For the past 21 years I’ve taken the bus to visit my wife at Garland Cemetery. With no friends, no family, and nothing but time, I would spend the day there and talk to her like she was sitting beside me.
We were married for 36 years before the cancer finally won. She fought so hard, sitting here writing this is tearing me up but I feel that my end is nigh, I plan on leaving this journal, the same journal that I’ve been writing in since before Mary passed on, on the bus bench in hopes that Jonathan will read it and understand how much he meant to me.
I met Jonathan last September at the bus stop. He was a young, witty, handsome man who joked with me every day. We would talk like we knew each other for years until his stop. He would always smile and wave as the bus moved on, leaving him to his day at work.
Call me feeble if you’d like, Journal, but I feel that someone should carry on my memories and being that Jonathan is the closest thing to family I have left I feel he should be the one to hold my memories close.
The first time I met Mary, she was only 16 years old. She was, what some would call, a farmer’s girl. She lived on a farm and only came to school when during the winter when there were no crops to tend to. The next spring I visited her father’s farm and asked if I could lend a hand. He offered me a dollar a week for helping in the fields.
She would bring me lemonade during the hottest hours in the summer. She wouldn’t talk to me, but she would always smile while she handed me the glass. After two summers of working there, I had enough courage to ask her father if he would allow me to court his daughter.
I still remember the words he said to me, “Son, you have become a man in the last two years. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. There is nothing better than a man who is willing to slave in a field just for a glimpse of a farmer’s daughter. I’ve seen how you look at her, and you’ve got my permission.”
I had never had a happier moment in my life until that day. I went back to the fields and when it was time for the ritualistic lemonade, I made my move.
6 months later we were engaged to be married, and another 3 months after that we were wed. Happiness followed us wherever we went until her father passed away of a heat stroke a few years later. We felt obligated to take over his farm and work it like he had for so many years, but the depression took it’s hold on the farm and it dwindled down to nothing.
The bank came and took the farm from us and we were homeless. That didn’t halt our love for each other. We took what little we had and moved to the city. It was always our dream to live in the city, find a good job, and her raise as many kids as we could find time for.
So there we were, 5 years later and I worked as a laborer for a metal factory making minimum wage, and she made candles and sold them at local farmer’s markets.
I worked my way up to supervisor in a few short years and we were finally able to purchase a little house on the outskirts of town. We still couldn’t afford a car, but Mary always said, “We can afford shoes, and we will use them as much as we can to get our money’s worth from them!”
It was a 10 mile walk to the Farmer’s Market, which she would walk every Saturday while I worked over time at the factory. One Saturday she came to me and placed a hand on her stomach.
She smiled and said, “I’m not going to be able to make it to the Farmer’s Market for at least a year.”
I was elated at our first pregnancy. I called into work, the first time in nearly 4 years. We danced to no music in the living room. The happiness didn’t last long though. A month later we rushed to the hospital and found that she had miscarried.
After several other miscarries, she didn’t even tell me she was pregnant until the first month was over. I would always find her crying, after she miscarried, at her vanity table when I came home from work.
We saved up enough money to go to a specialist and get testing done to find out what was going on. I prayed the issue was with me and my ‘little swimmers’, but when the results came back that she could never carry a child to full term our hearts melted.
That next year was one of the worst days we ever had in our marriage. Mary blamed herself and told me to move on and find a woman who could bare my offspring.
I would always respond with, “I would rather have you with no children than different woman that could have children. You are my everything, Mary. Without you I am not a man, I am just a boy lost in this world.”
She would just smile, wipe away her tears, and talk about how much of a mess she is. After a year or so she started brightening up and talked about adoption. We were already in our late 40s at that time but I was as excited as she was about it. About that time is when Mary was having major stomach pains. She thought it was menopause and shrugged it off until one day when I came home from work I saw her doubled over in bed.
I picked her up and took her to the hospital. After several hours of tests, x-rays, and who knows what else they determined she had stage 4 liver cancer. They started radiation the same night and she fought that cancer for years until her body finally gave out.
Well Journal, and Jonathan, that’s my life in just a few short pages. A lot of ups, and a few downs, but my life was my wife and I wanted her to be remembered as well as me. Jonathan, if you’re reading this please remember me in ways that we talked at the bus stop. I would have loved to see you grow up and become the man you always talked about becoming but I’m not going to fight like Mary did. There is nothing else to fight for in this world, and I am ready to just lie down and take it the way I want it dealt.
I’m bringing my gun with me today. The doctors told me I only have a few weeks left anyway. I am terminal. The factory that I worked for many years in was filled with lead and my body is withering away from the poison that is slowly leaking into my blood.
I pray every day for you Jonathan, and if the good Lord is willing, he’ll answer those prayers and you’ll get everything you wish for in life. Be strong, be loving, and be you.
I closed the journal with tears streaking down my old face. The old man’s memories still fresh in my mind. When he didn’t come to the bus stop, I called into work to search for him. I knew he visited his wife every day at the same time. I’d started feeling that he was more of a father to me than my own. The way we talked and laughed was unlike anything I had with my real father.
I called a taxi instead of riding the bus to the cemetery in hopes to beat him to it. When I arrived, I saw the old man laying next to his wife’s headstone. The gun still in his hand. I rushed to him and turned him over. He was breathing and there was no blood to be found.
“I couldn’t do it…Mary wouldn’t want me to,” he said before he closed his eyes for the last time. I called 911 and found he had died from lead poisoning.