Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted July 23, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level
A living memoir

The Sweet Baby

by Terry Broxson

I invite you to listen in on a conversation I'm having with myself about Zoe, aka The Sweet Baby.
It's a term of endearment, but I can't remember how I came up with "The Sweet Baby." I am pretty sure I don't have dementia. Although, I'm way old enough to qualify. I do know I always used "The" when referring to The Sweet Baby.
My friend Carl also called Zoe, The Sweet Baby. He hung out with us the second year we were married. He had been posted at the Dallas Naval Air Station, where he served as a flight surgeon. He picked up on the name because I used it. 
I think Carl envied me. And why not? He didn't date anyone at the time. Zoe could cook really well, and in those days, he couldn't. There's also the undeniable fact: she was beautiful, and the name just fit.
Couples all over the globe come up with terms of endearment for their loved ones. Sweetheart, you sexy thing, honey bunch (what the heck is a honey bunch?), and many others.
What's yours? Do you have more than one? And if you don't have one, why not? I have wondered how those names were chosen.    
Zoe liked the name. She never said so out loud. But I could see it when I said it. She would smile. I think it made her feel loved, desired, and maybe sexy.  Come to think of it, that's precisely how I came up with the name. I knew I didn't have dementia.
A  term of endearment becomes shorthand for how you feel about someone. I will suggest the name can be a valuable tool in communication. I can't speak for the ladies. But I will speak to the guys if you love her. You better tell her. Why? Because if you don't, somebody else might. 
I also used the word Darlin'. (Did you hear my Texas twang?) "Darlin', how about we go to Angelina's for dinner?"
In Texas, some guys also put the word little in front of darlin'. "Well, little darlin', just look how cute you are today."
Most guys in Texas know when they can use little and when they can't. I never called Zoe a little darlin'. No, it's not about the size of the woman. It's about respect. When a woman has earned respect, guys dang sure better recognize it. Trust this Texan when I say, little darlin', ain't respect.   
Now, I don't want this conversation, story, commentary, memoir, or however you may want to think about it to get sad. So, don't go there.
Zoe died of a heart attack almost five years ago. In a few days, we would have been married 49 years. The upcoming date caused me to think about this subject and its effect on how I live today.
Truth be told, I live the life of a hermit. Or about as close as you can get while living in the middle of almost seven million people. My condo community is restricted to those over age 55. It is not a retirement village. But it's not easy being a hermit when well-meaning folks try to get me involved in pickleball, old men's lunches, ice cream outings, etc.
Sometimes, at the grocery store, someone will say, "Terry, we missed you last night at the whatever." 
I want to say, "How could you miss me? I've never been to a whatever." But I don't.
I have no close family left and only a couple of old friends, and one of them has Alzheimer's. I outlived them all.
I have met a few folks on FanStory who have become friends. I know the long-timers on FS say it's about the writing. It's not a social network and certainly not for therapy. Sorry, I violated the rules. But I won't vote for friends in a contest unless they write the best story or poem.
But even an old hermit in a sea of people can be okay. I think it's because of The Sweet Baby.
The thing is, I still use the name. I still call her darlin'. Yep, I talk to her every day.
I suppose some psychologist would say, "Sir, you are depressed. Has she talked back to you?"
"Not yet." That made-up psychologist thinks I might be crazy.
No, I'm not crazy or depressed. Have I been sad? Sure, who wouldn't be? Here is how it works most of the time. 
I have continued with life, still doing some of the things we used to do, like happy hour movies. A tradition we started after we retired. She loved movies about people getting married. Royal weddings, Mexican, Italian, French, Greek, Jewish, or almost any wedding theme that provided fun and a happy ending.  
I have this big pillow. It has the face of a tabby cat with pink glasses. I call him Malcolm. He looks really smart. He's my buddy, to the extent that a cat pillow can be one's buddy. We watch happy hour movies together. 
"Malcolm, we're going to watch Jerry and Marge Go Large. The Sweet Baby will like this one. I think she'll stay around to watch it."
I envision the spirit of Zoe hovering around us.
"Today is Fast and Furious 9, this one's is for us guys. She'll pass for sure."
Sometimes I say, "Malcolm, we're doing a wedding movie. I know she'll like it." 
Then there's cooking that makes my eyes water from chopping onions.
"Darlin', I know you used white onions when you made pinto beans.  I saute them in vegetable oil. I always drain the oil before adding the beans and water. I cook the beans, stirring frequently, for two and a half hours. But I prefer yellow onions. Sorry."    
Her only interest in sports had been baseball. "Darlin', your first-place Texas Rangers won again. Who would've thought it?"
"Malcolm, let's watch Bull Durham tonight. She won't miss this one because it has Kevin Costner."
Politics didn't interest her much, with one exception. "I know this will make you happy. The paper says Donald Trump is getting indicted again." 
I'm guessing I'm not the only one who has these kinds of conversations. But if I am. I kindly thank you for keeping it to yourself.
If I could use a literary term as I reach the denouement of my life. I am going to hear, "Well, there you are. What took you so long?"
"Hello, darlin'."

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