BACK TO GLENWOOD:
There he was, traveling back to Glenwood. He'd taken time to have all his patients cared for and had gotten a few friends to pick up his surgeries for a number of days.
Arrangements made; people told that it was a family emergency.
"Family emergency!" he snorted to himself, not able to get it all off of his mind for even a few minutes. "More like a family tragedy."
It was that. His sister, his lovely, lovely little sister Gerry, Geraldine was dead, as was her husband Hal. Auto accident: the words still cascaded across his mind, causing him to, once again, fight back tears.
"Just gone," he said to himself. "They're gone and I'm going back."
But he acknowledged to himself that going back was the next really, really important thing. Of course, it was necessary to take care of the 'final arrangements', as they are euphemistically called but even more important was the fact that he was going back for little Geraldine, his sweetheart Gerry.
He was not only the 'favorite', and, he chuckled to himself often enough, the only uncle he was also God-Father to Geraldine.
He'd made promises, promises to his sister Gerry and to Hal, promises before God and promises that he intended to keep to take care of little Geraldine. The promise was 'if anything should happen to us."
That was accompanied always with the thought: 'of course nothing will happen to them'. But it had: auto accident, late night, wet road, complications with another vehicle that no one seemed to know anything about. The unthinkable had happened, and now his love, little Geraldine was being cared for by a next door neighbor, Mrs. Wilts, who was awaiting him to come and get Gerry.
He tried to turn off the thinking but it all came rushing back to him and it played again across his mind and brought on the sadness again.
Dave Harris was, at the time, 32. He'd been a practicing surgeon for about 6 years and was very good at what he did.
There had not seemed to be, in the rush to get his credentials, help take care, in their final time, of his Mom and Dad and get established, any time for romance.
Dave was, at that time in his life, a good looking fairly tall man, 6'2" and carried 205 lbs very well. His hair was curly, and already getting some gray in it. He had, like his sister Gerry, smokey gray eyes that fairly sparkled. He was indeed a good looking man.
'And now.' the words came to him through the light of the early morning, 'now he was a father.'
Of course, the pain of it all was mitigated by the fact that he was now father to the lovely little Geraldine, his beautiful 6 year old niece.
There might not be a Mommie but he had to acknowledge that there was now certainly a family, him and Geraldine.
He had already made some initial arrangements. He knew the current proprietor of Parker's Funeral Home in Glenwood. He'd been raised with Ray Parker and they'd been friends for a long time: played sports together and still would take time for each other, whenever Dave as in town. As a matter of fact, they'd been together about 10 days ago, during Dave's visit.
He'd spoken to Ray, who told him that it was all well in hand. He knew that his sister Geraldine had wanted minimum fuss about a funeral and that's the way it was planned.
There would be a one afternoon gathering at Parker's for friends who might want to call, though he'd arranged with Ray for his sister Gerry and her husband Hal to be cremated right away.
His thoughts went back then to little Geraldine, 'his Geraldine, ' it's the way he thought of her more and more now. She had always been his lovely niece and, in a way, 'his' Geraldine but now the phrase meant that much more. She was in fact truly 'his' Geraldine.
He and his sister had made official arrangements for him to be the legal guardian of Geraldine, in the case of anything happening to her and Hal. She was, to be sure, 'his' Geraldine now.
He let all of these thoughts wander across his mind, as he drove toward Glenwood. He'd taken time to get all of his practice issues straightened out. He was pleased about the fact that he had indeed had such arrangements made, in case of special vacations. Invoking them now, with the family tragedy, had been fairly easy.
He knew that Ray Parker was taking care of what are called 'the remains' of his sister Geraldine and her husband Hal. That meant that the first order of business and the most important for him was to get to Glenwood, and be there for little Gerry. It was upper most in his mind right then.
The outskirts of the town seemed to be more somber today than they had about a week ago, when he'd made his semi-yearly visit to his sister Geraldine and her husband Hal and lovely little Gerry. He knew it was his mood.
He also took a few moments, as he slowly drove into town, to take himself in hand and get a grip. He needed to be simply loving with Gerry, who must be in a lost state that it was probably even hard for him to imagine, though for him the loss also was grievous.
He pulled into the driveway and Mrs. Wilts was out on the porch immediately.
"Oh, Dr Harris," the elderly lady said, pulling him into a hug.
"Mrs Wilts," he said, into her ear, "Thank you for taking care of her."
"You're welcome, you wonderful man," Mrs. Wilts said. "She needs you now. She knows you're coming and is on the couch with her stuffed rabbit, Leo."
"Yes," he said, "I'll go to her. I've already talked to Ray Parker and that is underway but this is the first important thing."
"Yes," she said. "I'm going to be out here on the porch." she said. "I'll leave you two to it."
"Thank you again, Mrs Wilts," he said, kissing her cheek.
"You're welcome, Doctor," Mrs Wilts replied.
Then he walked into the house. It was quiet. That in itself was strange. The house always rang with little Gerry's voice and the plans and schemes of his sister Geraldine. It was a constant at their house. The quiet itself now proclaimed that something had happened.
Mrs Wilts stood aside as he went to the living room, where she'd said that little Geraldine was waiting.
He stood in the doorway and looked. Gerry was on the couch, lying, clutching her stuffed rabbit Leo.
Then she looked up and the dam burst for her. She saw her Uncle Dave and was up and hugging him immediately. She gave in to the crying, as though she hadn't done any crying up to that point.
He gathered her into his arms. She had her face turned into his shoulder and she began to cry, expressing the fact that an important part of her world had come to and end.
"I'll be fixing some lunch, Doctor," Mrs Wilts said.
He said a very soft 'thank you' to her and took Geraldine to the chair.
The living room had a huge, brown leather chair, a lounge chair. He often, especially when he was caring for Geraldine, which did happen during his visits, when he especially wanted to give his sister and her husband a 'night out', snuggled in that chair with little Gerry.
He did that now.
He settled into the chair and gathered her to himself. She was lounging on top of him, holding onto him, her arms at his neck and simply crying her grief.
Nothing was said for many minutes. Then he kissed her on the head and said softly: "Oh, my love, my love, my little Gerry!"
She looked at him then and said, in a voice laden with her tears and grief: "My Mommie and Daddy!"
"Yes, love," Dave answered.
"Gone," she said next.
"Yes, love," he said.
"To God?" she asked.
"Yes," he said, "That's where they went, and we'll talk about that in a bit. Just now it's you and me."
"I love you, Uncle Dave," she said, her face showing that she was going to cry again.
"Yes, honey, my Geraldine," he answered, "I love you too."
They were that way, in the big chair, for many minutes. Mrs. Wilts stopped in the doorway of the room said: "Doctor, I have some mac and cheese cooking. I will leave it for you, for whenever you're ready."
"Thank you, Mrs Wilts," he said, "For everything."
"You're welcome, Doctor," she said, "You let me know, if there is anything else that you need."
He smiled and nodded. Geraldine just looked at Mrs Wilts through her tears. Mrs. Wilts came over and kissed the little girl on the head too.
"Thank you," Geraldine said, as Mrs Wilts left them.
They stayed that way, in the big chair, for a long time. Geraldine had two more crying sessions and Dave simply held onto her and let her cry. She calmed down only slowly and gave herself over to the comfort of being with her 'favorite' Uncle.
THE TALK AND GETTING ON:
Dave decided to simply let Geraldine talk, when she was ready and able. It certainly took a while but in the meantime, they sat there and he held her. It did help to calm her down.
After a bit, Geraldine looked up and said, in a tiny voice: "My Mommie and Daddy are gone."
"Yes," he said, kissing her on the forehead.
"To God?" she asked.
"Well, yes," he said, and sensed that she was waiting for more. He continued: " They went to a place to be with God and will always be there waiting for you, when, in the far, far future, you're ready to go to where they are."
"Ohhh," she said. "They'll wait for me?"
"Yes, love," he said, "They certainly will."
"But now?" she asked, her face betraying maybe a need to cry again.
"Now," he said, "It's you and me, love; we're together and I'll never leave you."
That did make her cry.
"That's so nice," she said, after a while. "You'll be my Daddy."
.... There is more of this story ...