Who Will Tell Their Story? – Chapter Four – “Irene”

Irene was a recent widow who graced the Battery Park Hotel after she sold the house that she had shared with her husband for almost fifty years. Unlike Eloise, Irene didn’t hate the word “widow.”

She lived on the sixth floor and from the window, could see the house that she had lived in since she married at the age of eighteen.  She and her husband had raised five children in that house and the memories she collected over the years overflowed like a mighty waterfall.

She was a master crocheter and knitter and possessed an imagination that allowed her to literally make something out of nothing.  She could run across a rusted tin can and in her mind, see a beautiful container for a treasure.

She loved to hear dirty jokes and loved to tell them.  One of her favorites was “look down your shirt and spell attic.”  She knew Eloise but never told her that joke, although she mused about how she could say “pull up your shirt and spell attic, instead of look down your shirt and spell attic.”

Blessed with unusually long fingers, she played the piano at the church she had been going to for as long as she could remember.  Also blessed with a remarkable soprano voice, she sang in the choir.  Over time, the dress code had become less rigid but Irene wasn’t one to show up wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  She would dress to the nines and one of her favorite outfits was a bright pink suit with matching shoes.

She had her hair done every week but settled for its natural color of silvery white.  When asked if she’d like a little color added, she would laugh and say “I have earned every single white hair on my head and every single one of them has a name attached to it.”

She no longer drove and relied heavily on her best friend, Lilly, to take her to church, the grocery store and an occasional trip to the mall.  They got along so well, people who didn’t know them thought they were sisters. When Irene fell and broke her arm, she stayed with Lilly, until she was able to fend for herself again.  As Irene put it, “It was like a month-long pajama party.”

Irene had been a beautiful woman in her youth.  She had chestnut brown hair that looked as if it had been kissed by the sun and she had piercing blue eyes that made you think she could see straight through you.  She was taller than average and in her old age, still struck quite a figure.

She loved to watch game shows.  Her favorite was Wheel of Fortune and she could, many times, figure out the word after only one letter had been exposed.

When someone described Irene, they talked about funny and friendly she was, but if you pissed her off, you had better run for the hills.  With the expertise of an accomplished swordsman, she could metaphorically cut you in half before you ever saw the blade.

But Irene had a past.  Due to a tragic accident, she lost a child when she was younger and had suffered a mental breakdown.  She spent a few years in what they called back then, a nervous hospital.  She recovered, as much as could be expected when you lose a child, but if one looked closely, they could see the deep sadness that still showed in her eyes.

She loved holidays and was always the first volunteer when it was time to decorate the lobby.  When she got through, it was often described as a masterpiece of artistry.  She appeared to enjoy her golden years and the camaraderie she found with the other patrons of the Battery Park Hotel seemed to enliven her.

As the fire raged up from floor to floor, Irene decided to cheat death and take her own life.  She made her way up to the top of the Hotel and jumped.  She was wearing her bright pink suit and matching shoes.



To be continued_______________



Who Will Tell Their Story? – Chapter Three – “Ray Dean”

Ray Dean aka Raden, was a purveyor of chicanery.  Three life-altering events had taken place in the last few months.  He had turned sixty-five, had just been released from a federal prison after serving a thirty-year sentence for defrauding several unsuspecting elderly people and he had been graciously admitted to the Battery Park Hotel, on the condition that his evil ways had been put behind him.

Born in the hills of North Carolina to uneducated parents who had to scrimp and save every dollar just to make ends meet, he decided at an early age that was not the life he wanted.

With an IQ of 165, his debauchery began at twelve years old.  He started stealing goats and cows from neighbors, tying them to a tree, waiting for a reward to be posted and then returning them to collect the money.  It was a brilliant ploy and the grateful people started calling him “the little Pinkerton.”

But his ruse would come to an end when they began to wise up and realized that he was the one who always seemed to “find” the missing animals.  He got what you would call a good ole whoopin’ from his Papa, and a lecture about right and wrong but his Papa’s speech went the way of the proverbial “in one ear and out the other.”

His Papa said, “I know you’re smarter than I am, son, but there’s a right way to do things and there’s a wrong way to do things.  You need to do things the right way.”

Raden was smart enough to placate his Papa and showed the proper remorse but all the while, he was planning his next caper.

Feeling that higher education was for chumps, and also believing that he was always the smartest person in the room, he opted to drop out of high school at sixteen and start his own business.

That business took him from state to state, not because he was successful, but because he was outrunning the law.

He would travel around, find depressed houses and use his considerable, smooth-talking charm to entice the owners with promises of repairing roofs, mending broken down fences and replacing leaking pipes for a more than fair price.  All he required was half the money down and then he would begin the project.  Once he got their hard-earned money, he would skip town, live high on the hog for a few weeks and then move on to his next victim.

His turpitude continued for years and not until he met Isobel, did he start to show a bit of conscience.  She was a spit-fire of a woman who could match his intellect and he found her to be quite challenging.

She had just inherited a tidy sum of money from her folks as well as their old farmhouse, which she intended to restore to its original state.  Raden saw an opportunity to make a quick killing, but he found Isobel to be so alluring that he couldn’t take advantage and decided that maybe meeting her was a sign that he should start traveling the straight and narrow path of honesty.

They would meet and he would pretend to know what he was talking about as they looked at the rusty old tin roof and rotten eaves.  He was being pretentious and his only purpose was to spend more time with her, not help fix the house.

The more time he spent with her, the more enamored he became and the more guilt he felt, but his funds were running low and he needed a quick fix.  He fell back into his old ways and took several thousand dollars from her.

They planned to meet the next morning and start working.  Isobel arrived at the house and waited all day but Raden never showed up.  He took her money and left but Isobel was not going to be just another one of his victims.

She hired a private investigator and Raden’s luck ran out when the long arm of the law came knocking on his door.  He was living in a dismal flat, crawling with roaches and rats and littered with empty liquor bottles.  He had made off with her money but as soon as he skipped town, his daddy’s words of doing the right thing began to echo in his ears like the tolling of a death knell.  Instead of cheating people out of money, he started begging people for money.

If he had ever been able to love anyone other than himself, Isobel had been the recipient.  While in prison, Raden became an accomplished artist. His cell housed hundreds of paintings.  Other inmates asked for their likenesses or those of loved ones, but Raden refused.  All of his paintings were of Isobel and when he was released, he took those paintings to the Battery Park Hotel.

He was reclusive and other than an occasional nod to someone in passing, he kept to himself.  It was almost as if he was self-imposed to another prison as a form of further penitence, although in the eyes of the law, he had paid his debt to society.

He never participated on game night and it’s questionable if he ever had the pleasure of meeting Eloise.  He never visited the hairdresser nor did he ever lounge around in the main lobby.

He was found in the hallway with his arms full of melted oil paintings that were not recognizable.  Perhaps in his last moments of life, he finally found peace and a modicum of comfort, knowing that he was going to die…with Isobel.


To be continued___________________



Who Will Tell Their Story? – Chapter Two – “Eloise”

Eloise had been a resident of the Battery Park Hotel since it opened its doors to the elderly.  She was a sixty-seven year old widow who hated the word “widow.”  She showed her annoyance when she tersely said “don’t call me a widow.  That makes me sound like a spider!”

Eloise was a force of nature.  She never wore a brassiere and had no compunction about flashing her ample but sagging breasts when she heard that “hated” word.  She would let out a hearty grunt, raise her shirt and say “do you see a red hourglass on my chest?”

Most women ignored her but others would gasp in horror and show their disgust…but all the men loved Eloise.  A few protests were sent to the manager, a middle-aged, slightly over-weight, balding man, who politely nodded while listening to the sensitivities of the complainants but shook his head and smiled as soon as they walked away.  He loved Eloise, too.

Eloise frequented the hairdresser but blue was the color of her eyes and would never be the color of her hair.  Her choice was a jet black color called Raven and she never let her silver roots show.  She proudly called herself “a Raven beauty.”  It was a clever pun on the word “raving” and Eloise was a master of puns.

On game night, Eloise made the rounds, floating fluidly from table to table.  She was a fairly good poker player, although it was discouraged, especially if it involved money.  But Eloise was a rule-maker and a rule-breaker.  “If I want to play poker, I’m going to play poker,” she said.  “If I win your money, don’t cry to me.  You shouldn’t be gambling if you’re going to be a big baby.”

She had never worked a day in her life, as far having an actual paying job, but would quickly remind everyone that looking after a man for forty-some-odd years was one of the hardest jobs a woman could ever have. She didn’t talk much about her late husband but once you got to know her, albeit casually because even though she would bare her breasts, she never completely bared her soul to anyone, you sensed that he was an honorable man who was very good to her.

She still wore a simple gold band on her left hand and always wore a locket on a long chain that seemed to have great sentimental value.  If she still grieved for him, she did it in private or maybe she had reached the point of acceptance and resigned herself to believing the often used words, “until we meet again.”

Eloise didn’t dress like an old woman.  You wouldn’t find any polyester frocks in her closet and stiletto heels were at home on her feet.  She was never seen without make-up and may have singlehandedly kept Max Factor in business for years.

She could be described as flashy, but not trashy.  She could be described as eye-catching, but not gaudy.  She could be described as someone who wasn’t going to let time and age slow her down or resign her to a mundane life of mere existence.

The fact that Eloise loved to flirt did not go unnoticed.  She loved the attention and loved even more that she could get a rise out of an embarrassed old man, whose certain appendage hadn’t stood at attention in possibly many years.

But Eloise was not interested in having a relationship.  She didn’t need a man to take care of, nor did she need a man to take care of her.  She was by no means wealthy, but she was frugal.  She didn’t need a man to pay her bills, nor was she interested in paying his.  She just wanted to live and laugh and spit in the face of age, while defying its onslaught of brittle bones, arthritic hands and the eventual final surrender.

Eloise was found huddled next to the window in her bedroom, clutching a scorched silver picture frame that one could only guess held a picture of her late husband.  The remains of a chair were beside her and she may have been trying in vain to break the reinforced window.  Fused to her finger was the gold band and the locket still hung around her charred neck.



To be continued________________________




Who Will Tell Their Story? – Chapter One

Standing in the middle of town, was the grand Queen Anne styled Battery Park Hotel.  Its name came from Confederate forces, using the site for batteries of artillery during the Civil War.

As a little girl, I remember looking up at the fourteen story tall building and thinking that it surely must touch the sky and tickle the soft, underbelly of angels who were flying a little too close to the spire.

I had heard that famous people had once sought rest in its grand rooms, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda.  There was a rumor that the fabulous Elvis Presley had stayed there and in a fit of rage, shot the television when he saw Robert Goulet on the screen.

Forty years later, the grand hotel had all but been abandoned in favor of more modern, sterile glass and steel architecture.  It was slated for demolition but special interest groups rallied and petitioned to save the old historic building.

People who had migrated to the suburbs and built or bought one-story cookie-cutter houses, were now flocking back to the city.  They were eyeing the building for lush pent-house style apartments, but the city decided that the grand hotel should be designated for senior citizens, who, living on small fixed incomes, should have a bit of luxury in the winter of their lives.

The age requirement was at least sixty-five and the residents had to have a bit of independence, although there were the required accouterments for wheel chairs and walkers.  Once the remodeling was completed, all two hundred and thirty-eight rooms were occupied within three weeks and a waiting list numbered in the hundreds.

Once again, the Battery Park Hotel had a heartbeat.

There was a laundromat in the basement that boasted ten washing machines, twelve dryers and for fifty cents, a chest of drawers could be filled with fresh, clean clothes.

Once a week, a hairdresser would come to coif and apply just the right tint of blue to old ladies’ hair of another time, who would never dream of venturing outside looking unkempt.  The men could opt for the long ago discarded tradition of a straight-razor shave, if they trusted that the hairdresser had steady hands.

There was a room designated for clothing that had been outgrown or was no longer wanted, appliances that were no longer needed, magazines that had been read hundreds of times and bits of yarn and fabric that were too small to save.  All of these things could be bought for a mere pittance.

Every Friday night was game night.  The residents could partake in Bridge, Checkers, Gin Rummy, try to coax together a five-thousand piece puzzle, or just sit around and talk about old times, old men and old women.
As they played, they could hear the lonesome, forlonging, yet romantic call of the train that rode along the French Broad River.

The residents consisted of spry, maverick “oldsters,” taking advantage of a new kind of freedom as well as the sad, forgotten ones, tossed away like last weeks’ Sunday newspaper.

Sometimes you could see one of them peering out of a window as if perhaps nostalgically looking for their lost childhood or hoping to see a loved one stroll by.  Surely, whatever they saw was from an entirely different perspective than what they could see from the ground.

Through the years, residents came and went.  Some had to go to assisted care living.  Some died and went to their final resting place, be it to a cemetery with an elaborate tombstone, or to the neglected Potters’ field.

Old people who should be treasured for their wealth of knowledge and the stories they can tell are more often than not, considered to be nothing more than relics.  They are frail and wrinkled and some of them smell like dusty furniture.  Their eyes are cloudy and their hearing has gone the way of their youth.

Some of them are still full of life.  They don’t care how they smell, and it doesn’t matter if they can still see or hear.  They’re just happy to be alive. But there are those who are so lonely, their tears could water the nearby flowers and they silently wish for a visit from the angel of death, whose soft underbelly may have been tickled by the spire.

Centuries of memories crept along the corridors and settled into the crevices of the Battery Park Hotel.  It would be an idealistic notion that traces of everyone who had entered the front door, walked the halls, and lounged on the comfortable, overstuffed furniture in the lobby had left an indelible mark, but who would tell their story?

If those walls could only talk…but on a cold December day, the walls were silenced forever. That was the day the grand Battery Park Hotel burned to the ground and took every living soul with it.



To be continued__________________





The Sunshine Blogger Award

The Sunshine Blogger Award come to me from the fabulous Robert Goldstein.

The rules are:

Thank the blogger who nominated you for the award.

Many (belated) thanks to Robert Goldstein for the nomination!

List the rules and include the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post.


Answer the 11 questions asked of you.

1.  Why do you blog?

I think I started blogging because I found it to be cathartic.

2.  What most frustrates you about blogging?

a) WordPress keeps fiddling around with the format and it drives me crazy.
b) Trolls (although I do have fun “playing with them.”)

3.  What do you enjoy most about blogging?

The wonderful people I have met and befriended and so important…the support I have found.

4.  How do you define success?

Having no regrets.

5.  What is the one thing you want from your followers?

Money.  (Just kidding.)  Understanding, maybe.

6.  What is the one thing you want to give the people you follow?

Support, hope and understanding.

7.  How do you define the difference between positive and negative criticism?

Positive criticism is helpful and appreciated.  Negative criticism is caustic and unwelcome.  You can disagree with someone’s opinion and you can tell them their writing sucks but you don’t have to be an ass about it.  I’ve had readers comment that they couldn’t “like” what I posted because it was too sad…and that’s fine.  I’ve had readers say they didn’t like the way I ended a story…and that’s fine, too.  My stories have never been “warm and fuzzy.”  They are most likely going to be “dark and twisty.”

8.  How do you deal with moments when a blogger you like posts something you don’t like?

Reading something that I don’t like doesn’t ruffle my feathers, unless someone is blatantly attacking race, religion, sexual orientation or mental illness, in which case, I hit “unfollow” with lightning speed.  We all have our likes, dislikes, opinions and thoughts but I have no tolerance for that kind of bullshit.

9.  Is your blog a journal, a literary experiment, performance art or none of those?

My blog started out as a sort of journal.  It’s always a literary experiment because I have never considered myself to be a real writer.  It’s certainly not art.  I think I’d call it “piddling around.”

10.  What is success as a blogger? 

I think that depends on your definition of success.  For some, it may be an insane amount of followers.  For some, it may be a step toward having something published.  For me, I’m just glad someone reads my stuff.

11.  By your definition, do you consider yourself successful?

*See #4.  Probably not.  I have too many regrets.

My 11 questions:

1.  What is your favorite holiday and why?

2.  If you could re-live one moment in your life, what would it be and why?

3.  What is your belief?  Evolution or Divine Creation?

4.  If you could suddenly have any talent, what would it be and why?

5.  If a homeless person asked you for money, would you give it to them?

6.  When was the last time your cursed and why?

7.  If you were exiled to a deserted island and could only take one thing, what would it be?

8.  What is one thing that makes you so mad, you could spit?

9.  What is your favorite sound?

10. Do your dream in color?

11. If you come to a fork in the road, do you go right or left?

So many bloggers are “award free,” so it’s difficult to come up with nominations, so if that is your case, my apologies.

Darnell Cureton ( a new follower)

Swanyriver (just do it!)

Ogden Fahey

Snakesinthegrass (I want to hear your answers, Marty)


*Robert…I’d like to hear your answers, too.)*


When The Last Petal Falls – Chapter Six

I returned the next day and was met by an exuberant Mippy.  She was almost dancing as she said “he’s coming home!  He’s coming home!”

I admit that for a second, I was considering calling the men in the white coats, but I listened as she cheerfully said “my dearest Jus is coming home!”

I sat down at the kitchen table and noticed that all the petals, save one, had fallen from the rose in the little glass vase.  Mippy hadn’t picked them up and put them in the little pink bowl.

A shiver went down my spine as I asked “when?”  She said “today.  My beloved is coming home today.”

I asked her how she knew that it was him.  She said “they found his wedding ring, his dog tags and some bone fragments.”

I noticed that she had put on her wedding ring and had pushed her sleeves up, exposing the bracelet on her left arm.  A sadness came over her as she looked at her arms, covered with the brown spots that are typical with age.  She put her hands on her now wrinkled face and said “oh, my.  I have gotten old.”

I said “but he won’t be able see you Mippy.”

She said “oh yes.  He’ll be able to see me.  He has seen me every day since the day he left.  He lets me know that he’s near by pulling a petal off my rose and I’ve always known that when they were all gone, he would come home.”

I wasn’t sure what to think or say but I hoped that something about the rose in the little glass vase was magical.  I hoped that the kind of love Mippy and Jus had for each other, wasn’t confined to the realm of what could be explained.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang.  Mippy’s eyes filled with tears and we watched the last petal fall.


Y Diwedd.


When The Last Petal Falls – Chapter Five

I wanted to know more about the rose.  Maybe Mippy replaced it every time it wilted and started losing its petals but as I looked at it, I somehow knew that it was the same rose I had seen since I was a little girl.  I knew it, but I also knew that it couldn’t be possible.

As if Mippy was reading my thoughts, she said “I know you are wondering about my rose and you have asked how it could still be alive after all these years.  I believe it has stayed with me as a symbol of the love between me and Jus.  Every time a petal falls, I know it’s him, telling me that he is thinking of me, and telling me that one day, he will be returning to me.”

“But Mippy,” I said, “it’s been over fifty years.”

“Yes, but my love for him is as strong today as it was the day I said goodbye to him on the train,” she said.

Mippy smiled and put her hand over her heart as she said “true love knows no boundaries.  It’s ethereal.  Those of us who get to experience a great love are truly blessed and even if our physical being dies, the love never does.”

As we watched yet another petal fall, Mippy said “I long for the day when my thoughts no longer make a sound and when my heart no longer aches with every beat.  I believe that will happen when Jus finally comes home.  Sometimes at night, when I’ve just drifted off to sleep, I think I can feel his arms around me.”

I didn’t want to hurt Mippy’s feelings, but I said “you do know that he’s never coming home.”

Once again, Mippy acted as if she didn’t hear what I said as she picked up the petal and put it into the little pink bowl.

I told her that I needed to get back home.  I had a lot of packing to do.  Mippy said “oh yes, child.  You’re going to college and you’re off on an adventure the likes of which you’ve never experienced.  You have an opportunity that I never had, nor did your mama.”

She got up and hugged me.  She said “I want you to know how very proud of you I am and I want you to know that I have loved every minute we have spent together.”  She surprised me when, with a twinkle in her eye, she said “maybe one day, some fetching young man will give you a rose.”

Sometimes I wondered if Mippy had escaped into her own little make-believe world, when love was forever, no one ever went away and roses never died.

I told her that I would be back tomorrow and it was probably the last time I would see her for quite a while.

As we got to the door, we both turned and looked as another petal fell from the rose in the small glass vase.



To be continued_______________________



When The Last Petal Falls – Chapter Four

I could only imagine how Mippy was feeling as she continued.  She said “I got a letter from him and I think he wrote it on the train.  She smiled and said “he wrote, ‘my darling Maggie for Margaret’.”  Then she looked at the rose and said “it was the only letter I got from him.”

What did it say? I asked.

“No,” she said.  “That part of the story I keep private.”

She said “after a month, the letters I sent to him started coming back.  I knew that those boys couldn’t say much about where they were or what they were doing, so I thought maybe he was on some sort of secret mission and couldn’t tell me.”

Mippy said “what he didn’t know was that I was expecting your mama.  I wrote to him and told him but the letter came back.”

“So he never knew?” I asked.  “No,  He never knew,” she said.

“After six months, I got a telegram.  I waited an hour before I read it.  I didn’t want to know what it said.”

Mippy took a deep breath and seemed to be trying to steady herself before she told me what the telegram said.  She had memorized it.

She said, “it was addressed to Mrs. Joseph Unwin Sinclair.”


She said “he went missing on his birthday.  He was only 21.  For years, I held out hope that he would be found and would return to me.  Eventually, and I can’t tell you when, but eventually I lost all hope.  You know, they say that hope is always the last to die.”

Mippy didn’t cry but I think she wanted to.  I wanted to.  Maybe she had already cried all of her tears and crying wasn’t going to bring her beloved back to her.

She said, “He never really got a chance to live, you know?  He never knew that he was going to be a father.  He never got to build that swing set.  He never got comb grey hair.”

Mippy raised her left sleeve.  At that very moment, I realized that I had never seen her wear short sleeves.  When I was a child, I saw things from a child’s eyes and it never occurred to me to wonder about the way she dressed but I remember that even when it was hotter than blue blazes, she had on a long-sleeved blouse or a sweater.

When she raised her sleeve, she was running her finger over a steel colored cuff bracelet.  She showed it to me and said “I have worn this bracelet ever since I got that telegram.  It’s a POW/MIA bracelet and it bears Jus’ name and the day he went missing.

I said “Mippy, you have been alone all these years.  Did you ever think about marrying again?”

Mippy looked at me and said, “no one could ever hold a candle to Mr. Joseph Unwin Sinclair and I wasn’t alone.  I had your mama…and I had my rose.”

“But that rose,” I said.  “That can’t be the same rose he gave you all those years ago.”

Just as Mippy and I looked at the rose in the small glass vase, another petal fell.


To be continued_________________

When The Last Petal Falls – Chapter Three

Mippy came and sat back down.  Her eyes scanned the room as if she was looking at it for the very first time.

She smiled and said “after we got married, we bought this little house.  I was going to make curtains for the windows, have a garden outside and I wanted a white picket fence all the way around the yard.  Jus was going to build a swing set for all the children we were going to have.”

She was silent for a minute as she looked at the rose in the little glass vase.  I asked “what happened, Mippy?”

“There was a war going on,” she said.  “Young men were being called to arms, whether they wanted to go or not.  They had what they called a draft lottery back then and when your number was called, you had to go.”

She looked out the window and said, “I was hoping that his number wouldn’t be picked.  I knew that all numbers would eventually be picked but I was hoping his would be far away or that maybe the war would be over when it was picked.”

I asked what she meant by a draft lottery.  She said “all the days of the year were put into blue plastic capsules and then placed in a deep glass jar. One by one, the numbers were pulled out.”

She said “I remember sitting at his mama and daddy’s house.  The numbers being picked were on television.  We watched as they picked those numbers out of that jar.  #38 was pulled.  That meant that all the young men born on March 31st would be going”

She looked at he rose and said “Jus was born on March 31st.”

I said, “are you talking about the Vietnam War?”

Mippy said, “yes child.  The Vietnam War.  A horrible, wretched, senseless war.”

I had heard about that war but it happened way before my time and it had faded into the background as the years went by.  My only experience with war was when the “war on terrorism” came to the forefront and even then, I was very young and didn’t really understand about war and death and the cost of freedom.  People talked about that war but no one ever seemed to want to talk about Vietnam.  I got the impression that there was some sort of stigma attached to it.

Mippy said “after his number was called, we only had one month until he had to go.  I spent most of that time crying at night after he had gone to sleep.  I prayed and promised and begged and pleaded.  I would have almost sold my soul to the devil, if it meant that Jus would return safely to me.”

“I remember the day he left” she said.  “My eyes were almost swollen shut from crying.  I thought my heart would break right there at the train station but Jus asked me to be strong.  I took comfort trying to picture him in his uniform.  I remember thinking that he was going to look so handsome and even though I didn’t want him to go, I was proud that he was serving our country.”

“Before he got on the train,” she said, “he handed me this rose and promised that he would be back.  He winked at me and said “and I’d better see that rose sitting on the kitchen table.”

I looked at her and said “Mippy.  That can’t be true.  That rose would have to be at least fifty years old.”

She ignored me as if I hadn’t said anything.  She said “he told me that he wanted me to think of him every time I looked at the rose and know that he would be thinking of me.”

Suddenly, she had a look on her face that I had never seen.  It was anger and rage and repulsion.  She said, “what those boys went through there, ‘in country’, as they called it, and what they went through when they came back, well, at least the ones who made it back.  I know this.  None of those young men who made it back, were ever the same again.  You can’t look at something as horrible as people getting blown up and shot to death and not feel changed.”

Her focus abruptly returned to the rose in the small glass vase.  She smiled once again as she looked at it.

“I wrote to him every single day,” she said, “and I wrote the letters right here at my kitchen table, looking at my rose.”


To be continued____________________





When The Last Petal Falls – Chapter Two

Mippy began to tell me the story about the rose.  I listened with focused intensity as she began to weave a tapestry of life, love, hope, despair and loss.

“When I was your age, I was fresh out of high school, just like you,” she said.  “There was no money for college so I had my sights set on getting a job at the Telephone Company.  They paid well and although I had no experience, I was hired based on my perfect attendance record in school.”

I interrupted and said “you never missed a day of school?”  She smiled and said “not one.  I went through all twelve grades with perfect attendance.”

I said “I never knew that Mippy.”  She smiled again and said “there are many things about me that you don’t know.”

She looked at the rose and continued.

“I walked up town to work every day.  One day, Just as I was about to cross the street, I saw a man leaning against a telephone pole.  He was the most handsome man I had ever seen.”

She laughed when she said “I was staring at him so hard that I didn’t even realize I was walking out in front of a Taxicab.  When the driver blew his horn, it startled me.  I stumbled and fell down.  This man…this beautiful man, came running over to help me.”

“For us,” she said, “it was love at first sight.  We had what you would call a whirlwind romance…a fairy tale romance…a romance for the ages romance.  We were crazy in love.”

“Mippy!” I said.  “You are waxing nostalgic!  I’ve never heard you talk this way before.”

I was still being mindful of what mama had told me years ago…to not mention my grandpa to Mippy, but I wanted to hear more.

Mippy stared at the rose and said “his name was Joseph Unwin Sinclair.  His people were Danish immigrants who had come here generations ago, for their taste of the great American dream.”

It was at that moment, I realized that Joseph Unwin Sinclair was my grandpa.  The grandpa I had never known.  The grandpa no one ever spoke of.  The grandpa that mama didn’t want me to ask Mippy about.

She laughed and said “I called him Jus and he called me ‘Maggie for Margaret’.”  She laughed again and I could see a twinkle in her eye as she said “he always called me ‘Maggie for Margaret’.”

Her voice trailed off and I could see such pain in her face.  I asked if she wanted to continue or if she wanted to talk about it later.

She said, “I’m fine dear.  Sometimes, reminiscing about the past makes one so very happy and so very sad at the same time, but the story of the rose needs to be told.”

She reached into her apron pocket and took out a ring.  It was a simple, gold band.  I had never seen her wear it.  I didn’t even know she had it.  As she gently put it on the proper finger of her left hand, she said “six weeks after we met that day in the street, we got married.”

Her eyes began to tear up when she said “How I loved him.  How I loved him so dearly.”

Suddenly she said “oh!”

A petal fell from the rose and rested gently on the table and I watched as she carefully picked it up and placed it in the little pink bowl.



To be continued_______________________