The other day I went to visit my grandmother Rose. She had been sick for some time now, and was needing more than just a few minute’s help with daily chores. I figured I would give her a quick call before stopping by with a few groceries. As usual, the phone rang, and rang, and didn’t stop until I heard her whisper, “Darling, is that you?” I smiled and said, “Yes grandma it’s me. I’m going to be coming by this afternoon, and I wanted to make sure you’d like me to visit?”
Her voice on the other line was stern in response. “My sweet dear, I have much to tell you. I think it’s time for me to find him.” I didn’t know what she meant by that. My grandfather passed away years ago, and there hasn’t been a man around the house since. So, unless her male rat terrier Porky was lost and needed ‘finding’, this gal was off her rocker.
It was a blistery summer day when I arrived at Grandmother’s house. The asphalt was so hot it made mirages for miles. I had so many memories here growing up. We used to call it “the house the wolf couldn’t blow down”, because of all the brick. As I drove down the narrow driveway, the car tires rolled across rusty nails and melted army men. Large rocks kicked up and bruised the old rose bushes that lined the path.
I reluctantly turned off the air in the car, grabbed the groceries, and jumped on each stepping stone leading up to the house. I rang the doorbell twice and then just let myself in. Porky greeted me with wet kisses! Well, he wasn’t lost so that was good. He nearly knocked over the bags in my hands. They were full of fruits from the farmer’s market. Grandma loved the market, but since her sickness she hasn’t been out of the house much. “Gram where are you? I can’t wait to see you!” Turning the corner to the kitchen I saw her lying on the floor crying.
I dropped the bags. Apples rolled across the shiny linoleum, and stopped right at the base of Gram’s neck. “Oh God. Gram are you ok? What happened?” She could barely open her eyes. Her hands were bruised from the fall. “Darling, leave me here. I think I am dying of a broken heart.” What was she talking about? She lifted her hand slowly from the back of her waist, and handed me a photo. “Sweetheart, this is him. I need to find him.” The tear that held onto her eyelash finally dropped. I held the photo and took a good look. As I turned the picture over, I noticed some very faded handwriting. It said, “My dearest Rose, for you I will wait. This is my son Henry, and my daughter Kate. We know you will be with us as soon as you can. For now take this picture. From Bruce…your man. We thought we’d surprise you and stop by for a visit. Sorry we missed you my love.”
The ambulance helped Gram out of the house, and set her up nicely in a room all her own in the hospital. She told me all about Bruce and the kids when I visited each day. Gram was a nurse, and met Bruce in the Navy. He was married at the time and had a sweet baby girl at home waiting for him. Once their tour had ended, they both returned to their residences in different cities. Bruce’s wife had left him a week after he came home. Instead of taking the children, she abandoned them completely. Rose returned to the brick house, keeping in touch with Bruce daily. She quickly fell in love with him. He had told her they planned to visit soon, but couldn’t seem to make the trip. Then one day out of the blue, he stopped calling. Years went by and Rose never heard from Bruce again. Her memory of him was sparked one day when she noticed the photo sticking out from the bushes in front of her house. She never forgave herself for not being there.
My grandma found out about the accident after she married my grandfather (a few months prior to finding the photo). Henry and Kate were playing out in the yard, and Bruce was watching from the porch. Kate kicked a ball into the road, and when she ran to get it she was struck by a car. After the tragedy, Henry and Bruce moved out-of-state and were never heard from again. My grandmother never spoke of the awful scene, or her lost love. I walked out of the hospital heartbroken. I drove up onto the hot gravel, and with sweat dripping down my forehead I managed to sit in the car for a minute and gather my thoughts. Squinting my eyes I noticed that someone was sitting on the steps of the house. I yelled out the window at the stranger, “Can I help you sir?”
“Hello ma’am! Sorry to startle you but, I was wondering if you knew of a woman named, Rose?”
“Oh, yes I do. She is my grandmother. Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Actually, yes you can.” He walked up to the car, took off his beret, and extended his hand. “I’m so sorry where are my manners, my name is Henry.”