A Family MemorybyDG Hear©
There is no sex in this story but it is a good read. Thank you to Linda62953 for editing this story and making it a much better read.
My mother passed away a couple of years ago. My dad took it pretty hard but went on with his life; what else could he do? He ran a combination gas station and grocery store, which was passed down to him from my grandfather. Dad is a good man, as was my grandfather before him.
Mom was only fifty-four when she died of that dreaded Cancer. She and Dad started dating after Dad returned from the service and married soon after. They had a good marriage and seemed to be a happy couple. Mom was a writer and wrote children's books. Over the years, she made a good amount of money, but she always said she was a mother and a housewife first.
I was an only child and knew my father wanted me to follow in his footsteps and work at the gas station and eventually he would pass it down to me. The problem is, I wasn't a mechanic and had no desire to be one. I guess I took after my mother because I enjoyed writing. When I was younger, I would sit around the gas station and listen to the many stories people told us and would write about them.
Mom told me I had a real talent and would edit my stories for me. I would send them to Readers Digest or other short story magazines and make a few dollars. Real life stories had always hit me in a special way. I did go to college for a couple of years to take some general business courses and to hone up on my writing skills.
Dad knew that being a mechanic wasn't what I wanted, so he grew the grocery store part of our business and I eventually became the manager of the grocery store. He managed the garage along with his right hand man, Les, who my grandfather had hired many years ago.
Les was married and had a daughter and a son. He told me he owed his life to my grandfather. I asked him if he'd tell me his story. Dad and Mom already knew it but promised my Granddad and Les they wouldn't tell anyone without Les's ok. Les said it was about time, so he told me his story.
Before he even started, he had tears in his eyes. By the time he finished his story, we all did.
Lester's told me his story:
Les said it had all began many years ago one Christmas Eve when my granddad sat in his gas station on a very cold and snowy night. Granddad hadn't really celebrated Christmas in years since his wife, my grandmother, had passed away. It was just another lonely day to him. My dad was in the service and had moved to Kentucky after he served his time in the army. He had lived there a couple of years. It left Granddad pretty much alone in his business, after the death of my grandmother.
Gramps didn't hate Christmas, he just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking out at the snow that had been falling for the last couple of hours thinking how slick the roads must be getting. The snowplows hadn't been through yet. At the time, he was pondering what Christmas was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped in.
Instead of throwing the man out, since he didn't even have a car, George, my granddad, as he was known by his customers, told the man to come in and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I just wanted to warm up a bit, and I'll just go."
"Not without something hot in your belly," George said. He
turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It isn't much, but it's hot and tasty. It's stew..., made it myself. When you're done eating it, there's coffee and it's hot and fresh."
Just at that moment, he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old truck that had pulled up; steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister, can you help me?" asked the driver, seeming desperate. "My wife is pregnant and ready to deliver our baby. We were headed to the hospital when my truck began overheating."
George looked into the car and saw the scared pregnant woman sitting in the passenger seat. He opened the hood of the old truck. It didn't look good; steam just rolled out from under the hood.
"You aren't going anywhere in this old truck," George said as he turned away.
"But Mister, please help..."
"I'll be right back," said George.
The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage door, started his own old truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She isn't the best truck you ever looked at, but she runs real good. Just return it to me when you can."
The man wasn't about to argue with him as George helped put the woman into the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I loaned them the truck, their tires were shot, too. My old truck at least has brand new ones."
George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.
After the old truck cooled down George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He put it into the garage where his truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant few customers. He discovered that the block hadn't cracked, it was just a problem with the bottom radiator hose. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So, he put a new one on.
"Those tires aren't going to get them through the winter, either." He took some tires that had been traded in but still had good tread left on them and put them on the old truck. As he was working, he heard a loud noise outside. It was a police cruiser that had went over the embankment and had overturned.
He ran outside and helped the police officer out of the cruiser. He was shook up and bleeding quite a bit from the left shoulder. The officer moaned, "Please help me."
George helped the officer inside his station. He remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there the day before and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the deep cut. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anything," he said, trying to make the police officer feel at ease.
"You need something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."
It began snowing harder and when George went to call an ambulance, the phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that talk box out in your car." He went out, only to find that it was badly damaged and had destroyed the two-way radio.
He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that I was chasing could still be in the area."
George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I wouldn't leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. You will need some stitching up. Looks like it missed the important stuff. I think with time, you're going to be right as rain."
George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.
"Black is fine, thank you," said the officer.
"Too bad I'm out of donuts," said George. The officer laughed and winced at the same time.
The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had probably never done anything like this before.
"That's the guy I was chasing!" exclaimed the officer.
"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put that cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."
The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you. Now give me your cash!"
The cop started to slowly reach for his gun before George stopped him and before the young man shot him. George said to him, "We've got one too many out now."
He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It's not much, but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away." The young man's hand was shaking and George knew he was scared.
George pulled a hundred and fifty dollars out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.
"I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I lost my job last month, my rent is due and they're going to repossess my car."
George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."
He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Being stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Coming in here with a gun, isn't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."
The young man stopped crying, and looked at the cop. "Sorry I sped away from you. I was so scared I was going to get arrested and taken from my family," he said.
"Shut up and drink your coffee, " the cop said.
George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police cruiser and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the injured officer.
"Not bad for a guy who just overturned his cruiser. How did you find me?"
"From your last location on the squawk box in the car. Who were you chasing?" the other cop asked, as he approached the young man.
Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy drove off into the dark. He just drove away leaving me there. The reason I was going to stop him was he was driving way to fast for the road conditions and here I am the one who overturned his vehicle."
George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other. "You work here?" asked the officer looking at the young man.
"Yep," George said, "I just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the injured cop and whispered, "Why?"
Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."
"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."
George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."
The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he'd ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."
"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I've got my memories. That's all I need."
George reached into the box again. A car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."
The young man began to cry again as he handed back the money that George had handed him earlier.
"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now go home to your family."
The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."
"Nope. I'm closed Christmas Day," George said. "See you the day after."
George turned around and found the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you'd left?"
"I've been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why is that?"
"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Putting up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Baking cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was getting a little chubby."
The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child who you loaned your truck will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save many people from being killed and helping the injured. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a wealthy man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."
George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked George.
"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done, you will be with Martha again."
The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."
George watched as the man in the old leather jacket walked out the door. A golden light seemed to fill the room.
"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."
George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus."
Les looked at me and had tears rolling down his face. "You see Jim. That young man that the cop was chasing and was going to rob your grandfather was me. Most people would never believe this story. I've told it to your mom, dad and to my wife. I promised your granddad that I would be his best employee ever."
My dad spoke next. "I came home on Christmas Day to be with my father, he seemed so different. He appeared happier than I've seen him since my mother passed. He told me the same story that Les just told you. I have to admit, it was a hard story to believe but my dad had never lied to me."
My dad continued, "I decided to move back home and work with Dad at his garage. He introduced me to Les and we became best friends and he has always kept the promises he made to dad."
I was told the story many years ago. My granddad passed away a happy and content man. My father took over running the gas station and I ran the grocery store. Les was his right hand man; they were about the same age. I met Les's family and wondered if his kids ever knew about their fathers past.
We all had a good and comfortable life. I took over complete control running the grocery store and dad and Les ran the garage. We all made a good living and I had time to continue writing on the side. Everything was fine, till Mom got sick and eventually died. Dad seemed to handle it ok; I knew he was lonely, but he put on a good front for the rest of us.
I was married and Janet, my wife worked at the store with me. Our two kids were in high school now and even helped out. Life was good; I just wished my dad could meet someone to enjoy the rest of his life with.
It was February and he asked me if I would drive him to Kentucky. My uncle on my mom's side had passed away and Dad was going to the funeral. Needless to say, I agreed to drive him. Les said he would watch the garage and Janet would take care of the store. She mentioned it would be good for me to spend a little more time with my father.
I mentioned to Janet that Dad wanted to spend a few days there and that I would miss Valentines Day. She laughed and said we could go out for dinner after I got back. We kissed goodbye and Dad and I headed for Kentucky.
As we drove down the highway, I could see my dad was thinking and every now and then, he would smile. "What's making you smile Dad?" I asked.
"Oh, just thinking about the old times. You know I met your mother in Kentucky, didn't you?"
"Yeah, but you never told me the whole story. Did you ever date anyone else Dad?"
"That's why I was smiling. I was thinking about Rose. I dated her before I met your mother. When I went into the service, she started dating Charlie, your mother's cousin. She got pregnant and they got married. I was really hurt when I found out she'd gotten married.
"When I got out of the service, I went back to Kentucky and met your mother. I was surprised to find out she was Charlie's cousin. It made things difficult knowing she was related to the man that ended up marrying my old girlfriend. We dated for three months and I asked her to marry me. I told her I was going into business with my father, your grandfather. She said yes and we moved from Kentucky to Ohio. A year later you were born."
"What happened to Charlie and Rose?" Are they still married?" I asked.
"Charlie died five years ago in an auto accident. He was Uncle Frank's son, the funeral we're attending. Last I heard, Rose was still single and has two grown kids, a son and a daughter and even grandkids."
"I know it's been a long time but do you still have feelings for Rose, Dad?"
"Jimmy," my dad is the only person to still call me Jimmy, "Throughout life we meet many people. Some are just acquaintances and others become friends. Rose and I dated for two years during high school. We thought it best not to be tied down while I was in the service. I loved her but could hardly blame her for dating anyone, we were only eighteen. Yes, I guess I've always had feelings for her. I both loved and hated her. That's part of the reason why your mom and I moved back to Ohio."
"So Mom knew all about you and Rose?" I asked.
"Yes, we didn't keep secrets from each other. That's one reason she was happy to move to Ohio. That way, old feelings wouldn't be there to haunt us. That doesn't mean I didn't still have feelings for Rose, but I filed them away in my heart. I truly loved your mother with all my heart and told her so all the time. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for your mother. We had a great life, till the good Lord took her away."
"Will Rose be at the funeral, Dad?"
"Yes, I suppose she will. She's the one that called me about Frank's death. I really debated whether to go to the funeral. I went to the cemetery and cried over Mary's grave. I know a lot of people don't believe in that sort of thing, but I do. I felt your mom's presence and her telling me to go on with my life and be happy."
We got ourselves a motel room and Dad made a call. About a half hour later, there was a knock on the door. Dad said he would get it and there was a good-looking woman at the door; it was Rose.
She had tears coming down her face when she first saw Dad. She hugged him and he hugged her back; they were both smiling. I could see tears in Dad's eyes also. Dad introduced me to Rose saying she was an old friend, of course I knew better. Dad had invited her out to dinner with us and she took us to one of the local eateries.
They talked about Frank's funeral and thought it better to see each other before the funeral. They sure got that right. Rose was a beautiful woman who didn't look anywhere near her fifty-nine years of age. Dad seemed happy; it made me feel good. He was a good man and deserved a good life.