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"Tell me you love me," she says.

A rush of warmth flows through my body; I'm almost too choked for words.

"Of course I love you. And always will."

Her eyes aglow, she smiles that smile that takes my breath away, causes the old ticker to skip a beat.

"No, no. You know what I want. Whisper it. Whisper it in my ear. Like you always used to."

Tears stream down my cheek. Good lord, where did those come from? I pull her close. The scent of strawberry shampoo overwhelms, taking me back to picnics in Stow Canyon, walks along the boardwalk, lying in bed on Sunday mornings.

"I love you," I say in my softest whisper.

"40 years, Henry. Can you believe it? 40 years."

I shake my head, but, now it's my turn to smile. "Never thought in a million years you'd put up with me for that long."

"Well, here we are."

She's quiet for a bit - it's what she does when something's on her mind.

"Henry. You need to watch the time. You're going to be late."

I glance over at the clock. 10:30. Mark, our grandson, is graduating from the university today. I haven't been out much lately, but I promised I'd be there.

"You'll be okay while I'm gone?"

"Silly boy. I'm never far away."

I set her picture back down on our nightstand and, using my hanky, wipe my eyes. It takes me a minute to find my legs - always does when I sit down for a visit - and, straightening my tie, I head for the door.

Story by:

Jim Bartlett

22 April 2013