CHRISTMAS DAY 2009
The morning came! After sleeping a good night sleep, only to be interrupted a few times by the nurses coming into the room to check on mother, take her vitals and whisper another, “if you need anything, just push this button, OK!”
After our breakfast, I spend a couple of hours reading – reading to myself, reading to mother, reading to one of the nurses who came in the room to see how everything was going. “What are you reading?” she asked me.
“Just one of my short stories I had written a few days ago!”
“Can you read a little bit to me? I love short stories!”
The time was nearing. What should I do? Should I not do anything, not call Josephine? Should I just forget about her invitation? No, that wouldn’t be right. I should just call her, be honest!
I dialed the number.
“Good afternoon, Josephine…this is Rick, you know…Janet’s son!”
“Oh hi! So are you going to come over and have Christmas dinner with me, I should say us… having a few friends over!”
“Well to be honest I don’t have a car here with me. I took the train in to see my mother!”
“Well, I live in Niles, only five minutes from the hospital… I can come and pick you up.”
Outside the front entrance I stood. For Christmas Day, it was relatively warm, sunny. I was in a brightened mood, mother seemed to be doing OK and I was to be in company of a woman, it’s been a while. Soon the vehicle she described to me on the phone pulled up – a goldish BMW X5.
I entered the vehicle, sat down, extended my hand.
“Cold hands, warm heart,” Josephine said. Her hand was kind of cold but I didn’t put too much thought into it.
Before long we were at her townhouse, and I was a little nervous but you could tell so was Josephine… so much that after we were inside her doorbell rang and it was one of her neighbors relating that she had left her car door open. We laughed about it for a bit. She then offered me a drink.
“I bought a bottle of Gray Goose vodka for the occasion.”
Although I hadn’t had a drink in five months, not since the day before going into Wayside Cross Ministries, I figured I’d make an exception and eagerly accepted. I would forget, at least for a while, that I am an alcoholic and forget Wayside’s rules and policies about drinking while on leave.
After a few drinks. loosened up, feeling good and enjoying each other’s company Josephine and I kissed a bit, not too deep, just enough to secure our bond.
It wouldn’t be long before Josephine’s guests would arrive so we decided to get the dinner started. Most of it was precooked so it was just a matter of warming it up. With foresight Josephine had roasted the turkey the day before…
Seeing that Josephine’s tolerance for alcohol was far less than mine, and after she burned the gravy, dropped the salad into the mashed potatoes I decided it best that I take over as Chief Preparer and after her guests arrive, Dedicated Server.
About an hour later the doorbell rang. Ushered in were a van full of folks – Josephine’s best friends from her Junior College Days – the Obama Twins, one of the twin’s daughter, the other twin’s husband (from Turkey) and his two nieces (also from Turkey). They brought some supplies, thank goodness, the vodka was just about gone. A case of beer, a couple bottles of wine, yes, let’s get this party started.
Feeling very comfortable and more than that, I truly felt I belonged there… It seems as though I had been there before. It started to feel like home.
I took over as host and began serving “our guests.”
After dinner, after a few glasses of wine or a few bottles of beer, with one of the Turkish girls leading the way we traipsed into the living room for some Karaoke.
Gulcin, who had learned English at an early age back in Turkey, took the microphone and man, could she sing, the voice of an angel. She sang some Celine, some Gladys Knight, some Aretha. Very impressive.
After a while I got to choose a song to sing. I chose “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Elvis.
Are you lonesome tonight? Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray to a brighter sunny day?
When I kissed you and called you sweetheart?
After singing it everybody wanted me to sing it again. I would admit that my voice did sound good, relaxed… and my Elvis vibrato was in fine stead. I sang it again and everybody insisted on an encore.
Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?
Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?
After the guests left, after I helped clean up, me and Josephine decided it best if I just spend the rest of the night there….
The morning came. We were sitting at her kitchen table having coffee when she asked me my birthday.
“September 13,” I answered. Just then her head fell. “What’s wrong?”
“That was my husband’s birthday!”
“Are you telling me your husband’s birthday is the same as mine – September 13?”
“Yes! You know that he had died just over a year ago from a brain aneurysm.”
‘I am so sorry, Josephine.” Thinking of all the synchronicities in my life, perhaps this was just another one but to think about it deeper I had come to the conclusion that it was God who brought me and Josephine together. Yes, it has the to be the answer. We were brought together through fate, through divine intervention.