says with a wink. All of their kids, who are friends and now suddenly step-siblings have had a good laugh over their changed status, and it sounds like everyone is overjoyed that the two later-in-life lovebirds hooked up.
He regaled me with the tale that before they married, the young pastor told them they would need to take pre-marital sessions. He chortled, "..And I told him, that was fine, that between me and her we had been married for 76 years and we'd be happy to answer any questions he might have about being married." Mental note to self, seriously consider asking someone like George and the Lovely Bride to take a class. Call it chatting to prepare for the sermon, or just pure interest. But apparently the pastor has taken some ribbing about this well, and so has George. It has become a part of the folklore of their congregation I gather.
Since I was still listening, he got a smile and told me he was retired a couple years now, and that when he left his job, his (current) wife asked him what he was going to do with his time. With a sparkle in his eye, he jovially announced," I'm going clowning!" and, he added, giddily, she said, "Let's go!" They now work as Make-a-Wish clowns all around the area, when they are not with the grandkids of their collective families. I think if I can find a great Valentine's tie, I might just have to give it to George to wear when he and the missus go clowning, and I hope someday I am blessed to have a parish with at least one "George."