Today is my last day at the Advocate. I have a lot to say, a lot of people to thank.
My co-workers turned dear friends. My bosses who are much, much more to me than bosses. The countless people I've interviewed, laughed with, cried with. The fun friends I made on those payday trips to 205. You've all made Victoria my home. Thank you.
I could go on, but it's too early in the day to begin the crying. Instead, I'll leave you with something I wrote this past December. This is just one example of how this job has given me the opportunity to know and to appreciate and to love people. This is just one example of how special Victoria is and always will be to me.
Did I say thank you?
I’d kept the teardrops swelled within my eyes until I walked out the door to leave.
The couple reminded me so much of my grandparents, and I told them so.
“We’re just a couple of old folks,” the husband replied.
“I’m not old. I’ll never get old,” his wife, 82, shot back.
The husband told me she thinks she’s 40.
And I thought more power to you, girl.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s this year. Now in a wheelchair, her husband had put up all the Christmas decorations I’d come to see during a break from work.
He takes care of his wife in their home now, as my grandfather did for my grandmother when her mind began to dim like homes after the holidays.
I was hoping to do a sweet story about the couple – about the breathtakingly detailed ornaments the wife made and how proud her husband is to show them off. I hoped to tell the story of a couple married 63 years, “and counting,” and about how the groom hung dozens of ornaments himself this Christmas, reminding his wife of the years they’d done it together.
The ornaments the wife created are stunning. Each is unique, with a different backcloth surrounding a different shape. They’re threaded with beads, sequins and other flashy trinkets, some patterned, some masking the whole ball.
“It didn’t take me that long,” the wife said.
“Five years, 10 years” her husband jumped in.
The husband guided me around the home, showing off the wreaths and other trimmings his wife had made over the years.
“You’re proud of her,” I told him.
“I’m proud of her,” he said.
He’s worried an article in the paper will incite burglars to steal his wife’s creations. He’s protective of her work, he says. I know there’s more wrapped up in the balls than just the beads. There’s love. Talent. Memories.
One afternoon I called the couple’s home when the husband was at the store. After a few minutes of conversation, the wife connived a plan.
She wasn’t worried about burglars, she said, so we’d just have to do the story behind her husband’s back. Come over at 1 p.m. Wednesday, she said.
I laughed the way I laughed when my grandmother was wonderfully mischievous.
My grandmother would hide $5 bills from my grandfather, stashing them until I’d come visit. While grandpa was in front of the TV, she’d call me back to her bedroom and slip me the cash.
I never really protested, because I knew that was her joy.
I didn’t protest when the couple offered me two ornaments today, either. Rather, I accepted with genuine excitement, hoping they could see how much I appreciated their kindness.
I picked a purple and a blue one, which happen to match my tree perfectly.
I told them, tears swelling larger now, that I’d keep the ornaments forever to remember their story and to remind me of my grandparents’ story.
My grandfather loved my grandmother fiercely, too. Only cancer could sap his strength enough to leave her in the end. And as it goes with two people who have spent their lives supporting, encouraging and loving each other, grandma joined her groom soon after he died.
The love I saw in this husband and wife was so familiar. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get another glimpse of my grandma and grandpa all the way in Victoria, TX.
Before I reached down to hug the wife in her wheelchair, she asked me my name again. She searched her memory, telling me someone in her family has the same name.
“Our granddaughter,” her husband helped. “Our granddaughter’s name is Kayla.”
“Yes. She’s as pretty as can be,” the wife told me. “And so are you.”
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