Friday, March 28, 2014

A Wistful Trip Down Memory Lane

Shortly after his 80th birthday, Carl sat down along a riverside, on a bench under an oak tree to take stock of his life.

Yes, he had been blessed with a 52 year marriage to Susan as they continue to travel together and share in the joy of their two adult daughters, sons in law, and five grandchildren, all of whom capture their hearts.

Yes, he had had a successful career as an attorney, and was able to provide a fine home for his family, and college educations for his daughters, in addition to a comfortable nest egg, so he and Susan could live well in their late years.

Susan had always been the love of his life, and he was thankful to have her.

But on this day, Carl's mind returned wistfully to a carefree summer day, 63 years earlier when he was just 17.

On that day, he and his buddies took a ride up to Lake Geneva, a mountainous resort community about 100 miles from home. There Carl met Alana, a spirited, independent young woman his age.

He could still picture her in his mind's eye. She had blue eyes, shoulder length blond hair, a big smile and a gentle laugh, which came easily to her.

At one point, Carl pushed her on a rope swing that hung attached to a branch on a tall, aged pine tree as they talked and laughed together.

But as nightfall came, Carl had to rejoin his buddies for the ride home. He and Alana promised to keep in touch, but they never did, as life took them in different directions and they lost track of each other.

Now late in life, Carl had no regrets, but he wondered what became of Alana, as in the back of his mind, he could still hear her gentle laugh and feel the warmth of her smile.

Had she had a happy life? A husband? A career? Children? Had she travelled the world? Had she fulfilled her dreams?

Carl knew those answers would always allude him, and yet as he looked back wistfully he could feel a sense of Alana's youth and his own, and know that on that day, they had lived the entire relationship they would ever have.

"For that is what life does," Carl thought to himself. "It is always what it is meant to be." With a sigh and a smile, he said goodbye to Alana, who was happy and well in his memory, as she had been at 17 and he walked along a purple flowered path to his car to return to the life he treasured with Susan.

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