For Miss Connie, love from Nicole
“Well today I am 69 and I never thought I’d see the day my only son would forget me…ohhhhh wait that’s the phone maybe it’s him..”
Barb hurried across the house to catch the phone. It stopped ringing just as she reached to pick it up. Her shoulders slumped, and her face drooped into into a wistful look. She jumped when the phone rang again. Barb picked it up and put it against her ear.
“Hello?” she said.
“Grandma?” a little voice on the other side asked. “Grandma, is that you? It’s Stacy.”
“Hello sweetie,” Barb said, a smile growing on her face. “How are you doing?”
“I’m good,” the seven-year old replied importantly. “How are you today, Grandma?”
“I’m just fine, sweetie, thank you,” Barb said, and switched the telephone receiver to her other ear.
“That’s great, Grandma,” Stacy said, and then continued talking in her very bossy little girl’s voice. “Grandma, I wanted to make a request.”
Barb thought she sounded so grown up when she talked like that. “Of course, sweetie. What do you need?”
“I want you to come over. Mommy and Daddy have gone out, and Julie – she’s the babysitter – she’s just watching TV. I have no one to talk to.”
“Well, sweetie, I’d love to come over, but you live all the way across town…”
“Please, Grandma, it’s really important,” Stacy implored, the trace of a whine entering her voice.
“Okay sweetie. I will be there in an hour.”
Stacy hung up the phone with a sharp click and a dial tone sounded. Barb shook her head. What a strange request. She went around and put on her hat and her coat, then grabbed her handbag. She made sure the lights were off, and that Fluffy had food in case he came back from wherever he had gotten to. She started to go out, then remembered she needed her driving glasses and went to retrieve them from her bedside table.
The garage smelled dusty, and the garage door groaned in protest when it opened. Barb pulled the cover off her car, and for a moment, she forgot whether she had enough gas or not. The car spluttered to life, and the dial showed three-quarters full. She drove slowly out of the drive way and down the street to the gates of the retirement community where she lived.
The traffic wasn’t bad at this time of day, but Barb didn’t like to speed, and she kept hitting red lights. It was almost an hour and twenty minutes before she pulled into her son’s driveway. Barb got out of the car, pulling her large handbag after her, and made her way up the little path to the front door.
She raised her hand to ring the bell, but the door opened right away, and there was Stacy, beaming on the other side.
“Hello, sweetie,” Barb said, holding her arms out.
Stacy gave her a quick hug, then pulled her inside and shut the door behind them. There were no lights on inside, and Barb peered about in the gloom.
“Why is it so dark in here, sweetie?” she asked Stacy.
“Would you like me to turn the light on?” the little girl asked, a slyness in her voice.
“Yes, sweetie, that would be good.”
The sound of the light switch being flipped preceded the deafening shouts of “Happy Birthday”! Barb was overwhelmed and flustered, trying to take everything in at once. There were so many people.
Stacy was grinning and clapping her hands beside Barb. Barb smiled at her and turned to the crowd of people before her. In front there was Daniel, her son, and his wife Sandra. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson from the Bridge Club were there, and John, Dorothy, and Jessie from the little AARP chapter in town; behind them were George, Susan, Natalie, and the others from the Volunteers-R-Us Barb belonged to, and even Mr. Sanderson and Jamie Peters, Barb’s neighbors, were there.
A table covered with a bright cloth and strewn with heaps of colored streamers was to the side, and in the middle was a giant cake with white and yellow icing that spelled H-A-P-P-Y 6-9-T-H B-A-R-B-A-R-A-!-!-!
As Barb realized what had happened, she felt tears spring to her eyes, and her hand went to her chest, the tears and a growing smile fighting for their place on her face. Daniel came forward, smiling, the light shining off his glasses where his brown eyes, so much like hers, were twinkling.
“Happy birthday, mom,” he said, and bent to give her a long hug.