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Cyrus and Doral Cyrus and Doral
    by Philip Gulley

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    When I was growing up, we had our hometown newspaper to keep us apprised of news large and small. Owning a small-town newspaper requires a deft touch. If you report everything that happens, people won’t talk with you. You have to be mindful of reputations. It’s perfectly proper to report that Rebecca Lawson won first place in the Optimist Club speech contest. But in the “Courtroom News” section, you forego full names and use initials. It’s a lot less interesting, but it makes for a peaceful community. Denial does a thriving business in most small towns.

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    If you wanted the real news in our town, you had to visit the card rack at the Rexall. It was the only card rack in town, so anyone wanting to placate or woo someone with a card would inevitably end up at Rexall poring over the meager offering of poetry and prose under the watchful gaze of Thad Cramer, the town’s pharmacist. An observant citizen could learn a great deal by watching the cards people bought.

    I was there one morning when Howard Barry walked in. He began reading cards in the “I’m sorry” section. During the next six months, I kept an ear turned toward the Barry drama. Sure enough, Howard and Betty divorced. H.B. and B.B.: dissolution of marital vows, it read in the “Courtroom News” section of the newspaper. Everyone else was caught unaware, but I had known all along something was amiss. Men like Howard Barry don’t buy “I’m sorry” cards unless things have gone desperately wrong.

    The card rack was also a good place to find out what was happening on the budding-romance front.

    Cyrus and his wife, Earlene, lived down the street from us and would pass summer evenings on their porch swing. Cyrus was retired from the General Motors factory in the city, and Earlene worked part-time at the school as a cook. Two kids, both married. No grandchildren yet, but dropping hints and hoping. Then Earlene came down with cancer, left home for the hospital and never came back. Cyrus took to sitting inside, watching TV and eating TV dinners. After a while he even gave up his seat at church. When you’ve been sharing a pew with your beloved for thirty-five years, sitting in church by yourself on Sunday morning holds a pain we can scarcely imagine.

    After a few months, Cyrus’s daughter waded in and took charge. She drove him to the doctor for a checkup and signed him up for Meals on Wheels. The next Monday a volunteer stopped by his house with a hot meal and a warm smile. Doral was her name. Sixty-two years old, big heart with energy to boot. Cyrus came to the door in a T-shirt and house slippers. Doral carried the meal inside, sat Cyrus down at the table, laid out the silverware, handed him a napkin, and patted his sad shoulder.

    “There, there,” she told him, “it gets a little easier every day.” Doral was the voice of experience, having lost her husband two years earlier.

    By the next summer, Cyrus was answering the door in a new shirt, and Doral was staying through dessert.

Cyrus was answering the door in a new shirt...
    I found all of this out from Cyrus himself, down at the Rexall. I was there buying a card for my girlfriend when Cyrus came over to survey the “l love you” cards. We stood shoulder to shoulder, sixteen and sixty, searching for the just-right card to convey our affections.

    He wished me well.

    “I was your age when I met my dear Earlene,” he confided. “Thirty-five years of marriage we had together.”

    I told my girlfriend about Cyrus. Her family used to sit right behind Cyrus and Earlene at church.

    “Cyrus is back,” she told me. “Sitting in a different pew. And the nicest woman comes with him.”

    Cyrus and Doral were married twelve years; then Cyrus died in his sleep. Doral still delivers Meals on Wheels, while Cyrus rests at the South Cemetery next to his beloved Earlene. That was Doral’s idea.

    Oddly enough, it was a bachelor named Paul who wrote the truest words about love. “Love is not jealous... it does not insist on its own way.” The minister intoned those very words at Cyrus and Doral’s wedding. It appears to me Doral took them to heart.

From the book Home Town Tales: Recollections of Peace, Love, and Joy by Philip Gulley. © 1999 by Multnomah Pub., used by permission. Also available on audio cassette!


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Valentine's HeartCards
Thanks, Bert
Stitches of Love
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About the Author...
Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor who ministers in Indianapolis. He is married and has two preschool sons. In addition to pastoring and writing, Gulley enjoys spending Sunday afternoons in his hometown.

 
Title: "Cyrus and Doral"
Author: Philip Gulley
Publication Date: February 10, 2000

 

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From the book Home Town Tales: Recollections of Peace, Love, and Joy, by Philip Gulley. © 1999 by Multnomah Pub., Used by permission.
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