He doesn’t want to go for more than a week, but he is convinced Margaret would want the vacation to last as long as possible. He always thought of her that way, as Margaret, especially in his most uncharitable thoughts. Margaret is late….again. Does Margaret really need another cat when he’s the one who takes care of it? Couldn’t Margaret use the facilities fifteen minutes before they plan to leave the house?
(Photo by Emanuela Picone: https://unsplash.com/@emanuela)
She’d introduced herself as “Peg” all those years ago, and most everyone else calls her that, including their grandchildren to whom she is “Mama Peg.” To him, she is too bright for such a dull moniker. He just cannot bring himself to refer to her as “Peg,” which reminds him of the small wooden pins he uses as an artisan dollhouse carpenter. Pegs are mundane. She is quiet but loves loudly. She laughs at things no one else thinks are funny. She listens with curious generosity. She is the sun around which everything else orbits. So, to him, she remains, Margaret.
Margaret loves to go out, travel, and explore things she doesn’t recognize. He would rather stay home, curl up with the cat, and explore the world through one of the books his granddaughter sends him. He just cannot get comfortable sleeping in a bed that isn’t his own, worrying about the plants left to wither, and getting lost on roads he has not yet tread. Yet he knows she will win the argument. He will never call it to question, never iterate his discomfort with leaving the house. She already knows. They will plan their trip for two weeks, or as long as Margaret wants. She is the sun, and he wants to give her the moon. He is afraid he won’t get many more chances.
His heart has been beating a bit more rapidly than usual. While doing simple tasks, he has struggled to catch his breath. He has caught the color leaving his cheeks, and every time their youngest visits she holds on a little longer, searching his face for time they may not have. He’s not good at goodbyes, or hellos really, and he never really learned how to say, “I love you,” in a way that his family can hear. But he can pack the snack and suitcases. He can print the maps and call the cat sitter. He can give her this trip. For this trip, she can be Margaret as long as possible, until she has to return as Peg and hold everything together.