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Sunday, January 01, 2017

"A Happy New Year" - A short story chosen by The Wizard of 'OZ'

from The Bright Light Cafe

They were forecasting snow to begin at 7pm, and most of it was to be to the East and to the South of where she lived. Still, Emma was concerned that her daughter and son-in-law were in no hurry to leave as they were going to be traveling North. Snow is unpredictable, as can be forecasters and, besides, she was a Mom and Mom's worry.

It's not that she was anxious for them to go. It had been a rather bad weekend for them, which was so highly unusual for them all. Rebekka and Joe were always so cheerful and welcome when they came to stay. But this weekend was different. They were moody and bickering, and spoke disrespectfully to both her and her husband, Ed. She chalked it up to "end of semester tiredness" and money crunches and holiday blues. But, still, it wasn't pleasant and a tension seemed to hang in the air.

This morning Emma and Ed had gone to church while the kids slept in, and when they got home, things seemed a little better. Rebekka and Joe went to visit some friends while the couple took down the Christmas decorations and bade farewell to the Christmas season. By the time the kids returned, all the work was done and it was time for them to pack up their stuff to go home. It was snowing heavily now but, finally, the car was loaded and the kids were off. As Emma kissed her daughter "goodbye", she sensed that something was still not right and it wasn't just her worry about the snow.

"Honey," Emma said as she and Ed went back into the house after waving goodbye, "do you sense something is wrong with the kids?"

"If you mean do I think they were grumpy, yes" he answered, and flopped himself in his easy chair, turning on the football game, already in progress. The score was 10 to 3, and his team was behind.

"Well, I think something is bothering them, and I wish I knew what it was," she said as she moved to the living room to finish all the little details of cleaning up after the holiday. Soon it was time for bed and, as they snuggled down together, he mumbling about his team not making the play-offs and she mumbling about the kids, they suddenly turned to each other and started to laugh.

"Aren't we a pair!" he said. "Mumbling and grumbling like two old people!"

"We are two old people," she laughed."

"Well we're not that old," he reminded her, and kissed her good night. They lay together like two spoons in a drawer and just enjoyed that they had each other.

The next morning was New Year's Eve, and she woke up late. He had gotten himself up and off to work and let her sleep in. She stretched and got up and began her day making coffee and lazily perusing the paper. The telephone rang. It was her daughter, and she was crying.

"Sweetheart, what is it?" Emma asked, concerned.

"Oh, Mom, I've made such a mess of things. Here I am a math major and I can't even keep our finances straight!" Rebekka sobbed.

"What kind of trouble are you in?" Emma asked.

"We can't pay January's rent. Not one penny of it. We had to get the car fixed and the cell phone bills are due and we have to have food and we just don't have enough to pay the rent." Then there was silence, followed by sniffing.

"Well, darling, I suppose your Father and I could help ..."

"No Mom, I don't want you to bail us out! You have been too good to us as it is, letting us borrow your car for so long. There has to be another way!"

They both were silent for a minute. The only thing of value that the daughter had was her $1000 wedding dress. But what could get for it? Could it even be a suggestion?

"Mom, I'm thinking of selling my wedding dress. Do you think anyone would buy it?"

They had had it professionally cleaned and restored and it was a very modern style.

"You might be able to get $6 or $700 for it."

"It's the only thing I have of value except my ring, and I can't sell that. It's my own fault we are in such shape. I didn't plan well and I spent money we didn't have ..." She was still crying.

Emma thought about it. What good is a used wedding dress 20 years from now anyway? But, the lesson learned was more important. "Honey, let us do this. Let your Father give you $1000 to get you caught up. You try to sell your dress, and then put that money in the bank and use it for emergencies. Then perhaps you will remember how this feels, and you won't get yourself in this position again."

"Oh Mom, I hate to take your money!"

"Listen, sweetheart, it's not easy being married and going to school. Your husband is only a carpenter's helper. It's going to be years before you guys earn any real money. But I think for now, you need to remember that you don't have the money you had when you lived at home, and you'll have to say "no" to a lot of things you want. It's just going to be hard. And you'll just have to suck it up." She tried to say it as kindly as she could.

"OK Mom. I'll take your money. But Mom? Don't let us ask for help again.

"I will help you if you need it. You may be a married woman, but you are still my child"

"OK, but at least make us grovel?"

"You bet! Now let me get a transfer out to you this morning. And, Honey ..."

"Yes Mom?"

"Happy New Year."

"Same to you, Mom, the same to you and Daddy."

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