The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Habit Unobserved

“The men helped my father into the coach first, and then my mother, a reversal of their usual and ritually observed manners, which seemed to me final and devastating.”

This is a quote from Tinkers by Paul Harding. It inspired this little ditty. I’m just picturing an elderly couple getting into a car (an anonymous elderly couple, most certainly no one I’m related to …).

Habit Unobserved

She helped him into the car.

They were heading to have brunch with two of their children, and their children’s spouses, and one or two of their grandkids if they had the time. It would be a nice meal. The food was always good there, and it was good to see family and be able to catch up (not that they caught up, because they generally told the same stories).

It was just that she helped him into the car.

She looked at him and he smiled at her. Or did he? She may have just pictured it. The smile she saw wasn’t the same smile that he gave now. The smile she saw was the smile she’d started seeing many years ago. The smile that was him. The smile that was so much more than a smile because it was his charm, his wit, his personality. That smile had grown to be her, too. It was no wonder she saw that. But, no, if she stopped and thought about it – but, no, let’s not do that.

Of course she helped him into the car. That’s what you do. You take care of the people you love. Over the years you don’t even notice some changes because they come gradually and then you stop, you look, and oh, you’re the one helping him into the car now. Well, a little joke about this will be funny. Who’s the gentleman now, hm? You both laugh. The next time you make that joke it’s still not that funny, but you laugh. And the joke will be made a number of times but it’s part of a new ritual. A ritual that you’d rather just look over, so you stop the joke.

It’s going well. This is nice. You just move along fine and, oh, like a stumble you ignore that little mistake, and want it so badly to be a stumble but you know that – no, you can think about it later, be polite you’ve got plans.

And then you go home and make more plans.

Things are busy and it’s really not that bad, and, well, you’re doing everything you can do. And part of that is helping him into the car, and that’s all it is, nothing else.

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