Jonathan stared out the window, looking at his wife water the garden plants. Jonathan’s love for Shelby only grew in the 42 years of their marriage. Tears trickled down his cheeks as he sat in a rocking chair reminiscing the first time he saw her.
42 years ago…
The day was gloomy and the sky was heavy with clouds. Jonathan sat on the front porch with a blank canvas on his lap, as it began to rain. He was waiting to fill his empty canvas with the colours which portrayed the after effect of the drizzle. While he was observing his surroundings, he saw a red car stop by. He had been in this neighbourhood since the time he was born, but this car didn’t seem familiar. He looked closely. The door of the front seat opened and Jonathan saw a blurry image of a girl. She ran to the yard and extended her arms to feel the raindrops on her palms.
Her dark brown hair was the most magical thing Jonathan had ever seen in his entire life. She was wearing a floral yellow ochre coloured dress which fell up to her knees. She giggled like a little child as she skipped on the grass. He was so engrossed in her beauty that he didn’t notice her father running towards her with an umbrella.
Jonathan went inside, took an umbrella and ran outside to the yard to meet the newcomers.
“Hello sir, I am Jonathan. May I help you in any way?”
“Hello, young man. I am Jeffrey O’Neil. We are moving to the house right beside yours. A truck with our other belongings will be arriving soon.”
“Oh you can come and wait inside my house until the rain stops. I can help you move your things once the weather is good.”
As Mr. O’Neil was getting acquainted with Jonathan’s parents, Jonathan began to strike a conversation with the brown haired girl.
“Would you like to sit on the porch, Miss?” Jonathan said to the girl. “Yes I would love to.” She beamed. Jonathan’s ears had become hot as he sat next to her.
“Welcome to the neighbourhood. I am sure you will like it here.”
“Oh stop calling me miss. I am Shelby and it’s nice to meet you,” she said with her arms extending and a timid smile across her face.
That evening after Jonathan helped move their stuff in, he began to paint. Shelby was with him the entire time. As they talked, Jonathan fell more in love with her. He loved her spirit and her perseverance. She had been through a lot as a child, yet her energy and willingness to do good for people didn’t cease.
Soon, they became the best of friends. Some of the best moments of their lives, they spent together. The days, which were not the best, Shelby’s friendship made it bearable. Not a single day passed that they didn’t see each other. Shelby was the magical antidote to all of his ailments. Within six months he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. The happiest day of his life was when he told Shelby how deeply he loved her and his feelings were reciprocated.
40 years later…
Shelby often forgot where she kept her things. It was nothing unusual since both of them were getting old; until one day. Shelby went out to the grocery store at 11 am to get some carrots and tomatoes. The clock struck 1, yet she did not return. Jonathan became extremely anxious; she did not even take her phone. He assumed that the worst had happened. He immediately set out and informed the local police.
“It has only been two hours sir. We cannot file a missing case report just now. I am sorry.”
Jonathan went to the nearby grocery store with her picture. The salesman informed him that she did come in. She picked up some carrots and onions and left within 15 minutes.
His heart started to race. He went to the nearest hospital in his neighbourhood and searched for Shelby. After about two hours of running frantically here and there asking around for her, when he was returning home, he saw her.
“Shelby?” he yelled.
She looked back and wailed “Oh Jon, here you are.”
Jonathan walked faster towards her and hugged her. “Thank God, I found you. Where have you been for so long?”
Shelby started to cry, “I had lost my way. I thought I would never see you again.”
“It’s okay dear. I will take you home, come.” said Jonathan.
Jonathan knew this was not normal. For many years they lived here. Shelby had taken the same route from the grocery shop to their home for almost about 40 years. How did she get lost? He took her to a doctor when the symptoms became hard to ignore. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
First, it was the little things she used to forget. Jonathan thought his love for her would not let her forget him. He pampered her like never before; yet one day she failed to recognize him. Looking into her eyes, the eyes he had fallen in love with so many years ago seemed so distant now. The eyes which were so full of love were now a blank canvas. It was getting difficult day by day to keep her home. Shelby was soon transferred to a care facility for people with Alzheimer’s.
Jonathan looked at the wall and saw that his painting was still there. The first painting he had done in front Shelby on the day he met her. He had hung it in her room hoping she will remember that day and the beginning of their love. He came to visit her every day. Sometimes he brought her flowers. Some days, they would flirt with each other and Jonathan felt the spark he had felt when he first met her. Shelby waited for her admirer to come, it seemed like she had fallen in love with him all over again. These days made both of them so happy. It was all Jonathan wanted, to see love in her eyes for him. It didn’t matter she had forgotten the life she had spent with him. He yearned for the moment she would giggle when he kissed her cheeks. His chest ached when she didn’t recognize her new love. Today was this day. He waved goodbye to Shelby who looked confused, hoping tomorrow would be a better day.