When it feels like the curtain is about to close, when you think you have said and done everything at least twice, when you have cared so deeply but have never felt it's return; you now only feel numb. When you just don't think about it anymore... it comes.
The air is thick with the smell of fresh rain as I sit on my lanai. I inhale deeply and still love the plumeria fragrance that I have only ever experienced here in Hawai'i. I have traveled the world, raised my four children, been married twice and found there is peace for me here. The only thing in my life I would have changed, if I could, would have been to truly know love. But, "c'est la vie," as one of my lovers used to say. Life is what it is.
I decide to buy new flowers for my dining table. It is my happy place, with the sun always shining in. So, I keep it cleared, except for a glass vase with fresh colorful flowers. I always situate it near the window, letting the sunlight glow through the petals all day. But now, I need new ones.
Dressed in an off white, satin tank top with a colorful, blue, black and white kimono type cover up and perfectly fitted jeans; I head out to the corner store. Yes, I am pushing 80, but no one can tell. No one has ever been able to tell what my age has been all my life. I enjoy the look on peoples faces when they find out. I also enjoy still being able to look decent in jeans and walk upright.
The flower lady is actually in front of the corner store. She always has fresh cut flowers from her nursery and is without fail, the happiest face to see.
And there's that wonderful smile. "Aloha Lisanne! It is always so nice to see your beautiful, friendly face."
We give the customary one side cheek kiss and hug. Lisanne turns to help another patron while I peruse the lovely assortment of flowers. Daffodils, roses of all colors, mums in yellow and white, calla lilies, wildflowers, daisies, irises... they are all gorgeous. Lisanne turns back to me and I hand her the sunflowers I have decided on for this week's happy place. After I pay her, we have just enough time to catch up on what our respective children have been up to. She soon needs to help another customer. We say our goodbyes. With a perma-smile on my face from walking up the sidewalk holding my new flowers, I can't wait to get back to my house and arrange them in the vase.
A week has gone by and I am back at the flower shop.
"Aloha Mo!" Lisanne calls out, from behind her cash register, on the far right side.
"Aloha Lisanne! How's business today?"
"Very good actually. Thanks for asking. What will you pick for this week?" she asks while walking over.
"Well, it is my birthday in a few days and daffodils are my birth month's flower."
Lisanne smiles, turns towards the daffodils, and finds the most perfect bunch. I start to dig into my small purse for the money when we hear a man's deep voice, very close. We both look up and behind me.
"I would like to pay for your flowers, if I may?"
"Excuse me? I'm sorry, do I know you?" I ask bewildered by the sudden change in routine.
"Oh. Um, no. But I would like you to."
Lisanne and I both give the strange, tall man a look of concern for his statement.
"I'm sorry, what I mean to say is, happy birthday. I overheard it is your special day soon. I would like to buy your flowers for you."
"Oh. Uh... okay. Yes. That would be very nice, thank you." I stumble through my words. I'm a little rusty on this type of attention.
Lisanne tells the man how much the flowers are and I take the opportunity to size him up. He looks to be about my age, maybe a little younger. The stranger is roughly six feet tall, has short, salt and pepper hair and does not look like he is from Hawai'i. I watch as he pays for my flowers. Lisanne looks at me while he puts the change away in his wallet. With a raise of her eyebrows, she's basically saying I should find out about this guy.
"Lisanne, would you happen to have a paper towel and water I can wrap the end of the flowers in?" I say.
"Of course." She takes my flowers and fixes them to be fine for a couple of hours without a vase of water.
"Thank you," I say to Lisanne, kiss her cheek and turn towards the man. "Would you like to join me for a walk to get a coffee or tea?"
With a surprised look on his face, he accepts the invitation and we walk and talk. I find out that he had seen me last week buying flowers. He confessed he was coming back to the flower shop each day hoping to see me again. His name is Leon, he is 70 years old and has been living in San Francisco since he was thirty. Leon is originally from Finland.
I take him to a quaint café and we find a small table outside. "Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan is quietly playing through the café speakers. Leon and I share our stories for two hours over tea and pupus.
Ten years later. There are brilliant yellow daffodils in my glass vase on the bedside table. Leon moves the table in front of the window, where the sun can touch the petals. He walks to the record player. I can't help but smile when I hear "Make You Feel My Love" emit from the speaker.
"My love, please, come here," I say.
I look at his handsome face. He has never changed to me. He looks exactly as he did the first day we met. A whirlwind of romance and love ensued after our first two hours at that little café. Leon showed me where he grew up in Finland, he has always loved my children as much as I do, we traveled and watched every single sunset together. Not a day went by that I did not feel cherished and loved. I finally, have felt true love from a man.
Leon holds my hand, the way only he can. He kisses my lips and then my forehead. I feel his tears hit my cheek. I reach up and hold his face, look into his eyes, and kiss him again.
"Thank you my love. Thank you for my birthday flowers the very first time. And every time after. You have given me a complete life. The love I thought I would never feel... you gave to me freely and completely. I fell in love with you the moment we sat down at the little café. Thank you. Thank you for showing me it was never too late, I just needed to wait for you to find me."
"Mo... my beautiful Monette. You are who I was born to love. I have desired you from the first second I saw you walk past me with sunflowers, and will desire you until my last breath. I don't want you to leave me, my love."
"I do not want to leave, my husband. I hope I have filled your heart as much as you have filled mine."
"More, my sweet. I have been a happy man every second with you."
"Then hold me one last time my lover."
I feel his warmth and gentle strength as he lays in front of me, wrapping his arms around my frail body. I rest my cheek and hand against his chest and take a deep breath, inhaling his familiar scent... he is my home.
He kisses the top of my head and I feel his warm breath and his love, as I exhale.