Love Letters and The Book

( Intermediate Level )

While Arthur was away on deployment, he made a promise to Evelyn. He would write as often as he could to her. He would gist with her saying. “I don’t want my best gal to forget who I am.”

Arthur kept to his word. The letters would come on a regular basis. This let Evelyn know her husband was still alive.

The mailman looked out for these letters, too. He knew she anxiously awaited word from him. If she wasn’t outside waiting for the mail, he would take a few extra steps to hand-deliver the letter to her. Walking to her door and knocked.

She would read each letter over and over again until the next one came. This went on for two and a half years until he returned to her arms.

He made fun of her when she showed him she had kept all his letters neatly folded in their envelopes, tied in a red ribbon. “I am home now and safe. You can get rid of those silly old letters. You have the real me.”

“I will do no such things Arthur Munsee. Those are my letters and I will keep them forever. Tucked in the last book we read together before you were deployed.”

When Arthur had passed away, Evelyn kept his love letters to her safely tucked in a book they read She remembers how each would take their turn reading a chapter or two to each other, in the evenings.

Evelyn eventually had to move into a nursing home. Her daughter Elizabeth had a family and a busy career where she didn’t have time to care for her.

Evelyn took only a few belongings with her when she went. Her daughter would close up the house and take the items her mom requested to her in the facility. It was difficult moving into such a place but she knew it was for the best.

The house was left to Elizabeth’s daughter, Emma. Evelyn knew her own daughter would not give up her home and moved back to her hometown. Maybe her granddaughter would love to start her adult life in a small town.

She will graduate from the university this year and start her new independent life. She could certainly move into what was now her home and search for employment.

As Evelyn went through the packages her daughter brought from home she was missing the most important things to her. Her love letters from Arthur and the book. This is what kept Arthur’s memories alive for her. They were nowhere to be found.

Evelyn called her daughter regarding these missing items. “Mom, I couldn’t find them. I searched. The place where you mentioned but they weren’t there. I will look one more time before I head to the airport. If I find them I will surely bring them to you.”

“Emma will be coming in spring. I can have her look also. I am sure If I cannot find it she can. I am sorry, Mom, but I have limited time .”

Much to her dismay, there was nothing Elizabeth could do about the letters or the book now. She must wait until spring when Emma visits.

The nights were chilly so she kept her mind busy playing cards or helping on a jigsaw puzzle in the common area. Every now and then, she tried to pick up a book to read but it just reminded her of the one missing.

“Elizabeth, you have a phone call. Would you like to take the call here or I can transfer it to your room. It is your granddaughter Emma,” the duty nurse asked. “In my room, Please.” Elizabeth hurried to her room so she could speak with Emma where it was much quieter.

“Hi, Grandma. I will be heading your way on Friday. I have the keys to the house so I will let myself in. I get in late so I will wait until the morning to visit you. Is there anything you want from the house?”

“I cannot wait to see you! I wish I could have traveled to your graduation. As you know, It is difficult for me to get around now.”

“And yes, please find my book. The one your grandfather and I read each night. I know it is in the house somewhere. Inside there are all his letters to me.”

“Ok, Grandma. I will look for you before I come to see you on Saturday. I love you and I will see you very soon. Hugs and kisses.”

Evelyn hung up with her granddaughter and sat there looking at the phone. Some felt her obsession with these letters and the d book were a bit too much. For her, it was much more. She couldn’t explain why to anyone other than it was a memory she wanted to hold onto.

The week moved along slowly. Evelyn spent time sitting outside during the day, soaking up the sun and enjoying nature. She watched a family of hummingbirds frequent the feeders. Each took their turn sucking up the sweet nectar it offered.

She noticed she hadn’t felt herself lately. She tired more easily and her appetite decreased. She chalked this up to the worry of finding the letters.

Emma arrived at, what is now called her home, around half past eleven in the evening. It was an exhausting day for her. She told her mom before she left she was unsure when or if she would come back.

As a newly graduated young adult, she felt it would be a great opportunity to seek work. She wouldn’t have to pay rent since her grandmother left the house for her. She wouldn’t have that worry.

Her mom had done a wonderful job at closing up the house. All the furniture was draped in sheets and all the windows were locked. She called ahead to have the electricity on when she arrived. She found the bedroom that her grandparents had once shared. She pulled off the covering and quickly fell asleep.

Evelyn, on the other hand, was still awake at one in the morning. She had a restless night so she sat at her table playing games of solitaire. She played, what seemed, hundreds of games before she felt tired enough to sleep.

Emma woke at six in the morning. She searched the kitchen for coffee which she eventually found. She never ate breakfast but today she realized she was hungry. She decided to shower and get ready to leave a little earlier to see her grandmother so she could stop to have a bite to eat at the local restaurant.

After her shower, she moseyed around the house. Looking at old pictures on the walls and uncovering the furniture. she marveled at how well kept everything was. Her grandparents had exquisite taste in everything they had.

She dressed and started looking for the book her grandmother spoke of. She knew these items were of great importance to her. She looked and looked for what seemed forever.

The very last place she looked was the bedroom closet in which she stayed the night before. Tucked on the top shelf she saw an overstuffed book with a neatly tied red ribbon around it.

As she pulled it down, she realized this was what was so precious to her grandmother. It was the book and the letters she treasured so much. Her grandmother would be happy to see them once again.

She placed the bundle on the kitchen table and finished getting ready. She couldn’t wait to share this wonderful news and see her grandmother’s face when she delivered it to her.

She was about ready to leave when she noticed she had forgotten her cell phone. She remembered she sat it on the bedside table after turning it silent. She wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

Her cell phone was just where she put it the night before. As she retrieved it she noticed she had several missed calls from her mother. She thought to herself her mother was worried and wanted to make sure she arrived safely.

She listened to the voice mails. Her mother’s last voicemail sounded urgent. “Emma, please call me immediately when you hear this. It is very important that you speak to me as soon as possible.”.

As she walked back into the kitchen, she dialed her mom, “I was so tired when I arrived last night I fell asleep before I called you. I am sorry I worried you.”

There was silence. “Mom? Are you ok? Mom?” Her mother cleared her voice. “Emma, Grandma is gone. She passed. The nurses called me just a few hours ago.”

“Apparently, she had a rough night and couldn’t sleep. When she finally laid down it was about three in the morning. The nurses didn’t see her at breakfast so they checked on her. This is when they found her.

“Oh Mom, I should have gone to see her last night. Even if it was for a brief moment or two. This morning I found her book and her letters. Now, she will never know I found them .”

” I will be catching the earliest flight I can to help make the arrangements. I am so sorry that I had to tell you over the phone. I will see you soon.”

Emma hung up the phone and sat at the table staring at the book neatly wrapped in its red ribbon. She found herself untying the ribbon to get to the letters. Why were these so important to her grandmother?

She carefully unfolded each letter, careful not to damage any in the process. The tears ran down her cheeks as she read through them, one by one.

The pure love that her grandfather had for her grandmother was read in each stroke of his pen. How lucky she was to have experienced such love like this.

Written By: Angel

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Vocabulary:

deployment – noun: movement of military troops

gist – verb: engage in chat

anxiously – adverb: eager

passed away – phrasal verb: die

close up – phrasal verb: to lock all doors and secure a building/ home

facility – noun: a place

independent – adjective: not depending on another for livelihood

employment – noun: paid work

regarding – preposition: with respect to

dismay – noun: distress

common area – noun: property available for use for all tenants

transfer – verb: an act of moving something or someone to another place

obsession – noun:  idea or thought that continually preoccupies a person’s mind

soaking up – phrasal verb: to absorb  or enjoy something that is around you

sucking – verb: the act of feeding/nursing

chalked – verb: that all hope is lost

exhausting – adjective: the feeling of being very tired

moseyed – verb: walk or move in a leisurely

exquisite – adjective: extremely beautiful

overstuffed – adjective:  stuffed or filled to excess 

precious – adjective: of great value

urgent – adjective: immediate action

arrangements – noun: plans or preparations

Question ( s ):

Do you have a possession that is precious to you that you’ve held onto?

Do you think Evelyn passed away due to grief of not having her letters?

Sixty Five Years Together

Bill and Marge met in 1955, married 2 years later, and will celebrate their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary on this New Years Day.

The two often sat at the dining table eating dinner together and reflected on their lives together. Life had been kind to them. Some ups and downs but they stayed together.

He was the proverbial bad guy, from the lower end of the city, and she was the good girl from a well – to – do family, in the upper east side. Marge was immediately smitten with his good looks and charm.

Her father had found out about her interest in him and warned her that he was from the wrong side of the city. A bad seed.” her father would say. “He and his family are simply trouble.”

Like most teenagers, she didn’t listen. She and her friends would find excuses to go to a small diner in midtown every day. Even if it was for a milkshake, just so she could see him. He worked as a busboy and dishwasher there.

She admired him from a distance. Watching him as he cleaned the tables and wiped the sweat from his brow. Her glances did not go unnoticed.

Periodically, he would look up and smile at her. This would make her blush and giggle. Her friends urged her to say hi but she was too shy.

Finally, after months, Bill had the courage to talk to her. See, he was just as shy as he was. He knew what people thought of him and his family.

” Well, I see you watching me every day and I too look forward to seeing your smiling face and those beautiful hazel eyes. I want to know if you want to go to the movies with me on Friday night?”

“I have the night off and saved up extra money to ask you for a date with you, if you will go with me. I usually give my mom all my earnings to help pay the bills so I worked a few extra hours. So, what do you think? Will you want to go with me?”

Yes. Yes, I will go. I will meet you here, at the diner, at 7 on Friday.” Marge didn’t want her parents, especially her dad, to know she was going on a date with the boy he warned her against.

Friday night came and Marge had told her parents she was having a sleepover at a friend’s house. She lied.

She had her hair up in a ponytail and had her favorite pale blue sweater on along with a knee length gray skirt on.

She thought to herself, this was the first time she would see Bill without her friends around, so she was a little nervous. Was he going to be different?

It took 25 minutes on a bus then another 10 minute walk to the diner. Bill was standing outside waiting. He had a simple white t – shirt on and blue jeans. She remembers how her heart skipped a beat when she saw him standing there.

He looked up and saw her coming. His face lit up. “I am glad you didn’t back out, Marge, from our date. You look beautiful.”

These dates went on for months. Marge would sneak away to see him always telling her parents she was doing something with her friends. She hated not telling her parents the truth. She knew her dad would not understand.

Bill asked her to meet her parents. He wanted them to get to know him. Marge had already met his mom. She stopped by the diner, one day, while they were eating dinner.

Marge felt very comfortable around Bill. She decided to tell him the truth. “My parents do not know about you, Bill. My father would not approve. He had seen me looking at you awhile back and told me you were a bad seed.”

Bill was dazed by what she said. He couldn’t believe that all this time she had been sneaking around behind her parents back.

“Please do not be mad Bill. I didn’t want to disappoint you or my parents. I have fallen in love with you .”

“How can your father think I am a bad seed if he hasn’t even met me? Is it because I live where I live? And I do not have a father who stayed in my life?”

“I do not know. We never talked about it again. My father just wants to keep me safe, I guess.”

Bill stood there in silence. He was lost in deep thoughts. “Marge, I truly have feelings for you but we cannot keep hidden forever. Now that I know, I feel we need to tell your parents. I want them to meet me and have them realize how wrong their thoughts were about me.”

Bill stood there in silence. He was lost in deep thoughts. “Marge, I truly have feelings for you but we cannot keep hidden forever. Now that I know, I feel we need to tell your parents. I want them to meet me and have them realize how wrong their thoughts were about me.”

Eventually her parents grew to love Bill. They met his mother and heard the whole truth about Bill’s dad and why he wasn’t around. “It goes to show that you shouldn’t believe the gossip people spread,” Marge’s dad said over dinner one evening.

Sixty five years later, they stand next to one another, looking out the window. The city is busy with people heading to have dinner with family and friends.

“Marge, I couldn’t imagine spending my life with anyone but you. Thank you for being my wife and accepting that first date with me.”

Bill, my love, I knew from the very start, once you made my heart skip a beat, that you were the one for me. Happy anniversary.”

And so they bring in the New Year together……..once again.

Written By: Angel

“Happy New Year Everyone! Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is another day. Look to the future and enjoy each day as it comes. Life may be difficult some days and we find ourselves sitting in despair. Just remember life only gives you what you can handle but always makes you a stronger you in the end.” – Angel

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Vocabulary:

proverbial – adjective : stereotypical

well – to – do – adjective: wealthy

bad seed – noun: a person regarded as bad

admired ( someone or something ) from a distance – idiom: attracted to someone without letting him or her know

periodically – adverb: occasionally

courage – noun: strength

date – noun: a social or romantic appointment or engagement

sleepover – noun: spending the night away from home

nervous – adjective: anxious

lit up – idiom: noticeably excited

comfortable – adjective: feeling comfortable or relaxed

sneaking around behind ( someone’s ) back – idiom: being secretive or sneaky

conversation – noun: a conversation between two people, informal

skip a beat – idiom: feeling nervous, excited or anxious

Question ( s ):

Have you ever judged someone by appearance without getting to know that person? If so, were you wrong about them?

Do you know anyone who’s been married as long as Bill and Marge?

Christmas In New York

photo of christmas tree during night

( Intermediate Level )

George and Martha’s sons had grown and moved away. So, for the past 6 years, they lived in a simple apartment in upstate New York.

Their first son, Barry moved to Connecticut as their other son, Greg, had moved abroad to Sydney, Australia. Each had made promises to come home at least once a year but their schedules kept them too busy to follow through with these promises.

Christmas, in the Romano home, was usually quiet. They would exchange one simple present with each other and have a small meal. Both in their sixties, they didn’t need anything.

Mattie, as her husband called her, always wished her boys would make it home for the holidays. She stopped asking about two years ago. She felt as if she was a bother to them.

George and Martha sat by the big window in the living room watching the snowfall. Christmas carolers, making their rounds on Christmas eve, could be heard in the distance. They knew they would, eventually, see them as they made their way through the neighborhood.

The winters were usually harsh in Buffalo so neither George nor Martha never ventured outside once the snow began to fall.

The telephone rang and George got up to answer it. The night air bothered Mattie. Her arthritis gave her a bit of trouble, making it difficult to move, when the temperature dropped.

Martha could hear George on the phone. “Yes. I see. Alright, that would be terrific.” He hung up the phone and headed back into the living room. “Who was that, Dear?”

“It was the city calling to tell us they would have someone shovel our sidewalk after it stops snowing.”

Martha thought for a minute, “But tomorrow is Christmas and we will not be going out. The workers should be home with their families. You should have told them they could wait a day.”

George looked at Martha, “It will be ok. They will be making much more money on the holidays.” She frowned at him for his remark.

Just as George sat down, the carolers stopped in front of their home and began to sing. “We wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!”

Martha looked over and smiled at George. She looked back at the carolers and smiled, holding her teacup up in the air. It was the perfect end to a Christmas Eve.

George told a white lie to his wife. The phone call he received was from his eldest son, Barry. He had made plans with his brother to surprise Mom for Christmas. They both planned on being home on Christmas Eve but the airport in New York had a snow advisory so each of their flights was canceled.

The soonest the boys would be in was at six in the morning. They would catch a taxi cab and be home by half-past six. Barry had arranged for Christmas dinner to be delivered around two in the afternoon. Mom would not have to worry about not having enough food.

Usually, George was up at that time in the morning so he would have coffee brewing before they arrived. He slipped into bed next to Martha who had already fallen asleep. He turned off the bedside lamp and drifted off to sleep.

Like clockwork, George was up and started the coffee at five. He sat at the kitchen table looking out the window. The snow had stopped and the birds sat on the trees singing as they greeted Christmas day.

Martha never liked getting out of bed before seven in the morning so if everything went according to plans, her sons would be waiting for her in the kitchen as she would come in to get her first cup of coffee of the morning.

The sons arrived on schedule. They quietly walked in as they did not want to wake their mother. Hugs were exchanged and coffee poured. They sat at the table catching up on their lives.

It was getting close to seven and their mom would be getting up and surely be surprised. The anticipation was in the air. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Merry Christmas George,” Martha as she headed out of the bedroom. “I slept so well last night. Did you leave me any coffee?” As she walked into the kitchen she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw her two sons standing there with enormous smiles on their faces.

Martha could not believe her eyes! Her boys were finally home, together, for Christmas! She held out her arms to give them both a huge bear hug. It was the best Christmas present ever.

“Now Mom, everything has been taken care of. Our meal will be here at two. Until then let’s just sit and enjoy the morning.” Barry made sure the day would be perfect.

Greg had sorted through old photos of all of them and had a special photo album made. Photos of them at different stages of their lives. They looked through this album over coffee and chuckled at some. Silly haircuts, first fish caught, birthday parties and not to forget Christmas photos.

On the front cover was a place for a photo with the label Christmas 2021 on it. “Mom, This is for the photo I will take of us today. You can remember this Romano Family Christmas where all of us were together again.”

Everyone gathered around the Christmas tree in the living room, the camera timer was set and this year’s Christmas memory was captured in a photo.

Dinner was a success. There was turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli, and apple pie. The boys had a few weeks off from school so they plan to be home until after the New Year.

Both George and Martha were very happy to spend the holidays, once again, with their sons. She couldn’t have asked for a better gift.

She sat drinking her afternoon tea and looked around the room watching her boys laughing and talking with their dad. She thought, “Old memories are cherished but new ones were made this Christmas for the Romano family.”

Written by: Angel

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

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Vocabulary:

promises – verb: guarantee

exchange – noun: giving and receiving

bother – noun: effort, worry, or difficulty

carolers – noun: person or people who sing

harsh – adjective: cruel, difficult or severe

ventured – verb: journey

sidewalk – noun: paved path for people

frowned – verb: an expression of disapproval

white lie – noun: harmless lie

advisory – noun: official announcement

arranged – verb: organize or make plans

brewing – verb: making

bedside – noun: space next to a bed

clockwork – noun: routine

poured – verb: flow from one container to the next

stopped dead in (her) tracks – idiom: to stop suddenly

enormous-adjective: big

album -noun: a book for pictures or photos

captured – verb: show or record

cherished – verb: treasure or adore

Question ( s ):

Do you have any special holiday memories?

Thanksgiving Memories

( Intermediate level )

At the Smith family home in Boston, Thanksgiving time was always a joyous time of the year for our family. A time that we all looked forward to.

For the adults, it meant it was the time of the year where you could have a few days off from work and spend time with the family.

As for the children, it meant not having school for four to five days and eating so much food to where you thought your belly would explode.

Once we moved away, Mom made us promise that we would have Thanksgiving and Christmas at our parent’s house. Like many Americans, we move out of our city or state for better opportunities, so we’ve kept our promise to our parents every year.

Boston held so many memories with each of us. Our first day at school. Our first date. Our first car. With two active boys, there was always some type of activity every day.

The winters were cold but we looked forward to snow. Since the roads were unsafe after a fresh snowfall school would be canceled. The school buses were unable to run their routes. This always meant a day of making snowmen and having a snowball fight.

This Thanksgiving was not going to be the same for any of us. Instead of going home to celebrate, we were heading home to help our Mom and see our Dad, who was admitted to the hospital after his third heart attack.

Dad is a strong man but also stubborn. The doctors had told him over the past few years that he must slow down and take care of himself.

After his first episode, the doctors told him his heart was weakened and he must change his behavior. He took care of himself for a short time then he slowly slipped into his old habits.

We had arrived home within one day of each other. Each trying to lend a helping hand. Mom was keeping her emotions bottled up. She knew she had many things to prepare for tomorrow’s feast and still had enough time to go visit dad in the hospital before visiting hours ended.

After many hours of baking and preparing, Mom headed to the hospital while the rest of us stayed behind finishing what we could. We told stories of Thanksgiving’s past to help the time go by.

Each remembers their version of the story. Laughing at how each story varied. Like the time someone forgot to turn on the oven and we had a turkey-less Thanksgiving.

The evening grew late and Mom had returned from the hospital in a wonderful mood. The doctor said Dad would be released early tomorrow morning around seven so he, too, would be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with the family.

The news couldn’t have made the Smith boys happier. This would be the best Thanksgiving ever. Everyone headed to bed after hearing the good news. There were lots of things to get ready in the morning.

Morning came and to everyone’s surprise, Mom had planned a huge breakfast. Pancakes with maple syrup, sausage, and scrambled eggs. Freshly squeezed orange juice sat in a glass pitcher.

Mom woke at four in the morning feeling very anxious. She wanted this day to be perfect. Not only did she have her children home but her husband was coming home from the hospital.

Breakfast was full of laughter. Everyone is enjoying the moment of being together. People’s lives become busy and sometimes forget how important family is.

Mom left for the hospital as the siblings cleaned up the kitchen. Everyone could enjoy a quiet lazy morning before they had to start the final stage of their Thanksgiving day meal, the cooking of the turkey and all the fixings.

Dad arrived home and immediately was showered with hugs and kisses. He didn’t really care for all the fuss they were making. He was happy to see them all under one roof again.

The rest of the morning was peaceful. Dad sat in his favorite chair just watching everyone prepare the day’s feast. He smiled and chuckled to himself when his wife scolded their son for tasting the food before they sat down at the table.

It was time for everyone to sit down and eat the great meal that had been prepared. One long-standing tradition, before eating, was for everyone to say what they were thankful for.

One by one everyone spoke. Some were silly on what they were thankful for and others were more serious. Then it was Dad’s turn to speak and all eyes were on him.

“I am the luckiest man on this earth. I have two wonderful children and a loving wife. And for some reason, I survived three heart attacks. Maybe my time here, on earth, is not done. I guess it is time for me to pay attention to my doctor. So, today, I am so thankful I was given another chance to sit down with my family and enjoy their company and this terrific meal. Now dig in!”

At that moment everyone cheered and started passing food around the table. The laughter filled the room and the boys told more embarrassing stories of their youth. Dad looked out at his family, from the head of the table, and whispered, “Happy Thanksgiving.”

Written by :Angel

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Vocabulary:

joyous – adjective: full of happiness

opportunities – noun: a chance

memories – noun: remember

routes – noun: a way to a destination

stubborn – adjective: difficult or determined

weakened -verb: make or become weak

feast – noun: a large meal usually for a celebration

version – noun: story or account of activity from a particular person’s point of view

varied – adjective: different types, showing variation

pitcher – noun: a large container used for holding and pouring liquids

anxious – adjective: worry, unease, or nervousness

siblings – noun: a brother(s) or sister(s)

showered – verb: showing love and affection

all the fuss – noun: the condition of being excited, annoyed, or not satisfied about something

under one roof – idiom: all in one location

peaceful – adjective: free from any annoyance or disturbance

thankful – adjective: pleased

Question ( s ):

If your country doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, what special holiday do you celebrate where all the family gather and share a meal? Can you tell us about it.

Do you have any special Thanksgiving memories?

Memories Fade

( Intermediate Level )

June, at 62 years old, found herself forgetting things. Some days were better than others. She explained to her doctor, “It is like I am looking out a window with raindrops obscuring my vision. Sometimes, I am able to make out what is beyond the raindrops. Some days, I remember everything, and somedays I find it difficult to remember words.”

He had told her, “This may be the early sign of dementia and we will keep an eye on this for now. If you feel the situation is getting worse we can start you on medicine to reduce the symptoms. You must understand, June, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Those words he spoke echoed in her mind on the way home. She had decided not to tell her husband, Stan, or her daughter, Alice. She was afraid they would treat her as if she was sickly and frail. This she couldn’t accept.

June had always been fiercely independent and this is why Stan had fallen in love with her. They had met in college and he was smitten by her incredible mind. They were usually on opposing sides in debate class. She always had strong opinions and a way of being so convincing. She always won the debates.

In the next few months, since she heard those terrible words from her doctor, repeat in her mind, June decided to read as much as she could regarding Alzheimer’s or dementia. One thing, most articles stated, was to keep your mind as active as possible.

Reading, crossword puzzles, and writing were helpful. Puzzles never interested her but reading she loved to do. She hadn’t read in quite a while. Both she and Stan had an active lifestyle. Going for walks, going to museums, and even going on short getaways just to fish.

She knew she wanted to keep up this active lifestyle with Stan as long as she could. He was her everything as she was his. After thirty – two years of marriage, you never saw one without the other.

After thinking about everything she read and what her doctor had told her she had decided to start writing in a journal. Maybe in the future, she would have to utilize it to remember who she is.

She had stopped at a store, one day when she was out with Stan. She found a lovely writing pad that was bound with lavender fabric. It was decorated with lace and small white and pink silk flowers. Inside were plenty of pages to write. She smiled and thought this was perfect to write down her memories before they faded away into darkness.

It had taken her several days to decide what she wanted to write inside. Were the written words going to be for her eyes only or did she want to write to her husband and her daughter? She decided on the latter.

She would take the advantage to begin writing in her new journal in the evenings while Stan and her would watch television together. He would usually fall asleep on the sofa. Then she could put her private thoughts into words.

She titled her journal Memories Fade and dedicated it to her husband and daughter. She shared with them when she was told by her doctor that she was showing early signs of dementia and why she wanted to hide this from them.

She began to write,” I wanted to write my thoughts to both of you before it was too late. Too late to express the love I have for you. Too late to let you know how proud, I am, Stan, to be your wife, and too late to tell you, Alice, how much admiration I have for you. You remind me of myself when I was younger. Strong and determined. I am the luckiest woman to have you, both, in my life.”

The day I was told by the doctor I was showing signs of early dementia I chose to keep this to myself. I didn’t want you to treat me differently. I wanted to be normal. As normal as I was before I had walked into the doctor’s office thirty minutes earlier”

“I know, sometime in the future, I will not be able to hide this disease from you but that will be another bridge to cross when it happens. Until then, I will enjoy you every day and every moment and every second as long as I can remember who you are.”

June would always tuck her journal into the top drawer of the desk towards the back in hopes no one would find it. Each night she would write a little then tuck it away safely until the next time.

As time passed her writing became less frequent. Some evenings she just stared at the television, as her husband snored on the sofa. Her forgetfulness was more evident now. Stan would ask her about it and she would shrug it off as she was having an off day.

One afternoon, Alice had called and her dad told her about his concern with her mom. “She has not been herself lately. She is forgetting things. She had put on the tea kettle on the stove to make us tea and she forgot about it.”

I was outside working in the garden and heard the whistle of the tea kettle. I waited a few moments but the whistling continued. I walked inside to see your mom sitting in her favorite chair watching the television that was not even on.” His voice was trembling now as he continued.

“She didn’t hear the whistle of the tea kettle and I asked her if she heard the kettle. She blankly looked at me then went back to watching the television.

I think something serious is wrong with your mom. This is so unlike her. She has been a little forgetful lately but she always told me she was having a bad day.”

Alice was shaken by this news. She told her dad she was unable to get away from work for another week or two but she would come as soon as she was free. In the meantime, she instructed him to call the doctor and get an appointment as soon as he could for her.

Stan had called the doctors and made an appointment for the following week. This was the earliest opening the doctor’s office had. He called his daughter back, that evening, to tell her he made an appointment for a week from Thursday.

Alice replied, “Great. I will be in on Wednesday. After I talked with you I talked to my boss and he said to tie up loose ends here and go be with you and mom. I can take a few days off then I can work online for as long as I need to stay with you.”

Stan was relieved Alice was coming. She was better at getting answers. She had a wonderful relationship with her mom. If June was to tell anyone anything she would tell Alice.

Wednesday evening arrived and Alice didn’t want her dad to pick her up from the airport. Plus it would be a little late and dad wasn’t the best when it came to night driving. She took a taxi, instead.

On her ride from the airport, Alice thought it seemed as if she was gone for a long time but she actually had visited mom and dad last year about this time. It is difficult for her to get away during the holiday season. She usually had many year – end reports to work on.

Instead, they always celebrated Christmas in July. She smiled when she thought of this. Her mom had always felt she was special. She and Stan would celebrate the holiday, again, when it was the actual holiday. She would say,” I am so lucky! I get twice as many presents this way!

Even though Alice had an apartment in the city, her parent’s home was considered her home. She would say, “I am coming home, mom. See you soon!“, when she had vacation time.

Alice arrived and was greeted by her dad at the door. He stood blocking the door for a moment to prepare her for what she was to see. “You need to prepare yourself when you see mom. She may or may not remember you. I told her you were coming and she kept asking who? Who’s coming?”

Stan stepped out of the way and Alice entered saying, “Mom, I am home!” She walked around the corner and into the living room. Any other time June would rush to give her a big hug and smother her with kisses but this time she didn’t.

Instead, Alice saw her mom staring at the television. She didn’t even look up when she heard her voice. Alice took a quick look at her dad and walked over to her mom.

She knelt down in front of her mom. “Mom, It’s Alice. I am home.” Still no reaction. Alice looked into her mom’s eyes and saw emptiness. She didn’t see the twinkle that mom used to have in her eyes.

As the evening progressed Alice tried so hard to get her mom to respond. She even tried to incite an argument. She knew her mom was at her best when there was a debate in the air. Still nothing.

The evening grew tired and the three would have an early doctor’s appointment the next day. Alice offered to help mom get ready for bed. She helped her mom to the bedroom and placed a night gown on the bed.

Her mom changed into her nightgown and sat on the end of the bed. She looked up at her daughter and said, “ I remember. I remember who you are. I remember your name. It’s Alice. I know I have something special for you. I just have to think where I put it.

The tears began to well up in Alice’s eyes. All night she fought to have her mom answer. her. To have the mom she left only one year ago. To have the mom who would sheepishly give her opinion on a topic, especially boyfriends, without coming out and saying it.

As she tucked her mom into bed and told her she loved her, June grabbed her hand and said the word, “desk” to her. Then she rolled over and pulled the covers over her shoulder.

Alice stood for a moment and watched her mom. What had she meant by desk? She walked quietly out to the living room where her dad was. He had fallen asleep on the sofa.

She sat in mom’s favorite chair. The night was overwhelming for her. When her dad had said, “Something wasn’t quite right with mom,” she hadn’t expected this.

She replayed the evening in her head over and over again. Then her thoughts drifted to their vacations and the July holidays of the past. Then she remembered the word desk, again. What had her mom meant by this?

She put a blanket over her dad. She didn’t want to wake him. She then grabbed her suitcase and headed to her old bedroom. She, too, needed to get some sleep before the doctor’s appointment.

As she clicked on the light, that word her mom spoke entered her mind, again. “Desk“. Was her mom trying to tell her to look for something on or in her desk? She turned around, turned off the bedroom light, and headed to her mom’s desk.

She rifled through everything on the desk and couldn’t find anything. She opened each drawer and flipped its contents onto the floor. Not seeing anything that stood out she repeated this with every drawer.

In the last drawer, she finally found what she thought her mom wanted her to see. It was a writing pad that was bound with lavender fabric. It was decorated with lace and small white and pink silk flowers. She sat on the floor and began to read.

The first page had the words “Memories Fade“, and below this was a dedication to her and dad.” I wanted to write my thoughts to both of you before it was too late. Too late to express the love I have for you……”

As Alice turned each page and read, she could feel her mom’s struggle with her memory. As the journal continued her spelling and thoughts were not as clear. She saw this disease had taken a small chunk of her mom each day. Page by page.

She woke up the next morning with the contents of each drawer beside her. She had fallen asleep reading her mom’s journal.

She sat up to see her dad sitting in mom’s chair with the journal bound with lavender fabric and decorated with lace with small white and pink silk flowers in his hands. A tear rolled down his cheek.

Now everything made sense to him but at the same time, it didn’t. “How could this happen to my June, my wife, my life and, she does not want to tell me?”, he thought.

Written by: Angel

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Vocabulary:

obscuring – verb: keep from being seen

dementia – noun: general term for the impaired ability to remember or think

Alzheimer – noun: type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior

sickly – adjective: poor health

fiercely – adverb: aggressive manner

smitten – verb: attracted to someone

debate class – noun: a discussion group involving opposing viewpoints

lifestyle – noun: the way in which a person lives

getaways – noun , plural: a vacation

utilize – verb: make practical and effective 

advantage – noun: favorable position

admiration – noun: respect or approval

a bridge to cross – idiom: not worry about a future problem

forgetfulness – noun: loss of memory

evident – adjective: obvious

blankly – adverb: lack of interest or engagement

loose ends – noun, plural: a detail that is not yet settled 

smother – verb: a lot of something

emptiness – uncountable noun: an unhappy or frightening feeling 

twinkle – noun: a sparkle in a person’s eyes

incite – verb: encourage or stir up 

grew tired – verb / urban dictionary: started to get tired

well up – verb: strong emotions

sheepishly – adverb: embarrassed manner

overwhelming – adjective: strong in emotions

rifled – adjective: to search through something quickly and carelessly 

struggle – verb: forceful effort

Question(s):

What do you know about this disease?

Have you had anyone is your family who had suffered with dementia?

Abigail

( Intermediate Level )

Jeff was a troubled youth, who lived with his father and a younger brother in the small town of Dubois near the Wind River. Life as a young teen, was difficult being a son of a rancher. At age 16, he had a tremendous amount of responsibilities.

His mom had passed, a year and a half ago, after a long battle with breast cancer. Beau, his dad, was doing the best he could raising two boys, alone. He had lost his high school sweetheart and now faced life, with their sons, without her.

His brother, Samuel, was still too young to help with the cattle, in fear he may get hurt. His father didn’t want to suffer another loss. Samuel, instead, remained close to the homestead tending to the smaller animals.

With the burden of a two thousand acre ranch and six hundred head of cattle to tend to daily was a lot for Jeff and Beau to do alone. They could not afford to have hired hands. The medical expenses that occurred during his wife’s illness and the funeral had wiped out everything they had saved.

Jeff would attend school when he could. Often, his father needed his help so Jeff would stay home to help him. His teachers never understood why Beau would allow this. After all, they would tell him, “Education is important.”

Beau’s response was always the same, “Look, it is just me and my two boys. I cannot lose my ranch. My ranch will be theirs, one day. It is all I can give them, as my father passed it down to me. So, if Jeff misses a few days of school here and there, what harm does it cause?

The teachers were empathetic of Beau’s plight but it was their responsibility to report this habitual absenteeism to the head of education. From there the truancy officer would follow up with the local courts.

Under the pressure of the education and juvenile court system, Beau, reluctantly, agreed that Jeff would not miss any more school for the rest of the year.

As the school year continued, Jeff’s attitude towards school and his classmates became hostile. All Jeff could think about was his father, his brother, and the ranch.

He knew his father spent many extra hours tending to the ranch, alone. Working himself to where he couldn’t move anymore and would fall asleep early. He barely ate dinner or spent time with the boys.

The worry on his father’s face was evident. All Jeff knew was he didn’t want to lose his father too. He didn’t want his father to succumb to an illness as his mother had. Then it would just be Samuel and himself.

Jeff was falling behind in – class assignments and never turned in any homework. He didn’t want to be bothered. He would wake up early to help his dad for a few hours, before school and do the same when he got home from school. The school was the furthest from his mind.

Beau took the opportunity to speak with his eldest son, on a late afternoon, after school. They were herding the cattle to a different grazing area. “Son, I have decided to sell off all but fifty head of cattle and sell off all but 3 horses. I think as long as you are in school, I need to make things more manageable. We will take a huge loss since the cattle prices are down but I cannot think of a better option.”

Jeff thought, after he heard his father’s words, his grandfather sacrificed for his father and now he will sacrifice for his brother and himself. This ranch is his family’s legacy. A legacy that would be his and his brother’s one day.

His father continued, ” I’ve talked to old man Blake in the next valley. He said he could offer fifty dollars per head for bulls and twenty – five dollars per head for any steers, heifers, and calves. He said he had plenty of horses but was willing to pay forty dollars per head for our horses. As much as I hate to take such a loss, I agreed. He will come this weekend with his men and herd the bunch to his land. Unfortunately, mom’s horse, Abigail, is part of the deal. We don’t need an extra mouth to feed if the horse is not being used.”

Jeff couldn’t believe what his father had just said about his mom’s horse. Abigail was her pride and joy. She was the last thing they had of their mom’s memory. He didn’t want her to be sold.

Jeff’s anger at his father whelmed. How dare he think it would be okay to sell Abigail. He kicked his horse and rode off in a canter towards the field where Abigail had been turned out. The tears were streaming down his face.

He saw Abigail out in the field and began to whistle. She raised her head and looked. His mom had taught her to come to a whistle which his father always thought was silly. “She is not a dog “, he would tell her.

Abigail let out a whinny and galloped towards Jeff. He jumped off his horse and threw his arms around Abigail’s neck. He buried his face in the sorrel– colored neck and began to cry uncontrollably. He hadn’t cried since his mother’s death. His grandfather used to tell him when he was much younger, “Real cowboys don’t cry.”

Abigail stood there quietly as if she knew Jeff needed her. She stood completely still while Jeff let out the tears of sadness he had bottled up for almost two years now.

The sun was setting by the time Jeff contained his tears. He gave Abigail a forehead – to -nose nuzzle and said, “Let us go home girl”. He threw his leg up and over the saddle of his horse and grabbed the reins. He gave a short whistle and Abigail trotted behind Jeff and his horse, towards home.

Beau was standing outside waiting for Jeff to return home. He had finished moving the cattle and headed towards home when Jeff took off on his horse.

Beau was relieved when he saw Jeff crest the hill to the north and saw Abigail gingerly following. “What was his son up to?“, he thought.

Jeff, on his steed, and Abigail came to a halt at the porch steps where Beau was standing. Jeff looked into his father’s eyes. He was gathering the right words to say to him.

” Poppa, I know momma is gone and nothing will ever bring her back. Abigail is the only thing we have left of hers. Having Abigail, somehow in my mind, makes me feel as if she is still here with us. I am not willing to have her sold to old man Blake’s ranch. We can always get more cattle, in the future, but not another Abigail. Let my horse go and I will use Abigail to do my work on the ranch.”

Beau stared out into the distance after hearing his son’s words. Jeff sat, anxiously, in the saddle unsure what his father would say. Jeff’s horse was a great cutting horse whereas Abigail was never trained in cowboying. His mom had pampered her and she was more of an oversized dog.

Beau cleared his throat and began to speak quietly and calmly to his son,” When your mom was sick I promised her I would do my best to raise you boys the best that I could. I told her I wasn’t perfect and I would make mistakes. I would make sure you had a roof over your head and food in your stomach. As for all that the rest of life would bring I would take it day by day.”

He continued to stare into his son’s eyes and, ” I guess this is a time that I’ve made a huge mistake. I hadn’t realized how important Abigail was to you. I will let old man Blake know he will have one less horse to take. I am sure he will understand once I explain to him.”

Jeff, immediately, relaxed in the saddle and looked at Abigail who was standing, ever so patiently, by his side. He quickly gave her a brush on the neck. He then looked up at his father and gave a slight nod and a tip of his hat. This is the first time Jeff had spoken his mind to his father. He was on his way to becoming a man.

As Jeff and his horse headed to the barn with Abigail close behind, he thought to himself, his mother would be very proud of him. There are some things, in life, more important than money and sometimes we need to sacrifice to keep the things we love and cherish, including memories, close to us.

Written by: Angel

If you appreciate what I do:

https://ko-fi.com/morningangel84721345

Follow me on:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Vocabulary:

tremendous – adjective:  great amount

homestead – noun: the home or land occupied by a family

hired hands – noun, plural: a person hired to do short-term manual work

empathetic – adjective: ability to understand 

plight – noun: unfortunate situation

habitual – adjective: done or doing constantly 

absenteeism – noun, plural: required to be present at a place or event but is not

truancy – noun: the action of staying away from school without good reason

juvenile – adjective:  young people

hostile – adjective: unfriendly or aggressive

succumb – verb: the effect of a disease or injury

herding – verb: practice of caring for livestock over a large area.

sacrificed – verb: give up something important or valued

legacy – noun: an amount of money or property left to someone in a will

steers – noun, plural: castrated male calf

heifers – noun, plural: a young female cow that has not borne a calf

pride and joy – idiom:  someone or something that makes someone very proud and happy

whelmed – verb: engulf

canter – verb: to ride a horse at a speed between a trot and a gallop

whinny – noun: highpitched neigh or sound a horse makes

galloped – verb: ride a horse at full speed

sorrel – adjective: reddish color coat or fur

trotted – verb: a pace faster than a walk

to crest – verb: to reach the top of a mountain or hill

gingerly – adverb: with extreme care regarding movement

steed – noun: a horse being ridden 

cowboying – verb: work as a cowboy or horse on a ranch

pampered – verb: to treat with extreme or excessive care

cherish – verb: hold something dear or close

Questions:

Do you feel crying is a sign of weakness?

Have you kept something (item) to hold onto a memory?