The old man

  • I regularly saw the old man, parked at the cemetery.
        Almost every time I went up, he’d be there, his silver Hyundai with a personalized number plate parked. Come rain or come shine.
        Who was he? Was he a widower visiting his wife?
        Yesterday I saw the car again. At the next pump at the petrol station.
        I shook his hand.
        ‘Merry Christmas. I wanted to say hi because I always see you at Makara.’
        And he told me about a love story that lasted 48 years.
        ‘I’m not a Kiwi,’ he said, in a Kiwi accent.
        ‘I’m a Pole. I came out with the kids in ’44. We were the first refugees New Zealand took in.’
        He saw her one day.
        He froze, speechless.
        And when he spoke, he proposed to her.
        ‘What are you doing wasting your time with him when you know you’re going to marry me?’
        They courted, and his prediction came true.
        But, as he concluded, you couldn’t beat cancer.
        So every Sunday he’s back at Makara.
        I said I would see him again.
        I might not go up every Sunday, but then I have the feeling that he goes other days, too.
        The 48 years continue.

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