I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME
(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Transformed Heart Of A Woman)
AUNTIE YONNY: TRANSITIONS AND TRANSPARENCY
Hal woke up in the hospital bed, across from Rachel’s bed, where he had slept all night. He knew that he had to check on Zenobia and his father, call the office and take care of business, then, touch base with Steve in California. Everything else, would have to be put on hold for a couple of days, while he got Rachel and their son situated.
He looked over at Rachel who was sleeping peacefully. What a relief, he thought, after all she had been through, she deserved as much sleep as she could get. He had never experienced anything like the birth of his son. In all of his years of reporting, he had been touched by many human interest stories and kind gestures people had made to help others, but, watching his son come into the world, gave the ‘why’ to all the reasons we help one another. Life is precious and miraculous. Each life is special and unique.
As he watched the baby emerge, his heart pounded within his chest. Covered with blood and other gook, as he called it, for lack of proper words, the baby looked gruesome, wrinkled, and scrawny. But, he guessed all babies looked like that, when they came out. He wasn’t prepared for what came after–the afterbirth, or placenta. It was an experience that he would never forget and changed his whole perspective of sex, reproduction, and the miracle and sanctity of life.
Trying not to wake Rachel, he put on his shirt and pants and slipped on his shoes. He headed down the hallway, hoping to find a secluded room or corridor where he could make some private calls. Finding a small conference room that was open, he went in and began making his calls.
“Morning, Dad. Did I wake you?”
“Nooo, Son. You know that I’m up early, especially today. I was just about to call you. How are Rachel and my grandson doing?”
“Fine, Dad. Rachel is sleeping like a baby.”
“Well, she needs to, after what she went through.”
“Yeah, it was tough on both of us.”
David laughed with his son, remembering how nervous he had been watching Hal come into the world and the agony of watching his wife suffer.
“I haven’t seen the baby, yet, this morning, Dad. They’re probably letting Rachel get her rest before they bring him in. But, last night, he was putting up a fuss. –Turned out he was hungry.”
“Well, he’s definitely my grandson if he likes to eat. I’ll be up to see him this afternoon. The doctor is coming to give me a check up this morning.”
“Are you all right, Dad?”
“Yes, but, I guess Zenobia asked him to examine me before she leaves.”
Hal was ashamed of himself for not asking about Zenobia, sooner.
“How is Zenobia doing, Dad? Is…is she…?
“She’s okay, Hal. I mean, as much as can be expected. The baby is fine. You know she’s a strong woman, Hal. But, she really surprised us yesterday.”
“Whew, you’re telling me! It was one surprise after another. First she wants to shoot everybody, then, she’s bossing everybody around, trying to help Rachel.”
“Well, that’s the God in her, Son. She’s been in a lot of pain and I guess she just couldn’t take any more. But, she didn’t completely give in to it. In the end, she listened to God.”
“Yeah, but, it was pretty scary for the rest of us, waiting for that moment. I don’t want her to leave until we talk, Dad.”
“Then, tell her, Son. Call her, now.”
“Okay, Dad. I’ve got some other calls to make, too.”
“I’ve got to go. My nurse is here to give me my medication and take my vital signs. Bye, love you, and call Zenobia, now.”
“I will, Dad. Bye, love you, too.”
Hal put the phone down on the table beside his chair and stared at it. He knew he had to talk to Zenobia, but, he was afraid of what he might hear. Yet, he knew he had to make the call. After a minute or two of going back and forth with that thought, fighting hesitation, he grabbed the phone and pressed her photo.
“Good morning, Zenobia. How are you and the baby doing?”
“We’re fine, Hal. I got a lot of rest, yesterday. Delivering a baby is the last thing I expected to do.”
They laughed together for a moment, then, Zenobia beat him to the topic of discussion.
“I haven’t rescheduled my flight, yet, but, I want to talk to you, before I leave. Perhaps, we can work out some type of arrangement concerning our daughter. I’d like to say goodbye to Rachel and see your son, one more time, before I leave, too. Will you have some time today? I’m hoping to get a flight out, tomorrow.”
Hal couldn’t help thinking that Zenobia sounded like her old self. The tone of her voice was bright and cheery . There was no hint of malice and anger, as it had been before. His father was right. Zenobia had been in too much pain and he had helped to cause it.
“Of course I’ll have time, Zenobia. Even if I didn’t, I’d make time for you. Zenobia…I…I’m sor…”
“Let’s just leave it at that, Hal. We both made a mistake. Now, we both have to make better choices and work together to raise our child, with God as our guide.”
Yes, Hal thought, Zenobia is her old self, again. He was glad she had found her way back. His father had said that it was the God in her. It made him think about the God in him. Was God in him? He hadn’t given it any thought for a long time.
(laughing) “You’re right, Zenobia, as usual. Hey, Dad is coming to the hospital this afternoon. Can you come with him? I…I mean…if you want to, that is.”
“Sure, Hal. I’ll come with your father.”
“Great! Then, we’ll see you this afternoon. Th-Thank you, Zenobia, for everything, not just for delivering the baby. Thank you for being in my life, being there when I needed you, and…”
“No need to thank me, Hal, but, you are welcome. You helped me, too, and my life is all the better for having met you. I have a lot to look forward to, being a mother, and raising our daughter. For the first time in my life, there are so many things I want to do and experience, that I’ve denied myself for so long. Anyway, we can talk later. I’ll see you this afternoon. Bye, Hal.”
Hal was used to ending their conversation with, “I love you,” but, he thought that was inappropriate, now. However, he did love Zenobia as a person. She was beautiful inside and outside. What had happened between them was a result of…He stopped and thought. What, was it a result of? Stupidity? Selfishness? Could he pinpoint just one thing to place the blame? It was everything. They were living their lives for themselves and for the moment, each hoping the other was the cure for what ailed them inside.
Zenobia had found peace for her pain, because, she had returned to God. Hal put his head down and went through his ritual of rubbing his head and pulling his hair with his fingers. He had a lot of things eating at him inside. He thought about how his father described Zenobia as a strong woman. She found her strength in God. In that moment, he could only see himself as weak. He was a weak man, who was now the father of two children. Hal shook his head. He wanted to find strength, too. But, how?
Shaking those thoughts out of his mind for now, he called Darla. He told her that his son was born yesterday and that he would be at the hospital with Rachel. He asked her to cancel his meetings; to come by later for him to sign papers and discuss matters; to contact attorneys to take care of legal matters that needed immediate attention, such as, a marriage annulment and changing his and his father’s last name. He wanted to be able to sign his son’s birth certificate as Harold Siegfried-Graves.
Steve called him and told him that the arsonist was not an employee, and so far they hadn’t been able to connect him with anyone at the company, which meant that he was probably hired by someone. Jake had called him and told him about the shooting. He said that they had located the other man who had been hired to tamper with Rachel’s car and were interrogating him, before they handed him over to the police.
After telling Steve to keep him posted on the two cases, Hal hung up the phone, wondering if he’d ever have peace, true peace in his life. He went back to Rachel’s room and found her up and holding their son, who was sleeping peacefully. Lovingly, he looked at them both in awe and cherished the moment. He didn’t feel deserving of such a blessing. In his heart, he knew that he wanted to be deserving of this gift before him. He wanted to be the man that they needed him to be. He wanted them to be safe and happy. Yet, there was no peace around him or within him to give them what they needed. Outside forces were always working against him, pulling at him to be something and someone else, and taking him away from the life that he wanted and those he loved. He knew that something had to change.
“I don’t want to make the same mistakes over and over again,” he thought. “I’ve got to change in order for things around me to change.”
Darla was at work, early as usual. She checked the days agenda and readied the paperwork for meetings, contracts, and correspondence. She was just about to send data to the meeting attendees, when her phone rang. She hated to be interrupted when she was in her planning mode. It was her boss, Hal Siegfried.
She congratulated him on the birth of his son and listened carefully, taking down instructions. After the call ended, she looked around her at all the work she had done that would not be needed until later. Sighing, she looked at the list of tasks Hal had given her and picked out the most urgent one to do first, which was notifying everyone that the meetings were cancelled. She was just about ready to begin, when the phone rang again. Rolling her eyes, she stopped and answered the phone professionally and politely.
“Good morning, the office of Hal Siegfried. This is Darla speaking. How may I help you?”
“This is Mr. Christopher Holland, attorney for Mr. Derek Graves. Is Mr. Siegfried in?
“No, I’m sorry, sir. May I take a message, please?”
“Yes, please have Mr. Siegfried call me as soon as possible. Mr. Graves would like to set up a meeting with him. He can reach me at this same number.”
Instead of placing the message in her secretarial android pad to be sent immediately, Darla looked at the phone display, grabbed a piece of scrap paper and hurriedly jotted down the number next to Mr. Christopher Holland’s name.
“Thank you for calling Mr. Holland. I will see that your message gets Mr. Siegfried’s immediate attention.”
“Thank you, Darla. Good bye.”
“Have a good day, sir. Good bye.”
Still feeling the irritation from the interrupting calls, along with the new irritation that she was to cancel the meetings, after all of the work she had done, Darla grabbed a stack of papers and slammed them down on top of her desk, and on top of the note.
She started to shake and knew she was having another one of her episodes where she fell apart. She looked at the last task Hal had given her that was to arrange for his and his father’s last name to be changed. “I want to sign my son’s birth certificate as Hal Siegfried-Graves,” he had said. Darla put her head down on her desk and began sobbing, thinking about her childhood and her father who never was a real father to her. When she was all grown up, he never tried to reconcile anything. He just wanted to make himself feel better and try to convince himself that he had done something to help his children, by having them around him.
She and her brother had different feelings concerning their father. They both knew that he treated his other child and his step children better than them. Her brother was extremely bitter and resentful. When her father was sick and dying, her brother tried to make her see that their father only wanted them around because he was concerned about his own pain and sorrow. Perhaps, her brother had been most affected by her father’s selfishness. He had tried to reach out to him as a teenager, only to be used and abused.
She knew her brother was right, when she went to visit her father on his death bed. He used her to cry about his wasted life and the mistakes he had made. Yet, there was no outward show of remorse or acknowledgment of the pain he had caused others. She was fifty years old and he had had plenty of time to make things right, to feel her pain, and to show some sign of genuine concern for her happiness. No, he had left that all to fate and her mother. He knew nothing of giving true, unconditional love. Darla began to wonder, “Am I like him? Am I able to be unselfish. truly love others, and feel their pain? Do I know what it means to be happy and to bring joy and happiness into the lives of others? Have I wasted my life?
After his funeral, Darla realized that her father had never even signed her birth certificate. When her mother was pregnant with her, he had denied that she was his child and moved on to have a child by another woman. She didn’t particularly care for Hal having two women pregnant at the same time, it reminded her of her father. However, Hal was her boss and she had learned to mind her own business.
Darla sat there crying, feeling the pain she had bottled up inside of her for so long; the pain of rejection she had had throughout her life; the pain from wanting to be loved. Lost within her sorrow, she forgot that other employees were arriving.
Karen had made it to work on time that day and decided to stop by Darla’s office to see if there were any assignments that she could help her with. As she approached Darla’s office, she heard the muffled sounds coming from within. She was about to knock, when she realized that they were the sounds of tears and pain. Karen froze, trying to decide what to do. She knew how proud Darla was and didn’t want to embarrass her. She decided to go back to her office and call Darla later.
As the new and temporary nurse was taking David’s blood pressure, Zenobia walked into his room.
“Good morning, Mr. Siegfried. How are you? I see your new nurse is here, bright and early. Thank you for coming. I’m Zenobia. I used to work with Dr. Acharya and I used to be Mr. Siegfried’s nurse.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Pavithra. I see you are expecting. When is the baby due? Do you know what you’re having?”
Pavithra’s Indian accent was as thick as Dr. Acharya’s, but, Zenobia was used to hearing Dr. Acharya speak, so, her hearing had learned to filter through the accent.
“I’m due next month. I’m having a girl.”
“Oh, she will surely be pretty like you.”
“Thank you, Pavithra.”
Seeing Zenobia in the room with him and his new nurse, David was filled with remorse, believing it was his fault that Carolyn was fired. He hung his head down to avoid looking at Zenobia eye to eye.
“What’s wrong, Mr. Siegfried? You haven’t said a word; not even good morning to your granddaughter.”
“Oh, you are Mr. Siegfried’s granddaughter?”
“No, Pavithra. The baby is Mr. Siegfried’s granddaughter.”
“Ohhh…I see. You are part of the family, now.”
David started to tell Zenobia that he was being quiet while Pavithra took his blood pressure, but, he knew that was a lie. It wouldn’t have stopped him at any other time.
“I’m sorry, Zenobia. I didn’t mean to get Carolyn in trouble.”
“Ohhh, so that’s it. It’s not your fault, Mr. Siegfried, Carolyn’s arrogance got her fired. She knew that a nurse always does what is best for the patient, not, what they believe they are good enough to handle. No, you should not have put her into that position by pressuring her, but, as a nurse, she should have been able to handle the pressure, or, referred you to your doctor for further assessment and treatment.”
“Yeah, but, I shouldn’t have put her or you in a position that pressured you to make decisions you didn’t want to make or shouldn’t have had to make. I’m sorry.”
“Your apology is accepted.”
Pavithra made sure her data was recorded, then, left the room. As she shut the door, David could restrain himself no longer and poured out his feelings to Zenobia.
“Are you leaving, today, Zenobia? Please don’t leave! Am I going to be able to see my granddaughter? Please, Zenobia…”
“Mr. Siegfried, I’m not leaving today, but, I need to go and be with my family, now. You and I will go and see your family this afternoon, at the hospital.”
David smiled at Zenobia. He understood and admired the woman that she was. Her going to the hospital with him meant that she always intended to be part of the family.
“I understand your needing to be with your family, Zenobia. Is there anything that I can do to help you while you’re there or before you go?”
“Mmm…nothing that I can think of. Oh! There are a couple of things that come to mind that you can do to help me, Mr. Siegfried.”
“I’d like you to finish getting the nursery ready for the baby…not my baby…Rachel’s baby. Remove the things for a girl and make it into a boy’s nursery. Oh, but, keep the stuffed nurse doll, please, as a love gift to my daughter’s brother.”
David smiled and nodded.
“I’ll get to work on it right away. It will be done by the time they get home from the hospital. Anything else?”
“Yes…be kind to your new nurse and don’t try to make her do anything she is not supposed to do!”
David hung his head down, like a little boy being scolded. Zenobia bent down and gave him a big kiss on the cheek.
“Thank you Mr. Siegfried; for everything; and for being a father and a friend to me.”
“Zenobia…I know this is a lot to ask, considering all that’s happened, but…but..”
“Go ahead, ask me.”
“Do you think you can call me, Dad, from now on?”
“Of course, Grandpa Siegfried! You’re a grandfather, now! Soon, you’ll be my daughter’s grandfather. I am honored that you would have me call you, Dad. You are a good man with a good heart. And speaking of your heart. While I’m away, no more, cheating on your diet, along with talking your nurse into giving you medication that isn’t good for you. I want you to live to see your granddaughter and to come and visit her, regularly. Okay?”
“I will be calling to check on you…Dad, and I will check with your nurse and Dr. Acharya. I know your little cheating tricks and I will pass on the information to your new nurse.”
“Aww, Zenobia, you don’t have to do that.”
“Yes, I do. I love you. Come here and give me and your granddaughter a hug.”
David smiled and obeyed, happy to do so.
David began to freshen up and put on a clean shirt to go to the hospital to see his grandson. Missing his usual routine of reading the newspaper and watching the morning news, he decided to tackle the two at the same time. He opened his newspaper and turned on the television to catch up on the latest news. The headline was as he expected, yet, still shocking, as it had Wall Street in a tizzy and scurrying about. David hurried to call Hal.
Hal had just unsuccessfully tried to hold and feed his son, much to Rachel’s amusement. He just couldn’t get comfortable holding the baby and the baby knew it. Somehow, he squirmed enough to loosen his blanket and started flailing his arms about, making it difficult for Hal to perform his parental duties. He gave up and gave the baby back to Rachel.
He had just turned the television on and seen the headlines, when his phone began to ring. The news anchor was saying that stocks had plunged and Derek Graves and his associates had been hit hard. Some were blaming the fall on leaks of a take over and financial corruption. Several chief executive officers of his companies were being sought for questioning, after it had been discovered that pension funds were gone. His brokers were being questioned for illegal trading, the FBI was looking into his and his associate’s offshore bank accounts and illegal campaign funding.
After hearing the news, one of his CEO’s committed suicide, by shooting himself in the head. One of his business associates and supporters, who had been linked to stealing and hacking information from competitors, had been detained at the airport, trying to leave the country with all of his money. Authorities were making it hard for others to try and do the same. Many of their assets were frozen because they were tied to racketeering. Their businesses were being raided and evidence seized. Apparently, they had been under surveillance for quite some time. For years, Derek and his associates had gained an advantage over other investors by stealing inside information from companies and manipulating the market. Now, they wanted Derek Graves in the White House to further their financial gains, by changing regulations, laws, and policies.
Derek Graves and Graves family members were unable to be reached to answer questions, leaving everyone wondering what it meant for Derek Graves’ campaign, if he and his main supporters were bankrupt or having financial difficulty, and many under suspicion, or, linked to white collar crimes. His employees were being interviewed and footage was shown of some of them crying and wondering what was going to happen to them.
Seeing that it was his father calling, Hal answered the phone, without saying anything.
“Hal? Hal, you there?”
Hal mumbled something incoherent and continued watching the news.
“Hal?! Did you see what’s on the news?! Hal?!”
Breaking his trance, Hal finally answered.
“I’m watching, now, Dad. This is major. Hold on, I’m listening to the update.”
Hal wondered how Tanya managed to do it. How did she get all of those people to work together to bring down Derek and his associates? What had she bargained with? What did she and her husband do for these business associates that was so valuable? And at what costs?
“Dad, you still there?”
“Yeah, I’m listening, too.”
“Auntie Tanya is a force not to be reckoned with, even from the grave. There’s no imagining her limitations and what she might do. Death has removed her restraints.”
Part of the puzzle pieces were revealed a year later when his attorneys presented him with documents showing that Tanya Yanovich had agreed, upon that day, to sign over several large holdings in Russia, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, Syria, Myanmar, former North Korea, and a lucrative mine in Venezuela, to a shell company he had never heard of.
When Hal requested information on the holdings, he found that they were old companies which had been bringing in money, but, the money was being filtered elsewhere. Money laundering was the first thing to come to Hal’s mind. The old family trade Tanya’s father, President Graves, had taught her and a trade that Ilya Yanovich, being from a Russian oligarchy family, also, probably knew very well.
Clearly, Tanya and her husband had been buying, building, and running companies for other corporations in countries where they were still under sanctions from the American government. Ilya Yanovich had Russian citizenry, which was a very convenient asset for them. Together, they had helped to make and build fortunes for their American business associates.
After reading the documents, carefully, Hal quickly signed them, relieved to be rid of such a burden. He thought about what had happened to Derek and his associates and thanked God for protecting him from wrong doings which he definitely had no knowledge of.
Remembering what he had said a year ago about Auntie Tanya, he made a note to familiarize himself with all of his companies and make time to look into their financial dealings more closely, with someone with a trained eye for discrepancies. Tanya’s plotting and scheming were still having an effect on his life. There was too much at stake, now. He had too much to lose. His words from a year ago echoed within his mind…
“Auntie Tanya is a force not to be reckoned with, even from the grave. There’s no imagining her limitations and what she might do. Death has removed her restraints.”
Tanya had had plenty of time to prepare for death. Hal wondered how many other bottomless pits, traps, and guillotines were out there waiting to snare or behead her unsuspecting enemies, at her command and appointed time. It was something that he wished he didn’t have to think about.