Once to Now

crowd, couple, elderly“I think we need to return,” he whispered in her ear. An ear he knew so well, shell-shaped and as pink as a wish.

“No!” she protested. “We’re safe here. Let’s just roam.”

His smile, small and protective, told her everything she needed to know.

“It’s okay, you know. It’s okay the way things are,” he assured her.

Pulling away from him, she grabbed his hand and pushed through the crowd. “Not yet,” she said as firmly as she held his hand.

Over the years, his hand had held her breasts and her desire. His hands had raked their yards and painted their walls, barbecued weekend meals and hugged their children.

Now, they could barely move in this crowd of others – others who also wanted to escape from reality just for a little while. But she couldn’t catch her breath. She stopped, panting.woman's hand, aging

Otherwise, her body felt so strong and alive. She pulled her hands up to her line of vision: unlined, unmarked with spots and veins. The way they had been, so long ago.

She stared into his eyes now, the two of them just drinking the other in. She saw herself reflected in his eyes: her youth and beauty, rosy cheeks and soft lips.

“I want to go back,” he said. Just those simple five words, but they said it all.

They did not belong here anymore.

She nodded as gently as a flower responds to a drop of rain.

They both closed their eyes, squeezed hands, and he chanted:

Time is gone. Gone is time

We return to what we are

From what we once were.

Time erases and time revolves

Now bring us to the time of now.

aging, elderly, senior housing, love, marriageThe bump from once to now was imperceptible, so at first neither knew if the incantation worked. But then they opened their eyes, and he stared into her weathered face and fading brown eyes. She smiled into his craggy features full of the years of hope and fears, of disappointment and great joys.

His eyes teared with emotion and they began to rock together on the front porch of the one-story brick building  that stored the elderly, past their prime, dreaming of once before.  

95 thoughts on “Once to Now

  1. Such a lovely story, Pam, but it’s the very definition of bittersweet. I’m glad they’re together (it’s kind of like the true-life story Jill posted today), but there is this: “the one-story brick building that stored the elderly, past their prime, dreaming of once before.”
    And we both have our moms. . .funny I was just thinking about that earlier this morning.

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  2. Are you sure you aren’t writing about the Beamans, married 52 years? I liked the contrast of the images of aging with this fresh image: ” An ear he knew so well, shell-shaped and as pink as a wish.”

    Counting my blessings and loving your sweet story, Pam. Happy Thanks-living!

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    • I think that’s the crux of life (and aging), Marian. That we count our blessings for the years, not bemoan the fact that there are so many behind us. ;-0 How I love your blessing of THANKS-LIVING. ❤


    • Yes, Mary, I see this couple’s story that way too. How sweet that they still have each other, all these years, and sad that through aging, that togetherness is soon to end. But. They’re still rockin’, aren’t they? 🙂


    • I’m afraid that those who are 50 and younger may not relate because, really, many think they’re not going to ever really get “old.” But , when the years behind are more than the years ahead, then we realize the strength and loss and deep emotion of long-time-love. ❤


    • Those old romantic ’50s and ’60s songs (even the Beatles) where the young and robust singer/s express how romantic it will be for a couple to grow old together…. turns out, they were right! ❤


  3. Oh my gosh, Pamela. If my husband walks into the kitchen right now, he will be puzzled and concerned to see tears streaming down my face. Yet, I will be thinking about him. I also see myself reflected in his eyes, as I once was “youth and beauty.” The “once” to “now” feels like a brief second in time. Poignant and timely. A beautiful post.💕

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    • Well, you had a good reason that this story touched you so much, Erica, considering that you’re celebrating an anniversary. To long time love and memories and most especially, to loving each other not despite of, but because of, our age. 🙂 Many thanks for sharing my story in your anniversary post. ❤

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      • You remind me something my husband told me a few years ago: I told him how I can see myself growing older. He responds with “isn’t that the whole idea? We are growing older together.” Thank you for sharing a beautiful part of you, Pamela🙂


  4. What a cool story, you fantasy writer, you. I love this, Pam, and it happens every day, doesn’t it? We look at our loved ones and don’t see the wrinkles, sags, and stoops. We see eternal beauty through the eyes of love.

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  6. Such a beautiful story! There are the sad notes, and yet the story plays upon the backdrop of a life well-lived. Love is always an adventure of the heart; the heart strings can surely tug at the soul. But, what would life be without love? There is music to this story, the music of time, the music of the seasons. Most of all, like the game of musical chairs we played when we were children, these story-people danced; how lovely to keep dancing until the music stops. The music of a lifetime is a wonderful thing to ponder while rocking in a porch rocker; yes, there is the creaking of old age, but, you remember the babies you rocked, and all the moments along the way. The sweetest notes of life can be found simply in remembrance; once again, we reclaim a golden hour, once again, we dance, as if we were forever young.

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  7. Wow! I am reading this while celebrating my 79th birthday looking across the table at my wife of 56+ years and thinking to myself that’s us! Beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  8. Wow! Powerful writing, Pam … poignant and mesmerising. They, as we, knew they had to return but yet longed to stay in the past of youth. In the midst of their final days in the place ‘that stored the elderly”, they retain a close and loving relationship … their love, care and knowledge of each other a strength that shines out!

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    • Yes. I think of this story every time I pass by an elderly couple (in fact, maybe that’s how I got inspired to write it). Those that still hold hands are my favorite. To holding hands no matter the amount of years….

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  9. Perhaps it is my age combined with your ability to transport readers immediately and so completely into a scene but I found myself swallowing a throat lump as the couple returned. What would it be like to go back to all those decades prior? What would we see and indeed would we be able to return? Fascinating tale Pam. I’ll be pondering it all day long.

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    • I’m so glad my story of Once and Now caused you to ponder, Sue. Did you come up with an answer? WOULD you return to the past if you could? Fun to wonder, but I have a feeling that even if you could, you would return to the present immediately. But who knows?? 🙂


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