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Monday, December 29, 2008

Open your Heart ~ The entire story

~ Open your Heart ~
you will be surprised at what it can do for your life.

When I was a child, I would tag along with my mother who had a passion for antiques as I do today. The proprietor of one particular store we visited often was a somber woman with gray eyes that cast a shadow over her face. Deep lines were weathered into her skin and when she spoke; her words were harsh and garbled.

When you entered her shop, a bell tingled over the door, I always said to Mom, “an angel just got her wings.” As always my Mom chuckled and I was delighted with my wit.
The shop itself was often cold and poorly lit, however Mom could always find a diamond in the rough and make our trip a real treasure hunt. Browsing the shop I would sometimes watch the woman and occasionally caught her watching me.

I questioned my mother on why the woman was so sad, which she responded, “I’ve told you she is not sad she is just a mean old lady!” I however never believed it.
As most children do, I grew tired of tagging along with my parents, however my love for antiques never waned and when I was old enough I started to scout antiques treasures of my own.

Eight years later I found myself in that same old antique shop that I had forgotten all about.
When I opened the old wooden door, the tingle of the bell brought back memories of when I was younger and to further that feeling, there she stood, the same woman who for all of her years still looked the same.

As I entered, I looked straight at her and with a big smile greeted her like an old friend. Her icy stare almost knocked me down, but I was determined now more then ever that I would somehow break through the sadness I knew this woman felt.
I visited as often as I could, sometimes every week and of course still being fairly young I could not afford a substantial piece of the past, but I did make a purchase each time, and little by little I broke down another barrier between me and the woman I knew I would eventually call my friend.

The year I turned 14, I got a job in a bakery just down the street from my favorite antique store and as it was nearing Thanksgiving, the town was busy with holiday shoppers, decorations for Christmas were going up and everyone eagerly waited for the time they were going to spend with their families, this is when I got an idea.

It was two days before Thanksgiving, as my Mom shopped and prepared for our own Thanksgiving feast, I wrote a special invitation…The big day arrived and while we were busy making the last minute preparations, Dad went to get Grandma and my sister put the finishing touches on the Christmas tree.

No sooner did Dad get back, there was a faint knock on the door, so faint that if I had not been listening for it, it would have gone unnoticed. My anticipation was rising as I opened the door but my heart sank as I stood staring at a young man with a package in his hands, he handed the package to me and said it was for Katy.

This was the first time in my life that I actually felt heartache, even though I knew it would not be my last. I took the package to my room and laid it gently on my bed, then joined the rest of my family for Thanksgiving dinner.

What a wonderful day it turned out to be. Great food, lots of laughter and sharing memories of Thanksgivings past, when Dad stated as he did every year, "this was the best Thanksgiving of them all," I agreed.

Our family was keen on tradition and as always we shared Thanksgiving desert with our neighbors. It was like an extended family gathering, and by the end of the day I was so tired bedtime sounded good to me. Suddenly I remembered the package and the fact that my guest never arrived.

After saying my good nights, I went to my room, sat on the bed and held the package examining each side for a clue of who the sender might be. Almost afraid to open it, I carefully pulled down the paper bag wrapping and when each side was opened I gently folded the paper and put it aside. Inside the wrap was a yellowed and tattered box that once held a pair of baby shoes from Buster Brown. Heart pounding, I slowly lifted the top, inside was a shiny black ceramic cat with emerald cut glass eyes lying on a bed of cotton. Immediately I knew where it came from, but who would have sent it?

The next morning I couldn't wait to get going, it was the biggest shopping day before Christmas and I already knew what I was going to buy each member of my family, I received my $31.00 check just the day before Thanksgiving and was ready to go.

Jumping on the city bus, I headed to town where my first stop was the little antique shop. I reached for the door, and pushed down the latch but no matter how hard I pushed, the door would not open. Trying one more time, I cupped my hands together and peered through the glass. Normally the darkness inside was normal, but this time it made a chill run down my back.
I walked away feeling so sad I just wanted to go back home and jump into bed. However I had a list and a mission, so off I went. One street over was the music shop where I planned to pick up a new set of guitar strings for my sister. Walking back I noticed the back door of the antique shop was slightly open. I watched for a few minutes to see if anyone came out but after a while I decided to take a look myself. Walking cautiously to the door, I called out “hello” but there was no sound, once again I called out and this time I heard a faint sound coming from inside. Not wanting to walk in, I waited until the door swung open and a young man I had never seen came out. Not knowing what to say, I muttered, are you going to open today? He looked at me with the same gray eyes and stepping aside, said "you must be Katy."

Not waiting for me to answer, he continued “I had an early morning delivery and didn’t quite make it back in time to get the shop open; I was told you might be by!” Not wanting him to see the confused look on my face; I brushed past him into the main part of the store. After the lights were on, I made my way to my special section where I knew I would find something perfect for Mom and Grandma. Although I knew my Mom would say, “keep your hands to yourself”, I just had to touch each item ever so carefully.

“You let me know if I can get something down for you,” the man said. Alarmed by his voice I almost lost my grasp on the small dog statue I was holding. “I think my Mother will like this,” I said placing it gently on the counter. I would still like to look around a bit more. “Take you time” he said.

After several more minutes, I made my purchase and as I was turning to leave, he said, “you know, she talks about you.” Stopping dead in my tracks, not wanting to turn around, I muttered huh? “My Mom, she really does like you!" I slowly turned back to face him and when he smiled I could tell he was going to tell me more.

Where is she I stuttered? “Why she’s out shopping, just like you”. Why didn’t I think of that, feeling foolish? “Do you have a moment he asked, I want to show you something.” I almost sprinted out the door, but something told me this man with the same gray eyes, was not going to harm me so I said sure. Reaching down under the counter he brought out an old leather photo album, rubbed smooth with age. The pages were hanging loosely once bound neatly in place.As he opened the book, I was mesmerized with the old photographs; while he told me who each one was.

Silence took over as I realized he was touching a photo of what looked like a young man in a uniform. He cleared his throat and began to tell me a wonderful story of a beautiful lady and a handsome man that fell in love many years ago. Marriage soon followed after a short courtship, and a baby boy came along on the day his father was taking his physical to join the US Army; this was in 1940 when the worst of WWII was just beginning.

This baby, I said, it’s you isn’t it? “Yes it is, he replied and the couple is Lucy and William Cole, my name is Bill. Just as he was about to continue his story, the bell tingled above the door; we both jumped and started to laugh. Bill said to go ahead and look through the album while he assisted his customers. Walking around the back of the counter, I laid my package on the floor, slung my purse on the back of the over sized office chair and sat down with the book lying carefully on my lap.

Bill gave me a quick smile and a wink when he came back to the counter wrapping the couple’s purchase and then sat down next to me. Continuing with his story, he said “I was very young when Dad went off to war; Mother and I went to stay with her aunt in Raleigh, NC. I didn’t learn until later in life that my Father only saw me one other time when he was on leave and that was the last time. At that moment, I realized his father died in the war and understood more about Lucy Cole.

I’m sorry, was all I could mutter, wondering what it would be like not to have a father. “Don’t worry yourself about it” was his reply. “We managed to get by at first with help from family, however the heartache was too much for my mother to endure and the memories were too strong so when I was 3 years old, we moved here.” “Time never did erase the memory of the man she lost at such a young age and although she tried to hide it from me, I always felt the same sadness.”“Would you like to know more?” he asked, Yes! I almost yelled back then sheepishly, please.

“Well then, Mom was a hard worker; she said a little hard work never hurt anyone. Holding down two cleaning jobs at night and studying secretarial skills during the day, Mom always made me feel like we were just a rich as the Rockefeller's, no matter how poor we were.” “I stayed with a neighbor in our building at night and each morning Mom would come for me.”“At first we lived with hand-me-downs but after a while Mom would save enough money to purchase what she called an elderly.” I laughed, because I immediately knew she meant an antique.
“Years past and when I was in high school, Mom decided to open her very own elderly shop.”I could have sat there all day listening to the stories that went with each old photograph, however the day was getting away from me, and Bill was busy with his customers, so I politely excused myself.
Before I left I asked Bill if he would be back. He replied he would be there Saturday only and after that he needed to head back to his job. I had already promised Mr. and Mrs. Gambino that I would help at the bakery Saturday and was feeling disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to come back to hear more stories. I mentioned this to Bill, he replied, “I’ll tell you what, if you bring me one of their famous bagels, we can meet for lunch.” Reaching in his pocket to hand me a few dollars, I yelled “on the house” and skipped out the door.

I still had to stop at Woolworth's to pick out wrapping paper, which for some reason was harder for me then choosing the gift. I always waited to purchase my Dad’s gift of a pound of chocolate covered raisins, he loved them and I wanted to make sure I got the freshest ones just a day or two before Christmas.

That night I could barely sleep just thinking about lunch tomorrow. There was so much more to learn about Lucy Cole and I wanted to know everything. I haven’t mentioned any of this to my family yet, I thought it would be best since my Mom would probably say I was getting way in over my head or not allow me to ever step foot in the store again. I am a good judge of character I thought, so for now it would remain my little secret.

Since I worked at a bakery on Saturdays and going to school, I was getting the hang of getting up early. Dad drove me to work on Saturdays and always came in to treat me to my favorite pastry and orange juice while he drank a cup a coffee. Most of the time I helped in the kitchen; however I was always allowed to pack up my Dad’s order to take home. Since this was a special day for me, I made sure to ask Mrs. Gambino if I could take just a little longer lunch then usual, of course she wanted to know why.

Well I have some deliveries to make this afternoon and thought while I was out I could run an errand I fibbed. I knew she really didn’t mind, but she liked to keep tabs on me just the same.The morning flew by; I was busy cleaning the big mixers, when I noticed it was getting close to noon. I finished quickly, placed my order for two fresh bagels and cream cheese and checked on the other deliveries I had to make.

My first stop was the newspaper, that was easy; they ran a tab so I just had to drop that one off, next was the pharmacy and then on to see Bill. When I came through the door, he was helping some ladies, giving a quick wave, he continued with his conversation. After wrapping their purchases and helping them to the car, he declared “I’m starving; you made it just in time.”
We both decided the Gambino’s made the best ever bagels and as we smothered them in cream cheese he said, “Now where were we?”“Oh yes, I was telling you about Mom’s elderly store!”
“Well at first it was definitely a struggle, it was hard for her to buy and sell when that was her only income, however she started getting better at it and soon she had a lot of repeat customers and it just grew from there.” “Many times I have asked her why she doesn’t move out of this old place and find something more modern.” She always said "the building just felt right for the business, and the business felt right for the building." Besides that, Mom’s not one for change so when she is settled in, she is not about to convert.

“Tell me Katy, why does my Mother intrigue you so?” I was not quite sure how to answer, but I finally said, I would like to be her friend, she seems sad and I want to bring some happiness to her life. “Well that is very generous of you, many young girls such as yourself are boy crazy and thinking about going on their first date or driving their first car.” I didn’t tell him I did think of those things as well, but I also think there are too many lonely people in the world that just need a friend.
We didn't get to talk long, he filled me in on a few of Lucy's favorite things, a little about what she liked and didn't and before you knew it, lunch was over and I had to get going. Bill said he would probably be back a few days closer to Christmas to help out, and I was glad to hear it since I really liked him a lot and would hate to never see him again.
Just as I was backing out the door to leave, a smile came over Bill's face and as I turned to see what he was smiling at I slammed right into you know who! Stuttering and stumbling for something to say, Bill quickly came to my rescue and I was for the first time, properly introduced to Lucy Cole. To my surprise, she greeted me warmly and actually smiled, I was so shocked I think I actually curtsied.

Bill said "Katy is on her way back to work so we should not hold her up." As I turned to leave, I said it was nice meeting you but until I reached the door she did not respond and when she did, she said... “Katy, I do hope you liked the gift I sent you on Thanksgiving?”
“I was not able to make it and thought it would help you understand, did you know it was from me?” Feeling a lump form in my throat, I ran back to give her a big hug and whispered “thank you!” Heading back to the door, I paused and turned to see Bill putting his arm around his mother and guiding her into the store.

When I got back to the bakery, I was pleased to see that Mrs. Gambino had taken the remainder of the day off. Mr. Gambino with his frosting covered apron was sitting in a corner booth drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, while Francine busied herself behind the counter. I headed back into the kitchen to finish washing up all of the baking pans and putting utensils back in place. Mr. Gambino liked it that way; he hated having to search for something, which would slow him down.

When I was through, Francine asked if she could drop me at home, I gladly accepted.I was looking forward to Sunday; I normally went to Sunday school with my neighbors, read the funny papers, and watch a Western or two with Dad.
Monday was back to school, at least for a few more days until we were let out for Christmas vacation. Sunday came, however my mind was not on the Western we picked out, I was thinking about the next time I would see Lucy Cole. Chances are it would be next Saturday, but for some reason I felt as if things would go back to the way they were if I didn’t see her sooner.

I had the perfect solution for my anxiety; I would mail her a thank you letter. As I pulled my stationary out looking at the kitten lined paper, I wondered how she could have known about my love of cats. My room was filled with them, glass, plastic, ceramic, stuffed and photos of pets past and present. Dear Mrs. Cole, I started; “I want to officially thank you for the black cat figure, now that I know who sent it. I was hoping all along it was you but I could not be sure. I can’t imagine how you knew I loved cats and was so delighted when I opened the box. She now stands proudly with the rest of my collection.”

“My time spent in your store these last two days with your son were fun, he is very nice and funny and I can’t wait to see him again. I am also very pleased that I was finally introduced to you.” I was trying to sound pleasant in my letter, not too inquisitive or letting on how much more I knew about her, even though I am sure Bill may spill the beans. After a few more lines, I finished the letter with “Your Friend, Katy”

Folding it ever so neatly, I pulled out an envelope, got a stamp from Mom, and addressed it from memory seeing the big 32 over the door. The rest was easy it was the same street and city as the bakery. Back at school, friends said they missed me at the mall. I always met up with them at some time to shop after Thanksgiving, however this year I wanted something more relaxed instead of the hustle and bustle of the crowds and spending money on something that really had no meaning. The week went by fairly quickly, I checked with Francine on Friday to see if I was needed at the bakery. She said I was scheduled at 1:00 PM on Saturday so that gave me plenty of time to visit Lucy Cole.

I was used to getting up so early; I was ready to go by nine, and since I didn’t work until one, I took the bus downtown. Arriving a little after nine thirty most stores weren’t open yet so I decided to go to the drug store and look through the new Teen magazine. Mr. Harper didn’t mind as long as I did not crease the pages. A little after ten o’clock I headed to the antique store. When I opened the door, I could not believe my ears, was that Christmas music I was hearing? Yes it was and not only that, the store looked brighter then before. I headed to the checkout counter to see Lucy Cole, but instead of being in her usual place I heard a slight laughter coming from the back of the store.

Tiptoeing ever so quietly, I stopped behind a big rack of old books. Glancing carefully around the side I couldn’t believe my eyes, Lucy Cole was actually chatting and laughing with who I suspected was a customer. My mind was racing and in a puzzled state I was wondering how such a transformation could happen in one short week. Coming out of my trance, I heard Mrs. Cole say “excuse me for a minute, I think I heard someone come in.”

Not wanting to be caught eavesdropping, I hurried to the other side of the store by the antique dolls which is where Lucy, found me. “Well hello dear” she said “I was hoping to see you today.” She continued chatting, and I wondered if I had heard half of what she said. “Come with me” guiding me with her hand she led me back to the book area. “I want you to meet someone.” “Katy, this is my niece Gayle she is visiting from North Carolina for a few days.”
Without giving me a chance to speak, the young woman replied, “oh how nice it is to meet you Katy, I have heard some very nice things about you.” Thinking to myself, has my brain turned to mush, am I dreaming, no wait, I must have been hit by a bus, heard nice things about me? After I realized I was standing there with my mouth open I finally said “thank you, it’s nice to meet you too.”

Speaking for a few more minutes, the ladies finally said their good-byes and Gayle gave me a hug, saying "I hope to see you again before I leave."The silence that followed was deafening, I was waiting for Lucy to say something and she was waiting for me when all of a sudden we both started at the same time. Laughing, she said “go ahead I have been talking all morning.”
Looking up at Lucy for the first time today, I realized she was smiling. The lines in her face were not as deep and her voice was much younger. “I like the Christmas music, and the lights seem brighter.” “Oh that was Bill’s doing, he changes the bulbs for me at least four times a year, by the time he gets to it, it becomes quite dark and ominous in here.”

“The Christmas music was just something I needed this year.” Something definitely changed in Lucy Cole, I’m not sure what or when but I knew I liked it and I believe she did too.
Since this was all new and wonderful, I decided not to bring up the past, just wanting to start our friendship fresh, I decided to talk only about the present.“So I hear you work at the bakery, I just love the aroma that wafts down the street.” I started to tell her about my job there and how I came to work at the bakery. She hung on every word I spoke and seemed genuinely interested. I told her about my visits with Bill and how he and I shared a lunch of bagels. She laughed and said “that boy used to eat me out of house and home; I am surprised he didn’t talk you out of your bagel as well.” She told me other stories about Bill when he was younger, and how pleased she was with what a wonderful person he became.

It was almost noon when Lucy looked at her watch. “I don’t want you to be late for work she said, would you like to have lunch with me at the bakery so we can visit until the clock strikes one?” “What about the store” I asked, “oh I think I can close for an hour, don’t you?” I agreed and as we walked together up the street, my heart was bursting with excitement.

I certainly did not expect what happened next, when we came through the door Mrs. Gambino was at the counter and she greeted Lucy by her first name. Had she come in often and I missed her somehow, I wondered? “And what are you doing with my helper, not trying to steal her away are you?” “No not at all Rose,” Lucy said “although it’s not like I wouldn’t try.” We waited in a booth by the window while our sandwiches were made and talked about Christmas.

Lucy and I enjoyed our lunch, and afterwards made up stories about the people walking by imagining what they were thinking. It was fun to see this side of a woman I dreamed would ever be this delightful. After lunch, Lucy hurried back to her shop and as I busied myself, my mind was not on my work but on Lucy. I again wondered how such a drastic change came over her in one short week.

I was hesitant to bring it up with Mrs. Gambino since she seemed on very friendly terms with her, however when she asked how long I had known Lucy, it was my opening to get a few questions answered myself. I really haven't known her all that long, I said, but it has taken me quite sometime to get her to talk to me.

Well, Mrs. Gambino began, "Lucy is a little rough around the edges at first but when you realize what she has been through in her life you come to understand." What do you mean, I said? "At first I did not much care for her, she continued, she would visit the bakery, but as far as conversation went she never had much to say, then one day I met her son Bill. I asked him straight out about why Lucy was so unfriendly? He was taken back by my question, but politely told me a little about his mother, apparently something she never shared with anyone. I think he wanted people to know.”

By this time Mrs. Gambino and I were sitting in the booth where just hours earlier I sat with Lucy Cole. "Katy you know I would not be telling you this if I didn't think you could keep it to yourself." I agreed and she continued "Lucy lost her husband when Bill was just a small boy; he was killed in the war." I did not let on that I knew this since I didn't want to interrupt her. "Shortly after his death, she discovered she was expecting a baby, this was something she was not ready for." "She had a real hard time through her pregnancy and it seemed her family just wanted her to move on and not live in the past. After the baby, a girl was born Lucy withdrew a little from her depression and focused all of her energy on her two children." When Bill was about three years old and Anna was one, she moved here to start a new life for herself." I quietly wondered why Bill did not tell me about a sister.

Francine hollered something from the back and Mrs. Gambino excused herself, waiting there, I was feeling very sad for Lucy, in my mind she was by far the nicest lady I had ever met starting this very day. Mrs. Gambino returned wiping her hands on her apron, "I swear you would think Francine would know the ingredients of the cupcake mix by now." We laughed because we both knew Francine was not going to follow in the family business for long.

She started again, "Lucy, Bill and Anna were on a trip back to North Carolina one summer to visit family. After a fun filled two week vacation, tragedy struck on the way home. It seems a car sideswiped Lucy's car and they careened off the road into some woods. When Lucy awakened in the hospital, her surroundings scared her and she immediately asked where her children were. She was reassured they were safe with family members, however she still insisted on seeing them for herself."

"After she was released from the hospital, she became very protective of Bill and Anna, not letting them out of her sight, unless they were attending school. After time, her obsession grew instead of diminish. Although Bill understood, Anna did not and grew to resent her mothers over protective nature. When Anna turned eighteen, she moved out." This turned Lucy's world upside down, since the last thing Anna said was "Get some help!" "Believe it or not, that was more then eight years ago and she never returned." I gasped when she told me this and felt sick knowing that Lucy had not seen her daughter for eight years. Did she keep in touch at least, I asked? "No, only Bill knew where she was and that she was well. Keeping his sisters whereabouts, was hard for him especially being so close to his mother."

"Many times Bill pleaded with Anna to come home, and although she came close several times, in the end she changed her mind saying it was too late." All of a sudden my mind started to reel, somehow I need to convince Bill to give it one more try and give his mother the one thing she has longed for all these years, her daughter back! Although Mrs. Gambino was hesitant to go along with my scheme, she agreed to call Bill for me.

I talked with Bill and although at first he claimed it could not be done, finally wearing him down, he said "well Katy if anyone can pull it off, it sounds like you can!" I was shocked to find out that Anna lived just one town away teaching at my best friend’s school. During my younger years, I never met a school teacher who was scary so how hard could this be? And in the end it was not hard at all. Anna was a very nice woman; she did not resemble Bill or Lucy that much so I decided she looked like her father. Bill met her for lunch on a Saturday afternoon at the bakery, Mrs. Gambino and I watched out for Lucy. Not really knowing what was about to hit her, Anna was very open talking about her mother with Bill although you could tell she was uncomfortable being that close to her shop.

That day Mrs. Gambino let me work the counter, Bill introduced me and later when I brought them their lunch, asked me to join them for a few minutes. Okay, this was my signal, as I sat down next to Bill, I immediately started telling Anna that I am a customer of her mothers store, I told her about meeting Bill there and what fun we had over Thanksgiving, talking excessively I saw a smile come to Anna's face, boy if I knew what she was thinking, it would be wonderful. As I chatted on, Anna glanced at Bill with a look that said "I think the time has finally come." Bill poked me in the leg which was my cue to pardon myself and get back to work. As I got up, I said with innocence, tell your mom I said hello, as if I assumed that’s where they were heading next.

Christmas was two days away and I was helping out at the bakery. I was anxious to hear what Anna had decided and was about to drive Mrs. Gambino crazy with my questions. She said "if it's going to happen it will if not there is nothing you can or should do about it."
The chime went off at the front door and since Francine was off, I ran out to help the customer. It was Lucy; she had a big grin on her face and greeted me with a cheery hello. Did she already see Anna, I wondered, did it happen liked we planned? She placed an order for some croissants and after bagging them, asked if I could stop by her store on the way home. Sure I said, and as she left she turned and winked at me. Oh gosh, I was in such a state I didn't even help the customer that walked in behind Lucy until the bell rang at the service counter.
As soon as I finished wiping down the front counter, Mrs. Gambino said get out of here before you explode and we have another mess to clean up. I ran and hugged her before heading out the door. I don't think my feet touched the ground all the way to Lucy's. As I walked through the door I saw Bill leaning over the counter and Lucy was sitting in her chair. "Aha Bill said when I came in, there she is, Santa's little helper!" What did he mean by that I wondered? Lucy stood up and motioned me to come around to her side and when I did, there sat Anna. I stood there, my eyes filling with tears, and put my arm around Lucy. For a moment, everyone was silent and then Anna spoke. Katy she said, “I have waited for years for this moment, and I thought it would never happen." She started to cry, "I missed my mother dearly but was so proud and scared, I wasted too many years not seeing her. If it weren't for you, I am sure this moment would have never come. After Bill told me how insistent you were to make friends with my mother I realized how petty and childish I was. I want to thank you for this gift you have given back to me and promise you I will never take it for granted.”

Lucy handed me a package wrapped in beautiful Christmas wrap with a big bow and card attached that read…To Katy, Merry Christmas to a wonderful caring friend, love Lucy, Bill and Anna. As I slowly un-wrapped the gift, the lump in my throat faded away. Inside was a framed picture of the three of them, arms around each other in a circle. A circle of love and friendship that would never end.


ajunkqueen said...

Loved the story, I hope any one estranged from their family, might go home, after reading this.

trash talk said...

Very beautiful and touching story. I echo the sentiments of a junk queen and would like to add to not let the moment get away. Debbie

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Lola Enchanted said...

Very heartwarming!!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story!! Thanks for sharing it with us Cindy.

Anonymous said...

I was out of town for the holidays with no computer until today and couldn't wait to read " the rest of the story"! It really touched my heart and was the "perfect ending" to my holiday celebration. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Happy New Year,

Garden Antqs Vintage said...

Cindy, I'm so late in reading this story, but it's one of the best I've read in a very long time. They could make a movie out of it.

Anonymous said...

This story actually brought a tear to my eye...Cindy, thank you for sharing this wonderful story!

Love ya!