NYDAS - ANNIVERSARY
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Gloria sighed as she looked at the room full of flowers. She’d always loved them but this time there were too many lilies.
Dave had never bought her flowers. He thought they were a waste of money, an unnecessary gesture between husband and wife.
‘I work for you, come home to you and sleep with you’ he’d scoff, ‘Romance? Stuff and nonsense!’
He’d never told her he loved her either. When she asked him, which she learnt not to do as the years went by, he’d repeat his views on romance and tell her to look at the things he did for her and find her answer there. On the whole, Gloria had had no complaints, he was loyal, hardworking and attentive in lots of ways. Just every now and then she would have loved a bit of romance.
Today was going to be a special day.
‘Twenty five years wed!’ He had announced, grinning. ‘That’s an achievement to be proud of. Slap-up supper down the pub eh?!’
A surprise day at the race track was what she had planned so he could indulge his love of fast driving. Instead, Gloria was drinking tea in a room filled with good wishes but no Dave. He had dropped down dead of a heart attack ten days ago. Completely out of the blue, one Saturday when they were out shopping. They were looking for a new dress for Gloria to wear for their anniversary dinner. The shock of it all was still sinking in, she was only just beginning to realise all the ways he had filled her life and how much she was going to miss him.
The picture of their eldest daughter’s wedding , standing on the sideboard, caught her eye. That had been a great family day, they were all so happy and Dave had looked particularly handsome. She smiled at the memory of him having too much to drink at the reception and dancing with her to a rock and roll medley, something he would never have done if he were sober. He was a very pleasant drunk, no trouble, he always fell asleep before he got too far.
‘Good safety valve!’ he always said.
Both the girls and their son, who still lived at home, had been really supportive and the four of them were rallying round, helping each other through their shock and grief. They were all coming round this evening for dinner, bringing takeaway so Gloria wouldn’t have to cook for them all. She wouldn’t have minded, it would have given her something to do, but she appreciated the sentiment. She hadn’t got the hang of making one cup of tea, or preparing dinner for one less, and every time she got the extra mug out, or realised she’d cooked too much again she felt hollow and the world seemed colourless and dull. Strange that she had not been able to cry. Weren’t you supposed to cry when something terrible happened? But for some reason the tears were staying away. She hoped she wouldn’t end up with depression like her friend Edith had after her son had died. Although that seemed even more awful to Gloria, at least Dave had had fifty one years of life and she had been there for thirty one of those.
They had met at the local disco when she was eighteen and he was twenty. She hadn’t been very impressed at first, thought he was brash and far too full of himself, but she soon realised that he was a gentle soul who made too much noise at times when he felt particularly uncomfortable, a sort of over-compensation. He said he had been bowled over by her beauty and compelled to ask her to dance. Gloria had always held that she just looked less scary then all the more glamorous girls there so he thought he might stand a chance.
‘There’s no glamour puss could hold a candle to you in my eyes!’ he’d laugh. That was about as romantic as he got, she thought, and he had to have quite a lot of alcohol on board to get that far!
‘Glorious! That’s what you are.’ He’d slur and the name stuck, right from the beginning of their relationship he had always called her that.
She had no appetite for lunch that day and instead spent the time looking through the photo albums she had always kept so meticulously. She revelled in the memories, finding that Dave didn’t seem so far away while she was doing this. A carpenter by trade, he worked hard, in his workshop now were unfinished projects he had been working on when he died. As the children had come along he had provided for them all and even when times were tough they always seemed to rub along together as a family without much strife. She felt she was really lucky, especially when she had started a part-time job at the local supermarket and heard the horror stories some of the girls used to tell about their husbands.
‘Lucky until now,’ a little voice said in her head.
The phone rang, interrupting her meditations; she rose slowly to answer it, dreading more kindly felt words and requests to inform friends what had happened. The funeral had not happened yet as there had been some hold up over the post-mortem. She picked up the receiver, silently hoping they would have hung up before she got there. She could hear an aeroplane in the distance, a lazy drone that was oddly comforting.
‘Mrs Barker?’ A friendly voice asked at the other end of the line. ‘Could I wish you congratulations on your twenty fifth wedding anniversary and ask that you go into the garden and raise your eyes skyward?’
Gloria was bemused as she hung up the phone and walked slowly into the garden. The noise of the plane was louder now. She looked up and initially couldn’t see anything significant. Her eyes were drawn towards the plane and she saw there was a banner being pulled along behind it. There was something written on the banner in big letters. Suddenly she desperately wanted the camera. She rushed in to find it and came out just in time to see the message clearly visible as the plane was passing over.
‘Glorious 25 years!’ It read, ‘I love you, Dave.’
Gloria just managed to take a photo before her knees buckled underneath her and the tears began to flow. She watched the banner as it disappeared and sobbed, deep body-clenching sobs. Then she laughed through the tears, looking forward to the evening when she could tell the children what had happened, they would scarcely believe it.
Had Dave known he was going to die he could not have sent her a more needed sentiment than that banner. He did have a romantic bone in his body after all!
© Nydas 2011