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A True Love Story....Part Two

Updated on October 13, 2012
The happy couple!
The happy couple!

The ambulance arrived on an April afternoon in 1957. I was sixteen and had just arrived home from school. The sound of the siren pulled me away from my snack, and I stared in disbelief as the siren fell silent next door and two white-clad workers walked somberly up to the Conrad's door. I would learn later that Delores had died in her sleep the night before and Sam, overcome with grief, had rocked her in his lap throughout the night and the following morning, whispering “Don't leave me” over and over again. The days that followed were days of sadness for all of us in our neighborhood. When you are sixteen you just assume that those you care about are going to live forever. They are there when you go to bed, they are there when you wake up, and they are there at all the times they are supposed to be there, part of the landscape of life. I wasn't ready for Delores to die; it wasn't part of my scripted life. I pictured me and my wife and kids living in that same house twenty years later, complete with Sam and Delores inviting my kids over for lemonade and stories, just as they had done for me. And now Delores was gone, and if it could happen to Delores, well then, what about my mom and dad, or Sam, or anyone else I cared deeply about? My secure world was shaken to its foundation by the sight of my neighbor being carried out of her house on a stretcher, covered from life by a white sheet.

Sam was rarely seen after that day, choosing to spend his time in front of the television. I would go over occasionally to see how he was doing, and his answer remains in my memory to this day. He would tell me that each morning when he awoke he would ask God to take him that day so he could be with Delores, that life had no meaning for him without his beloved. Whenever I saw him he would be holding a picture of his wife, clutched in his hand, a constant reminder of the purpose of his life. It was sad to see him; he seemed to lose weight before my very eyes, and his sadness was palpable and omnipresent. But still I was touched by his devotion to Delores, a love so strong that death could not remove it from Sam's daily routines.

The years marched on; new neighbors came to our neighborhood, and anxious parents would tell their children to stay away from the house of the strange old man who never smiled. The stories of wagon trains and lumberjacks were told no more as Sam retreated further into his memories, always holding the picture that represented a love everlasting, always praying to God for finality. And so it continued for years until Sam could no longer wait for God's intervention and decided he had waited long enough for Delores.

I wasn't there on December 17, 1970. I didn't see Sam move the stool under the light fixture, ever so slowly, making sure that it was properly aligned. I didn't witness him tightening the belt around his neck, never saw him attach the other end to the fixture, nor did I see him step up on the stool or step off. I don't know what he saw that moment his brittle neck snapped, whether he glimpsed at the pictures on the wall or some imaginary vision of Delores filled his mind at that moment. I do know, because I was told by those who found the body, that the photograph of Delores was on the floor directly underneath his body, having fallen from his hand as he died.

I have thought of Sam often in the years since his death. The search for happiness has always been a subject of interest for me, as I'm sure it is for many humans. Basing one's happiness on another person is always a risky business. The philosophers tell us that true happiness can only be found within us, that serenity is born from within and not from outside stimuli. I understand that and accept it to be true intellectually. But we humans are not made of intellect alone. The heart tends to have its say more often than not, and I continue to marvel to this day at the quality of love Sam had for his Delores. By most standards in our world death is a rather decisive final chapter to a love affair, but to Sam it was only something he had to endure in order to be reunited eventually with his wife and best friend. His love never died. Death did not rob Sam of his wife; it was of no more importance to him than if Delores had gone on a trip when viewed from the overriding belief that he would once again be with her. And if God wouldn't aid him in that reunion then Sam decided he needed to do the work of God.

Sam's family knew me and shortly after the funeral they asked me if there was anything of Sam's I would like as a keepsake. I never hesitated. Today in my wallet I have the picture of Delores that Sam carried around with him every day after her death, and I have a note, written by Sam and pinned to the stool he stepped off of that December night. The note simply says....”Delores, now and forever, love Sam.”

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    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Wow, what a great story and so darn well written. It flowed so perfectly. VOTE WAY UP:)!!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww...thank you pickles...that means a great deal coming from you. They were incredible people and I was lucky to know them.

    • profile image

      Sandy 5 years ago

      I love this story. Some of the stories seem so real!!!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Sandy; I'm very glad you enjoyed it.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      This brought tears to my eyes, (I’ve also read the first part.) I can only agree with you that Sam’s love for Delores is awe-inspiring. But how sad that at 108, and so long after her death, he felt the need to take his own life.

      Coincidentally, years ago I wrote a story about a couple who are together until their nineties, and when the husband dies the wife takes her life, though not in the violent way Sam did. There is something very special about love that endures for so long, thank you for sharing Sam’s story. (I’m glad you commented on my 50th hub, because I like your writing!)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melovy....thank you so much for reading and commenting. They were very special people while I was growing up, a great influence on a young boy. I appreciate your words and I will keep following you; your content is excellent and your writing style so easy for this old man to follow and understand.

    • poetvix profile image

      poetvix 5 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      This makes the heart bleed. Such a love is all consuming. I can't help but marvel at the story. It's so sad, yet so full of the power of love, so moving yet so final, so haunting yet giving freedom in the end. I do hope they are together now.

      Billybuc, you, sir, are indeed a great writer. Usually it takes hundreds of pages to draw such emotion through a lifetime, yet you pull it off in two parts. Bravo.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poetvix, you have me smiling again. Thank you kind lady; it was an honor to have grown up next door to this couple. Some of the greatest stories and examples come from seemingly "common" people who fly under the radar each day of our lives. Thank you so much for your support.

    • profile image

      Martha 5 years ago

      God I just love this story. I will never forget the day you told it to our class, and how it opened my eyes to see how love is the most powerful emotion in the world. I will never get tired of re-reading this story

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are so sweet...thank you my dear.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Drats! I had the warm fuzzies all through Part One, then - bam! - I'm grabbing for tissues to mop the tears because the ambulance really was there to take Delores away...

      And Poor Sam! Having to be earthbound without the other half of his soul for almost another quarter of a century seems especially cruel!

      More tears for the 16-yr-old boy experiencing a different type of loss for the first time.

      So ditto to what Poetvix said. Very few writers are blessed with the ability to draw out emotions like you did in Sam and Delores's story.

      Voted awesome and beautiful! ;D

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jama, I knew you would enjoy Sam and Delores' story; they are very special people in my early life and deserved to be honored in such a way. Thank you my friend and may you have a wonderful day sifting through history.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Actually, there was an elderly couple next door to the house my parents bought just before I was born who declared themselves my "on-site grandparents" during my baby- and toddler-hood. I didn't get as attached to them, though, as you did to Sam and Delores because they weren't around nearly as long. I came across both their obits the other day and a long article in the local paper about their 50th anniversary, plus I have a few photos of me with the husband, so I plan to do a hub.

      Oddly, the S & D on our block was a couple who had no kids and were totally devoted to each other. Nobody would ever say for sure, but I suspect the wife committed suicide the day after the husband died of natural causes. We knew he had health problems so it was no big surprise that he passed, but far as anyone knew, she was in perfect health (for her age). Therefore, it WAS a shock that she died barely 24 hours after he did. In fact, their families postponed his funeral for a day and had a double funeral instead.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jama, great stories. I look forward to that hub about your on-site grandparents.

      There were a couple in my family that stayed married for over fifty years; rather remarkable when you think about it, at least in today's culture. I don't think I'll be making that milestone unless I live into my hundreds of course. :)

      Thank you my dear and I'll be visiting you soon.

    • Alex Jose profile image

      Alex Jose 4 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      O my god i love to read love stories but have never read one like this. This totally brought tears to my eyes since it way to damn emotional. But loved it so a thumbs up from my side...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alex, they were wonderful people and I was lucky to know them. Thank you my friend and best of luck on HubPages!

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