Linda had always earned her name… She was, indeed, beautiful. Always had been, even in her bad days. She was beautiful all the way, inside and out. He knew it, and even if the years had worked against them, Wilfred had never given up.
And boy, was he glad he hadn’t.
They weren’t meant to meet. In his younger years, Wilfred had been a middle class worker, doing his best to keep his head and his family’s above water. She had been raised in a wealthy family. But when they had met, the difference between their origins hadn’t mattered.
Sitting at the airport, Wilfred squeezed his wife’s hand tenderly. He still enjoyed watching her when she didn’t know. Linda’s gaze was following the crowd, the flow of men and women coming and going anonymously. He knew she was looking for Dave, and their son would be there shortly, no doubt about that. He just loved how her eyes butterflied from a silhouette to another, carelessly.
He was happy they had managed to make it to Florida again. Their budget didn’t alllow them to fly South every year, but he had insisted that they borrowed their neighbour’s little cottage and played snowbirds.
One last time.
Yeah, he had kept that part for himself. Wilfred didn’t see any reason he should tell Linda, or their children for that matter, about his last appointment with Dr Hattaway, before their return home.
He prefered to spend a nice time, enjoying the warmth and taking things easy, before facing them with the truth. He was about to die, the doctor’s diagnosis was clear, there was no other way out. The brain tumor the medical team had found was too developped, and his health already too fragile to attempt any way to remove, or cure it.
Within a year, he would be dead and gone.
But before that, he would most probably lose it gradually. The weeks to come would be spent making arrangements to take as much trouble off Linda’s shoulders. No fun in sight, really. Wilfred would have to tell his family, find a home where he and his beloved spouse could lose their independance as comfortably as possible.
In a way, this journey to their Florida haven wasn’t the last he had prepared. Now he had to plan their last trip, down the slope and towards the nearing end.
Wilfred felt he was starting to tear up at that thought, when Linda’s shaky but sweet voice brought him back to reality.
You did get Dave’s confirmation, right honey? I hope he’s allright… It’s not like him to be late for picking us up!
He reassured her, and offered to send him a message, just to be sure.
I bet there was traffic on the highway my dear. Or maybe he had trouble finding a parking spot. Don’t worry.
The old man wasn’t too familiar with the new cell phone their offspring had bought them for Christmas, but he slowly let his twisted fingers and wrote a short message, before sending it to his elder son.
Lifting his eyes from the small screen, Wilfred spotted a man, at the other end of the large waiting hall. Now in between flight arrivals, most people had left. Travelers and the friends and families that had come to welcome them back had slowly gone away.
Now, the airport worker was emptying the trash cans, pushing his cart around the room. Giving a quick look at his cane, he wished he could take Linda back in time. Though it would mean start working hard again, and strugling a fair bit, he would trade places and empty garbage for long hours, if it meant getting twenty more years with his Love…
Oh look, Willy! They’re here!!
Dave and Lucy were indeed walking their way, and he helped Linda up, picking up her bag, while she put on her coat. After warm hugs and kisses, the reunited family headed to the exit, chatting loudly and sharing heartfelt giggles.
Just before passing the door, Wilfred gave the worker one last look.
Enjoy your time down here, young man.
Linda caught him whispering, but he told her it was nothing. Kissing her hair tenderly, he helped her through the door.
Nothing… for now.