“It was such a long time ago,” Sally mumbled sadly to herself as she gazed through the window to a hummingbird hovering by a feeder which hung there.
“What was, Aunt Sally? What was so long ago?”
Young Amanda flopped down on the sofa next to her favourite, albeit only, aunt, and wrapped her arm around hers. She was pretty astute for a 12-year-old. Some thing, some memory, had loomed in her beautiful aunt’s expression that she just had to understand.
“Why are you sad, Aunt Sally? I don’t like it when you’re sad.”
Sally grabbed her niece’s hand and held it tight. She loved her Manda; an old soul full of youthful vitality. Such a gift … and such a burden.
“Don’t grow up too fast, sweetie.” Sally released Manda’s hand and attempted a smile. “And enjoy every blesséd moment, because they go by so fast.”
“Are you thinking of any moment in particular, auntie?” Manda asked, curious.
Sally sighed. “Yes, yes I am.” She turned to face her niece, and smiled. She should share it.
“When I was 21,” she began, “I was engaged to be married. It wasn’t a particularly happy engagement. I cried a lot. He was a good man, but not good for me. So, two weeks before the wedding after a particularly angry series of telephone conversations, I called it off and fled to Toronto.”
“You were a runaway bride?” Manda interrupted wide-eyed, her imagination running away with her.
“Yes, I was a runaway bride,” Sally confirmed with a wry smile. “I left everyone, everything I knew behind. Your aunt Ruby, my mother, was left to tell everyone what had happened and to send all the gifts back. Return the dress. Cancel the cake. What a mess. But I didn’t know any of this so absorbed, was I, in my pain and loss and suffering. I’d run far away to escape; to search for something, somewhere, else where I might be happy. Truthfully,” she paused and sighed, “I was probably searching for my self, at the time, but I just didn’t know it.”
Manda gave her aunt a quizzical and concerned look.
“Don’t worry …” Sally reassured and patted her niece’s hand. “It was a terrible time in my life. I stayed with my father, your uncle Joe, with whom I had no relationship at all, as you already know. He lived in a 20th floor apartment in the suburbs. I hated it but had nowhere else to go. He offered me a sort of safe haven until I could get my feet back on the ground, something I couldn’t do fast enough. It took me two weeks just to find my bearings. It was the dead of winter and colder than I’d ever experienced. I rarely left the apartment. My diet was Edam cheese and hot pickles. I watched a lot of Young and the Restless. I was not myself.”
Sally turned again to gaze beyond the bay window looking out to the pretty pond surrounded by willows. Manda sidled closer and rested her head on her aunt’s shoulder. She loved listening to her stories.
“Eventually I found work downtown as a secretary in a brokerage. Dreary really, but it gave me the income I needed to start saving for a place of my own. Then one day,” Sally’s expression brightened a little, “I was walking north on Yonge Street from King, on my way to the bank to deposit my pay cheque. I wasn’t that happy. The amount was less than usual because some extra deduction had been taken. Woeful thoughts of living the rest of my life in my father’s second bedroom haunted me. Anyway, as I walked a sporty red convertible with a couple of cute guys in it drove by. I noticed it only because it was quite different to all the other cars … okay, yes, those two young men sort of caught my eye, too.” She giggled at the memory and Manda giggled with her. “But they drove on their way and I continued sadly on to the bank to make my deposit, and that was that … or so I thought.”
Manda hugged her aunt’s arm tight. “Then what happened?” she asked, eagerly.
“Well,” her aunt continued blank faced, “I was walking along the busy street back to the office, still feeling pretty low. Lonely. Unloved. Sorry for myself, I guess,” she sighed, “when that red convertible pulled up beside me. The two young men were trying to get my attention. I thought they needed directions … not that I could have helped them, of course, being so new to the city myself.”
Manda released her aunt’s arm and pulled herself out of the sofa to rest on its edge. Her eyes were bright with query. “What happened? What happened?”
A big, beaming smile curved across Sally’s lips as a tear of happy remembering pooled in the corner of her right eye.
“I wandered over to the car and asked the fellow in the passenger seat, who’d been trying to get my attention, if I could help.”
“And?” Manda could hardly contain her excitement.
“He gave me flowers.”
“He what? Really? He gave you flowers?” Manda asked, astonished.
“He gave me a flowers … a variety, if I remember correctly,” Sally mused.
“Did he say anything?”
“Yes he did, actually,” Sally became thoughtful. “He said, ‘You are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen and I want to give you these flowers.'”
“Really? He said that?” Manda shrieked with such enthusiasm she almost fell off the sofa.
“Yes, he did,” Sally assured while grabbing Manda’s arm and pulling her back into the sofa. “Really, Manda, you must be more careful.”
“I’m fine, auntie. … Then what happened?”
“Well, needless to say I was totally overwhelmed. The thing I needed perhaps more than anything at that time ~ some positive assurance that I wasn’t invisible ~ had happened out of the blue at the hand of a stranger. It was such a wonderful moment.” Sally sighed. “I could barely say thank you before the flower fella and his co-conspirator had driven off never to be seen again.” Sally paused and reflected, her eyes closed, her hands gently resting on her lap. “I was on Cloud Nine that whole afternoon. I felt seen. Felt alive; lighthearted; wonderful. For a little while life felt good again. And I felt beautiful.”
“Oh auntie, what a lovely story! But how did they know to find you when you were walking back from the bank?”
“Honestly, Manda, I don’t know,” Sally puzzled. “I have no idea how the timing of that worked and believe me I have thought about it often. How did they know I was going back that way? How did they know? I still don’t know, but I’ll tell you one thing …”
“What’s that, aunt Sally?”
“Life is full of little miracles if we will only pay attention to what’s going on around us. Even in our really dark moments someone somewhere … and maybe even a complete stranger … will do something randomly kind like that, something that will bring sunshine into our lives when all around us feels cloudy.”
“Are there many people like that out there, auntie?”
Sally thought for a moment. “Be a kind spirit, my Manda, and like nectar to hummingbirds you will attract kind spirits in turn.”
“Is that why you were given the flowers?”
Sally reflected, “Who can say, darling? Who can say? Now, come on … let’s make some of tea.”
Thanks for visiting …
©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015