I was waiting, with the luggage, outside the hotel. Joe was getting the car and I was enjoying being outside in the warm sunshine. Then, she appeared beside me, taking the bench a little to my right. She looked at me and smiled. I smiled back and we both fell into silence.
Over the two days we were at the hotel I saw her quite regularly. She spent most of her time sitting in the lobby or out on the patio. She wore a thin white sweater over a lovely pink blouse and a dark pleated skirt. Whenever Joe and I appeared we felt her watching us. Not with hostility. Not with a deep curiosity. More like just a passing interest in those who also were staying at the hotel.
When she was out on the patio, I found her watching me as I got into the van. I don't much like being watching as I do these things and Joe knows how to easily step into someone's field of vision. I think she knew that we'd found her watching a little intrusive because when Joe moved, she was looking down and reading the Bible that she carried with her at all times. Sometimes it sat in her lap, others on the table beside her. She didn't read it often, it seemed a bit like an old friend just sharing silence with her.
I was startled when she spoke.
"That man, that nice looking man who helps you, is he a relative?"
"No, no, we aren't related," I said.
"Is he a paid companion, then?"
"No, no, he's not. He's my partner, we've been together for 45 years this year." I said not really knowing why I was adding that detail.
"Oh Good!" she said, clasping her hands together in delight the way Granny does in the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons.
"Really?" I asked.
"Oh,yes. I admit I thought you were a couple. You are so kind to each other. I'm so pleased." Her hands fell back on her Bible.
"I must say you've surprised me," I said.
She looked down at the book in her lap and said, "Were you surprised because of my Bible?"
"Frankly, yes," I said.
"I discovered long ago that I had to read the words to the rhythm of God's heart, for me, that is the path to understanding."
She saw the tears in my eyes and reached out and patted my hand.
We returned to silence. When she saw the van pulling up she rose and said, "I'll give you your privacy now." And she was gone, leaving the scent of blessing in the air.