While he writes, my mind wanders back to how he knew Daniel has a long travel period coming home.
“Archie,” I start, not wanting to offend him asking incorrectly.
“How did you…I mean, did I mention….”
He obviously knew where I was going.
“How did I know Daniel has a long trip back?”
“Yeah, exactly. I didn’t even know you knew Daniel and I don’t think I said anything about it.”
“Yeah, little lady, you didn’t. But I do know Daniel.”
“How do you know Daniel?”
“He brings firewood to my daughter every winter.”
Of course, he does. In the course of Daniel and I going through our lives together, I forget that there’s this amazing history of him sewing his kindness throughout the community. My Daniel. My wonderful, beautiful, kind, generous Daniel.
“Your daughter? Did she lose someone overseas?”
“Yep,” he answers, nearly cutting me off to avoid my saying too much.
“You transferred here to be closer to her?”
“Yep.” So, that’s why he took a lateral transfer – to be closer to his widowed daughter.
“That’s pretty great of you.”
“We grandpas will do pretty much anything for our grandchildren, and our kids.”
“She has kids?”
“Just one. She was pregnant when, well, you can figure it out.” Yes, I could.
I remember being pregnant. I remember how hard it was trying to manage alone. I can understand how she must have felt, and then part of me couldn’t imagine the complexities at all.
What a blessing she has Archie and Mrs. Archie – whatever her name is. I’m sure I met her once or twice at the office.
But my mind returns to the idea of being pregnant and not having anyone to support me. I could lose myself in this moment if I did not change the immediate imagery I am unfurling.
“I’m glad Daniel is able to help.”
“He’s crazy about you.”
“Now how could you possibly know that?” I’m one-hundred percent certain that he loves me, and I’m about eighty-five percent certain he’s crazy about me. I just didn’t think Archie would know either.
“Before he left, he called Aaron and let him know he was going to be gone. And when you rolled into this position, Aaron told me to keep an eye on you, too.”
Holy crap! That man! I suddenly think the crazy-about-me meter just went up to ninety-five percent.
I don’t know what to say, so I just let the quiet fill the truck. I crack the window an inch or two to let the sound of the wind against the truck fill the void. Thankfully, it continues to warm from earlier this week, so it isn’t as cold as it was on Monday.
“You didn’t know, did you?”
I shake my head and try not to cry.
“Here’s the thing about guys like him. He makes sacrifices to do what’s best for anyone but himself. He comes across as a pillar of strength and I’m sure he is a rock. Rocks don’t ask for help, but they’ll take it if you offer it.”
“Or if you make them a pot of white chili?”
“You got it.”
He pats me on the shoulder, which I find reassuring and supportive. I’m going to miss working with Archie, and I’m sad that I’ve just gotten to know him as he’s walking out the door.
NEXT: Baggage – Part 15