Are we there yet?
September 11-17, 2017
You can’t hide the thunderbolt. When it hits you, everybody can see it. Christ, man, don’t be ashamed of it. Some men pray for the thunderbolt. You’re a very lucky fellow.”
– Mario Puzo, The Godfather
My buddy Craig and I were driving around in North Little Rock one day in 1975. The talk, as it usually did at age 17, turned to girls, and before I knew it, he said, “I’ve got something I want you to see.” We turned off highway 107 in Sherwood, onto North Hills, and he pulled into the large Kroger parking lot that faced Country Club.
“What are we doing?” I asked him.
“Just come on. Trust me,” he replied.
I said to myself, “Right, like trusting you when you said you could cut my hair as well as any barber.”
But I followed, curious to see what new scheme he was hatching.
We got inside the store and he stopped at the front and grabbed my arm. He was scanning the faces, of which there were many.
“Let go,” I said, pulling away from his too tight grip. Craig was the starting linebacker for our high school team, the Rockets, and didn’t know his own strength. He had attempted over our high school years to bring out the same passion in me or the game, but it never happened. So after a couple of broken collarbones early in our senior years, I decided to focus elsewhere, like on girls.
“There she is,” Craig said enthusiastically as he grabbed me again.
“Ow, man!” But he didn’t let go this time and pointed me in the direction he was staring.
I looked through the crowded store at the housewives who waited as the pimply-faced sack boys filled their brown bags. Then I looked at the cashiers.
I saw her, and in an instant, my life’s path was set.
“You see her?” Craig asked.
“Kathy Althoff! Do you see her?”
“Go talk to her,” Craig said.
He shoved me forward, snapping me out of the trance. An old woman I almost knocked over gave us a dirty look. I moved back toward Craig, who said, “No, the other way.”
“I can’t talk to her now. Look how busy she is.”
“Go buy something then,” which, 42 years later, seems like a pretty good idea, but instead, I turned and got outside as quick as I could. I knew Craig well, and no antic, no matter how humiliating to himself or companions, was beyond his limit.
He found me outside, staring through the glass at Kathy’s face. He laughed, grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the car.
Later that year, on the 4th of July at a big party on Hill Road, Kathy and I finally got together. Five years and a couple of months after that, we were walking down the aisle at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Oh, and somewhere along the way she became KM (Kathleen Marie). Thanks Craig.
Speaking of great loves, Gordon Yeager, age 94, and his wife Norma, 90, got in their car in 2011 and headed to town. But an accident sent them to the intensive care unit with serious injuries.
The couple was moved into a room together, in beds side-by-side, where they could hold hands.
Gordon died at 3:38 p.m., but the family was surprised by one of the heart monitors.
Someone asked, “Why does the machine say his heart is still beating?” A nurse said he was picking up Norma’s heartbeat through her hand. She died exactly an hour later.
“Dad used to say that a woman is always worth waiting for,” son Dennis Yeager said. “He waited an hour for her and held the door.”
Jay Edwards is publisher of the Daily Record. Contact him at email@example.com.