IT’S DELIGHTFUL that our first post of 2013 comes from one of our Wednesday Writers!
My One and Only Love by Linda Hinchcliffe
When we first met fourteen years ago, I was a lot older than him, in fact twenty years older. What attracted me to him was his energy. He was always on the go, doing this, doing that. He never seemed to rest. He was like a caged bird wanting to be free. He had hair like gold and a moustache and beard of the same colour. When the sun shone on it, it was like there was a halo around his head, like an angel. I knew I had to have him.
His name was Ben and when we first started living together, it was hard. Six months into the relationship, I nearly gave up. He had a zest for life, that I didn’t seem able to keep up with. He somehow knew that he wasn’t on this earth for too long, so he was making the most of it, while he had the chance. He didn’t seem to care that I did all the work. He just lounged about, but deep down I knew that he loved me and as time went on, I certainly fell in love with him. When I got home from work, he’d be there at the door, greeting me with kisses and making my day a little less tiresome. We’d have tea and I’d tell him about my day. He was a great listener. He never interrupted. He just kept looking at me with his beautiful brown eyes, understanding that I needed to talk, to get the worries of the day off my shoulders and I’ll always love him for that. Afterwards we’d lay together on the sofa watching television. I’d give him gentle massages and run my fingers through his hair. When we went to bed, within five minutes, he’d be snoring but I didn’t mind. I used to lay there, listening to his gentle breathing and I knew I was safe and secure in his love.
On a weekend, we’d go for endless walks and in summer, we’d go down by the river and walk along the tow path in the moonlight. It was so romantic. I’d walk to the ends of the earth with him, if necessary. I loved him that deeply.
Once a year he had to go and see a surgeon. It turned out his mother had had a difficult birth with him and this surgeon had been there to help. They were great friends and so he went to see him for check-ups.
Twelve years down the line, I started to notice changes. Nothing much to start with so I put them to the back of my mind. They were just little things, like he seemed to be losing his enthusiasm for life and also, when we went out anywhere, he seemed to tire more quickly. He went to see his surgeon friend and he said, “Don’t worry. It’s only age creeping up. It happens to all of us.”
A year later, he started to bump into things so I thought, ‘This is it. We need some answers’, and it turned out his heart wasn’t all that good, he was going blind and they couldn’t do anything for him.
I couldn’t believe it. The love of my life was going to die! How long had he got? Possibly a year or so. I was devastated. He, of course, took it all calmly and in his stride. That was just like him. He had no thought of how I was feeling. I was going out of my mind with worry and he carried on as if nothing was wrong.
As the months went by, he got so he lost his sight completely. I rearranged the furniture so that he’d be able to remember where things were but at times he’d forget and barge into something. I’d rush to help him but he’d grumble and try to do it on his own. There was many a silent tear shed, when I thought he’d hurt himself.
Two years after he was diagnosed as having heart trouble, I got up one morning and he just lay there. No kiss good morning. Nothing. I rang the surgeon and he said he would come round straight away. While we waited, I held his head on my lap, stroking his beautiful hair, which was now turning grey. Although, I could still remember the golden sheen it had, all those years ago. But before the surgeon could get here, Ben died in my arms.
When he did arrive, he said that there wasn’t anything, anyone could have done and that I’d given my beautiful Ben, my beautiful golden haired retriever, the best years of his life.