I think we both knew it was the last time I would be seeing him.
It was unimaginable to me that he could last another week, even though he had not yet slipped into unconsciousness. He had lost so much of his strength, but he was still hanging on. Probably for his wife.
Those longtime married men are so very honourable. Always worrying about their women. How refreshing. I love that.
He was comfortable in his bed and I was asking him about the plaque on the wall. It was a souvenir from long ago, a measure of the esteem in which he was held by others.
All of a sudden he got a look on his face; a glowing look.
"I remember the first time I saw her.
I was out in the bush for over 3 months. Can you imagine? The only time in my life I grew my beard. I looked like a bushman. And then we came out."
He told me he had been surveying for the Government out in the back of beyond.
"I love the forest. It is a part of me."
He told me that he and his coworker came out and stopped at a store.
"She was the first woman I had seen in 3 months. And that was that!"
That glow spread. He looked enraptured.
"I cleaned up pretty good and I went back in and asked her to a dance in the town.
I brought her home late and made a date for the next day. Then I took her out rowing, me and the music."
I nodded. Wait a minute... they have been married 66 years.
What kind of music would this be in 1939 wilderness?
"Sir, did you sing?"
"Oh yes. But mostly it was the old machine. You know... the kind you crank up. I brought all my best music and we took it out on the Lake."
"Yes yes that's it. I cranked it up and we danced under the stars and I asked her to marry me."
"After 2 days and 2 dates?"
"Yes ma'am, she was the only one for me."
I can well believe that!
He is gone now of course.
He let her go at last.