Way back in the 80’s when I first moved here, before Borders or Barnes and Noble ever sprang from the fertile ground surrounding the mall, there was a bookstore, Hinkle’s. It was a family business with a store downtown and another one at a strip mall just west of downtown. They sold books, of course, and office supplies, and gifts, cards, stationary etc. They did custom printing. When I was getting used to living and working here in the ‘city’, I used to walk to the bookstore during my lunch hour and browse. Over the years as the ‘burbs took over and businesses started leaving downtown, the downtown Hinkle’s closed. Not too many years later the strip mall store closed as well.
A Borders opened in the strip mall. The building downtown has been torn down and replaced with a shiny new office building, now in search of tenants. I sort of forgot about Hinkle’s until I was looking for a graduation gift for someone, I don’t even remember who, and I went to the strip mall with the intention of going to Hinkle’s, only to find that the store was gone. A couple of years ago a grandson in the family died tragically. He was friends with some of our students at church, and they took his death hard.
More time passed, until a couple of weeks ago when……
My neighbor went on a trip and I picked up her mail and newspapers while she was away. I was scanning the paper one morning and noticed an obituary for an elderly lady named Hinkle. She was in her 80’s and had lived a very full life. She was described as “not having a mean bone in her body, but she did have a disdain for crumbs.” All in all, a very sweet tribute to a life well-lived.
Then I noticed another obituary, for an elderly gentleman named Hinkle, printed immediately after hers. So I read it and found this:
On Aug. 8, 1941, he married Mildred, and never spent another day without her, maintaining his unwavering devotion to Mildred for 67 years; Mildred also passed on Sept. 16, giving new meaning to “‘ till death do us part.”
So I went back and read the first obituary more closely. Yes, it was Mildred. The obit said that she had been “persistently courted by a young office supplies salesman”. Then, this:
On August 8, 1941, Mildred married Pete, and the two spent every day for the next 67 years together as devoted husband and wife. Pete also passed on Sept. 16, giving new meaning to “‘ till death do us part.”
She had passed away early in the morning at a retirement community. He died later that day, at Hospice.
And I cried for these people I didn’t even know. Not tears of sadness, but what? Their story touched my heart in a deeply introspective way that I was not prepared for. I was crying out of respect for a love story I didn’t really know. There was sadness in that my parents had to be separated by death way too early, and honor in knowing that my parents had also lived a love story, ending in “til death did they part.”
This is what marriage is supposed to be. I pray that hubby and I will be so fortunate.