They say that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. And I guess that also we might have to consider that sometimes you have to pass through a good deal of life before you are ready to look into some books.
Walt is the father of a childhood friend. His daughter is a year older than I am, and his son about 18 months younger. Not much difference at this stage in life, but some difference as a kid. Walt was a sober, hardworking, church going, frugal Christian man. Strict in raising his kids, his rules were exacting, and he required obedience. I knew that he was the foreman on concrete construction crew, and had heard that you never wanted to get on his crew as he gave a very full days work to his employer, and made sure that the rest of the crew did so as well. He could work just about anyone into the ground.
This is the impression that I had of Walt. Not fun loving, but rather humorless. All business. HARDWORKING. That was the Walt that was in my mind when I left home and Annie and I started our home. We moved away from Denver, and lost touch with many old friends. I didn't talk to Walt for thirty years. Then Dad passed away and I ran into Walt and Velma at the funeral. Walt is about 88 now. Small, lean, spare, but he had rather more of a twinkle in his eye than I remembered. I learned that he has no grass in his yard. Both the front and back yards have been turned into garden, vineyard, berry patch, and orchard. So he is still pretty hard working.
As we talked he told me of how much he liked my parents, what good people they are. We talked about all the water that had gone under the bridge since I used to play at their house as a kid and somehow the subject turned to how he and Velma had met.
I remembered that Mom had told me that Velma had been in a TB sanitarium years ago. Walt told me that he had met her, and she either was already in the sanitarium, or was going to it soon. He continued to see her and visit her there, and one day, after several months of visits, proposed marriage to her. She was terribly torn, but good person that she is, she told him that she couldn't marry him. It wouldn't be fair to him. She might never get better. She might never be released. Walt told her that it didn't matter, and that he wanted to marry her anyway. He said that when she was released, he would be waiting.
And so it was that they were married, and she continued to live in the sanitarium for two more years. Finally she was declared to be free of the disease and was allowed to go home. And Walt was waiting faithfully, like he said that he would.
In these days of instant gratification it uplifts my spirit some, and restores some faith in the goodness of people to remember a man like Walt, and to know that a little romance and tenderness can be found in the most unexpected places. You just have to read the book, and maybe a little between the lines.