It was her laughter that he missed the most, Matt realized as he sat on the couch and watched the images that flickered on the television screen in front of him. Carol had had this special laugh that had never failed to make him also laugh.
The movie he was watching was a comedy and had one of Carol’s favorite actors in it. He knew that she would have been laughing very hard if she had been there. And he would have too.
But she wasn’t there. And the living room was completely empty of laughter.
It had already been almost two years since she had passed away and although Carol had insisted until her last breath that he should move on and try to find someone else to share his life with, he had no intention of doing so.
Why would he?, Matt had often asked himself. He still had his two daughters and their families, which included three lovely grandchildren. And they all lived close by and he could see them as often as he wanted.
Those few hours of loneliness he felt when he was at home, he would learn to cope with. His work and his friends would be enough to keep his thoughts occupied.
And besides, how would Alexandra and Patricia, his two daughters, feel about getting a stepmom? They had both told him that they were hoping that he would start looking for someone, but he wasn’t sure if they really meant it. And they meant everything to him.
He had everything he needed. It was only the laughter he was missing.
His phone rang and Matt picked it up from the coffee table next to him. She wants my help with something, Matt thought as he saw the name Patricia on the screen. She was the younger of the two and since her husband, Michael, was not the most practical man in the world, she had the habit of calling her dad whenever she needed something fixed. This being Saturday, Matt thought, made it even more obvious that she needed his help with some practical matter.
“This is Dad,” he said as he answered.
“Hi, Dad,” Patricia’s voice said at the other end, sounding a little timid as she usually did when she was about to ask for his help. “Are you very busy today?”
“No, but I expect that you are about to change that.”
“I need your help with something. One of my colleagues has offered me a table for free, but it’s too big for our car. Could you bring your truck to her place, and maybe a tool box for disassembling the table?”
Half an hour later Matt pulled into the driveway with his pickup at the address Patricia had given him. As he had expected, Patricia was standing on the porch outside the front door, waving at him as soon as she saw him. Next to her a woman was leaning against the wall. She was taller than Patricia and had short dark-brown hair. She looked to be around fifty, like himself. Patricia’s generous colleague, Matt figured.
“Hi, I’m Matt,” he said as he shook the woman’s hand.
“I’m Lisa,” the woman answered, smiling insecurely as a sparkle in her brown eyes revealed a genuine kindness. “As Patricia probably has told you, I am one of her co-workers. When she told me that she was looking for a table for their living room, I told her immediately that I am about to get rid of mine, because I’m getting a new one.”
“The table I’m getting looks brand new,” Patricia said, looking affectionately at Lisa. “But I expected that. She takes so good care of everything at work, so I knew her furniture would all be in pristine condition.”
His daughter’s praise of the woman in front of him, made Matt instinctively study her. She didn’t look bad, he thought. Actually, she was quite a looker. “Well, as long as it won’t collapse while you’re eating, I’d say you’ve got a pretty good deal.”
“Actually, from what Patricia has told me about how much her husband eats, that could become a problem.” Lisa laughed. And immediately Matt started laughing too.
It wasn’t thinking of Michael’s eating habits that made him laugh, but Lisa’s laughter itself. Just like with Carol, he thought. When he glanced at Patricia, he noticed her knowing smile.
Has she set me up? he thought as he gave his daughter an asking look, knowing that she would understand. Patricia’s widening smile was his answer.
“Matt, I asked Patricia for only one small favor in return for this table,” Lisa said as she looked at Matt with a begging look in her eyes. “That I would be able to borrow her dad to help me assemble my new table.”
“Of course,” Matt answered. “I’d be happy to!” And he meant it.