Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kissing at the YMCA

While waiting at the local YMCA today, I observed something that deeply touched my heart. I'll set it down as I did then.

"He also serves who only sits and waits," said the elderly woman, her voice gaspy.

Her husband looked up from his magazine. In her left hand swung a portable oxygen bottle, defacing tubes criss-crossing her features, harnessed to her nostrils like a bridle. Easily in her middle seventies, she had spoken the words borrowed from Milton in an affectionate tone. She halted in front of the man, bending over him, her lips puckered, and partially blocked by the oxygen hoses.

What would he do, I wondered, staring at the pair. Frankly, it was not a particularly romantic moment, not by Hollywood standards.

Lifting his face to hers, the man broke into a smile and puckered his lips. They kissed.

I don't remember what else she was talking about, but with a grunt, the old man hefted himself to his feet, and the couple walked slowly toward the exit. The last thing I heard was her breathy, though cheerful, chatter as they disappeared around the corner, hand in hand.

Left alone, I contemplated the beauty of what I had just witnessed: a love that lasts through aging and wrinkles, through arthritic joints and lung disease. A man and his wife, after many decades of marriage, seeing past the oxygen tubes and kissing on the high street.

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