I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME
(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Transformed Heart Of A Woman)
AUNTIE YONNY: THE UNEXPECTED (Part 4)
HOPING FOR THINGS TO COME (Part 2)
David Siegfried awoke from his slumber and looked at the clock. It was 11:27 p.m. Considering the time, like most parents concerned about their children, he wondered if Hal had made it home safely. If he did, David knew that Hal would just go to his room and allow him to sleep. Still, since he’d been at the hospital, seeing his son at least once during the day, gave him peace and satisfaction. He had grown accustomed to checking Hal’s room to make sure that he had arrived home.
Having maneuvered himself out of bed and then into his wheelchair, he stealthily made his way down the hallway, trying to avoid being heard by anyone who might spoil his plans and take him back to his room. When he reached Hal’s room, he knocked softly, then, half-whispered his name. After doing this for about a minute, he peeked inside of the door. Hal’s bed was still made and clearly had not been slept in. He decided to check the waiting room in that wing and some of the other areas, but, no one was around.
Feeling a little hungry, he headed toward the dining area, hoping Zenobia wasn’t awake to thwart his plan to get what he wanted to eat. As he approached the elevator, the security guards stopped him and almost ruined everything.
“Are you looking for your son, Mr. Siegfried?!”
“SSHHH! Yes, Jake!”
“Well, he’s that way, in Mrs. Yanovich’s room.”
David continued to go in the direction of the dining room.
“I said that he’s THAT WAY, MR. SIEGFRIED!” He and the other guard began to laugh.
“SSHHH! I heard you! Thank you!”
David sped up the wheelchair, continuing to the dining room, while the guards laughed, having watched him go through this routine before, where he waited until everyone was asleep to depart from his strict and closely watched diet.
For some reason, all of the desserts were either eaten or put someplace where he couldn’t find them. Maybe they were on to him, he thought.
“Somebody ratted on me. Probably those security guards snitched and told Zenobia about my late night fiascos. They’re due for a little payback.”
Begrudgingly, he grabbed an apple and some grape juice. He detested the thought of once again, having to pass “the two clowns in the hallway,” as he liked to refer to the security guards, since they made fun of him. However, there was no other way to reach Hal. Neither did he relish the idea of going into Tanya Yanovich’s room. He shuddered thinking about it, but, perhaps he’d just say hello and leave.
“Hopefully,” he thought, “she’s asleep.”
He whizzed by the chuckling and snickering guards, and made a fast, sharp left turn that almost sent him toppling over in the wheelchair. He almost lost his apple, but, caught it between his knees. Using his foot to reduce his speed, he was able to stay upright. Then, he began a slow and reluctant approach to Tanya’s door, which was always kept open.
He found Hal asleep in a reclining chair, with his notebook and pen still in his lap. Trying to decide whether or not to wake him, he looked over at Tanya. She appeared to be asleep, also. He looked around the room, which was certainly strangely decorated for a hospital room. Yet, he gathered that they were trying to make her feel as much at home as possible.
“Rich people are used to living rich,” he said, shaking his head.
He took out his grape juice and began to take a swallow, when, Tanya spoke to him.
“Come to see about your son, David?”
The voice was strained, but, David could understand what she said. He stopped swallowing and almost choked.
“Y–Y-Yes, ma’am. I thought…I thought e-everyone was asleep.”
“It’s just you and me, David. The night owls.”
David laughed nervously.
“I was just getting a little late night snack, heh-heh.”
“Don’t worry, David, your secret is safe with me. I can’t stand this hospital food, either. Come closer, please.”
David turned his head, looking towards the doorway, and wanting to escape. However, good manners and slow reflexes, due to old age, kept him in place. Slowly, he rolled himself to Tanya’s side of the room, close to her bed.
“I’m glad you’re here, David, and I got a chance to meet you before I’m gone. I always wanted to meet you. Your wife said that you were a good man.”
“My wife! Y-you, you, you knew my wife?!”
Suddenly, David became anxious and distraught. Thinking of Kari often saddened him.
“Oh, I only met her briefly, but, I had been keeping my eye on her for a while. We talked about you that night at the hospital.”
“That night?! What night?!”
“The night before she died.”
David’s voice shook as he spoke. “You?! You were with her?”
He gulped as tears began to stream down his face and his hands shook so that he had to put the bottle of grape juice down.
“Th-then y-you know that…”
Wiping his face with the sleeve of his robe, he was unable to go on.
“Yes, David, I know that you weren’t there and you had abandoned your wife, because, you were with another woman. Of course, you didn’t expect her to die so soon, but, you knew that she wasn’t going to live much longer.”
David wept profusely.
“Now, now…we’ve all got skeletons in our closet. Especially, if you’re a Graves and for a while, I thought you were a chip off of the old block, just like my father–a cheater, a womanizer, a misogynist, and a liar. It hurt me to watch you destroy yourself and your marriage. I didn’t want you to be like my father. I had hoped you’d break the curses in this family. For a while, I had lost hope, but, you proved me wrong. God proved me wrong. He showed me that we shouldn’t give up on people.”
“You spied on us all of our lives?”
“If that’s what you’d like to think, but, I saw it as loving and protecting you from a distance.”
“What…what else did Kari say before she died?”
“When I was notified that she didn’t have long to live, I arranged to see her that night. They told me that she was still very much there in mind and able to talk. I didn’t know it would be her last night, but, I very much wanted to be there for her. They told me that you hadn’t been there to spend time with her for a while.”
David covered his face in shame.
“She knew who I was, but, she had no idea why I had come to see her, or why I knew so much about her family. I expected her to be extremely shocked when I told her our family secret about you and Hal, but, she laughed. “That’s where he gets those ways from,” she said.
I told her that I couldn’t risk exposing who you were because it would place your lives in danger. She said that she understood. Then, I told her that I was going to make a way for you and Hal to be well taken care of one day and she didn’t have to worry about you, because, I would always be there for both of you. That made her smile. She…she went to sleep with that peaceful smile on her face.”
Tears flowed from Tanya’s eyes.
But, before I left, we talked about you. She loved you so much. She defended you for not being there. She said the break in the marriage was just as much her fault and she had helped to drive you away from her.”
“NO…no…none of it was her fault. It was me. I was selfish and stupid and…and…scared!”
“Of course, I knew where you were that night. It had been reported to me. That’s why I knew I had to go and be with her. But, I listened to her defend the man that she loved so deeply. She talked about her son, Hal, her father-in law who was so good to her, and the church she loved. She would miss it all, she said.
She thanked God for being blessed with a good man who was a good father to her son. She thanked me for coming. Then, she said that she already knew her family would be fine and taken care of, and that she would never be truly absent from them, because, she would be in their hearts. God had promised her He’d watch over them, she said. Her faith and belief was very strong.
I stayed there holding her hand, until she fell asleep, listening to her talk about your wonderful Christmases together, the family trips, and church fellowships. I told her not to talk so much, but, she said that she needed to. Now, that my time has come, I understand. I guess that’s why I’m talking to you. I know that G-God sent you here, to-tonight.
Tanya paused to calm herself.
Your wife and I had a good talk about Hal. She told me how well Hal was doing in school; how bright he was, and what a loving son he was. She cried as she talked about not seeing him graduate from high school or college; not seeing him get married; or, having children, one day. She asked me to be her eyes for her and see what she would miss.
I remember that night, as if it were yesterday. It meant a lot to me, because it taught me a lot about being a woman, a mother, and a wife. She was a good woman. A woman of virtue and I so wanted to be like her. I sat there holding her hand, not wanting to let go, because, I was dying inside and she was keeping me alive.
Finally…finally, she fell asleep, with that peaceful smile on her face and I left at dawn. That day, she peacefully drifted away from us and I am grateful for having known Karina Siegfried.”
David looked at Tanya in amazement. He had had no idea who this woman was, but, now, he could see. He had judged her harshly, not really knowing what was inside of her. He reached for her hand and held it in his.
“Yes, Kari had that effect on people. She gave a piece of herself to everybody she met.”
David, no longer thinking of her as just Tanya Yanovich Graves, sat there talking, holding his aunt’s hand, until they both had peacefully drifted off to sleep.
Sitting vigilantly, peeking out of the sheer draperies in Rachel’s apartment, David’s thoughts were on his deceased wife and the conversation he had with his Aunt Tanya the night before she died. He thought about what Pastor Fitzgerald had asked him to think about.
“Why do you want to add Graves to your name?”
It wasn’t a name that anyone could be particularly proud of in this day and age, but, perhaps, it was time to change that.
Aunt Tanya had hoped he would change things for the Graves Family. She had hoped for him to become different. Not only different, but, better than his grandfather, President Willard Graves.
“What a weight she carried,” he thought. “Not only for herself and her father, but, for me, Hal, Kari, and Dad. It’s time for me to do my part. God, you allowed this for a reason. I am who I am because You allowed it happen to make me into who You want me to be–a Child of God. That’s what matters. All of this other stuff is to distract me from seeking the Kingdom of God, first. All that matters is that my name is written in Your book in Heaven and I’m Heaven bound.
Aunt Tanya was looking for a new start for the Graves Family through my seed. She was there for my family, when I wasn’t, Lord. Heavenly Father, help me to fulfill her hope in Your name for Your Kingdom and not for the world. Perhaps, that’s why I feel I’m supposed to add Graves to my name. I’m taking back what belongs to God! All praise and glory be to God!”
A car drove up to the building and he jumped up ready to take whatever action was necessary. However, it was his nurse coming to administer his medications, accompanied by a bodyguard.
He could see one of their bodyguards parked in a car across the street, but, he wanted to keep a watchful eye out for anyone suspicious, or for Derek Graves, himself. No one was going to hurt Rachel while he was around.
She had agreed to let him sleep on the sofa for the night, because, she was feeling uneasy, too. He had been sitting next to her, when she called to tell Derek that she would be going to her apartment to box everything up and clear it out. She told him that she would be staying there until everything was cleared away. Rachel had been quick and decisive, but, her voice was shaky and insecure. No doubt, Derek had to know something was up, and the bodyguard who had come to the church, probably had given him plenty of reason not to trust Rachel.
David went to let the nurse into the building, then checked on Rachel, who was finally asleep. It was becoming very clear to him that, although, there had been murders and attempted murders, things were just beginning to heat up in this family feud and there was no telling how hot it would get.