In a crumpled pile they lay together--on the pavement--in the parking lot. The door of the grocery store was less than fifty feet away. First Joe tripped. Then Margie fell over him. She tried to stand to help her 86-year-old husband to his feet, but he was too tall and she was too small. His legs were twisted from arthritis so he couldn't stand up on his own, not from the ground.

They hadn't always been this old.

When they met Joe had been seventeen and Margie was sixteen. They were at a pie supper. She had made an apple pie and had taken it to the schoolhouse where the young men of the community would bid on pies. It was a cultural thing, a country expectation. She didn't want to go, but her mother had insisted. She was sixteen, after all, and time was running out for marriage proposals. Her mom had said she could find suitors there. Young girls did that. Young men paid the price for a pie they chose and hoped the anonymous baker would be the girl they liked. The highest bidder would win the pie. After that, the girl would be revealed and the two would eat the pie together. It was a ritual of meeting; a dance of the young, in a different era.

Joe fell in love that night. Margie wasn't that easy. It took her two years to fall in love. And two years later, they married.

They fell in love with the house they bought. Their four children fell regularly and often needed their help--to get back on their feet. Joe had fallen from grace when he left Margie for another. Margie had fallen again for his brown eyes when she agreed to take him back.

After a year or two, Joe and Margie fell deeper in love. She fell into a new job. He fell out of a job he’d had for 20 years. Margie became sick with with cancer. He took care of her and fell to his knees in prayer--regularly.

 Now in a parking lot, they had fallen to the pavement together. A woman and her adult daughter appeared out of nowhere to help them.

"My man fell and I tripped over him," Margie said, "I can't get him up. I don't have the strength."

The other woman knelt with her daughter and they tried to lift him. Margie sat on the ground watching. But it was too difficult. Joe was too heavy for the two of them. "I'll call 911," the older woman said.

Before she found her cell phone, another woman with blond curly hair appeared. She was smaller than the first two women. "Let me help you," she said, kneeling to the ground. She scooped her arm through one of Joe's. The other two women did the same with his other arm. Gently, they pulled him to his twisted feet.

"Are you ok?" the blond woman said first to Joe and then to Margie.

"Yes, I think so. I was helping him into the store and then he tripped and down he went. He took me down too," she laughed, gently, "I shouldn't have brought him out without help. I don't know what I was thinking."

Joe grinned, saying nothing.

"Do you need a chair for him?" the blond lady said.

"No, I'm taking him home. I shouldn't have brought him here, he's too weak. I thought it would be good for him, for me, to get out of the house, but I shouldn't have. I'm taking him back home."

"Why don't you go get your car," she said, "We'll help you get him in.”

Margie walked to a car only ten feet away and fell in the front seat. She rested her head on the steering wheel before she started the car, backed it out and pulled in next to her husband.

A fourth woman, who had joined the group, opened the car door and held it while the others helped Joe inside in the car.

"Thank you,  all of you for your help. I couldn't have gotten him back on his feet by myself," she said, "We weren't always this old."

The fourth woman closed the door. "Take care," she said.  They all waved as the car pulled out into traffic.



  1. What a wonderful story. Thank you.

  2. Beautiful story. I so admire couples who have weathered storms in their lives but managed to keep hanging on to the love that was there at first, and in reality always there, but sometimes neglected or forgotten. You have depicted the scenario well.

  3. What a sweet story. I love how you saw this and created an entire back story. My question is, which woman were you???

  4. This was really beautiful! I know a couple this would fit perfectly!

  5. We could write novels on all the trials and tribulations of a normal marriage, couldn't we? You did a good job covering their life in a precise, quick way.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  6. What an awesome story! I enjoyed reading it, and it's like Lee said, "I so admire couples who have weathered the storm/life together". I do too. I was married such a short time and am always awed by couples who have been married for years and still seem to love each other and are best friends.

  7. Beautiful story, but sad, too. A bittersweet time in their lives, with so much history between them. You can just see it. I'm glad others stepped in to give them a hand.

  8. Oh! Oh! What poignant writing. Reminds me of the song "Where Have you Been?" by Kathy Mattea.
    Have you ever listened to that?


  9. What a touching story. This brought back memories of my parents who had been best friends for over 70 years.

  10. Ohhh, JW. This touched me like I want all I read to. Just precious. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. What a beautiful story and so well told!

  12. Hi Joanne - I feel sad reading this and knowing how people cope - there's too much of it. The worst part is the next scene - can she get him out of the car .. and what next ... it's probably too close for me at the moment.

    It's wonderful they are together and I guess that's what is important .. I just know the effort that entails, I've seen it rather too often recently.

    You have wrung my heart with this!

  13. What a touching story. It reminds me of my parents, before my father passed away and funny thing is we used to have a tradition where we would prepare a box lunch. The boys would bid on them and you would eat them with the winner.


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