THE LONELY MAN
© Vickey Stamps 12/12/15
Strange as it might seem, and unusual as it was, snow fell softly upon the ocean of the sleepy little town. Its fingers of water were weary. A long day had passed. None the less, it reached up grabbing the tiny flakes, pulling them down and further cooling the vastness of its watery domain. Upon the sidewalks, the snow slowly collected building up layer upon layer, making itself a lovely thing to look upon. Few would likely know at this moment in time, for it was the eve of Christmas, mere moments before that special day would come once more. One home in part was yet awake. Once known as the home of Katherine and Tom Sr, it was now that of Katherine and Mildred, her sister. Had it been five years that the light in Tom’s eyes had suddenly gone out? It seemed like yesterday to her. Well, she wouldn’t fret. Tom would not have wanted that. Mildred’s soft snoring could be heard from her upstairs bedroom. She, like Katherine has spent long hours making the cookies and pies for the festive day ahead. A nice ham had been cooked already and waited in the refrigerator and a turkey was thawed out and ready for the oven. A kettle of water simmered. Katherine felt ready for one more cup of tea. She and Tom, Sr. had always brought in the celebration and the precious moments of Christmas together. It was a celebration she wasn’t ready to turn lose of yet.
She had just put the book marker into the family Bible. She had taken Tom’s place in reading the story of that first Christmas. She’d be reading it before the big meal tomorrow. Tom, Jr. would be flying home from that place of desert in that country of turmoil so far away. He had gotten a thirty day leave from his career in the military. She hadn’t seen him since losing his father. It would be wonderful to look upon his face. It was their daughter’s year to come for dinner, Betsy and Sara and the family would all be there. Her heart seemed to jump in joy at the thought of children’s laughter in the house. Just another minute or two and Christmas would enter. She’d say a prayer for blessings to fall upon her home, perhaps enjoy one more cup of tea and find her bed to rest up for the coming excitement.
“Well, Lord, it’s me again. Just wanted to thank you for another day and for your birth so long ago. I know you’ve with me all the time. I want to thank you for that as well. There’s the family and friends, and gosh, I wish our home was larger and I could bring some of the homeless in out of the cold. I feel the chill of it even inside, and am grateful for the fire in the hearth that warms these old bones of mine. I hope everyone out there in my world will tell the time to read of you and sit down and visit with you. Love to see your face, Lord. Someday, I will. What a day that will be. Tell Tom, Sr. hello for me, and keep our boy safe in that airplane. The weathers turned on us. It’s snowing out there. He’s a good guy, so take care of him please. Help the homeless and sick out there. I’ll say good-night for now. Thanks again! AMEN”
There suddenly came a light tapping upon the door, startling Katherine somewhat. She’d just been heading to the kitchen for that last cup of tea. Surely it wouldn’t be Fed-Ex or UPS this time of night. After all Midnight had come and gone and those workers needed to be home with their family. Maybe one of the neighbors had come down sick and one was seeking her assistance. She’d be happy to throw on a coat and do what she could.
Before her in the shadow of the porch with a dim light shining upon him, stood a man, layers of clothing for warmth collapsing upon his frail frame. His eyes met hers; their color was bright and clear despite his appearance. A smile lifted up his lips and cheek bones. A worn and knitted cap came down over his ears, his hands clutched together in their tattered mittens. The odor that rose from him was well, not so nice, but Katherine would ignore that. She felt not one bit of fear. “Could I come in for just a moment?” He spoke quietly. “It’s awful cold out here. I saw you were still awake in this house. I won’t stay long. I’d just stand in here for a few minutes and be on my way. “Katherine opened the door wide, a silent invitation for him to come on in.
“Come and sit by the fire, please. We’ll add a log” She said softly.
“Now don’t trouble yourself, Mam. If you’ll throw a towel down over that chair for me, I’d appreciate it. I wouldn’t want to tarnish its covering. I know I’m not very clean. I am very cold. Not many invite me into their home on this day. I get lonely. Thanks for the welcome”
Katherine had hurried off to get them both a hot cup of tea, and a plate of cookies with a slice of apple pie heated in the microwave for him; coming back, pulling up a chair before him, inviting him to share his life story. Maybe she’d dig out some of Tom’s old clothes and have him sleep on the couch, if he’d like. Funny how comfortable and safe she felt with this unfortunate man. There was Tom’s heavy coat; she was thinking of, that hung yet in the entry closet, plus a pair of strongly made boots he could have to keep him warmer. She’d be happy to see them serve a good cause. She’d do what she could.
And so an hour passed before either could notice. They’d spoke of life and its changes, the sorrows and the joys. Speaking of the sorrows, a tear had left his eye, making its way down his face. He’d wiped it away. He had drawn from the pocket, of what must have passed as a coat, a harmonica and began to play a medley of the old beloved hymns of long ago. How they warmed her whole being, far more than the fire before them. “He’d thanked her and gotten up as if to leave, had told her the son would be safe, and he’d like for her not to worry. She’d begged him, if he really must leave, to wait long enough for her to give him some clothes, the boots and the coat at least. He’d encouraged her to take them to the mission just down the road this day. He’d be stopping there himself later on.
She’d hurried over to the closet just the same, refusing to let him go out into the cold and the snow as he was. In coming back, he was no longer there. The door was closed and locked, but she opened it, looking right and left upon the street. No footsteps or sight of the lonely man were anywhere to be found. She’d check the house as well, naturally, but in her heart she knew she’d not see him checking out her home further as if he had been a robber. Had she been visited by the Lord in disguise? She thought perhaps so, for warmth different then that from the fire filled her home and it seemed a lightness lay upon the air. She looked out the window, seeing the snow no longer fell. It would be a wonderful day and so very special. She’d be sure to tell everyone about it this day before she read from the Holy Bible of the Christ Childs birth.
Well, time to go to bed and rest for a while. She’d have no trouble sleeping, as she’d have no problem enjoying her family and going to the mission with all Tom, Sr’s clothes. Had he been there, he’d of smiled at the thought of sharing with those with more need. If he didn’t know it already, she’d tell him of the sharing when she joined him in Heaven one day.
LIFE WAS GOOD