By Judith Cullen
By the time he’d finished the crossword the morning was well on its way to becoming afternoon. He’d better get on with things. He had chores to do, errands to run, and was expected for a family gathering that afternoon – the traditional Sunday after church lunch. Walter only went to church when he felt like it anymore. There were few things about the service that were engaging for him, and he got tired of people being solicitous of his maturity. He’d never imagined himself as a “sweet old man” and he didn’t appreciate being treated like he was infirm. It didn’t matter to him that he had the challenges of the old - he’d earned them! And he didn’t mind being treated with respect. He just hated being treated with solicitous consideration. He knew the people meant well, but it just seemed fake to him. It felt like they treated him that way because they felt they should, not because they really wanted to.
The dishes were washed and the kitchen scrubbed up in due order. Walter was grateful for the Army. It had taught him survival skills that had turned out to be far more valuable than marksmanship. He watered the plants, marveling as he did most mornings that they seemed to thrive in spite of his neglect. Jean had been the one with the green thumb. He’d kept the plants because they reminded him of her. It would have been easier to have chucked them out. But he liked the way the morning light made the leaves shine. He always heard Jean in his head, “Now don’t over water them, Walter!” He smiled, always replying out loud “Of course not, my dear.”