“Mom, I met a nice boy at the YMCA today,” said Charlene as she sat down to the dinner table. Her mom, Genevieve, had just prepared one of Charlene’s favorite dishes of corn, mashed potato and chicken. “He and his family recently moved to town and he transferred into my school, but I had never really met him nor spent any time with him until today at the YMCA” said Charlene.
“Really?” asked Genevieve gently as she passed the mashed potato and the corn. “What makes him such a nice guy?” “Well,” said Charlene, “He is an excellent student. He is a Sophomore in high school just like me and yet he already knows that he wants to be a Genetics Engineer when he goes to college.” She continued, “He is very kind, ever so warm with everyone he meets and has the prettiest dimples when he smiles!” Genevieve could tell that her daughter was a bit smitten with this new boy. “That’s wonderful dear, but please be careful.” said her mom, “Remember that you cannot judge a book by its….”
“I know, I know mom” interrupted Charlene, “by its cover.”
His dad, continued Charlene, is a well-known physician in town. He used to live far away, but the family recently moved back to our town here in Florida. I think that the family – or at least the dad – was initially from here. His dad is Dr. Paul Calder.
“What?” thought Genevieve. “Did she just say Paul Calder?”
Genevieve was suddenly enveloped by a deep pensive mood. Like a soft, warm blanket which completely envelopes you and ever so softly covers you, Genevieve was enveloped by her thoughts and became oblivious to her surroundings. She stared out into the distance.
Years ago, when she was in high school, Genevieve knew a wonderful boy named Paul Calder. They dated all through high school and loved each other; but when it was time to consider going to college, Paul chose to go to the University of Michigan whereas Genevieve decided to stay in Florida at Florida State University. One evening, before leaving for Michigan, Paul asked Genevieve if she would marry him so that both of them could go to Michigan together, to which she softly answered, “I don’t think that this is the time to make a decision like that Paul.” She could see the hurt in his brown eyes. The pained look on his face made her feel horrible, but there was no taking back the answer she had just given him. They went their separate ways.
Initially they tried to stay in touch with letters and occasional phone calls, but back then there was no Internet. Nowadays people can text, call, Facebook or even look each other up on the popular dating site called FindAMateForFree.com (or FAMFF.com as young people today call it) but these things were not available back then. Therefore, as time passed she and Paul pursued other lives. After college, Paul stayed in Michigan for medical school and settled there.
Genevieve, in Florida, married Christopher, a wonderful stockbroker with whom she had two children, who she named Charlene, and Stuart. Paul, on the other hand, as she learned through a friend, married someone in Michigan and, as she was told, also had children. More recently, Genevieve had heard that Paul might have moved back to town, back home to Florida to practice medicine here, but she had not seen him. She had wondered – possibly dreaded – how she would feel if/when she might run into him now that he was back in town.
Now, as fate loves to do to us, it seems that her daughter Charlene had met Paul’s son and might – oh gosh – be smitten with – of all boys she could have chosen – Paul’s son! “What is the new boy’s name?” asked Genevieve quietly, gently coming out of her trance. “What new boy?” asked Charlene, as the young girl had clearly moved on to thinking of other things. “The new boy who you met today at the YMCA,” asked her mom. “Oh”, said Charlene, “His name is Paul. He was named after his dad; his name is Paul Calder just like his dad.”
With that, the soft, warm blanket of thoughts once again swallowed Genevieve whole and her thoughts took her away. She again stared into the distance and thoughts of the life that might have been filled her head and her heart. All these years, she had never totally let go of Paul. There had always remained a little of him in her heart.
“Is this seat taken?” asked someone next to her before attempting to sit down. “Ahh no. I don’t think so” answered Genevieve without looking up. She was at the stadium, at her daughter’s high school graduation, and was trying to catch a glimpse of her daughter in the midst of all of the other students. She did not look up to see the tall, handsome gentleman with pepper grey hair and a decidedly distinguished look who had just sat down next to her. Until she did – and it was Paul!
She could feel her heart beat ever so strongly and felt her hands gently tremble. Her mouth felt dry and she did not think that she could utter a word, but then heard herself say “Paul?” “Is that you?” Paul looked up and there she was. The woman who had filled his thoughts and his dreams for years. The woman for whom he had always felt a small spot in his heart. She was now sitting next to him. “Genevieve?” he said. ”You have not changed a bit!”
It was as if time and distance had never separated them. All the emotions, all the feelings – which had never truly left either of them – returned. The long ago but never truly forgotten feelings returned as one who is basks in the heat of a warm summer’s day. It was high school all over again.
They excused themselves from their respective spouses and walked to the back of the stadium. “Paul, there is something that I never had the chance to tell you”, said Genevieve. “At the end of High School when you asked me to marry you, unknown to anyone, I had discovered that I had a large tumor in one of my ovaries. I thought that I had a terminal cancer. I did not want to marry you, only for you to discover shortly thereafter, that I was on my way to surgery, chemotherapy, and possibly a short life.” “That is why I turned down your proposal of marriage Paul. I did not want to put you through what I thought was going to be a terrible situation” “Luckily the tumor was completely removed at surgery and I was cured. It turned out to not be malignant.” He looked into her beautiful blue eyes with the gaze that had always made her feel loved. Had always made her feel weak and warm when he looked at her like that. She remembered that look – dear goodness did she remember that look – ever so well.
“I wish that you would have told me, said Paul.” “When you turned down my marriage proposal, I was devastated. I was sure that you did not love me, that maybe you had found someone else. I could not understand why, after how we felt for each other, you turned me down.” “But now I see that you did it out of love for me. No greater show of love could you have shown me than to sacrifice your personal happiness in order to protect me from the medical issues you were facing.”
Genevieve could feel her eyes fill with tears. She reached over and gently held Paul’s hand and he reached over and embraced her. He held her close to him and, she thought, “This embrace was fourteen years in the making, but it was worth the wait”.
After what seemed like forever, they separated from their deep, warm, loving embrace and thought of their respective spouses. They had new lives now; high school was behind them. They now had lives that could not be undone. They returned to their seats next to their respective spouses.
At the end of the graduation, when all the families were gathered downstairs in the stadium, Charlene approached her mom and introduced her to Paul. “Mom”, she said, “This is Paul, Dr. Calder’s son who I mentioned.” “Yes,” answered Genevieve, “I remember that you mentioned him.” “Well,” continued Charlene, “He has been accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study engineering and is moving to Boston for school.” “I had not said anything to you and dad,” continued Charlene, “but Paul and I have been dating for the last year and a half” “What?” Thought Genevieve, “My daughter has been dating Paul’s son?” “But there’s more mom,” said Charlene. “Paul has asked me to go with him to Boston and for us to be married – and I have accepted!”
And with that, again, the soft, warm blanket of distant thoughts returned to swallow Genevieve whole. Again she stared into the distance, but this time as she stared into the distance, as her thoughts swallowed her whole, as she reflected on her past and her future, she thought “I guess that sometimes, love does indeed skip a generation.”