(Drum roll please)
I got a call from Chuck last night before I left for work. We hadn’t planned to see each other for a couple of weeks. He said that he wanted to see me, that he needed to talk with me. I asked if we needed reservations at Perkins. We shared a nervous laugh. We worked out the details and Chuck drove down this morning.
Since I worked last night, I was sleeping when he arrived. After coffee had been made and a muffin eaten we began a bit of small talk. Getting caught up on the happenings of the past week. We were interrupted by a knock at the door. My daughter and granddaughter stopped by. Fortunately I had baked a Pineapple Upside Down Cake and my granddaughter was delighted. They stayed visiting with Chuck and I for nearly three hours when my daughter headed home to start dinner. My granddaughter was having fun helping Chuck with his new phone. They were taking pictures and recording videos. Then she put on her bike helmet and gave me a hug. She said a perky, “Good Bye Chuck” and was on her way. I do believe she’s warming up to Chuck.
I mentioned the loud grumbling coming from my stomach and we headed promptly to Mitchell’s Sports Bar in Leland, Iowa. Leland Iowa just happens to be named in a song by Kevin Costner… “you can’t buy a thing in Leland Iowa.” Kevin Costner is a good guy. He came with his band and did a free concert in a barn for all the residents of Leland Iowa. Then he went for lunch at Mitchell’s, and which I have lovingly named, The Kevin Costner Cafe’.
I ordered a Grilled Chicken sandwich that was topped with bacon, grilled onions and BBQ sauce. Chuck ordered ‘The Big Pig’ sandwich. Lots of pork on there. As we waited for our dinner, I mentioned that he had something he had wanted to talk to me about. And so it began. We both proceeded with caution. Gently talking and listening to each other. I told him about my concerns, and he clarified some things. He said that he’s quickly discovered how I have endeared my heart to him. And how when we’re not together that he’s wishing we were.
As our food arrived, I took a couple of moments of the timely diversion to consider my thoughts, feelings and possible options. I thought about feedback I’ve gotten from my daughter and all of you out there in blog-land. I said a quick prayer and took a deep breath. All this while watching Chuck wrestle with The Big Pig sandwich.
After dinner we took a drive and continued our conversation through the blurtings of random thoughts. We drove through Forest City, down the airport road and then north along the edge of the golf course, Chuck asked what I was thinking. Well, that’s usually a loaded question. Instead, i felt calm and peaceful. I opened my mouth and just the right words came out. Not too many, not too few. “We have something special here. If we can step forward with patience and honesty, I think we stand a chance.” Chuck smiled and said that he’d like it if we continued through the summer and meet each other’s friends and keep spending time with each other’s kids. Just take our time and see where it goes.
Suddenly the urgency I had felt about making a decision right now was gone. His words were heart-felt and sincere. I felt a calm tenderness between us that there hadn’t been before. We drove along side the Winnebago River until we reached the Swinging Bridge. I shared about walking along here with the kids and the park where they had played. All the thoughts of the convent and the cliff had disappeared.
“I have dreams for us Jeannie. Meeting you has changed my life. I think about the future and I never did before. Before Marge died I never thought about it. Now I think the best is yet to come.”
It was a nice thought to end the day on.