Mel’s Birthday Relief

Melissa Davey and I have been together going on ten years. In fact, we are pretty certain it will be ten years this coming summer. She’s a little younger than I am. I remember how we met and found love.


I was newly single and living in two cities. I’d been the account manager for Calgary, Alberta and was handed the Vancouver account as well.  To avoid staying in hotels, I kept a duplex in Calgary and a condo in Vancouver, and flew or drove between the two cities often. I was unattached and focused on work.


Mel had been a stellar rep for one of our Calgary managers. The first time I met her while joining up with her manager’s crew and running a combined team one Saturday, she threatened to quit because I’d gotten a little pissed at her for talking non-stop while I was trying to train in the van. We mended fences over the years and she became one of our most reliable Calgary reps. Eventually, her manager went back to Mexico and Mel moved on, though, she stayed in touch with a lot of our team members. When I took over the Vancouver account, she was over visiting our Calgary office manager when I happened to be in town.


I needed Vancouver reps. Mel was an adult and I offered her a job. She could stay in her own room at the condo in Vancouver and help me train managers. She thought about it and later agreed.


She moved in and did a splendid job. I mostly worked all day and night. I had a shop in Vancouver where I was leaning to fix our trucks, just for the hell of it. I also fished. British Columbia has some of the finest fishing in the world. At the time, I think I must have had thirty rods. That was my life: working, learning rudimentary welding and mechanics at the shop, and exercise and fishing. I often cooked us dinner late at night, usually the same thing: salmon and salad, washed down with cold beer.


One day, Mel asked if she could cook dinner. As soon as I said yes, she almost shoved me aside at the kitchen counter. From then on, I was out of a job. She acted as if she’d done it before, though, she kept burning herself on the frying pans. As soon as she healed one burn, she’d somehow burn herself again. Insisting she’d been cooking her whole life as angry red welts an inch long appeared on her hands and forearms. I told her all the great cooks have those. She was good company in the little time I had to spend with her.


On occasion, she’d ask a favour: could I go downstairs to the pool so she could swim and soak in the hot tub. She didn’t like going alone. So, I’d do some exercise in the little gym overlooking the aquatic area while she splashed around. Then I’d join her and do laps and sit in the tub with her for a bit. Later, I’d often run up the seventeen flights of stairs returning to the condo, while she took the lift. Usually, I’d be so dehydrated by then that I’d stop a few floors shy of the seventeenth and take the elevator the rest of the way.


We got along fairly well and our relationship was completely platonic. She dated here and there, as did I when I had time.


One evening, just as we were leaving the hot tub I happened to mention that I usually get so hot from the soak that I don’t run all the way back up the stairs to the apartment. Joking, I told her that maybe if she ran up the stairs ahead of me in her little bikini I’d probably be able to make it all the way to our floor.


To my surprise, she immediately said, “I can do that for you.”  What? Did I hear that right? She was straight-faced but I could see something in her eyes before she quickly averted them.


Not long after, we decided to go on a trial date. We’ve been together ever since. Well, there was one week a few months later where she became unsure of herself because of our age differences, but she soon got over it. Maybe I’ll tell that story one day, who knows?


Anyways, when she did, she accepted us, embracing what we had together. She said to me, “You might be an old man, but you’re my old man.” To me that was one of the sweetest things I’d ever been told. I was smitten.


I couldn’t argue the old man bit. I was in my late forties and she was thirty years younger. I’m in decent shape but all I could muster in reply was, “You might be a little young but you’re an old soul.”


And she was and is an old soul. She’s already been through a lot in her life; things she’s weathered and come through stronger and wiser for. She’s quite a remarkable lady.


It was enough for me that she was a woman. There is plenty differences between us on that basis without worrying about something as silly as age too. Perhaps she was mature for her age and I was immature for mine. Who knows? Who cares? She is a woman and I am a man and we have plenty of love between us.


So here we are, ten years later. We’ve seen a few birthdays come and go. Each one is a reminder of our personal mortality but also of our special bond, not unique by any stretch but something quite magical. We now have two children, something I’ll explain later. Mel is a wonderful mother. I knew she would be.


But each year I turn a year older in December and it takes until early February for her to catch up and restore the thirty year spread between us. My protectiveness feels it during this time. Those sixty or so days leave me as if I’m pulling away from her, like I’m aging and she is not. So it’s with mild relief that my darling Mel turned twenty-eight this week. It seemed like the temporal boundary of our mutual existence had been restored.


I got her socks for her birthday. Beautiful knee-high handcrafted free-trade loomed socks in an explosion of brightly coloured stripes. She has Raynaud’s and gets cold feet. I offer her my best winter socks from the box under my bed at night in winter, so that she’s warmed and comfortable as she sleeps. She also gets up in the night often to tend to our youngest son who has some challenges. This she does without complaint. She’s not high-maintenance; she’s all down to earth heart and soul.


Yes, old soul, the best kind.
MockIt_tartan fun
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