Today’s guest post, written by my lovely friend Barbara (you can find her here, here and here) is about a different kind of studying. People often forget that we learn and study every day; we don’t have to go to school to study and to find out new things about life and people… This fictional story tells us exactly that:
The woman does not like to fly. She does not trust airplanes. And now there is the whole security check thing. Of course, Brenda would never try to take anything on the plane that she shouldn't. It is just very disconcerting to have to go in that machine. Not because of the machine, but there is no one watching your things while you are in there. Ah well, it would seem all of her belongings had made it safely back to her this time.
The woman sat studying her fellow passengers. The flight had been delayed for about 30 minutes. This left everyone a little restless. After all, you were expected to get to the airport early to get through security. It had already been a long morning and no one had started their trips yet.
There were 3 couples with small children, and one Mom with a baby. Okay, this flight was shaping up to look fun already. One couple looked tired to the bone. Must be their return trip, and not the start of vacation. The second couple was busy telling the children about what they would be doing when they arrive at vacation land. The third couple, hah, the kids were asleep on a blanket on the floor. The woman with the baby was discreetly nursing the child.
The woman's attention moved to the singles in the group. At least they were, like herself, traveling alone. A young man, late teens perhaps, was listening to his music and oblivious to everything around him. There was a middle aged man who seemed to be a golfer. An older gentleman who seemed sad and just sat and stared off into space. Maybe he was just tired.
There were the two guys, in their twenties, that were going on vacation somewhere together. They looked like they had been friends forever. Brenda imagined the two getting married, maybe to high school sweethearts, and buying houses next to each other. Playing cards or fishing on the weekends, their kids going to school together. One day, years from now, one would attend the funeral of the other and would tell stories of the trip they took back in their youth.
There were three middle aged women, including Brenda. The other two were together. They seemed to be related. Either they were sisters, or maybe cousins? Too close to the same age to be a mother/daughter.
And then there was an older woman. She sat looking though her purse for something. Ah, she found it, whatever it was. It was hard to tell what the object was from Brenda's vantage point. The older woman looked up and saw that she had someone's attention. She motioned for Brenda to join her and showed the stranger what she held in her hand.
It was a ring. A man's wedding ring. The woman's husband had died and she was returning from having his funeral back in their old home town. The couple had retired several years before and had “moved South” to enjoy their retirement. They had made trips home to see family and old friends. In turn, family and friends had traveled south to see them many times. Ties were still strong to their home state. Years ago the couple had bought cemetery plots, not thinking they would ever move away. So, when Sam died, his wife of all those years took him home. The older woman spoke in a soft voice and told Brenda about how she and Sam had met, all those years ago.
As the flight was called for boarding Brenda and the older woman walked up together, walked down the small hallway to the plane's door together. As the line would pause, more of the story would be told.
As these things happen sometimes; when they got on the plane, it turned out Brenda and the woman were seated next to one another. The two women took their places and got buckled in their seats. As the plane began to take off the older woman turned to Brenda, “Are you married?”
“Why yes, I am, happily married for many years. I am going to visit my sister.”
“So, how did you meet your husband?”
Brenda shared her story and the short flight passed quickly. The two women were in the process of exchanging addresses and phone numbers when it became apparent something was wrong with the older woman. By the time the plane landed the woman was gone.
They told Brenda the woman's heart gave out. She had been ill for a while but had insisted on taking her husband to be buried. It would seem she had held on to fulfill this one last act of love.