You remember that old rake?’
“Yeah, I sure do.” He nodded yes as they sorted all the stuff in the garage.
“You tried to hit me over the head with it.”
“I did not!’
June grinned as the memory of their first fall and raking leaves out front of their new house came back to her. She leaned partially against the garage doorframe and on the blue rake.
Jake saw her and dropped the box he’d just picked up. He walked over, put his arms around her, and hugged and kissed her neck lightly.
“Hey, it’s okay, hun. We both knew this was coming.” June sighed and placed her hand over his, letting the old blue rake fall against the wall.
“Yeah, I know, but…” she paused, “we’ve been here for so long.”
“I know, thirty years, but you know it’s time to let go.”
“It’s never time to let go.”
Jake nodded yes silently, but in his heart, he knew they had to give up the old place. It was far more than either of them could take care of anymore, and he felt like it was time for a change, but this wasn’t the change he had in mind.
They returned to the task at hand, clearing out the garage for the moving men to use when they started to move their belongings into storage.
The back shelf boxes reminded him they’d had a good life here—old Christmas tree decorations, board games not played in ages, and boxes and boxes of old papers. He didn’t dare peek into any of them, knowing that it would upset June to see them again. So, he carefully labeled them and marked them for the movers to put into storage.
The grandkids would get a kick out of the old games. Grandkids—now that was a thought. The idea that their kids now had kids made him feel even older and more useless. He knew he wasn’t useless, but that didn’t stop the feeling from occurring now and again.
The last few years were hard on June, and it was just too much to take care of her and keep himself going these days. Their older son would move into the house as they needed more space than their other children.
And now that was the big question. They’d always been together, and the idea of not seeing her every night tore at him. But he knew, even if she didn’t anymore, that she needed care he could never give her. The decision to place her in a nursing home was difficult. He would live with his son and family. Part of him knew it was for the best of both of them, but, dammit, he thought he could take care of her. He couldn’t.
Several weeks later, Jake and June’s lives evolved once more. June was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and he moved her into a nursing home specializing in working with Alzheimer’s patients. Jake settled comfortably into his middle son’s spare bedroom and quickly remembered what it was to live with a teenager.
Every day he visited the home to see June. Some days her face lit up as she remembered him, and they could talk for hours about the kids and their life together. But it became harder and harder for him to go every day as the days she knew him became fewer and fewer.
Jake and his children consulted with the doctors, who told them her memory was almost gone. June lived in her own world, and they doubted that she recognized herself. Soon he stopped coming as often as there was no point. She didn’t know him, and it only shattered his heart to see her like this.
It was late spring, Jake continued living at his son’s house, and things had gone much smoother than he’d expected. He and his grandson grew to be friends. He took him fishing and hunting or spinning the vinyl records he gave him, to the chagrin of his family. His grandson liked Miles Davis as much as he did.
Jake had to admit that he was doing okay until he thought of June. Then he couldn’t stand himself. It wasn’t fair that he had a good life, but she lay in a bed, not remembering her life. The last time he’d seen her, he didn’t recognize the small fail body on the bed. He could barely look at her. He left the building crying and had never been back.
Molly Kane was an old friend of theirs and June’s best friend. Now a widow, Molly had visited June over the last several months, and they’d gone together numerous times. June didn’t recognize either of them.
After visiting, they often stopped at a small cafe near the nursing home to drink coffee and reminisce about their glory days. Soon he found himself spending time with Molly. It occurred to him one day that he had feelings for her but put them aside. He was too old. Too old to have feelings for anyone, and what about June? Then his alter ego spoke up. I’m old, not dead, and as for June, I’ll always love her and miss her, but Molly is here and now, and she understands me. Right now, I need that. He convinced himself and never looked back.
After June slipped into the next world, Jake and Molly grieved for the woman they both loved. Both realized that they were alive and loved and needed each other. After a mourning period, Jake and Molly moved in together and happily lived the remainder of their lives.
But Jake always knew the day would come when he joined June, his true love, in the next world.