It was a cliché, they had known what people were saying “It’ll never last. She’s only eighteen for heaven’s sake and he’s nearly blind.” But they’d been wrong hadn’t they totally wrong, it had lasted and they had thrived, married for fifty years, if that’s not lasting Betty and Stan didn’t know what was.
There’d been hard times, shortage of money of course but then that happened to most people didn’t it. There’d been struggles, when the final little bit of his vision had gone and Stan had sunk into a deep depression that had been hard but Jenky, the guide dog had been their saviour, the beautiful Golden Labrador, brown eyes that Stan couldn’t see but Betty described as Maltesers, and so they had got through it then there were other dogs Slim, Charlie and this lovely last one Paddy. All well-loved and all great workers. Now Paddy was getting on and his retirement was on the cards. That was one of the reasons they had asked the children to come over for dinner. They wanted to make sure that one of them would take Paddy and give him a good home when the time came for him to give up work. It had gone well, Dave would take him and the grandchildren were thrilled.
Dave and Stephie, lovely, caring children and little Rosie and Jake the apple of Stan’s eye they used to laugh, well used now to the darkness that he lived in. They had been lucky and happy.
Of course there was the great sadness, the little lost one. Privately they always called her Little Jenny. They didn’t talk about it with others, they never had. It had been too painful at first and then they hugged the memories to themselves. The two hours they spent praying for her to survive and the all too short hour afterwards when they had been able to hold her tiny body. Even now moisture would glint in the corner of Betty’s eyes as she imagined she felt the ghost weight of the tiny little thing and the dreadful emptiness in her arms when they had taken her away. Ah well, all part of a life really and they had coped, quietly and without talking about it they always treated themselves to a bottle of wine on the anniversary of that awful day and then they moved on and simply treasured what they had.
“That went well I thought.” Betty pushed the door closed as Dave’s car disappeared around the corner.
“Yes, they all seemed well. Happy, and I’m relieved about Paddy.” Stan bent to pat the gristled hair on the old dog’s head.
“Mmm. Are you sure we did the right thing though. Not telling them?”
Stan moved forward, sure and steady in his own home despite his lack of sight. “Yes, I’m sure. Why have all the upset. How could we tell them without a scene and anyway love what can they do eh? What can anyone do?”
“I know, I know but I wouldn’t want them to be angry.”
“They won’t, they won’t be angry. They’ll be sad and that’s all. Why make them sad even sooner than they need to be.”
“Have you had your pills?”
“Yes, you, have you taken yours?”
“Course I have, mind you there doesn’t seem a lot of point does there.”
“I know what you mean but then again we want to be okay don’t we, for the flight and everything. We don’t want the airline stopping us.”
“They won’t, it’ll be fine. One more week love, are you really ready?”
“Yes, I am. It’s good, good that we are going together. I’m glad it’s Switzerland as well, we had a lovely holiday there, do you remember?”
“I do, I do. We’ll sit together and watch the sun go down over the mountains, that’s what the brochure says. Together we’ll see out the last chapter, you and me.”
“Yes sweetheart, you and me and do you think maybe Little Jenny.”
“Oh yes, definitely Little Jenny, she’ll be there to make it all complete.”