By Lorry Myers
Charles Mongler was too many years older than 16-year-old Alys Marguerite, so he borrowed a wagon and they drove four towns over, knocking on the door of a clergyman before her mother could disapprove. Uncle Chris teasingly called her “Baby girl” or “Sweet Momma”, and Aunt Gete simply called him “Daddy”.
Everyone could see that they were meant to be.
Together they ran a working farm in Audrain County where every day, Uncle Chris would wash the dirt off his hands before he walked in the back door. Inside was his waiting wife and every time, he would kiss her like it had been too long. Aunt Gete would blush and giggle but never pushed him away, never embarrassed by his loving affection no matter who was watching. After each meal, Uncle Chris would sit for a while and when his wife came to take his plate, he would pull her down to that familiar spot on his lap. Just a moment they lingered because the work was still there.
A moment was all they needed.
As a young girl, I watched the soft look on my uncle’s face when his wife filled his view. Across crowded rooms their eyes would meet ensuring they were never far apart. I witnessed Aunt Gete wipe dirt from his cheek with the hem of her apron while his calloused hand gently soothed her hair.
Every day they lived; they lived that kind of love.
Uncle Chris always knew he would be the first to go and when the time came, Aunt Gete grieved her husband’s death with quiet grace. She told me once that she would dream of her husband when his hair was dark and his shoulders broad. Always there was a longing in her voice when Aunt Gete said his name, always a wistful smile when she remembered a memory. She confided that when she woke each morning and lay down each night, she knew Uncle Chris was never far away.
He was waiting for her.
I went to the hospital and sat on my sweet aunt’s bed the night before she passed, leaning in so I wouldn’t miss a word. Aunt Gete took my hand and with eyes focused and clear, she whispered that Uncle Chris had come for her.
“I am ready,” she said, reminding me what I wasn’t ready for.
The next day the love of her life took her home.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard