“Since 2011, I’ve seen an older couple walking the neighborhood every morning and evening. They had matching windbreaker outfits, large white new balance sneakers, and a stick in hand.
Every day, they’d wave, blow kisses at the dogs, and say what a beautiful day it was even if they were walking in the rain without an umbrella.
We never exchanged names, but I knew where they lived, and they knew where my boys and I lived.
The year is 2015. The top and doors are off my Jeep and I’m returning from the beach with Ares my red Doberman. I’m flipping through songs to use for an edit and started the Maroon 5 cover of ‘The Way You Look Tonight.’ With the volume maxed out, I entered the neighborhood and made my way to my front drive.
As I turned onto my street, I saw the couple walking as usual with matching windbreaker outfits and a big stick for protection. As I passed them en route to my driveway, they turned and looked at me with huge smiles on their faces.
The man motioned for me to turn up the music just as I was reaching for the knob to turn it down. My large mud tires whirred slowly to a stop on the concrete.
After I got out of the jeep, they walked by the front yard, and the man exclaimed, ‘Sure is wonderful to hear stuff like that being played by a young’n!’ He swung his wife’s hand up and over her head, twirling her, as her oversized, all-white New Balance walking shoes with teal stripes moved to the beat.
As the years flew by, they’d pass while I was working out, landscaping, or wrenching on the truck. Anything from Alan Jackson and Metallica to Thomas Rhett and Lil Wayne would be pouring from my open garage door or split-level front yard. They always smiled, they always waved, and they always danced.
Present-day, I’m watering my freshly laid sod. Griswold, my standard poodle, is close by vigilantly protecting me from dragonflies and the occasional squirrel.
A windbreaker suit swooshes slowly down the street below. Alone, the woman approaches. I wave, and she waves back. I exclaim in a joking manner, ‘Where’s the better half?’
Her stride slowed and she began to shake her head. She looked up at me through her large blinder-style sunglasses, and with a trembling voice said, ‘I don’t have him anymore.’
My heart sank.
I rushed down to the street already feeling tight in my own chest. ‘Ma’am?‘ I said as I approached her. She turned with tears streaming from behind her large sunglasses.
Not another word was spoken. We hugged. Big hugs, like she was my mom or my grandmother.
She sobbed into my chest for a moment and said, ‘I’m just trying to do the things we used to, so I still feel like he’s around…I needed that hug more than you know, thank you for all the music.’
Hug ‘em big, folks.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Aldon O’neill Ward. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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