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Beverly Beckham

For these two, love since first sight

Lucy shares a hug with her friend Al, who has known her family since before she was born. Lucy shares a hug with her friend Al, who has known her family since before she was born.
By Beverly Beckham
June 20, 2010

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He loves her and she loves him, and it is magic to see.

Since she was a baby peeking out of her carriage, Lucy has smiled at Al. And Al, in his eighties, has smiled right back, their eyes locking, their hearts touching.

You could say it’s been love since first sight.

Al and his wife, Katherine, live across the street from me and down the street from Lucy and her mom and dad, but they are more than just neighbors. They are our family. We share holidays and Sunday dinners and family stories and gardening tools and the yummy cookies and cakes that Katherine always makes.

When Lucy was born, seven years ago today, Al and Katherine were as giddy with joy as we were. Lucy was our long-awaited first grandchild. Katherine, even before her birth, made her a printed cotton crib set: pink sheet, pink bumper pads, pink pillow and throw, as well as some crocheted blankets for her carriage and frilly dresses for when she was 1 and 2 and 3.

So when Lucy was diagnosed with Down syndrome, their hearts broke right along with ours. But their fear was fleeting. They are older. They knew better. They accepted her instantly.

Katherine has always been the one who gives Lucy things: a christening dress she made quickly when Lucy required surgery. Cookies when she got older. Cake. Cupcakes. A glass of milk.

“Hello, Lucy!” Katherine says, a big smile on her face, her arms open wide, every time Lucy comes by.

But it’s Al whom Lucy hurries to see, “Al” one of her first words, Al the one she reached up for from her stroller, and scooted to before she walked and now hurries to see every time she visits him or he visits her.

In the winter she finds him in his family room, sitting in his big, comfortable lounge chair, the TV turned up high because his hearing is not what it used to be. She runs through the porch, down the small hall, past Katherine, straight to him, her arms like windmills propelling her. And when he looks up and sees her, out go his arms and the pair of them hug and smile.

Now, in the summer, she finds him most days resting on a lawn chair, just outside his garage, where he sits and watches his wife garden and the world go by. But it’s the same thing: “Al!” Lucy shouts, letting go of her mother’s hand and flying up the driveway, racing right past Katherine in the garden the way that cars race past all the stop signs on our street.

“Lucy!” Al yells.

And just as in every good love story, the pair embrace.

A few weeks ago, after this usual greeting, Lucy followed Katherine into the house to get a freshly baked and frosted Italian cookie. Katherine gave her two, one for each hand, and Lucy said, “Thank you, Katherine,” and Katherine knelt down and hugged her and said, “I love you, Lucy.”

And Lucy said what only a child would say. She looked straight into Katherine’s eyes and said, “I love Al.”

Katherine has been laughing about this since.

Two months after she was born, when she weighed only 8 pounds, Lucy had heart surgery, and the surgeon clipped her aorta and she bled out and died on the operating table. Prayer and God and the doctors and who knows what other forces brought her back to us.

Two and a half years ago, Al’s heart stopped beating. He collapsed and died on his living room floor. The doctors and God brought him back, too. They are our miracles, we say.

Today is Father’s Day, and it is also Lucy’s birthday. He is 82 and she is 7. Decades separate them.

But only decades.

“Hello, Al! Happy Father’s Day” Lucy will chime sometime this afternoon when we are all together.

And Al will reply, “Hello, Lucy. Happy Birthday!”

And she will run into his arms. And they will hug and we will do what we always do, watch them and smile.

Canton resident Beverly Beckham can be reached at bevbeckham@aol.com.

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