He is not what you would call a handsome man. His cheeks are leathered from spending so much time outside, his eyes have faded into gray green over the last few years, and his nose is crooked. It’s been that way since the fifth grade when he fell off the monkey bars face first. It’s days like these that I sit on the porch, watching him as he pulls weeds and potatoes from the ground. The weeds get slung into the compost pile, the potatoes are placed into a nearby bucket.
A few weeks ago I was talking to my daughter. I was raving about how he never tells me I’m beautiful anymore. I don’t get gentle words like I used to. At least I think I used to get gentle words from him, I remember it clearly through the rosy glass of my mind. I told her he doesn’t tell me he loves me anymore. And it was then that I realized, he has never told me he loves me. He has said the words, but they have always fallen timidly from his lips. No words of love come from this man, only actions of love. He shows me he loves me by picking potatoes. He shows me he loves me by washing my car. He shows me he loves me without words. He shows me he loves me when I am good enough to stop and look into those faded green eyes.
Perhaps it was that revelation that made me stop to think about how I show him my love. I don’t tell him he’s handsome anymore, I don’t like to bring lies into our marriage. I sat there on the porch, watching him stoop over, thinking about how I need to mend those dirty old jeans. He wiped another dusty hand across the side of them. I thought about the way he tucks the hair away from my face when I’m elbow deep in greasy dishes and a teaspoon of Cascade. I thought about how I never thank him for drying the tableware and putting them away because a smile seems to be all he needs. Just one smile, a curve of my lips.
He stopped and leaned against his hoe. Dirty arm wiping sweat away and leaving a smear of dirt across his forehead. He looked off into the sunset, thinking about who knows what. I squinted at the colors, red, orange, yellow, faded gray green, still not seeing what he saw. And then I realized he was looking at me. His face became soft, like the first time I meet him, before life hardened it. There were no lines around his eyes anymore, and they glowed from inside out, bright green, in the fading light. I don’t know what he sees in me, but sometimes it makes his face beautiful.