by Julia Zygiel ’19
Black ice stripes the concrete path to our front door. The rest of the snow from the mid-December squall has already melted, but the ice remains, filling my head with visions of broken hips and legs. Our son-in-law has offered time and again to salt the driveway and path, but Lottie always interrupts my “yes please,” insisting that we can do it ourselves, forgetting the fact that neither of us could lift those heavy bags, or push the machine without throwing out our backs. Stubbornly she insists, and stubbornly she has held onto my heart for 51 years.
Ensuring that my steps are rooted, I make it to the door and pat my thighs to remind myself of the small velvet box still burning a hole in my pocket. I enter to a chorus of Merry Christmases. Lottie sits at the head of the table, like she has since our first Christmas in the home we built together. I kneel down next to her seat, and worry briefly that I won’t be able to stand up again. Her knotted fingers caress my cheek, and she smiles coyly, announcing to our descendents that her beautiful boyfriend has finally arrived. I fumble around in my pocket and reveal her engagement ring, swathed in velvet and glowing like the moon. Her hands suppress a gasp and I think I see a flash of recognition in her dark brown eyes. Foolishly, I tell myself she’s remembering my first proposal 46 years ago, the same as this one, only carried out on sturdier limbs.
Before I can ask she whispers yes, beating me to the punch like always. The ring clicks softly as it knocks against her golden wedding band. She doesn’t notice. We kiss, and I am grateful to remain silent. Tears have taken my words hostage. She cries of happiness, and we embrace. The air fills with sighs and sobs of a family that may soon be forgotten.