An older man walks into a nursing home looking for his high school sweetheart, whom he hasn’t seen in 55 years, to finally ask her to be his wife.
Tomás Jiménez remembered with longing a particular night in his life, when he was still a young man. That evening had been considered by him as the most perfect moment of his life. At seventeen, it seemed that everything he had ever dreamed of was within his grasp.
He was watching his favorite movie (‘Some Like It Hot’) with his favorite girl, Lucy Paredes, and having banana shakes while snacking on popcorn. The boy put her arm around Lucy’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze as on the screen, Marilyn Monroe gestured to Tony Curtis.
“You are so much prettier than Marilyn, Lucy,” he said.
Lucy giggled and slapped his hand. “You’re just trying to steal my popcorn, Tomás Jiménez!” she yelled. “Prettier than Marilyn!” she said wryly.
“Well, you are!” Tomas replied seriously. “I wouldn’t ask Marilyn to marry me, but I am asking you!” Tomás reached into his pocket and pulled out a pretty ring. “My grandmother Ester gave it to me. She said it was for my future wife.”
“I suppose that would be you…if you’ll accept me.”
Lucy was blushing, laughing and crying at the same time. Tomás was trying to put the ring on his buttered popcorn finger when her mother walked in.
“What’s going on here?” she yelled. “What are you doing with my mother’s ring, Tomás?”
The boy blushed. A moment before he had felt like a grown man, a man sure of himself and what he wanted. He was now a little boy again, trying to explain himself. “Grandma Ester gave it to me, it’s mine…”.
“Not to give it to this little girl!” Mrs. Jiménez yelled. “Give it to me!”. Lucy was crying and she was struggling to remove the ring from her finger under the furious eyes of Mrs. Jimenez.
Finally, he took it from her and placed it in the woman’s hands. “Now go away!” Mrs. Jimenez yelled at him. “And don’t ever come back!”
Tomás saw Lucy leave with her face full of tears and said nothing. He stood transfixed as his mother chased away the girl he knew was the love of his life.
Decades would pass before Tomas would forgive himself for that moment of cowardice, and all the others that followed. Within a few hours, Tomás’s parents sent him to another city so that he could start studying at the university.
Tomás foolishly obeyed his parents who had told him what to do all his life, and never saw Lucy again. When he returned, he found out that her girl had moved to another country with her family, but had left a letter with a mutual friend.
“My dearest Thomas,” he had written. “I have been waiting and waiting for a word from you. I love you and I know you love me. I know in my heart that we will never love anyone else the way we love each other.
Here is my address, Tomás. If you love me, if you believe in us, you will come to me. You only have to decide if you will obey your parents or follow your heart. He loves you always, Lucy.”
Tomás had crumpled the letter in his hand. He never wrote to Lucy or took a train to the small town where she had moved Lucy, because even though he loved like a man, he was just a scared boy.
Lucy waited a while, and then she married a good, kind boy. She grew to love him and they had a wonderful life together, as well as three lovely children.
If she sometimes woke up with tears running down her cheeks, she never talked about it. If she walked away when an old Marilyn Monroe movie came on late-night TV, she never explained why. She was happy in her way, calm. The years passed, her children moved away, her husband died and Lucy was left alone.
After a bad fall that left her with a fractured hip, Lucy moved into a nursing home. “This is not how I thought my life was going to be!” she told herself. “What happened to me?”.
But the lady was wrong if she supposed that life did not hold more surprises for her. One afternoon, a tall, distinguished-looking man approached her with a big smile and a bouquet of tulips in his hand.
“Excuse me, miss…” he told her. “I was wondering if you still like banana shakes, popcorn, and old movies?”
Lucy looked at him surprised. “I don’t understand!” she said. “Who are you and what do you want?”
The man suddenly knelt in front of Lucy’s wheelchair and took her hand. “Lucy, it’s me, Tomás. I’ve been looking for you. You were right. I never loved anyone like I loved you. I never married. You’re the only thing I’ve thought about for the last 55 years.”
“Tomas?” Lucy gasped. “I can’t believe it… I got married. I have children and grandchildren, I loved my husband, he was a wonderful man, but you were the love of my life. I just wish you had been braver…”
Tomas looked embarrassed. “I’ve regretted it many times, Lucy. But… I was 17, now I’m 72… I’m a different, wiser man. Maybe it’s not too late for us.” Tomás took the grandmother’s ring from him. “Please marry me, Lucy. Let’s spend our last days together, give me one last chance to make you happy!”
Lucy looked at Tomás and smiled. “You know, Tomas,” she said softly. “Sometimes God saves the best for last!”
What can we learn from this story?
Parents should never try to rule the fate of their children: Tomás’s family separated him from Lucy and he was unhappy all his life until he found her again.
It’s never too late to love again: In their golden years, Lucy and Tomás rediscovered the love and happiness that had been denied them.