What Love Is

What Love Is

Edward Reed

Today I got to see love, it was in the eyes of a little girl when she looked up at her mother and then at her father and it was in their eyes too. I saw it when the kid next door stopped to kneel on his way in from school and hugged his dog. The little dog hugged him back.

I got to see it too when I helped an old man paint “Just Married,” on the side of his truck, the passenger side, the side his wife would see when he picked her up from the hospital. He said he couldn’t think of anything else to get her. Not being steady, he asked me to do the honors of writing his message to the little woman I would push out into the sunshine a little while later.

I was on break from making my rounds. He saw me sitting on a bench outside of the emergency room.

“Are you sure ‘Married’ is spelled with two ‘R’s,” he asked stepping back to look at my handiwork. I told him I was pretty sure and he said he reckoned I was right, an “R” for romance and an “R” of respect. He said red was the only color of spray paint he could find in his tool shed and I told him it looked real nice which it did. As faded as his old pick up was any color would have.

“Besides, red is a perfect color for Valentines,” I told him.

I was still on my break and he was early so we just sat there and enjoyed the sunshine. He showed me a picture of the two of them on their wedding day, the real one not the one he was pretending to have when he got her out of the hospital.

He said if I didn’t mind, he would wait for me to bring her down. I didn’t have to ask why,  with him having already told me about his pacemaker. That was before with a grin he told me his other pacemaker would understand him waiting by the truck for her.

“She’s my heartbeat.”

I helped her gather her things, and the things the people from the church bought her. I was there the afternoon they gave them to her; the cards, flowers, and chocolate candy she wasn’t supposed to have.

“Our secret,” I told her watching her excitement which was mostly over them telling her how her husband had been to church both while Sundays she was in the hospital. She cried when they told her how he went to the altar and got saved. They cried too. I almost did myself before slipping out to finish my rounds.

In the elevator she told me I was good doctor and she wished me a good career and told me that I would find me somebody. I had told her I wasn’t married, not even close. Then said this would be her last trip to the hospital. I told her she was probably right if she started skipping her medications again.

She told me it was so they could afford her husband’s pill and I had better not have told him. I told her I hadn’t which was a lie, and something they would have to settle on their way home.

What I didn’t tell her was that he had been skipping his medicine too.

“To make it last longer,” he told me, something I had already figured out.

Just like my grandparents, I was thinking as we passed floor after floor. She was going home. That was the main thing she told me before changing the subject realizing she hadn’t brushed her hair.

When he had shown me their wedding picture, a coupon for one of the fast food chains had fallen out of his billfold. He told me that was where he was taking her for their lunch, seeing how it was their anniversary.

The whole thing reminded me of my grandfather and what he told me when as a kid I asked him what love is.

“You’ll know it when you see it,” was his answer. I can still hear his voice.

Watching the two ride away in that old truck, “Just Married,” painted on the side and some rusty cans dragging along behind, I understood what my grandfather meant.


This is a work of fiction.
Copyright Edward Reed 2018