I know it’s cliché to wish you health and happiness in the New Year, but I do.
In all earnestness, above all, I wish you health. As I get older, I have come to realize that health and mobility are the foundations of our lives. Without these, it makes for a difficult go.
I recognize where I need improvement. I must get more sleep. For some, this is an easy task. For me, I have found it difficult. I am naturally a night person. I wish I were among the morning dwellers. Too often I hear my voice in the smallest of hours.
The other constant that runs through my mind is my diet in general. I know I should do much better. If not for me then for my kids right?
I am not one to make New Year Resolutions, so I won’t. I will, however, look myself in the eye and say, “Do better. Don’t aim to be perfect. But do better.” Better is attainable.
My wish for you in this new year is for you to find your "better." Whatever your “better” happens to be.
And in light of health, I thought I'd share the story below. It’s a tribute to the caretakers of the world and to those that need a little extra care to make it through the day.
“Okay,” she said as she began to sit down. The man was curious and looked about the restaurant as if he did not know where he was or who this young lady was before him.
“Oh,” she said as she caught herself before she committed to the seat. “My apologies. Do you mind if I join you?”
“If you want to join an old man for soup you’re more than welcome. Can’t imagine why you’d want to sit with me, but . . .” he said as his hand gestured for her to join him.
“Thank you,” the young woman said as she began to sit down again.
"Just a moment,” the man said with a pointed finger. “I don’t know whose jacket that is.” A black coat with slightly oversized abalone shell buttons hung off the back of the chair. The young woman placed her hand on its collar and felt the fabric. She smiled as her fingers ran down it.
“It’s a lovely coat,” she said. “I’ll just move it in case the owner comes back.” He watched as she removed the coat from the chair and draped it around the back of the adjacent chair. She stood again in front of him as he ate soup. Her hands flopped to her sides and slapped her thighs unintentionally. He looked up again. “May I sit now?”
“Yes, yes,” he said. “But there are many empty chairs around us.”
She nodded as she looked around the restaurant. To her right sat a middle-aged couple and to her left, a young pregnant couple. But he was right. There were many other seats available.
“I suppose I don’t want to be alone. Not tonight.” She said as she took her seat.
He didn’t say anything as he continued to spoon his soup.
“Lobster bisque? How is it?” she asked.
“Oh nothing,” she said as her eyes surveyed the restaurant while her hands unintentionally rubbed her sleeves. It was a meager attempt to alleviate a sudden chill.
She smirked. His mouth opened slightly as concern fell over his face.
“Dear, you must be freezing. Where is your coat? That thin blouse won’t do.”
She rubbed her arms again and then placed her hands on her lap.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I checked my coat. I’ll be fine.”
He looked around himself, but could not find his coat.
“I’d give you mine but I don’t have one either.”
“Please don’t worry yourself about me. It’s enough that you’ve invited me to join you. Or I should say I invited myself. Thank you.”
“It doesn’t bother me any. What is your name?”
Her lips parted but then pressed shut as a plate hovered in front of her. It was held by a strong hand and then floated down to the table.
“Pan-seared Salmon with a vegetable medley for the lady and for the gentleman, Roasted Cod with scallions and sliced potatoes. If anything else is needed please do let me know.” The waiter was off in a swoosh of black and white before either could have said a word. But words were not needed.
They ate mostly in silence. An occasional scrape of a knife and clink of a fork open the floor to a conversation, but both sat in silence.
Several times the man glanced at the woman in front of him without recognition. One of these furtive gestures elicited a smile in his direction. In turn, he lowered his head and took another bite. He still did not know what to make of her or why she had decided to sit with him.
With her final bite, she rested her fork on the plate and wiped her mouth with her napkin. A glass of wine had appeared several minutes ago and had been sipped half a dozen times. The man vaguely recalled it being poured.
The leather-bound booklet harboring the check appeared at the edge of the table. A nod from the waiter acknowledged that his patrons were satisfied with the service and he excused himself.
Delicate fingers reached for the booklet and as they made contact, the man’s hand quick with anger and aged from years of labor and strife held her wrist fast. His touch, callous and hard, softened as the heat of her skin flowed into his like sunshine being absorbed on a warm summer day.
Their eyes met again as she placed her other hand on top of his. It was as if he saw her for the first time. His taut face relaxed, his eyes drooped as if to cry.
“Jenny?” he asked.
“Hi Daddy,” she said as she nodded. Her eyes welled to the brim.
“Jenny,” he said. “I—I’ve missed you.”
“Me too Daddy.” She thought of all the things she wanted to say. She thought of all the things she had said many times before. But this time her mind was quiet.
This time she felt acceptance.
She let go of his hand, wiped a tear and reached for her coat on the chair beside her.
“Yes, yes,” her father said, as he recognized his mistake.
“It’s time to go.” She said as she signed for the evening and closed the booklet.
“Where are we going?” he asked.
“Yes . . . to Mother.”
She didn't have the heart to spoil such a delightful evening.
I'll see you between the pages.
P.S. If you enjoyed this story, please consider sharing it with a close friend.