She places her hand knitted scarf back to its drawer where it has stayed for over two decades. Her children and grandchildren should be arriving any moment now by train. Its been ages since everyone was together. The arrival is nothing but a blessing for Marge. She lost her Henry years ago, and not a day goes by where she doesn’t pour tea for two.
Marge lived in a very large home, but she only frequents the small dining room, and side living room. Her day to day activities consist of making a very quant, empty sided bed. Pouring a cup of tea for two, and the meals that come pre delivered each month. The company that sends them never got the order that there is only one occupant now so she saves the best for him. The others are microwaved up and fed to a neighboring cat found in the area.
The door bell rings its rusty bells of company, Her eyes welled up with pride. “The time is here.” she whispered. Its time!
As fast as her 5’0″ frail frame can carry her, she makes her way down the narrow hallway to the sight of the frosted window decor of the interior door with bright colored imagery thru it. It opens as a gathering of children throwing snowballs and each other, parents shouting to pick up the rest of the things from the car, outreached arms and smiles from ear to ear. It was Christmas already, right now, on her doorstep. Marge was so overcome she started to weep. The snowballs stopped flying, the sound was as if the whole world hadn’t moved in the universe to compete with her. Hugs. More sobbing, even the men were feeling the tightening of their vocal cords to keep the high pitched, “I miss you gramma.” and the “Great to see you Mom,” from entering their lips.
Their mouthes hit cool vapor and it was time to venture into the house.
The remaining items gathered, Car doors shut, the crunch of boot versus snow, presents flown over shoulders and stuffed in coats and carried carefully, the frosted glass doors shut and lock behind them. Now the unpacking can begin.
Marge makes a few head counts and made sure to grab the same amount of blankets complete with pillows. Such a blessed day, she thought. She adjourns from the hall closet doors and starts dividing them up amongst the weathered travelers.
“How was the trip?” She asked quizzically. Everyone shook their heads at the same time. “Long, much too long. I think we all just wanted it to be over and done and just be here, you know? Maryann, the eldest of her children explained. “This whole being so far away from you thing is really getting to us. I wish you would take up my and Paul’s offer to come stay with us. You would have your own space, they have an excellent farmers market, and we have radishes and cucumbers growing our in our very own garden out back past the gazebo.” Marge takes her daughters hand and simply replies, “Maybe someday dear. just just not right now.”
Morning breaks the scattered light from beyond the frosted glass and makes slow dances of silhouettes on the wall behind. With blankets and pillows strewn in every direction, the sleepy wears away from their eyes and movement is present. Marge stands in the doorway, a cup of coffee in one hand. She gazes out at the faces of the family and with a look of content, turns and makes her way to the kitchen. A fresh cup of coffee for Henry sits on the table across from hers as was his reading glasses and todays paper.
The stirring from the living room was growing a little at a time. The fresh smell of coffee, waffles, and sirup might have had a little to do with it. The delightful smell filled each room as little drops of magic set to wake a sleeping princess. Soon the house was a buzz with the sound of plates, and forks, complete with a backdrop of Christmas music playing from a slightly buzzing radio from the 1950’s. People dancing around each other. Frances, her older boy asked for her hand which she so graciously gave. They started play dancing like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at a elementary play. There was still some moves in Marge’s body as frail as it might be. When the song was over everyone just started humming in unison to Ole Lang Sign whilst eating the remaining portion of their musical breakfast.
When their meal was over everyone took part in the cleaning and drying and then it was off to the living room for hot spiced apple cider, complete with one for Henry that sat next to his chair by his pipe. Oh marge would give him a stern talking to about that pipe. She had the nose of a bloodhound and could smell that aroma from miles. As odd as it sounds, she missed that smell, wafting through the air. It felt like home then. Now its as though she is just going through the motions. Should she go live with Maryanne and Paul? Could she leave the memories of Henry in this setting? Part of her thinks that she could because the memories will follow wherever she would go, and she is also more then capable of making fresh ones. The more she thought about staying… the more she thought about leaving.
The morning and afternoon came and went, filled with stories from a simpler time. They were all sitting around the armoire in the corner sipping egg nog. With one simple breath, Marge turns to Maryanne and says, “Ok, I’ll stay with you.” Her heart was beating in her chest so hard, but with the sigh of relief after seemed to solidify the life altering sentence she just spoke. Without a new breath, Marge simply got up and asked, “Anyone need any more to drink?” As she turned to return to the kitchen, she heard sobbing coming from the living room. The sobbing sounded like it wasn’t just getting louder, it was getting closer. Marge turns around and sees her beautiful angel, Maryanne. Arms outstretched, they embrace. Marge whispers in her ear… “Merry Christmas, dear.”
The moving vans were getting packed. The sound of clinking glass and newspaper wrapping were heard coming from various rooms except for one. Marge sat in her bedroom. She looked around and pondered how her life would have been if Henry had lived thru his Chemo. An almost abrasive nock at the door jumbled her thoughts, “Yes?” She replied. The door opened and in came three moving men. She will remember it vividly as the men reminded her of a old black and white movie of gangsters but their faces were far from intense. “Ma’am, mind if we start on this room next?” “Yes dear, let me -she stands to her feet- get out of your way. Please though, if you could, be very carful with this drawer.” She rubs the marble inlay inset to the mahogany wood. “Will do ma’am.”
Paul assisted with all the paperwork, a few signatures here and there and all was done. Soon Marge would see her entire life behind the roof of a car. All the doilies are packed away. Henry had his own box which sat neatly on Marge’s lap with a side of the box that absorbed the ink with his name. It is done, and on to a different life.
The rolling hills, the winding road. Marge remained strong despite the constant, are you ok’s, and the are you cold/hot from her children driving up front. The closer they get to their destination, the tighter Marge holds on to her box, her cardboard salvation.
When the vehicle finally stoped from which it came, Marge’s stomach sank. This is it. The moment where she would come to deal with a new life on a daily basis. The front doors opened and shut a few seconds from each other… and then the back door opens, Marge’s stomach sank again. “Let Paul help you down mom,” Maryanne said in a almost nervous tone. She steps her foot on what seemed to be foreign ground, “You are home mom,” Paul exclaimed, in a tone that provided certainty in the situation. Marge slowly turned her step slightly and turned back. Maryann, seeing this, reaches her hands to her mothers, “You always taught me mom, to jump with both legs to really experience what you are afraid of. If you don’t, you will grow to always wonder.” With a zeal that would put a period on a powerful sentence, Marge reached back into the car with both hands and gently pulled out the box she had held for so many miles and whispered in a trembling voice, “We’re home now, Henry. We’re home.”
Marge took in her surroundings. Everything was almost like a page from a fairy tale. Lush grass, the trees exploding in vibrant reds, yellows and greens. Everything was alive with color. Down to every detail. Even the little gazebo with planks of extra wood strewed about as if recently constructed for four people complete with a table for those nights of dinner or a cup of tea for two. Behind the gazebo sat a small stream and adjacent to that stream lay a garden filled with radish, tomato, and cucumber ready for the picking. It was at this setting that she would find a new life. Everything was here. Maryanne clearly made her mark. It was almost too much coming from Marge’s existence of three rooms where she frequented day to day. “Oh my,” replied Marge. “Everything is so… beautiful!” “We were hoping that you would enjoy it mom. Wait till you see your home.”
They make their way to the front of the cottage. Something seems very familiar to Marge. “The door!?” She said outloud. Paul said that it wouldn’t be right to not have the same door that welcomed company and also to watch them leave. The door was taken from the old house and prebuilt into the new home. “Oh my word, my door!” Marge traced its glassy inlay to its half circles and beautiful specs. She hears a jingle from behind her as sleigh bells. Maryann held the same keys she used for decades. “Here, I think these belong to you.”
Marge holds her shaky hand under her daughter’s. They fall as a skimming stone into her hand. With a smile from ear to ear, she places the old key into its resting place and with a small turn, the pin pushes back, and the door opens.