Every morning my father would walk with me to the bus stop and wait for the school bus. No matter the weather, he never missed a day. Once I was safely on my way to school, he would go to work at the bagel store right on the corner by the bus stop.

Dad was a widower raising me on his own. My mother died from a fever when I was still an infant and I don’t have any memories of her. We had no other family nearby and dad did everything himself. I never heard him complain and I knew I was loved. Dad always packed small bagel pieces in my lunch bag; he sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon and I giggled when he told me they were the ‘bagel holes’.

Next door to the bagel store was a shoe repair shop. A young woman sat in the window busily attaching new soles onto worn shoes. Sometimes she would stitch together a tattered handbag; I liked to watch her work, her fingers deftly plying the leather and pulling the needle through.

The shoe lady never looked up from her work but I could tell she was beautiful. She had dark brown hair that fell over her shoulders and long eyelashes. I asked my father if he thought she was pretty but he said he hadn’t noticed.

One morning during a rainstorm, we stood under the awning of the shoe shop. I watched the lady in the window and this time my dad watched her, too. She must have become aware of our presence and she looked up at us. I don’t know if it was a thunderclap or some other force of nature but when her eyes met my dad’s, the shop’s big front window shook and the lights inside flickered.

The next morning on our way to the bus stop, I noticed dad was carrying a worn pair of shoes – and he was softly humming. I said nothing but my heart began to dance. Together we walked into the shoe repair shop and the lady smiled shyly at us. She was indeed very beautiful. Dad handed her his shoes and asked if they could be repaired. Their fingers touched and neither one pulled away. The lady said dad’s shoes would be ready in four days.

Each morning after that as we waited for the bus we would smile and wave at the lady in the window. She’d smile and wave back, her gaze lingering on my father’s handsome face. On the afternoon of day four dad picked up his repaired shoes. He surprised the lady by giving her a bag of warm bagel holes sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. The shoe lady peeked into the bag and laughed gaily, saying she never had such a treat. She and my dad smiled radiantly at each other for a long time.

That was chapter one of our happily ever after. Now every morning both my dad and the shoe lady walk with me to the bus stop; he holds my right hand and she holds my left. From the bus window I watch them walk to work, their heads close together and their fingers intertwined, and my heart does a little dance.

NAR © 2022


My great-grandmother, Mada Rana, 1947

The house is quiet tonight. Eerily quiet. All the lights are off and only the glow of candles shines dimly through the curtained windows, performing a ballet of shadows on the walls and ceiling. Every so often a door softly opens, barely perceptible murmurings are audible, then the door gently closes. Intermittent muted sobbing creeps up from the parlor.

I sit on my bed huddled under a blanket, a tiny flashlight flickering a pale yellow beam on my diary as I jot down my memories of the day. I must be quiet; my mother will be very upset with me if she discovers I’m still awake at this late hour.

My window is open just enough to let in some fresh air. The distinct smell of cigarette smoke wafts up into my room. I peek out to see my mother’s uncles sitting on the back steps silently smoking their unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes. Their black armbands are starkly visible against their plain starched white shirts. 

I tip-toe across the length of my bedroom, praying the old wooden floorboards beneath the well-worn rug will not creak. Ever so slowly I turn the glass doorknob; the hallway is dark. I can detect a muted light downstairs and I scurry nearer to the staircase railing for a better look. I sit there hugging my knees for a long time; there is no movement on the lower level. Just as I am about to descend the stairs, a giant amorphous outline begins approaching the parlor. The huge silhouette is frightening but only momentarily as it slowly becomes smaller and eventually reveals itself to be the profile of my mother draped from head to knees in a long lace shawl. She stands just outside the parlor for a moment fidgeting with her handkerchief, then enters the room, quietly sliding closed the heavy pocket doors.

A few hours earlier the ambience of the house was much different, still subdued but active as delivery men and acquaintances paying their respects came and went. My mother and her aunts labored in the kitchen like silent worker bees, preparing trays of food for the constant flow of visitors. My father, along with my mother’s uncles, directed the traffic of floral deliveries and positioned the many arrangements throughout the parlor. And we children sat quietly on the two enormous matching sofas along the side walls, eyes downcast, confused and uncharacteristically subdued. Occasionally we would glance toward the walnut casket resting atop a platform in the center of the room and quickly look away. Around 6:00 we were quietly whisked away into the dining room where we silently ate our evening meal, then returned to the parlor to continue our vigil.

There seemed to be a never-ending flow of people, a soft parade of mourners entering my house. Veiled women dabbed their eyes and men removed their hats, heads bowed. This stream flowed seamlessly from 2:00 in the afternoon until 9:30 that evening, many people lingering to reflect while others stayed only minutes. The priest arrived shortly after 9:30; he spoke softly in our native Sicilian dialect, offering prayers and words of consolation. When he was finished, everyone except my mother’s aunts and uncles departed. My little cousins, some no longer able to stay awake, were carried home and my sister and I were shooed off to our bedrooms upstairs.

It had been a long and sorrowful day. Mada Rana, the family matriarch, had died.

Her name was Maria Giuliano and she was my great-grandmother. We called her Mada Rana, our abbreviated version of the Italian Mamma Grande or Big Mamma. Mada Rana was a Sicilian immigrant, mother of six, grandmother of 16 (including my mother) and great-grandmother of 27. Her husband Giovanni died long ago when my mother was still a very young child and Mada Rana remained a widow for the rest of her life. 

Heavy-set and of medium height, she had the appearance of being stoic and unapproachable but her blue eyes danced whenever the children were around. Like magic, she would produce homemade cookies from her apron pockets and sneak them to us behind her back, pressing her fingers to her lips signaling us to keep her secret.

At one time or another most of the family lived in the same apartment building on 153rd Street and Third Avenue in the Melrose section of The Bronx. In time all Mada Rana’s children married and had families of their own. Mada Rana never lived by herself; her children were happy to take turns providing a home for her until she eventually moved into our house with my parents, sister and me. That was where she held court over the family meal every Sunday. Our house was large and well-appointed, filled with the noisy sounds of children laughing, women cooking and men excitedly playing cards. And there was music, always music. Mada Rana’s bedroom was on the first floor near the parlor and that’s where she died, surrounded by her loved ones.

Tonight the house is silent and the intense perfume of flowers hangs heavy in the air. As is the tradition, Mada Rana lay in repose in the center of the house; she wore a dress of deep purple to compliment the lilac velvet lining of her casket, her rosary beads secure in her hands.

Tomorrow morning we will say our last goodbyes to our beloved matriarch. Our cars will slowly follow a horse drawn carriage to St. Raymond’s Cemetery where Mada Rana will be laid to rest with her beloved Giovanni. It has been firmly explained to the children that everyone will kiss Mada Rana’s forehead as a final sign of respect; my stomach is in knots thinking about kissing a dead person. The concept is frightening and I don’t want to do it but I must.

I will forever hold dear countless memories of Mada Rana – her larger-than-life presence at the dinner table, her silver hair pulled in a bun, black stockings rolled down below her knees, the house-dresses she wore inside and the ubiquitous black mourning ensemble she wore when in public, the rapid-fire way she would roll home-made cavatelli one after the other off a small grooved paddle, her muted prayers as she devoutly recited her rosary, the way she closed her eyes and smiled when Caruso sang.

I will never be able to erase from my mind the overwhelming smell of flowers in the parlor during her wake, the sound of dirt and pebbles pelting her casket or the cold, waxy feel of her forehead under my quivering lips. My dreams were filled with those recollections for years and sometimes still haunt my sleep.

NAR © 2022

This recording was made in September 1920, less than a year before Caruso’s death. His health was failing and the recording equipment was, by our standards, primitive. Despite all that, the power and beauty of his voice remain unmatched.


This is a follow-up to my January 2021 story, “On The Way”. To see how it all began, click here first:

Tom Delaney sat alone at his favorite bar sipping his third bourbon. Life had quickly gone down the shitter a few months ago when he bet big time on a “sure thing” that didn’t pan out. That was one of Tom’s biggest faults; he was always looking for the money angle, whether legit or not. Now here he was, a 38-year-old washed up ex PI with a huge chip on his shoulder, a failed marriage and no money.

When the bartender announced closing time, Tom grudgingly slid off his stool and made his way to his car. He took Route 718 toward a friend’s cabin which he was using until he got his life on track.

The weather was changing and when the fog rolls in, driving on 718 gets hairy. He wasn’t on the road very long when he found himself in pea soup conditions. Suddenly a deer appeared out of nowhere and Tom swerved, coming to a screeching stop. After a brief standoff, the deer gracefully bounded down the steep edge and disappeared into the thick woods.

Shaken, Tom settled himself in his car. The glow of the headlights revealed a shiny object in the thicket below. Being a curious type, Tom drove his car closer to the edge, grabbed a flashlight from the backseat and gingerly made his way down the side of the bluff settling on a heavily overgrown landing about 15 feet below. He walked around for a few minutes before his foot came in contact with something hard. Crouching for a better look, he discovered a battered helmet with the weather-beaten orange and black ‘KTM’ emblem of a bicycle manufacturer.

Disappointed that his find wasn’t something valuable, Tom stood up to leave. He took a few steps and heard a strange ‘crunch’ under his shoe. Shining his flashlight on his foot, Tom couldn’t believe what was buried under the leaves and debris.

“Holy shit! It’s a human skeleton! Poor guy must have ridden his bike off the road. Wonder where his bicycle is? What have we here?” Tom moved some leaves out of the way and discovered a waist bag which he took. Maybe he’d get lucky and find some money in the bag. Deciding to investigate a little more, Tom eventually came across the bicycle caught up in a large bush. It was a mangled mess, certainly of no value to him; nearby was a moldy leather jacket. Tom snagged the jacket and went through the pockets; nothing. Noticing a zippered inner compartment, he found an iPhone inside. Slipping the phone into his rear pocket, Tom climbed up to his car and drove off. He left with that uneasy, suspicious feeling he’d get while working on a case. Old habits die hard.

Once home, Tom emptied the contents of the waist bag: assorted crap, a wallet and an iPhone. “Hmm. Two iPhones. Why would one person need two cells? There had to be two people there that night. What the hell happened? Was this the scene of an accident or a crime?” Tom’s PI sixth sense was really kicking in now.

Both phones were wet. Drying them off, Tom placed the phones and SIM cards in two separate Ziploc bags filled with silica gel packets he had stockpiled. They’d have to dry out a day or two. Next he went through the wallet: $47 which he immediately pocketed, an expired debit card and a driver’s license. The license was issued to Joseph Barnes, 312 Ogden Drive, Sparta, NJ. – a 90-minute drive from the cabin.

Tom broke out his own phone and Googled ‘Joseph Barnes, Sparta, NJ’; it took a little while then BINGO! There it was – a missing person flyer dated January 2021. Last known location was Bethlehem, PA – a few miles from the cabin. There was a phone number to call. A picture of Joseph on a bike holding a KTM helmet smiled at Tom; the same face was on the driver’s license.

Tom spent most of the following day at Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem playing the penny slots with Joseph Barnes’ $47. He was on a roll and left the casino with $100 in his pocket. Tom couldn’t wait any longer and anxiously drove home to see if he could get the iPhones up and running. He took the phones out of the bags, inserted the SIM cards and turned them on; both phones started up. To Tom’s amazement, neither phone needed a passcode. As he suspected, one phone belonged to Joseph Barnes; the other belonged to someone named David Stapleton from Allentown, PA.

David, David, David. Why were you on Route 718 that night and what did you do to Joseph Barnes?” thought Tom.

Tom realized that after 14 months David Stapleton could be anywhere with a different phone number but there was only one way to find out. After his win at the casino, he was feeling lucky. This could be the big break he was waiting for.

Slipping David’s phone into his pocket, Tom drove to his favorite bar. On the corner was an old phone booth with a pay telephone – the untraceable kind. Tom opened ‘Settings’ on David’s iPhone; there were two different phone numbers for David. Tom hesitated for a minute thinking about his days as a PI. Instinct took over, suggesting he ignore the first number on David’s phone and go for the second one. Tom reasoned that the first number was likely David’s cell number; there was a chance the second number was for a business, a house or a place where David used to work – anything that might provide a clue. It was worth a shot. After all, Tom wasn’t looking to talk to David just yet; all he wanted was a lead. Tom dropped two quarters into the public phone slot and dialed the second number on David’s cell. The call was answered on the third ring.

“Hi. This is Dave at Stapleton Plumbing and Heating in Allentown. We’re closed now but will reopen at 8 AM. Please call back then.”

Pay dirt! Tom Delaney may be down but he wasn’t out! He’d head back to the cabin and Google David’s business, maybe get an address. This called for a little celebration – some company at the bar with his old friend Jim Beam. Sipping his drink, Tom could practically smell the shakedown money he’d be raking in.

As he drove home from the bar, the ubiquitous late night fog rolled in. Tom was momentarily blinded by a pair of oncoming headlights and swerved right to avoid a collision. He turned the steering wheel sharply and his car plowed through bushes, bounced off trees and crash-landed upside down at the bottom of the cliff before it burst into flames.

Poor Tom. Just when things were starting to look up. Karma’s a bitch.

NAR © 2022


When I first saw him I thought I was hallucinating. Was this a real person or a fear-induced illusion? I knew I had to remain perfectly still and quiet. My life depended on it.

I had no idea how long I’d been there – certainly long enough for my skin to have turned red, my mouth parched, my lips cracked. I remember being stung and bitten by insects and digging my nails into the palms of my hands to keep from crying out.

I recall now! We were picking flowers and berries in a sun-filled field; we had been following a stream and unknowingly wandered far from home. I caught sight of a bush hidden deep in a shady area. The plant was heavy with ripe blackberries and I couldn’t resist running to the bush, happily filling my bucket with the deep purple fruit.

I was busy plucking berries when I heard screams – not the usual giddy, playful squeals of young girls but awful shrieks of terror. I started to run back only to see my three sisters encircled by a group of Indians. The men were hulking and menacing, blocking the girl’s attempts to flee. They wore breechcloths across their midsection, moccasins and no shirts. Their faces were painted and their heads were shaved except for a center strip of upright long hair. They were the dreaded Mohawk.

They tugged the girl’s long blonde hair, poked them with sticks and tore at their starched white dresses. I wanted to shout out but was too afraid. How could I be such a coward? At 15, I was the eldest; I was supposed to protect them!

I crouched behind the berry bush and as quietly as possible covered myself with leaves and thorny stems. I peeked through my shelter and watched in horror as my sister’s dresses were crudely ripped from their innocent little bodies, torn pieces crammed into their mouths to silence their panicked shrieks. I wept silently as my sisters were held down and repeatedly raped. My heart shattered into a million splinters as they were ruthlessly slaughtered.

Long after the screams stopped, I remained motionless, eyes tightly shut. It doesn’t seem possible but I must have fallen asleep. When I awoke it was dusk, the Mohawk were gone and there was no sign of my sisters. The field was serene, as though nothing had happened. Where were my parents and the others we lived with? Why hadn’t anyone come looking for us? A terrifying thought came to me, chilling me to my very core: “Did the Mohawk attack our settlement? Did they kill my parents, too?” I wept bitterly until I drifted off to sleep.

A bright streak of early morning sunlight hit my face and my eyes flew open. That’s when I saw him.

He was tall, muscular and tan with long glossy black hair. He wore a fringed vest and long pants made of animal hide. His face was free of paint or tattoos and he looked to be about 20 years old. His features were handsome and peaceful; I knew he was not Mohawk.

A small fire burned nearby and in the time it would normally take me to plait my hair, he proficiently butchered and dressed a deer. He tossed the entrails into the fire, coated the deer in a thick layer of salt paste and wrapped it in canvas. Rising from his squatting position, he tied the carcass onto his horse, washed himself with water he had retrieved from the stream, then doused the fire.

A large bird flew into the bush where I was hiding. Startled, I accidentally kicked my pail of blackberries making a loud clanging sound. The brave quickly turned in my direction, drawing a knife tied to his leg. He crept closer, scanning the area intently. In only a few seconds he spotted me.

I freed myself from the thorny bush and ran into the dense forest but I was no match for the swift warrior. I screamed as he quickly scooped me up by my waist but instead of manhandling me, he made soft hushing sounds and my fears started to subside. He whispered soothingly and did not fight me. I felt a calmness come over me; I stopped resisting and slumped like a rag doll in his strong arms.

He sat me down in the open field and gave me food and water; I stared straight ahead, unblinking, eating and drinking as in a trance. As I ate, he cleaned the cuts and scratches on my face, arms and legs with a dampened cloth. He spoke a language I did not understand but found comforting.

He stood up, offering me his hand. I felt safe with him; if he was going to harm me he would have done so by now. I had unanswered questions about my parents and friends and I turned, heading in the direction of my home; he followed, walking beside his horse. As we drew near, faint wisps of smoke appeared in the sky and the smell of death hung in the still air. He motioned me to stop. Alone, he entered the settlement; when he returned, I knew. He knelt before me and sadly shook his head ‘no’. In his hand was my sister’s little doll. I fell to the ground, my mouth forming silent screams. I had no more tears left to cry.

I did not struggle when he picked me up and placed me on his horse. He smoothly jumped up and sat behind me. I buried my head in his chest, allowing sleep to overtake me.

We rode for three days and when we stopped to rest, we stayed close by each other’s side. I learned his name and he learned mine. My home and family were gone and he was all I had left in the world now. I know he realized and accepted that. He became my protector.

On day four we reached the massive waterfalls. I could barely see the longhouses on the other side of the river. He pointed and said the first word I understood: “Home”. He held me closely as we gingerly crossed the narrow bridge above the rapids.

When we reached the other side, his people ran to greet us; they were cheerful and welcoming and they chanted songs of thanksgiving. The women gently guided me inside; after bathing me, they wove my flaxen hair into intricate braids, soothed my sunburned skin with fragrant oils and dressed me in a beaded tunic of pale yellow. A feast was prepared in honor of their brother who had safely returned. There was much talking and laughing and I was embraced as one of their own.

That night when he came to our marriage bed my only thought was “I am home.”

NAR © 2022


Are you ready to cast off the winter doldrums and rejoin the land of the living? I know I am! Although daylight has been lasting a bit longer each day, the change is imperceptible. However, tomorrow here in The States we will turn our clocks ahead one hour as Daylight Saving Time begins. Spring ahead, fall back. Losing that one precious hour of sleep will be worth it just to close the door on Old Man Winter.

It seems the older I get the less I like cold weather. I’ve never been a fan of winter, not even as a child. While all the other kids were sledding and skating, I’d be watching them from my window under a cozy blanket drinking hot cocoa. Not much has changed! I’m a “beach bum”, not a “snow bunny” and much prefer walking into the surf than trudging through the drifts.

Winter is when everything turns grey and fades away. The birds fly south and the trees go bare. The deserted playground swings get tossed about in the cold wind and wisps of smoke spiral out from chimney tops as families enjoy the warmth of their fireplaces.

It takes forever for people to get dressed to go outside – donning boots, parkas, scarves, hats and gloves – then they make a mad dash from the house to the car and another dash when they arrive at their destination, hoping they don’t suffer a “mad dash ass smash” in their icy haste. Believe me – the ‘slip-sliding away’ happens and it ain’t pretty! How about the hundreds of people waiting for public transportation? Fur-lined hoods pulled up over their heads, faces red and chafed, lips cracked and sore, noses dripping and eyes tearing from the wind. Talk about “your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”!

In just another week spring will arrive. Before long, boots will be replaced with sandals, snowsuits with bathing suits, winter skis with water skis, hot chocolate with lemonade, sleds with bicycles, snowballs with baseballs and winter mittens with gardening gloves.

March winds bring April showers and April showers bring May flowers. Is there anything lovelier than a sunny day in spring? The birds have returned and are chirping their little hearts out. The resilient crocuses and daffodils have popped up through the defrosting earth and tiny buds are forming on the trees. Now is the time for planting seeds and saplings that were started months ago inside warm houses. The sky is clear, the sun is shining and there’s just a hint of a breeze. Couples walk hand-in-hand through the park and the playgrounds have come back to life. Children pitch tents in their backyards and dads grill the first hot dogs of the season.

I’ve often said I don’t like February; it’s the shortest month but to me it feels like the longest and the loneliest. Now March is here and it came in more like a lamb than a lion with temps in the 40s and only a slight breeze.

You’ll get no complaining from me – not yet, anyway. But it’s still early; why, it’s not even April. Just wait for the blazing summer sun, the mad dashes to our cars to blast the AC, the scalding hot sand at the beach, the highways jammed with people escaping the city for a week at the shore, the lines at the ice cream stands, the agony of a blistering sunburn and the howling dog days of August.

When will autumn get here? There’s just no pleasing some people!

NAR © 2022


Angry mobs stormed the front and back doors, yelling and wielding crowbars, guns and other weapons. The sound of breaking glass preceded the screeching alarm – another ‘smash-and-grab’ incident that had become so prevalent in shopping centers across the US and the Bradbury Mall was no exception. This time it was the exclusive Hermès shop located three stores down from the Cinnabon where Estrella worked.

“Everyone into the storage room. Now!” barked Jeff, Estrella’s boss.

Jeff, is this really necessary?” Estrella countered. “By the time we get everyone in the back room, those thugs will be gone. They’re not interested in us.”

“Estrella, I’m not going to argue with you. Get Rosita and go into the storage room now. You too, Carlos and Eddie. Everyone – let’s go.”

Rosita screamed as gunshots rang out, bullets pinging loudly off the steel beams in the plaza. Shoppers scattered for safety, the cacophony of yelling, gunfire and shattering glass filling the mall. As Estrella guided Rosita into the back room, she caught a glimpse of one of the looters. She recognized him as Ozzy, a gang member who hung around the bodega near her apartment. “Desgracia! Worthless garbage!” she spat out.

Once everyone was safely inside the storage area, Jeff locked the heavy metal door. Breathlessly, he slid down onto the floor. No one said a word. Rosita trembled in the corner of the little room while Estrella comforted her. Eddie and Carlos sat on boxes staring at the floor. No matter how many times these incidents happened, no one knew what to do but everyone had the same two questions: why were these lootings being allowed to continue and was it worth going to work every day?

Jeff spoke softly. “Listen, folks. I know this is taking a toll on everyone and I’m just as frightened as you but it’s my responsibility to take care of you. The security guards aren’t allowed to carry guns and they’re in as much danger as we are, probably more. We can’t take risks; we all have families waiting for us at home so we’re just going to have to take cover in here whenever this happens. No arguments. And always remember to take your cell phones with you. Comprende?” Everyone nodded in agreement.

After a while an announcement came over the mall’s PA system informing everyone that the situation was under control. Jeff asked his workers to help clean up, then they could go home; he lightly squeezed Rosita’s hand, assuring her he’d drive her home. Estrella complained vociferously about the ‘smash-and-grabs’, saying it was “a disgrace for these animals to carry on like this, spreading fear and endangering people’s lives, while no one did anything to stop them!” Frightened, tired and sad, she left the shop in tears.

Estrella’s car was parked in the municipal garage below the mall. She decided to use the winding ramp down to the employee parking level instead of riding the elevator or using the enclosed stairwell. As she walked she  heard glass breaking; the looters were back. Thankfully she was on her way out. Suddenly a car alarm went off and Estrella realized the sound of breaking glass was car windows being smashed – cars in the garage.

There it was again. And again. And again! The smashing became louder, faster, closer. Someone was in the garage and they were following her. Estrella quickened her step and the crashing sounds kept pace. She could see her car at the end of the ramp and broke into a run, desperately rummaging through her purse searching for her keys. She could hear the footsteps now. At last her fingers locked around the remote and she frantically pushed all the buttons until her car lights flashed and the rear hatch opened. Running for her life, she swung open the driver’s seat door, madly pushing the buttons to close the hatch and lock the doors. Shifting into ‘drive’, she sped out of the garage swerving wildly.

Estrella drove as fast as she could until the mall was no longer visible in her rearview mirror. She gradually slowed down and stopped as the traffic light changed to red. Her heart began to beat regularly and she exhaled. “I’m never going back there again” she said out loud.

The light turned green and she continued to her apartment. Pulling into a parking spot, she turned off the ignition and reached for her purse. Her blood ran cold as she felt a jagged piece of glass at her throat. Ozzy’s familiar gruff voice whispered in her ear “No, chica. You definitely are not.”

NAR © 2022


It was unseasonably warm for November; the sun was brilliant with only a few wispy clouds scattered here and there, but the autumn leaves swirling in the wind were a reminder that winter was just around the corner.

I decided to take a walk in the nature trail near my house. I didn’t like leaving my elderly mother home alone for too long but she was having one of her lucid days and insisted she’d be fine at home doing some sewing.

I wasn’t gone long when it started getting cloudy and cold. As I walked up the front path, I spotted my mother sitting in her rocking chair on the porch. She was busy at work, her sewing basket by her side.

“Mom, it’s cold. Come inside and I’ll put on the kettle for tea.”

My mother looked up and smiled sweetly but her eyes were blank; I could tell she didn’t know who I was.

“Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that. I need to stay here. You see, I’m waiting for someone and I have to finish my mending” she replied.

“Who are you waiting for?” I asked quietly, dreading her answer.

“My husband. The war is over and he’ll be coming home very soon.”

It was then that I noticed mom was repairing the zipper on my late father’s WWII bomber jacket. Little by little, day by day, Mom slipped deeper into another era – a time long gone but fresh in her mind as though it all happened just yesterday.

NAR © 2022