An Old Man and a Lost Wife: Ten Sentence Story #177

A couple are visiting a family friend; one who stepped in to save the home of one of their parents after their eviction from a country where they had farmed for years, employing local people, feeding and educating local families and whose recovery from their loss of everything was then about to be lost again in their own countries’ revolution.

A word was given and later a simple legal paper signed, a house changed hands for nothing and was saved for their family, now many years later the time had come for that house to be sold.

They were warmly welcomed by an old man, still recovering from the loss of his wife six months before, his three dogs and elderly cat.

They were then taken to lunch, a simple affair, fresh grilled meats, salads and local wine; somewhere over lunch the “business” of the visit was conducted in a few words and the party returned to the host’s farmhouse.

The couple were then offered a guided tour of the house, displayed with great pride and more than a touch of sadness because it still reflected the presence of their host’s late wife; her paintings were still on the walls, her English ornaments still displayed and most poignantly her chair by the window overlooking the garden she had lovingly created.

Then the couple were offered huge red-bound photograph albums, the pages yellowing with age, photographs of the farmhouse through all stages of conversion, families young and old and in some cases forgotten, uncles, aunts, cousins, parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

For a glorious hour they were alive again, entertaining tribal chiefs in Morocco, cooking huge paellas in a pan three-foot in diameter over a specially build fire pit, the remains of which were still in the yard.

As the afternoon drew to a close it was time for the couple to leave, they bid their farewells and left with gifts of cheese and quince preserves.

One last walk around the garden inhaling the scents of the herbs and the blossom and a final farewell to the dogs and they took their leave.

On the way home the man turned to his companion and asked how she felt — “enriched” was her reply.

14 comments

  • Great story, Nicola! Thanks for sharing. You set the time and the place really well!

    • it was a day I will never forget for many reasons . It was the first time I have been invited into a “native Portuguese” house -even though there was a lot of foreign influence.

      • You really brought us right into the room with the despair and the tension and the resignation of a way of life expiring.

        • He seemed torn between two worlds – he is of an age where all the people he shared retirement with are now closing their eyes for the last time – I suspect that once he has completed this one final last duty he may give in to that invisible pull and join them – I hope I am wrong .

          • I like that extra detail, Nicola! That’s always a concern with 10txt articles. They tend to be restrictive and oftentimes a little too tight. This article deserved to be four times longer! I wanted much more of your excellent, rich, detail.

            I do thank you for bringing the 10txt series to a close, though. You did your usual, fantastic, job of setting just the right tone to close the circle!

          • Good point about the shortcomings of 10 txt – well made .

            Waves a fond farewell to 10txt – you served me well

  • Gordon Davidescu

    I’m in love with the imagery of the paella being cooked — fantastic tale!

  • You really are such a great writer. i loved reading this and I can see how you would feel enriched after a day like that.

  • Thank you – I felt blessed, by what he had done in the past and by the hospitality and kindness he showed us.

  • I really enjoyed this article! For such a quick ten sentences, it was not only easy to read, but so rich in detail. I was lost in your story and agree with David when he said that it could have been much longer. Well done!

  • Very vivid story! As I read it, I was picturing it in my head as a short film.

  • The family story would make an amazing film – so would that of my parents ………….. now you are giving me ideas !

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