When he decided to remain in the small town, he knew certain options would be limited. It was with a twinge of sadness that summer turned fall when all of the college bound kids drove out-of-town. He didn’t expect to see many of them again and if he did, he figured it would just be by chance. The gal he wanted to like in high school paid him no attention. He wondered if she knew how wonderful he thought she was or if she even knew he existed. He knew in his heart as she left for the big state school that his dreams of dating had likely come to an end. Not that he had ever been on one.
A few years later, in his mid-twenties, he found himself wandering into one of the town shops…or shoppes as some of the signs displayed. They knew one another from high school so it was comfortable to walk in and say hello.
Leannette had stayed in town to live with and care for her grandmother. Her other grand-kids seemed to be just far enough away or have just the right combination of reasons not to offer help or even visit. Not unless you call a Christmas card to Grandma help. Leannette always chuckled when she opened the cards for Grandma…knowing, before she pulled them out of the envelope, that it was one of those Merry Christmas cards with the all-American family of smiling relatives you never see anymore.
Grandma’s comment was always the same: “Don’t they look just wonderful.” An to her that is all they were. Christmas card people who just looked wonderful. No more, no less, since she didn’t know them.
One day, Leannette asked the Bell Ringer if he would mind helping her hook up one of those small do it yourself trailers to the back of her car. “Going somewhere?” He already knew the answer but not the details. “Going to Nashville to live with my sister.” “She already got me a job lined up where she works and there ain’t nothin’ keeping me here now that Grandmom is gone.
He held back a tear.
With a lump in his throat, he agreed to be at her house Saturday morning at 7:00 to help with the final heavy box or two and connect the trailer. It had been in her driveway a week so he knew she was close to leaving. It was then he summoned up the most courage ever and asked, “Would you like to go to dinner Friday night?”
“That would be fine,” she said as if she almost expected him to ask. They agreed to meet at the restaurant around 6:30. It was one of the happiest moments of his life and one of the most surprising too!
By 7:30 Friday night, he placed the money for two dinners plus the tip under the glass. After all, he had taken up a good table for a little more than an hour. He knew he didn’t need to walk by her house to see what he would see, but he did anyhow.
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excerpt from The Bell Ringer