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 Texas : Features : Columns : Spunky Flat and Beyond :
Spunky Flat and Beyond - A Memoir

Lillian
by George Lester
George Lester
Probably every boy has had a crush a girl who didn't even know he was alive. It happened to me. I wish I could remember the exact year I first noticed Lillian Denton. We were in the same class at Eureka school and it must have been in about the fifth grade that I realized that I couldn't get my mind off her. There was something that made her special among all the rest of the girls. Today it would probably be called chemistry but unfortunately, the chemistry was a one-way street. She never gave the slightest indication that she even knew I existed. It might have helped if I hadn't had this terrible fear of being rejected. I could talk freely with any girl who was just a friend and didn't have that magic spell over me. However, with Lillian it was different. Just the sight of her made me grow weak in the knees and unable to utter a sound. Each night I would lie awake and tell myself that the next day I would muster up the courage to at least speak to her. I never could live up to the promises I made to myself. Stories such as this usually end with the lovesick boy forgetting all about the girl in a short time and turning to someone else. I continued to pine away even after Lillian moved to another school. We passed right by her house on our way to Marlin and each time I would look longingly out the window to see if I could get a glimpse of her. I don't know how many trips we made before I finally saw her come out of the house and walk across the yard. If it had been a scene in a movie this is the part where a thousand violins would sweep the audience up to the heavens. The sight of her that day lived with me for a long time. The rest of my family knew nothing about the whole thing. I never talked to anyone about the way I felt about her. Then our family moved away to East Texas and many miles were placed between Lillian and me.

After I became a teenager I had bouts of puppy love for several different girls. They all ended the same way as with Lillian because I had not overcome my shyness. I felt that I was destined to go through life this way. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. But after I entered the Marines and went out into the world a change came over me. I lost my fear of the opposite sex and gained the courage to express my feelings. I got married and raised a family like responsible men are supposed to do. To make it brief, let us fast forward to when I returned home from work one day and found the house empty. With no warning I was left alone in a world that seemed alien and hostile. I was already in my sixties and it seemed way too late in life to even think of starting over again. I lived alone for ten years, hating every day of it. Each night I would wait for sleep to come thinking "Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like?"

I was at a social gathering of seniors one day when a gentleman asked me where I was raised. I told him he probably never heard of Spunky Flat where I had lived in my pre-teen years. He said not only had he heard of it but also he lived there and had attended Eureka School. We talked about people we had known and among others, I mentioned Lillian Denton. A few weeks later he called me and said that she was at a Eureka reunion he had attended. He also mentioned that she was a widow. Wheels started turning in my head about how I could get in touch with her. I found out who had organized the reunion and asked her to contact Lillian and see if it was all right if I called her. When she answered the phone and I told her who I was she had to admit that she had no recollection of me from our Eureka School days. Even so, we seemed at ease, chatting as if we had known each other forever. Our first conversation lasted an hour. In the next few day the calls continued, each getting longer. She lived about 170 miles away so I asked if I could come up and visit and satisfy our curiosity about what we each looked like. She agreed and the night before we were to meet I couldn't sleep a wink. I learned later that neither could she. On the trip up I stopped a few miles from her home and bought a potted plant for her. When I rang her bell and she opened the door I stood there holding the plant and feeling like a teenager. I looked upon the most beautiful face I had ever seen and said without thinking" yes, you're Lillian Denton all right" She didn't think it was stupid; in fact she seemed to rather enjoy my outburst. She did inform me however, that she hadn't been called Lillian in over 50 years. Everyone now knew her as Penny. It took a bit of getting used to but Lillian became Penny to me after that. The day went by in a blur. The clock was turning back and I was falling in love with her all over again. Thank goodness, this time the feeling was mutual. In three months we were married. After we were wed, every day was like waking up on Christmas morning. I felt that it was all a wonderful dream and I was afraid someone might pinch me. One evening a few weeks into our marriage we were sitting in the living room watching television when suddenly Penny turned to me and said, "I'm glad you remembered me". I told her I was glad I did too.

George Lester
1-12-2004
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