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A disastrous Christmas Eve when a new widow is forced to deal with the possiblity of her elderly fathers disappearance.
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (4)
An Old Neighborhood (Essays) Written in 1982. I won an award for this in an Essay/Poetry Press contest. I invite all to read and leave a review. And please be kind as I was only 14 when I wrote this. [120 words] [Literary Fiction]
Drowning... (Poetry) Says it all... don't ya think? [31 words]
The Water Globe (Poetry) - [69 words]
Unending (Poetry) Just a poem. [55 words]
"Granpa went for a walk," John-John said pouncing on me before I even got in the front door.
The news hadn't registered in my overtired brain. Getting free of my restraints...scarf, hat, peacoat, the oversized mittens I made myself...that seemed to be all that mattered. My day had been so harsh. Anxious customers, rattled employees. I even had a fight with an unmerciful utility operator. Not the kind of Christmas Eve I'd thought I'd have. Well, at least we have electricity until Friday. Pop's Social Security check will have come by then. The four of us could survive on that for a while.
Don't get me wrong, I've had worse Christmases than this. With that in mind last February, I opened up a Christmas account so the boys didn't suffer present-wise come December. Most of the gifts were practical, some frivolous but the holidays would be better this year. I had promised them that. I had promised myself that.
John-John was pulling at me.
"I said Granpa went for a walk," he looked at me with twelve year old eyes.
Not really a man, not really a child, but with the loss of his father last Thanksgiving they boy had seen much, felt it, lost and gained it. "IT" being all that comes with grief, not only for himself but for all of us. He had to watch us all come to the realization that Tom was dead and money from then on would be scarce. We moved in with Pop, who nearing seventy was not in the best health and I took a job downtown. A pathetic job but all I could get at the time and under the circumstances.
"And?" I went passed him dumping my outerwear on the couch. There'd be time to hang it up afterward. At this late hour I still had a chicken to stuff and bake.
"That was at four. It's seven now."
A three hour walk. I stopped in my exhausted tracks. "Are you sure he left at four?"
"Why didn't you call me?"
"We did. When Granpa wasn't back by five we called but you were already gone. Tommy's out looking for him now."
For a moment I didn't know what to do or say. Pop was out wandering the streets in the cold, my oldest Tommy, the fifteen year old, his whereabouts also unknown. This was not the reception I'd hoped for after such a "lovely" day on this joyous Christmas Eve. By now I thought I was emotionally and physically exhausted.
I looked around me, the festive Christmas tree, the twinking lights, a sprinkling of Christmas cards reminding me of the dwindling down of friends and acquaintances since Tom's death. The small two bedroom apartment housed us well enough but without my fathers presence it was simply dismal.
I retrieved my coat, "You stay here," I told John-John. "In case Granpa comes back."
"But Mom, I'm hungry," he whined.
Thats right, the chicken! I couldn't put it on now. I hadn't time. It was imperative to find my wandering father or even Tommy.
"Make yourself a peanut butter sandwich until I get back." I realized this wasnt the best Christmas eve meal, especially since we'd been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches frequently these days, but it was all I had to offer at the moment.
"Do you think he's lost like last time?" There was worry in the boys voice yet it was apparent he was trying to keep his emotions in check.
"I don't know John-John. I hope not." Last time, almost a year ago, Pop went out for a walk, became a tad disoriented and was missing for nearly six hours. It figured he would pick today of all days to pull this stunt again.
"If I come back without him, we'll have to call 911."
I was mid-way through redressing for the weather when Tommy burst in. His too-long hair swung at his shoulders, he wore jeans, an old flannel shirt and the brown leather bomber that once belonged to his father. He was inappropriately dressed for the frigid winter night and I had to stop myself on commenting the thought. Tommy was fifteen and did not care to be dictated on teenage fashion by his "out of style" mother. A heated argument was something I did not crave at the moment.
"I can't find him," Tommy was out of breath. "I looked everywhere."
I was briefly worried that in his teenage mentality he'd be angry with Granpa for ruining his Christmas eve and would have no problem shouting it to the world.
But he didn't. Perhaps he was genuinely concerned, maybe it was the spirit of Christmas. Or maybe it was the look on my face that gave the impression that I was in no mood to be trifled with.
"Stay here with your brother," I told him. "Behave yourselves and don't argue. Go make yourselves some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until I get back."
Tommy looked at me with a face that said "Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches again?" But nothing was verbalized and I walked out hoping that they'd behave and not fight.
I was able now to worry about my dear, sweet father as I walked the lonely streets. I don't think I actually thought he wouldn't be found but what condition would he be in when finally discovered? Would he be dead or would he turn up fine? As much as I wanted to know his whereabouts there was a part of me that dreaded the knowledge.
The shops on the avenue were all closed for the holidays. The well lit streets were deserted and there were no sounds except those of my footfalls on the cold, cracked cement.
Puffs of smoke escaped my tremebling lips, my breaths came in uneven gasps, my nose had started to run. I was crying and in my haste and worry hadnt even noticed. But I deserved it, I told myself. I deserved a good cry.
Where was my father? My kids were home alone eating peanut butter sandwiches on Christmas Eve and probably wrestling in front of the TV for the remote. I was freezing, scared to death. The electricity would be turned off by Friday. It had started to snow and my nose was boldly running and me without a tissue.
By now, a good thirty minutes later, I turned back for home. I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to call the police, that my dear good-hearted father had wandered off again. That this Christmas would be just as miserable as the last.
Through my frozen tears, I could see the church lights blazing, blurring. There were probably getting ready for midnight mass. I knew in that instant I was going to go in. I needed to pray, just for five minutes and then go home and see to my family.
It was significantly warmer inside the church and almost as deserted as the streets, except for the old caretaker who wandered the pews readying the hymnals for the late mass.
I sat in the very last pew trying not to undo any of the elder mans preparations. I prayed as I never prayed before. I asked God to protect my father, to watch over him in his confused state. To deliver him to his family who loved him so and needed him desperately. To help me be strong, whatever the outcome, for him, my kids and for me.
In all of this pouring out of my heart, amidst tears and sobs, I put myself in God's hands. His will would be the right thing and I would undoubtedly have Him to lean on like a crutch until I was able to go it alone. He would be there for me. I felt it. I knew it. I understood it completely.
My crying quieted and I noiselessly made my way home full of serenity and calmness. I'd call 911, be composed and handle it, tough cookie that I am. I had my health, my beautiful boys and God to see me through this crisis with dignity and strength.
|READER'S REVIEWS (16)
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"I loved this story. It was very creative, insightful and thought- provoking. The author is extremely talented." -- Paula Finnerty, Wantagh, ny, usa.
"Powerfully written, extremely compelling!" -- Myra Martino, Toluca Lake, CA, USA.
"Excellent story...very moving...well done!!" -- Peggy Bourletos, Staten Island, NY, USA.
""I really enjoyed it!!!...Very well written,with just the right amount of emotional tugging! I can't wait for the sequel!!" -- Denise Colon, Summerville, South Carolina , USA.
"An excellent story! Well written, emotional, and intriguing.Leaves you wanting more!" -- Linda Falcone, Valley Stream, NY.
"Loved it. Very well written - it really made you feel for the mother. But you have to hurry and write a sequel - I can't stop thinking about what could have happened to the Grandfather." -- Marcia Bourletos, Staten Island, New York, USA.
"Wonderful and moving story, capturing the feel of a family fallen on hard times very well. Is there a continuation?" -- Nadja Teichert, Switzerland.
"Moving story. Transports you with the density of her details and images. Leaves you wanting more, yet resonates with its message. Look forward to reading more from this author." -- Wayne Blatz, New York, NY, USA.
"Very well written. The author is very talented and if she has any other stories she should submit them. We would like to hear more from you, so keep it up. Very touching story and very true to life." -- Ann, Staten Island, NY, USA.
"Very touching story that shows the resilence of human nature. How it is possible to find inner strength. Well written but I'm anxious to know what happened to Grandpa." -- Rita, New York, NY.
"Very well written. Looking forward to reading a follow up!" -- Cathy Rios-Hayes, Sayreville, NJ.
"I loved this story. It was very well written and very powerful. It leaves you wanting more-you should seriously write a sequal, it was great!" -- Farrah Denny, Ny, Ny.
"Bravo!!! i thought it was well written. I hope theres a part 2 or something. I want to know what happened to granpa..." -- Dori, Jersey City, N.J..
"This is he second story that I have read by Mrs. LisaAnn Meyers, and it was better than the first one. She creates a feeling and mood through her extensive detail of family crisis. Someone that has this kind of talent needs to be read by a bigger audience. The author offers her own type of writing style that is revealing and fresh. Once you start reading this story you will want more in the end. I feel cheated that the story ended so quickly and this is a plea to Mrs.Lisa Ann Meyers to write another chapter in this wonderful well written story. Tony K." -- Tony K, Pasadena, MD.
"Very moving and emotional story and a very different type of writing style that makes the reader want to read more with its in depth detail." -- Rick, NY, NY, USA.
"Very good! I was engaged right off the bat. It was very relatable on so many levels, stressed mom, single mom, worried daughter, faith. Would love to know what happened to Grandpa." -- Linda P.
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© 2000 Lisa Diaz-Meyer
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