The wrinkled, time-dimmed eyes looked towards the back of the church where the baby cried.
Slowly they searched until they found the source of the sound. Unconcerned of social protocol, he stared.
The cry...was that his son? His firstborn son, crying, as the doctor handed him over to his wife who lay under the patchwork quilt in their bedroom?
No. Wait..that was not right. He had held his wife's hand six months earlier as she slipped away. The son was sixty-something years old and largely forgot that he even had a dad tucked away in a nursing home.
Past the blur of age, he remembered the sharp focus his eyes once attained. Once, years ago, he could've seen the color of the downy hair on the little head cradled against it's mother's breast. Now he could vaguely make out the shape of the head. But one day soon his eyes would be sharp again.
The young daddy beside the mom looked uncomfortable. He probably didn't want people staring back their way, thought the loud cries were disturbing everyone. He himself had felt that same way. Sometimes his kids had embarrassed him. Sometimes, during the return from Vietnam in their uniforms, they had made him so proud. Sometimes they had hurt him, deeply.
Hurting. His neck was hurting from being turned to look towards the young couple. Hateful arthritis! Most days it held him, creaking around slowly in his room, a prisoner in his own body. Once, though, he had ran through corn fields, skipped between the fallen logs in the woods behind his home. One day soon he would do that again.
But for now he would cheat old age. With painful effort, he pushed off of the pew, balancing as he walked with a wrinkled, blue-veined hand on the wall. It seemed a million miles, one shuffling step at a time. He would be there long before service actually started.
With each step, the focus became clearer. The young husband had sandy blond hair. So did his tiny son. The young wife looked at him with gentle eyes as he approached. Lilly? Is that you honey? I thought you were in Heaven. The baby stopped crying, whatever hurt nursed away by the cuddling of his mother. His own knees seemed stronger, more agile. Warm arms supported him as he walked along.
He was there. The young couple looked up. The new father looked like him...so much like him. Surely, the caring mom was his wife, Lilly.
Trembling hand met strong calloused grip. "God bless you son."
And as their hands met, he knew it wouldn't be long...one day soon...