It was their favorite spot to sit, that creaky old swing that had long ago become a rusty relic from days gone by. Most evenings they sat side by side on that swing, THEIR swing, and watched leaves fall and basked in the peace that enveloped the lake. He kept his eyes on the movements of the fish; she kept her eyes on him. After decades of better and worse, richer and poorer, he was still the best thing that had ever happened to her.
The swing had been their first big purchase together back in the early days of counting pennies and clipping coupons in their first apartment, and hours innumerable had been spent in the swing together hatching big dreams, plotting weekend adventures, laughing at the children (long since grown), and snoozing on Sunday afternoons after church. The swing was rarely the spot for arguing — though it had been known to happen occasionally, back in the early days — but mostly, the swing was peace and comfort and love and home, and the petty troubles of those early days were long forgotten as only the happy memories remained.
The old couple sat and held hands, as was their tradition — his hands now calloused and gnarled; hers spotted and frail. She pondered the rings they had exchanged so many years before, and it occurred to her that her beloved gold ring must be around a hundred years old by now; it had been his grandmother’s. His thin sterling silver band was worn smooth after so many decades, the inscription on the inside — Joel 2:25 — now indiscernible to the untrained eye. Joel 2:25: I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…
There was no better verse to sum up all that he was to her. She vaguely remembered the misery that her life had been before she met him, and thanked God again, as she had so many thousands of times before, for bringing him to her. He was truly God’s repayment for the years wasted; a blessing far more abundant than she ever could have asked for or imagined. She had had two small children when they met; he had had none… Until her two little girls had stolen his heart and become his. He raised them as his own; he was everything he never had to be to two little girls who needed him more than they knew, and it made the old couple’s hearts swell with pride to think of how the children had turned out exactly how they had hoped.
Their oldest, Charlotte, kind and introverted, still ran the veterinary practice she had built many years before; lively and fun Abigail had found her calling teaching kindergarten, and thrived on investing her life in the small children she taught.
And then there was Isaac, their surprise blessing who had come along unexpectedly, long after it made sense to have another baby, and, well… it was hard to keep up with Isaac. He had called the day before from Bali. Or was it Thailand? He had been a constant source of amusement and delight for the old couple as if he was destined to live up to his name, Isaac, meaning… laughter.
Laughter. It was what they had done best. As she thought back over the decades spent with this man by her side, she knew that it hadn’t all been perfect by any means; there had been better and worse, richer and poorer, at times a little too much of the ‘poorer’ and not enough of the ‘richer’ to suit them. There had been tumultuous years of testing, as happens in every family, but was the laughter that had made life so sweet and the difficult times forgettable. Through it all, he had never stopped making her laugh.
She squeezed his hand, sighed contentedly, and basked in the peace that enveloped the lake.