Are we ever tool old to love? Is there ever a time when loves passes over our hearts, choosing instead to pursue a more youthful path? When our hearts, crippled and crumbling, close the gates to love?
She didn’t think so, but, then again, she was no judge of these matters. Three husbands (one divorced, one convicted, and one drowned in a river of his own lies) had left her alone and lonely. She tried to keep busy — really, she did! Knitting clubs, book clubs, gardening, barn dances…
But when the doors closed and everyone returned to their families, she found herself going home alone. Even her little tabby cat had left her last winter, although she did keep his bowl full of milk (in case he ever found his way back).
But she wouldn’t think about that now. She was off to London! To visit a very dear friend of hers, from the old Tennessee days. Sally Jean had met a dashing British chap while he was touring the countryside, and they were now happily married with three girls and a boy. And a grand-daughter or two, if she remembered correctly. In her letter, Sally Jean had even mentioned a maid. And a cook. And a butler. She’d never met a butler; images of posh tuxedos and stiff backs flitted through her mind.
“Eighty-five Westingshire Street, sugah,” she said, climbing into a black cab. “An’ mind them bumps in the road, if ya don’t mind.”
The cabbie grinned before jerking the car into the street. The seatbelt slipped from her hand.
She hoped all Englishmen weren’t like this one.
When they arrived, the cabbie jumped out of the car to open the door for her. “Mind your step, mum.” She thanked him before skirting the manicured gardens to the front door. She couldn’t help but allow jealousy to tint her admiration. Sally Jean had always been prettier in school. And more popular. Perhaps it was just destiny that certain people were to…
The door opened before she could ring the bell. It wasn’t Sally’s face which greeted hers, however, nor was it a little version of a younger Sally Jean. It was a wrinkly little man, whose salt-and-pepper hair framed his wide face.
“Miss Josephine?” the man said, with a slight bow. “May I take your bags?”
“Jus’ Jo is fine. Is Sally Jean around?”
“The missus is resting. I will inform her of your arrival. If you would just wait here?” The man scuttled around the corner, and Jo found herself scrutinising the paintings on the walls. She wondered if they were relatives — ancestors, perhaps — or just pretty subjects who had fallen into an artist’s hands.
“Jo!” Sally Jean rushed around the corner. “It’s been too long!”
Several days later, Jo was walking around the gardens, waiting for Sally Jean to return from an engagement at the Horticulture Society. Sally was apologetic, but the Society only allowed members within its doors.
Never mind. Jo was more than happy to admire the roses and…well, she wasn’t quite sure what type of flowers Sally Jean grew here.
“That’s a Jacob’s Ladder, mum. The missus’s favourite.”
Jo turned around. It was that curious butler man. He always seemed to pop up at the strangest times.
Today, Jo decided to be nice. She raised her arms in defeat. “So many flowers. I don’t know a half of ‘em.”
“Would you like me to show you?”
“Yes. Yes, I think I’d like that very much, thanks, sugah.”
The butler offered Jo his arm. “Walter.”
“Jus’ Jo is fine, sugah. Walter.”
“Jo.” The man was certainly blushing. “Forgive me if I seem too forward, but tomorrow is my day off…and I was wondering if you might do me the honour of…allowing me to escort you to lunch. I know an excellent…”
Do you believe we ever grow too old to look for love?