The CouplebyRonnie Wachuka©
From the author:
As has occurred frequently In my last several tales I give my respects and devotions to Lady_Silver for her correction of my stupid mistakes, and her kindly suggestions, to RedHairedandFriendly for her kind guidance and suggestions when I painted myself into a corner, and to Barbara for her astute comments. Blame every failing on me.
Long after my wife died from sepsis caused by complications from her ovarian cancer I wrote, "Waltzing With Jean," my tribute to the love of my life. In it I mentioned that following her second surgery, the head surgeon sat with me in the post-op waiting room. She held my hand while she bluntly told me that her best prognosis was that my wife had less then a 20% chance to make it to the five year mark. She also mentioned, and I don't recall writing it, that the end would be very painful.
At that time the book mentioned herein was the talk of the West Coast. I purchased a copy to read. If her end was going to be that bad I'd help in any way I could. She never knew that I had the book nor have I written about it, until now.
She would have to make whatever decision she would. That was her right. If she could no longer bear the pain I'd do what was necessary to help relieve her suffering. It would be illegal and I could well go to jail. So what!
Events made that decision unnecessary. Her death was quick and painless. Did I miss the days we could have had together? Yes, but that would have been very selfish of me if the extra time was bought at the expense of her pain and suffering.
Over the years, for some reason, I thought about an elderly loving couple faced with the situation in this story and how they would act and what they would do . . .
Putting his arm on her shoulder, the old man looked at his wife as he spoke, "We're going to have to make some hard decisions and soon."
"Merle honey, I know," was her soft response as she took his hand in hers and lovingly patted it.
Turning slightly toward him she reached up to softly stroke his cheek and his soft snow white beard while her jade green eyes searched his face and finally stared into his eyes before continuing on, "Merle Moffat, all I know is that I can't bear to live without you, and I have no intention of finding myself alone in an old folk's home."
The last was said in a voice filled with anger, despair, and total contempt.
Gently squeezing her shoulder with his long calloused fingers he softly lifted her chin with his other hand so he could look directly at the face and into the eyes of the woman he loved and married almost fifty-five years ago.
Finally he murmured, "Kate, I'm with you in that. If you died first I simply couldn't go on, and I ain't going into no warehouse of dead and dying either."
The emotion in his voice mirrored hers, but were spoken in a deep baritone voice with a soft Southern drawl.
Kate finished the conversation with a conclusion and suggestion; "Honey, at least we agree on one thing. Let's wait until after dinner and we'll sit here with a glass of wine and talk about it."
Bustling about the kitchen to prepare the nightly repast she'd glance out of the windows to watch Merle as he went about his yard work. About fifteen minutes before dinner was ready she stepped to the screen door to give him a "Yoo Hoo! Get ready."
She couldn't help herself. Her gaze followed him up the walkway from the garage, This man she loved for so many years; with his body leaner and gaunter then it'd been all those years ago.
She blinked her eyes in disbelief. For just an instant she saw the man she'd married in the days of their youth. 6'6" tall, so broad shouldered he had trouble walking through doorways. A body of muscles from neck to toes.
He wore his blond hair short. She used to tease him about the color being so different from the flaming red hair of his Scottish ancestors, suggesting that perhaps a passing Swede had been loose in the neighborhood.
The vision was gone, replaced by reality. His back was a trifle stooped, his gait just a tad shorter then in his youth. She could make out the bones and veins standing out on the back of his hands. As he drew closer she could see the features of his face; the white beard, the many wrinkles and laugh lines, and his eyes.
Oh God, those pale sky blue eyes! She always swore his gaze could penetrate to every hidden corner of her mind and soul. Here he was a man in his middle seventies who still had no need to wear glasses.
With Merle having cleaned himself up they sat down at the dining room table to eat. This was something they'd agreed to years ago; breakfast and lunch would be at the kitchen table but dinner would be at the family table. Of course with the kids gone they didn't need to add the leafs so the table didn't overwhelm them, and not being a formal affair she sat along side of him for intimacy's sake.
The dinner was up to Kate's usual superb efforts; beef pot roast with all the trimmings, including pan browned roasted potatoes, fresh baked rolls, and a fine Gamay Beaujolais to sip. Dessert and the rest of the wine would be consumed in the living room.
With the dishes having been disposed of and the left-overs in the fridge, they adjourned to the living room. Kate was soon ensconced on her throne; her legs drawn up under her and her head nestled on Merle's chest on the sofa.
Slowly they sipped the wine and fed each other a spoonful of the fruit sorbet they'd each selected. The dessert gone, they sipped their wine in silence until the unavoidable discussion finally became necessary.
Merle began, "Kate, you know the tumor in my head is going to do me in and if the doctor's right, it won't be much longer until I'm in the hospital for good."
"Honey," she began, "I can't bear the thought, but you could very well find yourself in the same boat with my heart problems."
The despair of reality was setting in.
As strong as Kate was, her emotions let loose. Throwing her arm around his chest the tears flowed as she sobbed her disconsolate sorrow. All Merle could do was hold her and stroke her hair as the tears trickled down his own cheeks.
He finally tried to ease the situation with a soft quip, "Old age is sure not for the weak." It fell flat and he stayed silent for a few seconds.
Finally feeling called upon to say something else he almost whispered, "Love! We can't bear to be apart . . . there's only one solution. . ."
Picking up his thread of thought she continued on, "We have to go together."
Words were now put to the thoughts they'd each silently accepted during their daily chores.
Throwing her arm around him, squeezing as tightly as she was able, and with a tremor in her voice she haltingly said, "I can't bear the thought of you shooting me and then yourself. I couldn't bear my pain nor yours either for that matter."
"The same as I couldn't drive us off a 1,000 foot cliff," he enjoined.
Tightly clutching his shirt, she asked the Twenty-Four-Dollar-Question; "Honey, what are we to do?"
"I think I may have a solution," Merle said after a short pause to think. "The other day at the Senior Center two fellows were talking about the same thing. One of them mentioned a book . ."
Reaching to his back pocket he extracted a small piece of paper from his wallet. Glancing at it he said, "the name is Final Exit by Derek Humphry ©. That may be our answer."
Kate suggested, "Perhaps we can order it from the bookstore."
"It may be out of print," he replied, "if so we can steal it from the library."
Looking at him with a glare she almost shouted, "that's stealing and it's against the law."
"My sweetness," he patiently answered, "in this state suicide is also against the law."
That brought a giggle to her lips and another, followed by a string of them.
The mood was shattered and all tension disappeared like a burst soap bubble when he made his final pronouncement of the discussion, "What are they going to do, put us in jail?"
Her giggles broke into glorious laughter. It was infectious and he soon found himself joining her in her gleeful and mirthful laughter.
After the evening cleanup Kate went up to take her shower while Merle watched the late evening news. Sometimes he'd join her but they both knew there would be no love making tonight, only loving. The previous discussions had squelched that possibility.
Her ablutions having been completed she walked naked into their bedroom. She caught the image of herself in the mirror next to her dresser. Stepping closer she appraised her appearance with disgust and sorrow. How could Merle love her in this body?
She saw a tall woman almost 5'8" in height. A lady whose body had gone to the dogs (in her mind). Her disgusting breasts were flat and drooped to surround her navel like two bell clappers. They sure didn't look like they did when they first married. Yes, she would have flunked the pencil test even back then, but after breast feeding four kids the damage was done. The veins stood out on the back of her hands as did the varicose veins on her legs. What used to be her flat stomach now bulged like a tire and her ass drooped so low she would have to seriously think about putting her ass cheeks in a sling to keep them from slapping against the back of her thighs when she walked.
Stepping closer to the mirror she investigated her face. My God, flashed through her mind, You look like you've been in a battle with a mountain lion and lost. Your face looks like a prune that's been in the sun too long. How can any face have that many wrinkles?
Her raven black hair had started to turn gray and for some reason stopped at some point so that her face was framed with wavy black hair hanging to her shoulders with gray streaks here and there, Must be in the genes she thought. Her mother's hair had been the same way.
To her mind the only saving grace were her eyes. They still held their jade green color and their laughter. Of course she needed reading glasses, that was normal.
Unbeknownst to her Merle had slipped into the room. Seeing the grimace on her lips, he knew exactly what was running through her mind. Quietly stripping his clothes off he dropped them on the chair and silently walked up behind her.
They were about to reenact a rite which had been repeated many, many times over the years and could be more realistically called a mating dance, but not this night.
The feel of his arms around her waist startled her back to reality. When she looked into his eyes through the mirror she saw those eyes glaring at her in mock anger.
He spun her around to face him but her shame was too great and she hung her head so that she wouldn't have to look at his disgust with her body.
"Kathryn Sue Moffat, look me in the eyes." The voice was so filled with apparent disgust and so demanding that she had to obey.
The look was almost more then she could bear. She tried to bow her head but to no avail as his fingers pulled her chin up so that she had to look into those eyes that knew her every thought and emotion.
"Woman, when you look at me you see an old man well past his prime. Are you pleased to see an old man standing naked before you?"
Without hesitation she circled his waist with her arms and murmured her yes to his query as her head pressed against his chest in a loving movement that transcended time and space.
"Woman, right now you're wondering why I wouldn't flee to the arms of a fifty or fifty-five year old chippy rather then deal with your tired old body. Know this; I will never tire of you or your body. My body is not the body you married, but it is the one I have now. Your body is not the one I married but it is the body YOU have now, and I love it; all of it. I don't love it as it exists in your memory I love it as it exists now!"
That having been said, he slid down to kneel as gracefully as his arthritic knees would allow so that his lips were pressed against the paunch of her tummy.
Quietly and seemingly without effort she raised him up. Together they approached their wedded bed which was now on its fifth (or was it the sixth?) mattress and spring set.
She gently laid him down and cuddling up next to him pressed her back tightly against his hairy stomach and chest.
The greatest joy of her life (after making love of course) was to feel his large soft penis laying nestled between her ass cheeks, his great huge hand gently encompassing her flaccid breast, and his soft breaths brushing quietly against her hair and the back of her neck whispering of his love and contentment.
Just before she fell into the sleep of a happy fulfilled woman, her lips curled into a smile as a memory slowly crept through her mind of a time long gone by: On their honeymoon they'd made love twice that evening. The second time was the first time she'd ever experienced an orgasm.
After cleaning up she'd happily and dreamingly begun donning her night dress in anticipation of Merle's arms holding her tight as they drifted off to sleep on this first night of the rest of their married life. As she'd buttoned it up Merle had moved in front of her and unbuttoned it. Removing it he'd thrown it on the dresser. Putting an arm around her waist he'd stroked her back, while his other hand lifted and caressed her breast. His lips had began to softly plant kisses on her neck, slowly moving to her ear lobe. As he'd kissed the lobe he'd whispered in such a low tone she'd almost missed it, "not ever!"
The feel of Merle's grasp loosen on her breast brought her back to the present. Scooting her back and butt tighter to her mate she grasped his hand and placed it between her puddled breasts where it properly belonged. To make sure it didn't escape again she placed her small hand against his and squeezed it tightly. Her drowsy mind formed a languid thought; Merle was right. His warm naked flesh beat flannel every time. The thought brought a giggle to her lips.
Merle sleepily but happily complied and squeezed her breast tightly. A thought lazily passed through his mind as the soft mantle of sleep again enfolded him; what the hell was the giggle all about?
Following breakfast the next morning they began their search. Luck was with them almost immediately. They almost drove by a used book store, when on a whim, Kate urged Merle to pull in. They talked to the owner for a few moments and he took them to a bookshelf which contained several copies of the book. Making their selection they paid and beat a hasty retreat home.
Sitting on the sofa with their coffee cups on the coffee table before them they began to leaf through the index and to read a portion of this chapter and that.
Merle finally slammed the book down and smacked his head. "Damn Kate, I didn't realize that taking our leave of this world would be so complicated: insurance, wills, letters, and it just goes on and on!"
To placate him she placed his cup in his hand as she put the whole matter in perspective; "If we don't follow the suggestions in the book we may make a total mess of things. That would leave the kids to have to clean up things because of our stupidity."
"You're right, of course," was his grumbling reply.
Over the next few days they read and re-read the book, taking notes of the things that needed to be done.
It was probably a good idea that they'd decided to get the book because it seemed as if Merle's headaches, caused by the tumor's pressure on his brain, were becoming more painful and occurring at a greater frequency. He was having to take more and more pain killers, which only seemed to put him in a zombie-like state much of the time.
She was also finding it harder to do things around the house, as she found herself having to rest more often to catch her breath, and she too had to take heavier doses of her heart medicine to quell the pain.
Having lived a loving rich full life they approached the end with calmness, but at the same time they opened the old photo albums to reminisce over the important events in their lives. . .
The photo of the two of them at the lake; she in her corn yellow sun dress and straw wide-brimmed hat, he with his arm around her waist, stripped to his undershirt and his Stetson pushed back on his head, each of them squinting into the hot August sun as the picture was taken.
She was a new school teacher at Western Elementary School, he a good ol' boy from Tennessee who (by reputation) was one of the best heavy equipment operators in the area. Tales were told to her about his skill with any piece of equipment that had an engine, especially the big bull dozers and graders.
It took a lot of muscle to operate those huge heavy old machines and he had them in spades she thought with a slight smile.
They'd met at a Trinity Church social (after a proper introduction, of course), and quickly became an item.
After a suitable courtship they were wed at Trinity Church and here was the photograph to show the event. The two of them at the Altar rail in their wedding finery.
Her mind journeyed back to the honeymoon night, as her mind recalled her wonderment at how so big a bear could be so gentle. She hadn't climaxed the first time they had sex. His need had been too great.
The second time was a different story as he took his time and pleasured her until she became so excited she wrapped her legs around his beefy thighs and pleaded with him for release. When she felt his penis touching her cervix as he exploded and planted his seed deep in her body, she finally understood what the giggling comments from her friends at school finally meant as her body exploded in her first glorious climax. Matt was conceived that night.
Merle leaned over to turn the page of the album and her face broke into a smile as she looked at her husband standing in front of the house in his Naval finery after graduation from boot camp.
His draft number had come up pretty quickly and the draft gobbled him up. He was lucky because he ended up in the Navy rather then the Army.
Once again his luck held out as he was sent to Port Hueneme, California for further training in the newly formed Construction Battalions. Her hubby was a SeaBee.
The next several pages were pictures that had passed back and forth during the war. Matt and her as he'd grown from a baby, to a crumb cruncher, and finally to the toddler stage.
His showed him and his mates standing in front of this dozer or that grader on some miserable Pacific Island where they'd spent their time dodging bullets and bombs as they built a string of air strips pointing directly to Japan. Sadly, many of the pictures were a testimony to war's hell as faces were no longer seen in this picture or that due to the death of that member of the unit.
Kate turned the page to find it blank and found herself grimacing as she recalled that time when Merle and his unit dropped off the face of the earth. No mail, no nothing!
It wasn't until he'd been discharged after the war that she learned that his unit had been sent in great secrecy to China to build a secret air strip. No letters in, no letters out, and absolutely no pictures. Those several months almost killed her with worry and filled her every thought with terror.
Turning the page her face again broke into a smile as she looked at her newly discharged mate standing in front of the house in his dress blues with a squirming Matt in his arms. My God, he looked handsome in his uniform with his 2nd Class Petty Officer crow and the rows of ribbons on his chest. But her mind still turned to anguish as she looked at his face in that old fading photo.
His eyes were so sad even as he grinned while holding their son. The wrinkles around his eyes and lips had already begun to form in testimony to having seen and experienced too much. No one had ever been able to get him to talk about those days and nights of terror. Mores the pity, she thought; in the days after the war was over there was a place in his heart she could never reach, because he wouldn't allow her to comfort him as a wife and lover ought to be able to do.