Epilogue 1: Walk into the Setting Sun
The nursery is painted a light blue with pictures of flamenco dancers and guitars drawn in darker blue. Not typical themes for a nursery, but Juanita has never been typical. This room represents everything she hopes to share with her son when he is born. He will be named Hucks. It is her grandfather’s last name. He never had a son to carry the name forward. The horses and the guitars represent the cowboy professor, musical legend, who to her is just grandpa. He is the man who sang and played guitar and the dulcimer for her when she was little. The flamenco dancers represent the passion her and her mother share. Juanita dreamt of being a professional flamenco dancer as long as she can remember. All dreams, except for dreams about her son, were put on hold when she found out she was pregnant. Dance lessons, high school and her boyfriend seem like from a lifetime ago. It was going to be hard to be a single mother and not yet 17, but she had graduated early and was fortunate to have her parents to help her. Juanita touched the antique blue night stand. It had been in her room forever, but now would be in her son’s room. Her grandfather’s great grandfather had made it. It was too many greats for her to keep track, but it was reassuring to touch this old thing that had been in her family forever. It had been in her grandfather’s room as a boy and in hers and will belong to her son. She has a family history and traditions and her and her boy would be fine. It is not as if she is raising him alone. The soothing color blue represents her grandmother. Everyone said she inherited her stubbornness from her grandmother. She asked her one time if blue had always been her favorite color and grandma had said it had been red once, but then she met grandpa. There was a story there, but grandma never wanted to talk about it.
Juanita looks at all the shower gifts in the corner of the room waiting to be sorted and organized. Aunt Carmen and Aunt Donna organized the shower. Aunt Carmen isn’t really her aunt. She is her mom’s best friend since the age of 3. Juanita is named after Aunt Carmen’s mother who had been her grandmother’s best friend. Aunt Donna is really her aunt. She is married to her father’s brother. Juanita is comforted by the sense of family. She has so many people on whom she could lean and depend.
Sandy arrives home from the baby shower tired, but happy. She is eager to tease Dwayne about being a great grandfather; especially after last night. It is hard to believe a man his age could be that passionate and active still. It isn’t frequent, but when they are both in the right mood! Sandy has found herself humming all day long. She hums the now classic country love songs that Dwayne wrote for her over the years: “Then, I met you,” “Your Home is in my Arms,” “Ride Off Into the Setting Sun,” “Sandy on the Beaches,” and, the song he wrote when she was sick with cancer, “Leaning on Each Other...” She loves thinking of Dwayne as a great grandfather. Dwayne might have started late and never had biological children, but he had so many “children” now who were grown and had children of their own. Of course, Isadora, but Fred and Frank and Donna as well. Donna’s father had died when she was young. Once Donna started playing in Dwayne’s band and became Isadora’s sister-in-law, he had become almost as close to her as to Isadora. So many kids now who call him grandpa and gather around him at family gatherings asking him to play the dulcimer. Her child had one child and that child was giving them their first great grandchild, a boy. Sandy enters their house through the garage door and walks straight out to the back porch where she knows Dwayne always sits at dusk. A chill is in the air, but it is still warm enough to sit out and enjoy the view from their home in Placitas, New Mexico. Dwayne is playing the guitar. Three years ago at the age of 75, Dwayne had retired and gave away his guitars; except the blue one his first wife had bought him years ago. He gave one guitar to the country music hall of fame and another to Donna. The rest he had given to the musician’s tomb in New Orleans to auction off. Sandy thought about the day he told her he was keeping the blue guitar because sometimes he would like to still pick a little and it wasn’t worth as much as the others. She had kissed him and reminded him “Blue” had been the first song of their blue dreams. She knew how he felt about the early years with Dani. It didn’t diminish what he felt about her. He has kept the dulcimer Alex had given him and the harmonica which had belonged to Alex. He has never again had a peer friendship as close as he had with Alex. On the patio table is a yellow pad and different color pens. Dwayne is immersed in the tune which sounds very much like “the First Time” with some chord variations. He doesn’t look up until Sandy touches him on the shoulder. She asks if he has been writing. He seems shy about it. He tells her he has been thinking about the “the First Time” and thinks it is time, at his age, to write his last song, the last time to write a song, “the Last Time.” It isn’t quite done.
He puts the guitar aside and pulls his thin, frail wife to sit on his lap. Her hair, mostly grey now, as is his, has that constant stray curl falling out of her bun. It reminds him of the first time they met. He is reminded to include that in the song; the last time I touch your hair. He tucks the curl back in its place. He presses his lips against hers softly, forces her lips open, forces her tongue to touch his and bites her lower lip as he pulls his lips away.
Sandy: That was some kiss, great grandpa.
Dwayne: Sexiest great grandmother.
Sandy: You realize we have had 27 years of wedded bliss.
Dwayne: No regrets?
Sandy shakes her head no: Are you coming in?
Dwayne: I would like to finish this song.
Sandy: How many times have you told me that?
Dwayne: I will be in soon, I promise. I will hold you in my arms tonight.
Sandy: (Hearing something different in his voice). Are you okay?
Dwayne: Yes. I just think that every time I hold you is like the first time.
Sandy kisses him and starts to get up. His arms tighten around her. She looks at him quizzically.
Dwayne: Last night was amazing. I want you to know how much it still means to me after all these years.
Still on his lap, Sandy turns so her back is against him. She stretches her arms over his head and her legs out in front of her. Dwayne wraps both arms around her and rubs his full grown beard against the back of her neck. The first time he held her it was in a blue dream and he was in back of her like now. She begins to shiver a little. She never gained back weight after the cancer and is easily cold since. Dwayne pushes her up and off of him. He tells her he will see her in bed.
As Sandy prepares for bed, she smiles at the thought that Dwayne is writing. He hasn’t written in three years. She wishes, as she has many times over the decades, that she could still have a blue dream. She knows Dwayne better than anyone, but it has been so long since she held his heart and mind within her own. She wakes only briefly when Dwayne comes to bed, moves over, but once he lies down, he pulls her back close to him so she is lying in her spot in his arms.
It is not a blue screen, she realizes, and never has been. It is a blue world with a lack of dimension, shading or hue. She sees Dwayne approaching, looking very much as he did on their wedding day, including that cowboy hat he had insisted on wearing (ironically). He walks to her, gazes in her eyes, but does not touch her. He takes off the hat and holds it in his hands.
Dwayne: I have so much I want to tell you, but there is no need. You hold my heart and mind within you. I do yours for the first time. There are no words left to say.
They smile at each other. He puts on the cowboy hat, turns, and walks away. Sandy yells after him to wait. Please wait. He stops. His head bows down. He lifts his head, shakes it, breathes in and turns around and walks back towards her.
Sandy: Do you have to leave now? Today? It can’t wait? Can it be in a year? A week? Just until Juanita has her baby?
Dwayne: I’m not choosing. It is my time.
Sandy: Then I will go too.
Dwayne: It is not your time.
Sandy: Are you going to tell me that I don’t have any say? Destiny makes all the decisions?
Dwayne: It made me happy to think of you holding our great grandson. (He notes that fire in her eyes. Did he or anyone have the power to stop her once she made up her mind? Did he want to?) You have the most stubborn nature; even after all these years. Are you sure?
Sandy nods. She had made a commitment to Happily Ever After and she could not be happy without him. Dwayne holds out his hand.
Dwayne: Well, come on then, darlin’.
She grabs onto his hand and he pulls her to him. He puts his arm around her. As they walk, the blue around them disappears and dimension appears. In a horizon the sun is setting. They walk off into the setting sun.
For those of you who believe in happy endings, this epilogue is written. You are a breed easily disappointed and I did not write Blue Dreams to disappoint, but to celebrate the true believers. You have most likely been successful in maintaining a love relationship over years, are young and believe one is in front of you, or, have had love and blame only yourself for its failure. You are the stewards of the myth that you see as truth. God bless you. I entrust to you every fairy tale and full responsibility for assuring that Happily Ever After never ends.