From A Second Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul

The Real Thing

If I know what love is, it is because of you.

Herman Hesse

Cecile and I have been friends since college, for more than thirty years. Although we have never lived closer than 100 miles to each other, since we first met, our friendship has remained constant. We have seen each other through marriage, birth, divorce, the death of loved ones—all those times when you really need a friend.

In celebration of our friendship and our fiftieth birthday, Cecile and I took our first road trip together. We drove from my home in Texas to California and back. What a wonderful time we had!

The first day of our trip ended in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After the long drive, we were quite tired, so we decided to go to the restaurant near the hotel for dinner. We were seated in a rather quiet part of the dining room with only a few other patrons.We ordered our food and settled back to recount our day. As we talked, I glanced at the other people in the room. I noticed an attractive elderly couple sitting a short distance away from us. The gentleman was rather tall and athletic looking, with silver hair and a tanned complexion. The lady seated beside him was petite, well-dressed and lovely. What caught my immediate attention was the look of adoration on the woman’s face. She sat, chin resting gently on her hands, and stared into the face of the man as he talked. She reminded me of a teenager in love!

I calledCecile’s attention to the couple.Aswewatched, he reached over to place a gentle kiss on her cheek. She smiled.

“Now that’s what I call real love!” I said with a sigh. “I imagine they’ve been married for a long time. They look so in love!”

“Or maybe,” remarked Cecile, “they haven’t been together long. It could be they’ve just fallen in love.”

“Well, whatever the case, it’s obvious they care a great deal for each other. They are in love.”

Cecile and I watched surreptitiously and unashamedly eavesdropped on their conversation. He was explaining to her about a new business investment he was considering and asking her opinion. She smiled and agreed with whatever he said. When the waitress came to take their order, he ordered for her, reminding her that the veal was her favorite. He caressed her hand as he talked, and she listened raptly to his every word. We were enthralled by the poignant scene we were witnessing.

Then the scene changed. A perplexed look came over the finely wrinkled but beautiful face. She looked at the man and said in a sweet voice, “Do I know you? What is this place? Where are we?”

“Now, sweetheart, you know me. I’m Ralph, your husband. And we’re in Santa Fe. We are going to see our son in Missouri tomorrow. Don’t you remember?”

“Oh, I’m not sure. I seem to have forgotten,” she said quietly.

“That’s okay, sweetheart. You’ll be all right. Just eat your dinner, and we’ll go and get some rest.” He reached over and caressed her cheek. “You sure do look pretty tonight.”

Tears coursed down our cheeks as Cecile and I looked at each other. “We were right,” she said quietly. “It is the real thing. That is love.”

Frankie Germany

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