Rear-View Mirror

According to the poets, spring is the season of love, but I’m seeing it every day as the leaves fall and the smell of wood smoke is in the air. Autumn. I noticed evidence of this a week ago, driving through my residential streets on a Sunday, mid-afternoon. It was especially warm that day, but one still needed a light jacket. Warm on the west coast sometimes means only that it isn’t raining. So many people were out in my neighborhood, just walking and enjoying the season. I saw two older couples in their late 60’s, walking close together, not really touching. I could sense the intimacy that they shared just in how they turned their heads towards each other in conversation, how one waited for the other. A woman stopped suddenly to tie her shoe and her husband (I assume) turned and watched, waited. I don’t know why I found this simple scene so endearing. But, I did.

I passed another couple about the same age and they walked shoulder to shoulder, again not holding hands nor arms linked, but amazing I thought, how much alike they looked. Kind of like the Herman characters in the newspaper cartoon section. It’s true what they say about couples who are together a long time, begin to look like each other. I gazed back at them in my rear-view mirror and I saw her touch his cheek, lightly, briefly, and I sensed that they looked after each other.

That’s what love is, I think, when you reach a certain stately age and your mate has weathered so many battles with you. Some won, many lost. Both these couples looked weary, but solid together. They looked out for each other, I suspect. There was nothing especially feminine looking about the women as they were dressed in dark fall jackets and nondescript pants covering their overweight bodies. They didn’t sport lipstick, nor had hair that looked recently colored, permed nor flat-ironed. The men carried extra weight looking a bit like stout penguins. Their love has gone far deeper than perky breasts and an admirable six-pack. Their children were probably grown and left the nest some time ago. The grandchildren come and happy to see them, but just as glad to see them go. Their dinners are quiet now and maybe bought at M & M’s, prepared and ready to microwave. Maybe they sit in front of the TV and watch the news. Retirement has slowed them down and softened their bodies and minds.

Their homes are paid for, Visa cleared, their last car bought and owned. Downsizing is the next step and they will buy somewhere that is easy to get to and from the grocery store and reasonable distance from a hospital and care facility. There aren’t many surprises in their lives anymore and just as well.

I parked in front of my condo and gathered my things together. I noticed a vehicle pull in close behind me. I gazed again in my rear-view and saw my neighbor’s newest live-in beau get out of his vehicle carrying a huge gorgeous bouquet of flowers.

And the cycle begins again.

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