Friday, January 31, 2014

Peeling a Nunion
One evening when Bill and I were working in the emergency department, three nuns were brought in from an automobile accident. The ambulance crew delivered them one after another. The nuns were of the old order and were dressed in the long, black full-length robes. They wore chains, ropes, head piece, mantles, etc.
Let me say this. Anyone who would decide to rape a nun either has no idea of what he is getting into or has all the time in the world to achieve his goal. I could not believe the amount of clothing these women donned everyday of their lives, until I started to undress them and get them into hospital issue gowns. It was a full fifteen minutes before I saw any kind of bare flesh.
It was peeling an onion, but it didn’t make me cry, layer after layer. Underneath the robes were folds of binders, tee shirts, ropes, and safety pins galore. It was crazy. After much diligence, they were out of their habits and into our gowns for examination by our doctor.
One of the registration clerks was offended that men were undressing and doing a cursory examination of the nuns. I told her, “I am a professional” and that I could “undress and examine a woman without me seeing anymore than if she was wearing a bathing suit.”
I would loosen and undress down to the top of the patient’s chest Place the hospital gown over her and then finish removing the blouse, brazier, etc. I would slip the gown on then start the examination to the top of the thighs. I would fold a blanket or sheet across her middle to examine her chest, abdomen, and pelvis. I would remove the slacks and skirt. It was up to the physician to finish the evaluation. The woman was covered at all times and I would preserve her dignity.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name

Our family had a great Aunt Rose Shipley. She lived with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. Their home was along the Monongahela River. We would visit on occasion and while the adults sat and talked, my Sister Kathy, Brother Ken, and I would sit on the cinder lined bank and watch the boats and barges go by. It was better than being cooped up inside, even though Aunt Rose was a cool old lady.

Aunt Rose had the most beautiful white hair that framed her wrinkled face with large soft curls. She had a pleasant laugh and a quick smile. It was rare that we ever saw her frown.
Sometimes she would visit my grandparent’s farm and stay for several weeks at a time. She would help cook, shell beans, peas, and bake. I can remember one time when she was helping with supper and ended up with the task of making gravy. She got frustrated and said, “Becky, there’s lumps in the damn gravy. I guess I’ll have to strain it.” That was the only time I ever heard her swear.
She always wore a dress that was lavender or had a lavender print. I was never sure whether it was her favorite color, but I do know it made her white hair look absolutely stunning.

Grandma had a long concrete front porch with cinder block Walls and pillars. It was cool in the summer and stayed dry in the winter, protected and sheltered by two tall hemlock trees. Grandma had two green Adirondack chairs, a love seat to match and a contour fitted swing. One day as Aunt Rose and Grandma were on the swing, I reached through the half-block air holes at the bottom of the wall and grabbed Aunt Rose’s ankle. She was startled, jumped up, and screamed. Just a youthful prank, but I always thought she had a twinkle in her eye when she saw me. I could be wrong, but I hope not.

When they weren’t n the porch, they were in the sitting room, not to be confused with the sitting parlor that was only used by special guests on special occasions, and watch television. Aunt Rose loved the Pirates until after winning the World Series they poured champagne over each other’s heads. When that happened, it dampened her desire to watch them and she was indifferent to their games and their standings.
For some reason I don’t remember her dying nor her funeral, so I guess that she still lives on in my memories.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Have you ever thought about the voice of the trees,
whether they’re introduced by the wind or a breeze?
Sometimes trees will whisper; other times they will whine
as the moving air travels through willow and pine.
Their spreading limbs reach up to touch the cloudless sky
talking to each breeze as it goes hurrying by.
Trees change their voices at different times of the year,
vocal cords broad-leafed, needled, or shaped like a spear.
Birch, beech, cherry, pine, hemlock, hickory, and cedar;
aspen, sycamore, fir, maple, oak, and poplar,
each sings a song loud or soft in sun and shade;
solitary, in a forest, or in a glade.
Whether clothed in green, pink or white bloom, bare, or gold.
Each has a voice; young sapling or twisted and old.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Snow Day Revisited

I know I wrote I did not mind shoveling snow,
but not so much when the weather is ten below.

Each scoop of snow seems heavier as I’m aging.
Thoughts of moving the snow become less engaging.

As snow deepens it’s not so much fun as before.
My body rebels. My tiring muscles grow sore.

My Woolrich pants have quickly become my best friend.
(At least until this bitter cold comes to an end.)

I saw the sun filter through heavy clouds today
changing from dismal charcoal to an icy gray..

Shoveling becomes less fun each time that it snows,
especially when a cold and frigid wind blows.

I pray this cold spell soon breaks and moderates,
susceptible to the winter blues it creates..

Fingers and toes chill, while cheeks and lips turn blue.
I dream of distant warm places like Kathmandu.

I am not a snow bird that hears Florida’s call,
but I cringe when the fist snowflakes begin to fall.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Day, Snow Way

Some people think I’m crazy, although I don’t think it’s so.

There are certain times for me that I like to shovel snow.

Late at night ‘neath street light’s gleam; cold’s arrived and the air’s chill.

Snowflakes drift in crystal stream through the darkness calm and still.

Taking my shovel in hand, I step out into the night

to a winter wonderland where snow drifts down through the light.

The silence becomes profound. I hear each flake when they kiss

as they tumble to the ground in a steady rush and hiss.

Solitude for me to keep behind a shifting white veil,

I dig through snowdrifts deep built by icy crystals frail.

I toil alone in quiet in a world of white and black.

Sometime you ought to try it and you may keep coming back.

I don’t say it’s a pleasure. So don’t think of me as odd;

it’s a time one can treasure at peace with nature and God.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pin Cushion
One of our physicians also practiced the ancient art of acupuncture. One afternoon as I drove to work, I developed a pounding, miserable headache. It was one of those horrible headaches that made me feel half sick to my stomach.
As I walked past him, he commented, “What’s wrong with you? You look like you’re not feeling well.”
I told him that I had a miserable headache. He said, “We’re not busy right now. Hop up on that bed and I’ll be right back.”
I didn’t know what to expect. At that point, I didn’t know that he did acupuncture. I didn’t care what he planned to do, as long as it helped to get rid of my headache. He came back to the cubicle with a small, black leather case.  As I sat there, I was wondering what in the world does he have.
He took a handful on alcohol swabs and placed them beside the case on the mattress. When he opened the case, I could see an array of what looked like thin metal wires. Taking one of the needles from the burgundy velvet lined interior, he held the “knob handle” of the needle. He cleaned the length of the wire with the alcohol swab. The handle was just a thicker part of the wire that was about the thickness of a small wooden matchstick.
Next, he selected a short, slender metal tube and inserted the needle through the opening. He told me to put my hands on my lap with my palms upwards. When I complied, he placed the tube over one of my wrists and tapped the handle with his finger. He removed the tube and the needle was stuck in my wrist. It didn’t hurt. The needle was about as thin as a human hair.
Twirling the handle, he slid the needle deeper into my wrist and then withdrew it to a shallower position. It was odd feeling. It wasn’t painful, but it, had an electrical aspect along with the sensation of pushing and pulling. He left that one wire stuck in place and went to my other wrist, repeating the process. With those two in place, he worked the antecubital spaces, but didn’t keep a needle there. He moved on to needle my knees, calves, and ankles. He finished by pricking my scalp in several places across the top of my head, front to back and side to side. When he was through, he removed the needles from my wrists.
“Wow!” I thought. “He just cut my headache in half. The pain was bearable now and I could work the night without having the feeling of nausea.” I thanked him because I felt so much better.
A few weeks later on an unusually slow afternoon shift, He was on again and said, “Come with me.”
I followed him back the hallway to the nurses’ lounge. He said, “Have a seat. I’ll be right back.”
He returned with the same black case that held his acupuncture needles. “I will give you a more thorough treatment for your headaches.” And he did; more needles, different spots, and I began to felt so relaxed. I just knew I would have the relief he promised.
I was sitting in one of those plastic scoop chairs. It was bright orange and as slippery as a linoleum floor to socked feet. When he finished my treatment, he packed his needles and left the room. I felt so relaxed that if someone had thrown a hand grenade in the room and yelled, “BOMB!” I’m not sure I could have moved. As it was, I was having a hard enough time staying in the chair and not slipping out of it and onto the floor.
The acupuncture treatment worked. No more headaches for me until nearly six months later and it was only a mild one.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Lonesome Blues

I’m sorrowful and so lonesome with nothing left to lose

You’ve got me singing my baby-has-left-me blues

You’re gone, gone, gone, you’ve really gone away

I’m home alone with nothing more to say.

If these ain’t blues I’m singing, I ain’t singing the right song.

How can everything start out right and yet end up so wrong?


I have those lonesome, empty, with nothing left to lose blues

 That makes me want to drown myself in tears, sorrow and booze.

You’ve gone away. You’ve really gone away.

My soul is empty and it’s in decay.

If these ain’t dues I’ve been paying, what else more can be said.

My payday is long overdue. I’ve nothing left to trade.


The Empty Bed Blues

I couldn‘t sleep at all last night; thoughts of you filled my head.

I needed some comfort when only coldness filled my bed.

I couldn’t sleep at all last night; my bed’s empty and bare.

Your scent no longer lingers. All I do’s lay and stare.

Baby, my arms are empty; my memories are full.

Baby how could you leave me? How could you be so cruel?


I couldn’t sleep at all last night. Dark nightmares plagued my soul.

When you left you took my heart. Your love’s taken its toll.

I couldn’t sleep the whole night through. All night I tossed and turned.

I wanted to spark love’s fire. It was me who got burned.

Baby, our love’s just ashes; the embers have turned cold.

Baby you stole my youth, leaving me tired and old.


Chorus: I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I just couldn’t sleep at all.

I couldn’t sleep the whole night through. I miss the siren’s call.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I Didn’t Know

                My father-in-law had always disliked his given name and everyone knew him as Bud and called him Bud. What caused him to use and choose the name of Bud was his older sister had been named Elma Jean. Bud always said, “My mother must not have gotten that name out of her system, because she named me Elmer Eugene.”
                Bud was the groundskeeper and general duty man for a small Christian camp in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Children from churches in Pittsburgh would send their kids out for summer camp. Adults would come out for retreats and whole families would have a week that they could come and relax. (The camp had once been Killarny Park and families would ride the train from Pittsburgh to spend the day boating, swimming, and picnicking.)
                Bud had a fantastic memory for names. We could be several states away and he would start to talk with them and find someone who they both knew, was from a family they knew, or was friends with someone that they knew.
                One day, as camp was closing, Bud was saying good-bye to friends who had been coming to the camp for years. He leaned in the driver’s side window and said, “Drive safely.”
The man responded, “I have my Wife and Mother-in-law in the car with me, one preaching and the other praying. We should be safe.”
Kiddingly Bud said, “Which is which?”
                The man replied, I’m not going to answer that. I’m in enough trouble already,” and they drove off.


                I had been dating his daughter for almost three months. She invited me to stop over after church for Sunday afternoon meal. It was a great meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, baked corn, and homemade bread rolls. We had almost finished with the meal and were sitting around the table, waiting for the slow eaters to finish. I was sipping sweetened iced tea, when Bud asked me a question. I can’t remember what he said, but when I opened my mouth to answer, a little burp escaped, “Erp.”
I felt even worse when Bud said, “How dare you burp before my wife?”
                I had two choices. I could crawl under the table and slink out or the house being totally embarrassed or I could try to cover it up by saying something funny. I chose the latter. “I didn’t even know it was her turn.”
                It was like a freeze frame in a movie when everything stops. My heart stopped. I swallowed hard.
                All at once, Bud started to chuckle and I was part of the family from that second on.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Where the Long Grass Grows

Subtle, sibilant sounds sing as the night wind hurries by

Songs in native tongues once echoed beneath the prairie sky.

Twinkling stars overhead sparkle in the black velvet night,

Undulating waves of long grass ripples in the pale light.

Prairie grass, long grass, growing in swathes both green and wild.

Roots sent deep for water and fed by bison dung thick piled.

The moon’s soft silver glow illuminates each rustling wave,

Once home to buffalo and the hunting ground of the brave.


Bison are all but gone; braves are on the reservation,

But the high grass still grows as it has done since creation.

Where the grass dulls with dust, intermittent rain washes them clean.

The wind whispers softly with sighed words that are felt and seen.

The settlers came, turning over grass with bright iron-clad plows

Planting wheat, corn, and beans; killing buffalo, bringing cows.

Prairie grass retreated before the pioneers’ onslaught,

Long grass hid in pockets, going where the white men could not.


I lay in the tall grass, watching the heavens overhead.

The prairie’s night breeze comes whistling over my outdoor bed.

My bedroom’s open plains; the sky’s a stormy canopy.

Seasons come and go, seedtime and harvest will ever be.

The long blades make my bed; its soft mattress fresh and fragrant.

The prairie grasses wave in each breeze, sweet and abundant.

I stand on rolling knoll; long grass surrounds me like the sea.

I’m a ship set adrift still feeling lost and yet so free.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Christmas Pie

Between the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas falls the deer hunting season in our state of Pennsylvania. The first day of buck hunting is a holiday for the school kids who want to join in the hunt. My mother-in-law had always relied on someone in the family to harvest a deer so she could claim some of the fat, tallow, and bits of the venison flesh to make the filling for her mince meat pies. She would bake the meat pies for the Christmas holiday meals. She would occasionally use beef products to make the filling for her pies if there wasn’t any venison available, but that was something she would do only reluctantly.
Usually my brother or I would get either a buck or a doe or both. We frequently hunted together with our father and usually managed to bring down at least one deer and quite often more than one among the three of us. We didn’t allow any of the deer meat to go to waste and we would harvest as many deer as we had licenses. We liked the flavor of venison.

After we would spend hours in the outdoors hunting in all kinds of weather to find and to kill a deer, we didn’t really want to turn our hard-earned prize over to a butcher who might or might not salvage all of the meat from the carcass for us. We had heard stories about unscrupulous butchers and we were worried that all of the meat from our deer might not be returned, the meat might not be handled properly, or we might not get the meat from the deer that we had turned in to the butcher to be returned to us. We also did not like the fact that butchers used band saws to cut through the brittle deer bones splintering them and leaving slivers of bone in the meat.
When we were younger, we helped our uncles and our grandfather to butcher several hogs and a young bull at granddad’s farm every year. We had learned the basic skills for cutting up meat and it was only a small step from that to actually doing the butchering for ourselves. Our father had a garage/ shed at the back of his property. We would skin the deer and allow it to hang inside to cool before quartering the deer and eventually dividing and slicing the meat into the desired cuts.
If we found a stray hair we knew who to blame. Our cuts of meat may not have been as fancy or as perfect as those that a professional butcher could do, but we would first cut around the bones and remove them before slicing the meat. What was left for us to cut was all meat.
My brother liked to divide his deer to make steaks, deer sausage, and cold pack the smaller non-descript pieces of venison. I liked to cut my deer into steaks, cold pack the smaller pieces, and make deer jerky. Usually I could collect enough meat and fat from the rib cages to give my mother-in-law enough meat to make at least two mince meat pies and often more.

Following a recipe that she had used for years she would mix the raisins, currants, apples, citrus products, and spices together. Once they had cooked, she would put the mixture into glass jars and store them in the refrigerator until the filling was needed for the making of her pies.
It would be only one of the flavors of pie that she would bake for Christmas.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Christmas Cactus

At the top of the stairs in my grandmother’s rambling old farmhouse sat a huge stainless steel container. It was the top chamber from an old milk and cream separator that Granddad had used on his farm. The raw milk had to be poured into the top bowl and a centrifuge would separate the milk from the cream as it flowed through the machine; milk to drink and cream to be churned into butter.
The shiny metal bowl was nearly thirty inches in diameter and eighteen inches high. It sat squarely in the center of a large wooden desk. The desk was built in the style of Shaker or Mission Oak, designed to look like a library table with open shelves on each side and a wide desk drawer in the center.

The steep wooden stairs with its long curved handrail climbed the distance of twelve feet from the first floor to disappear into the dark reaches of the second floor where Grandma kept her Christmas cactus. The large stainless steel container was converted to be the planter for that old Christmas cactus. The plant had long ago filled the creamery pot container and had eventually spilled over its full rounded sides, cascading in long green streams. It was an enormous growth like a queen sitting on her throne and ruling the one end of the hallway.
It was cool and dark where the plant was located on the desk. The window behind the desk and cactus was covered by a green, room-darkening shade that Grandma kept pulled nearly all the way down allowing a small amount to light to slip through the eight inch space.

This monstrous sized plant had started its life as a snippet shortly after my grandparents wedding. Year after year it grew and grandma would transplant it into larger and larger containers. The progression of the containers matched the growth of the cactus.
The last and only container that I can remember as I grew older and made visits to Grandma’s farm house was the enormous stainless steel, cream separator. As the plant grew its stems became thick and gnarled paralleling the thickening and gnarling of my grandmother’s arthritic, feet, hands and fingers.

The flat-green, oval-shaped, ripple-edged leaves tumbled in thick masses over the edge of the steel separator pot and flowed down its sides in waves. The leaves almost hid the entire container beneath its thick foliage.
Just before Christmas, that dark corner of the hallway would suddenly explode into color. The cactus would spill its blossoms in colorful waterfalls that floated on a sea of green. Each bloom looked like a series of colorful trumpets stuck one inside on another. The colors ran the gamut of hues from a deep watermelon pink through a hot orange-red, and even into a pale yellow. They looked like small fiery torches blazing in a dark green sky.
The myriad of colorful blossoms would only last for several days. One by one they bloomed, showed the glory of their beauty, and would then slowly wilt and drop to the floor like a plague of dead insects, their colors fading to a ghostly white. They waited until Grandma would sweep them up and toss them into a trash grave.

When my grandmother could no longer take care of her large rambling farm house, she decided to have an auction to get rid of all the things that would not fit into the mobile home she had bought. I am not sure who bought the massive Christmas cactus, but I hope that it still fills another person’s home with its beauty each Christmas season.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Christmas Corsage

I was going through boxes that had been stored in closets after Mark had died. I was trying to sort through my emotions and the tears of accumulated things; boxes of books, old clothing, and souvenirs stored over the many years. Near the bottom of a box I found a much smaller box that held a dried up souvenir wrapped in thin white tissue paper.
My mind immediately went back to 1949. I was a senior in high school and had accepted a date with Mark. Mark had volunteered, joining the Marines. After the war, he was discharged and returned home. He was considered a man even though he was only nineteen. He was often somber and held the memories of the last two years tightly inside.
Our date was for the high school Christmas dance. I needed to find a fancy dress to wear, but it wasn’t going to be easy for me. Money was still tight and formal wear wasn’t readily available yet. Mom decided to take me shopping to see what we could find.
We searched through the several stores in town. Either the prices were so very high, the designs didn’t fit my body, or the color of the material didn’t go well with my hair and skin color. We were almost out of options when my mom said, “Let’s try one last store before we give up and go home.”
It just happened to be a store which sold recycled clothing. I had walked by that store many times in the past, but I had never gone inside. It seemed that the shop had been there forever. Pushing open the wooden door with glass inserts, we were greeted by the soft tinkling of brass bells hanging on a thick cord from the door handle.
Across the narrow sales floor I saw a mannequin wearing a dark emerald green gown with a full, flowing skirt. I somehow knew that it would fit. I nodded to my mom. She smiled.

The tall, gray haired sales lady came from behind a sales counter and asked, “May I help you?”
Mom said, “Yes. We’d like to look at that green gown.”
“It is a lovely satin gown.” The sales clerk replied as she removed it and handed it to me. She pointed out the dressing room near the back of the store.
I quickly slipped out of my clothing and carefully climbed inside of the gown. I loved the feeling of the smooth silkiness in the material as I slid my hands over the skirt. I stepped out of the dressing room for my mom to see the dress I had on.
I heard my mom gasp. “Honey, that gown looks like it was made for you.” She eased the zipper up on the dress.
The sales woman said. “Come here.” Reaching beneath the sales counter, she pulled out something shiny. She slipped the narrow rhinestone covered belt around my waist, cinching the dress tighter. It looked beautiful.
The clerk said, “I have one more thing. It’s been around the shop for awhile and I will make a great deal for you. It will make you look stunning.” She disappeared into the back room returning with a short garment bag. She unzippered the bag and withdrew something white. It was a white fur stole. Draped around her shoulders, it completed the outfit.
Mark had bought a corsage of white carnations and holly. He pinned it on me just before we went to the dance nearly sixty-three years ago. Although the carnations had withered, my memories had not.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside
     When we were young, I can remember long cold winter days and much more snow than what we've had for many years. One memory was riding in the back seat of my dad's car. I was sitting tightly against the door with my face pressed against its cold smooth surface. I had to press my face to see the sky. The snow had been plowed to a height that it was necessary to look up to see anything but snow.
     I can recall several times when one us kids were sick that we drove to Dr. Eleanor Morris' home to be seen. We were greeted by a sign at the end of her drive that said, "Pair o' docs." She and her husband were physicians.
     The snow was always neatly plowed from her long drive, but what impressed me the most was that she had her groundskeepers cut the snow in blocks from her walkways and haul them away. There wasn't the snow moved to the side of the walks, it was gone and the snow was waist high on my mom.
     At my grandfather's funeral, the snow was so deep and the temperature was so cold that there were no graveside services. While we were there, one of my cousin's kids was commenting that her friends wouldn't believe her when she told them about the snow. She was from Florida. I got the bright idea to take her boots and to place them on pieces of kindling from the fireplace. I stuck the kindling in a snowdrift that was nearly six feet high. The photo looked like she had jumped or had fallen into the snow and only her boots were showing. It made her laugh and I hope it impressed her friends.
     There were days that we would spent hours sledding on Coal Bank Hill Road. It was steep, windy, and covered in snow, ice, and cinder clinkers of the anti-skid material that the road crews spread for traction. Most of the times we'd avoid those clinkers, but occasionally, the runners would grind on one and the sled would do an immediate stop and the unfortunate kids would slide off into a face filled with snow. That wasn't bad enough, not only did he have to clean the snow off his face, he usually had to search for one or more buttons that had been torn from his coat scooting off the sled.
     It's a wonder that we were still alive. When we'd sled there, we had to dodge cars, shooting off the road into drifts or into the woods. When we reached the end of Coal Bank Road, we had three choices. The first was the most dangerous. It was to shoot straight across the bare concrete of Rt..711 with sparks shooting from our runners, praying there was no traffic. The second was the most skilled route. That was to swing your sled hard and run the berm of Route 711 without going into traffic. The third was the safest and most used. That was to throw yourself from the sled into the plowed snow at the side of the road while hanging onto the sled's tow rope to avoid choices one and two.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Christmas Card

Even though her eyes were failing, she had an inner feeling telling her today would be special. She had a rough year, especially since Harry had died six months ago. She sniffed back a tear when that thought flitted through her mind.
Everything she did now seemed to take longer to do since Harry wasn’t there to help her. Of course, most of the time Harry didn’t physically help her with the household chores, but he was always nearby. He would say or do something that would amuse her. With Harry around, it was almost impossible not to smile.
He would sidle up behind her, wrap his arms around her waist, and tell her that he loved her. She would lean backwards against his chest and smile. They’d stand that way for several minutes before he would kiss her neck and she would return to her chores.
Harry had a way of soothing her. One thing that Harry had taught her was, “No matter how hard the road, keep your feet moving. Eventually you’ll get to where you need to be.”
Since his death, that’s what she tried to do, putting one foot in front of the other and moving ahead one day at a time. She’d trudge up the steps to her empty bedroom every night and then she’d stumble back down the stairs to face another day. Without Harry, each chore now seemed mountainous but she managed to climb each one. Oh how she missed his arms around her, his chin nuzzling her neck, and his soft kisses.
The mail was in. She walked through the hallway to the front door. Harry’s jacket still hung on the coat tree. That was one mountain she decided not to climb. She wasn’t ready to sort and dispose of Harry’s belongings. His side of the bed remained empty and his side of the closet and his dresser drawers were untouched.
She paused when she came to the coat rack. Sometimes she would press her back against the hall tree and wrap the sleeves of Harry’s jacket around her waist. His scent lingered. She would pretend that he was still alive and had just kissed her neck. She shook herself free from her dream and the sleeves of Harry’s jacket before going to collect the mail.
She plodded down the walkway. She rested against the mailbox to catch her breath. Somehow the walk seemed to suck away all of her strength. She tugged at the door, the latch grating as it popped open. Reaching inside, she lifted out the contents. After pushing the door closed, she ambled back toward the house. Browsing the mail as she walked; electric bill, credit card application, advertisements, she saw only the usual mail.
As she neared the porch steps, an envelope fell out and fluttered to the ground. The envelope was tattered and much worn. She stooped down, picked it up, and turned it over in her hands. The ink was smudged. It was addressed to her, but it in was her maiden name. The post mark was Korea, October, 1952.
“Lands sakes, this letter was mailed almost sixty years ago.”
She sat, her legs suddenly felt weak. She pulled her glasses from her apron pocket and donned them. She unsealed and opened the flap. “It’s a card, a Christmas card.”
Removing the card from the envelope, she could see it was a white heart decorated with green holly leaves and red berries. With trembling fingers, she pulled its edges apart.
The inside read, “Merry Christmas, my dear. I’ll love you forever, Harry.”