For the love of…

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“I want  you to know, this is how I feel about you…” Mr. L said to me Wednesday afternoon. We were seated in his living room, listening to music from the 1940s, when he leaned over and referenced the song that was playing. Looking over at him, I smiled and said, “Thank you…” amused by his proclamation. “No, it’s true. I want you to to know…” He said, very earnestly. Shaking my head up and down in agreed understanding, I smiled back and repeated, “Thank you…” and tried my best not to laugh or reciprocate what he was saying to me.

******

Twice a week, I have the distinct pleasure of hanging out with Mr. L, one of the sweetest men you’ll ever meet. He’s always very nice and complimentary and seems to enjoy our afternoons together. Only on occasion does he give me a hard time, but I think that has more to do with age and dementia, than anything else. I truly care for the man, as a daughter or friend should. But I get the feeling, he doesn’t always see me the same way.

“Does your husband have a problem with you here?” He asks me quite frequently. “Yes, he’s fine with this arrangement…” I reply. “I don’t want to get my block knocked off…” He tells me. “Well, so long as you’re a gentleman, you have no fears…” I reply each time, trying my best, not to laugh. One day after I “tucked” him into bed he asked me to give him a kiss goodnight. I hesitated for a moment before leaning down and kissing his forehead saying, “This way my husband won’t knock that block of yours off…”  Instantly he gave me a serious look and replied, “Oh, I forgot about him,  good idea…” Thankfully he hasn’t asked for another kiss recently.

We spend most our time together either walking at the park or watching for birds at the window on wildlife. The other day, he got a kick out of seeing a feral cat come watch the birds too, “Hey now, flee, flee…” He said to the cat, who did the exact opposite. Other times, when we’re out running errands, if he sees someone walking a dog, he’ll say, “Hello, poochie…” which opens up an opportunity for me to engage him in a conversation asking, “Did you have any pets growing up?”

One day when I had to pick up the doll to transport her somewhere and Mr. L tagged along. When she came out of the house, he said to me, “Wow! Your daughter is a knockout!” Smiling, I returned, “Why thank you, I think so too…” As she approached the car he repeated “Wow!” and then admonished me when I failed to introduce her (this was not the first time they had met). “Oh I’m sorry, doll…this is Mr. L” I said. He reached back to shake her hand and said, “Hello there, you’re very beautiful…” My doll blushed, thanked him and then gave me a “grossed out” look in return. Later I explained to her, “He’s really harmless, but still a man…” She nodded her head in agreement.

*****

As the music played on, “You’ll never know, how much I love, you…” He looked over toward me with an endearing look and said, “I want you to know I love you very very much…”  “Oh! (guffaw) Well, thank you…” I replied and paused trying to think of a way to change the subject, “So how long were you and your wife, Alice married?” I asked after a brief pause. “A long time…and I miss her very much,” He replied. “And I bet she loved you too,” I added. “I wish she were still here…” He said with a hint of melancholy. “I know you do, perhaps you’ll see her tonight in your dreams…” I added.  A moment later a more rousing song began to play and off we went in a new direction.

Yep, I love hanging out with Mr. L twice a week. He’s a card, a smitten fool but a good man overall. Just the right balance.

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