The Suitcase Lady


February 8, 2011, 9:09 pm

This is a love story. And like all love stories, it is happy and it is sad.

I helped my Aunt in Albuquerque for six years following my Uncle’s death. While my Uncle (my mother’s brother)  showered his wife with material things, he was a bit deficit in other ways.

My Aunt related how he once left her on a park bench in London saying, “I’ll be right back.” She sat for four hours waiting for his return.

Two years before my Aunt died, I moved her to the best assisted living in town. For meals, she was seated at a table for four, and one of the diners was a gentleman named Gene. I use the term “gentleman” in the fullest sense of the word.

Gene was witty, kind and fun loving, and every woman there who was in her right mind (and some that weren’t) were after him. The ladies all wanted to sit at his table, share their desserts and invite him to their rooms. He politely and charmingly declined all invitations.

My Aunt, on the other hand, frequently told me that “one man was more than enough, and she was through with men.” But Gene would be his gentlemanly self and pull out her chair, inquire about her health and laugh at her stories.

Slowly, I saw love grow between them. When my Aunt would not appear for a meal, Gene would phone her room to see if she was all right.

When I would come to visit, the first thing my Aunt would ask me to do was see Gene. “He is looking peaked,” she would say. “Make sure he’s not ill.”

And then, on one of my visits, she uttered these words,”You know, Mary, there really are good men in the world.”

My Aunt died three years ago, but I continued to visit Gene. Last month I was in Albuquerque and stopped to see him. I asked the receptionist how he was doing.

“Oh, he died four months ago,” she said.

The world is a lesser place for the loss of this caring man.

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