The time in Ireland had been exhilarating for Arlene ,but had considerably drained her energy . She daily over the last few months was having difficulty walking and often experienced a high degree of pain.Michael had insisted that the day after the venture to the Cliffs of Moher that she sleep in, and have a late breakfast. Arlene followed Michael’s advice, but in the afternoon pleaded with him to call Fin and arrange for lunch, and a brief shopping excursion in Doolin.On the way to town she asked Fin if there was a shop in town that specialized in Irish wrist watches. Fin immediately responded that McCrory’s was a jewelry shop near Gus O’Connors Pub that had an exquisite assortment of watches, but the prices were quite high.”While you are at lunch I will walk to the shop ,and make certain that they will be open after you finish your lunch.”
Gus O’Connor’s Pup was crowded but apparently Fin had some pull with the owner because on arrival Arlene and Michael were seated at a table with a reserved sign on it.Arlene’s appetite had almost completely vanished, but she managed to eat some Irish soda bread ,and half a bowl of soup. As before, she nursed a glass of Baileys whiskey, and ate a bit of Michael’s chocolate cake.
After lunch Fin met them at the front door, and drove the two blocks to McCrory’s Jewelry store. As Arlene exited the car Fin asked if she wanted to ride in the wheelchair ,but she said” I would prefer to walk. because the handsome man next to her had been flirting, and wished to walk arm and arm with her.” Michael said” You have inherited the Irish Blarney ,and by the way Fin it is she that is flirting with me”. Fin loved the loving playful banter that existed in their relationship, and could only imagine how painful her death would be for Michael.
Donald McCrory the proprietor of the Jewelry store was pleased to show Arlene a bevy of top of the line Irish watches. He insisted that they were finer than any timepiece that could be found in Switzerland. “They have better marketing, but our watches overall are finer and less expensive.”Michael looked over her shoulder and whispered in her ear”I hope my dear that you are not going to buy me another watch.I already have four that you have bought me through the years”Arlene asked for a chair to be brought to the viewing area and said to Michael as she sat”You are such a vain creature. What makes you think that this watch is for you?. Perhaps it is for my secret admirer. Now be on your way, and go to the front of the shop.” Michael laughed and made his way to the large black leather chair in the side room, and dutifully waited for her to finish.
Arlene choose a beautiful watch that had dials for the time, date and weather. She asked Mr .McCrory if it was possible to have the watch engraved that day because it was a gift ,and she was leaving for America the next day. Mr.McCrory was thrilled to have such an expensive sale ,and informed Arlene that an engraver was on the premises, and she would have the watch by eight o’clock that evening.” It will be delivered at your hotel. Is it a gift?” Arlene nodded and filled out the form for the inscription. After the purchase of the watch they returned to the Lodge and Michael insisted that Arlene take a nap before dinner.She agreed, and after a slight supper spent part of the night writing postcards to the children and grandchildren.
When Michael came to bed she was reading an Irish novel and placing the book on the nightstand she reached for a pouch that contained her rosary beads. As Michel sat next to her on the bed she took his face in her hands, and gently kissed both his eyes and cheek.” Michel I am so glad you resisted all the medical advice from our Doctors ,and allowed us to share this wonderful vacation.My life with you has been blessed beyond measure.” Michael returned her kiss and said “Medical advice is valuable my dear, but at times advice from the heart is more important.” “I agree and I would like to end this splendid day by our saying the rosary in gratitude for all we have,”
The last morning at the Limestone Lodge found Arlene and Michael having a leisurely breakfast. A messenger from McCrory’s had brought the watch the prior evening ,and instead of packing it Arlene had placed it in her handbag. Michael on witnessing her putting the gift box away requested that she give him the name of her secret admirer so he could challenge him to a duel.”We Irish do not take lightly to someone trying to carry our woman away.”Arlene refused to bow to the pressure ,and steadfastly kept the lover’s name a secret. Michael loved the fact that even at the end of her life Arlene could be so playful and loving.
At approximately at 10:30 Fin knocked on their door and asked if he could place their luggage in the car.He started to carry the suitcases out when Arlene requested that he return after loading the car. Michael made a sweep of both rooms to insure that nothing would be left behind. “Rest for a few minutes while I go pay the bill.” As he left Fin reentered the room and Arlene asked him to pull up a chair and sit next to her.Fin had many tourists in his ten year stint as a driver and tour guide, but none had touched his heart like the McNally’s. Arlene had a small gift box in her hand and said”Fin this has been one of the most special experiences of my life.,and you are largely responsible for the joy we have experienced.”Fin blushed at this statement and said”It has been my pleasure”. Arlene took the gift box and placed it in Fin’s hand.”Please open the box because it is a small token of our appreciation.” Fin was overwhelmed when he opened the box and saw a beautiful expensive wrist watch.”Arlene I don’t know what to say.””Look on the back Fin.”The carved inscription read”To Fin,who filled a dream for me at the Cliffs.Love,Arlene
Fin was speechless as Arlene reached out to hug him.He was not a man who easily cried but as he helped her into the wheelchair a tear dropped down his cheek.