Rue was known simply as “The funny old lady who lived down the road”. That’s because she lived down the road and was a funny old lady.
No one knew her very well, but she seemed pleasant enough when greeted in passing. She lived down a fairly long driveway. It would have been a good ten minutes’ walk. Rue would wander down it every day at the same time (never on a Sunday) to check the mail box on the side of the road. As far back as anyone could remember (and that would be a good forty years) she had never missed a day.
A good forty years ago she had lost a son in some war or other. Which war it was no one really knew. He hadn’t been in the war for very long when he was killed. He’d never written home. Somehow Rue hoped he had written and the letter was “lost in the mail”. Sometimes a letter can do that. But lost for forty years? So everyday deep down when she opened the mail box to check she always thought of her son.
It was a momentary thing. It was a brief daily ritual. But today was different! There was a letter there! But it wasn’t from her son as such, but almost. It was the ticket to go see his grave.
The gravestone says it all –
Dulcie, loved wife of Paul. She is
safe in arms of Jesus;
loved until hell freezes over;
mourned and missed forever.
Another could never replace
her face, her smile, her grace.
And Paul would take the space next her
when he goes. But I fear,
it being one hundred years ago,
we’ll clearly never know
if Paul moved on to hoe a new
and different field. For see,
lichen covers Dulcie’s name; dank
her space. Paul’s stays blank.