Winter Love Remembered
Gail anxiously watched out the window for the snow to start falling. The bus she was on had missed her stop and she had angrily pulled the bell cord several times then yelled at the driver. She had planned to get home before the snow came down and it was to be a heavy snowfall. Now she had to walk an extra two blocks to get home.
The driver pulled up to the next bus stop and apologized when Gail stood behind him, waiting for the door to open. She suddenly felt bad for being so angry at him. “It’s okay,” she smiled at him. “I will be home soon and the walk will do me good. Merry Christmas!” He smiled back at her and tipped his hat.
When Gail got off the bus she realized the park was right there. It had been many years since she had come to the park. When she stopped to look around so many memories came back. She and her brother Dennis used to run down here to build a snowman every winter. Theirs was always the tallest and best looking of all the snowmen in the park. When it was finished, Gail always hugged it and hated to leave when it got dark. Dennis teased her, saying the snowman was her winter love. Every day she ran to the park to see it and spruce it up until late winter when the sun starting melting it. Then she would no longer visit it. It made her too sad to see her winter love shrink.
While she stood there remembering those days it started snowing, first lightly then quickly it turned to large flakes and came down faster. She pulled her hat down over cold ears and buttoned her coat then started walking fast. Because she kept her face down to keep the snow from stinging her cheeks, she did not see the man approaching her and bumped into him. It really startled her. She looked up at him, apologized and started walking again.
“Gail !” She stopped and looked back at him, puzzled. How does he know my name? I have never seen him before. He looked a bit sad. “You don’t remember me, do you, Gail? It’s me, Roger.”
“No, I’m sorry, I don’t know you.” It was snowing really heavy now and she turned away, walking fast to get home. She had so much to do before Dennis and her parents arrived tomorrow for dinner and she wanted to have the tree up and decorated by then. She had an odd feeling when she reached the corner where she had to turn on her street. She looked back to see if that man was still there. He was gone.
Dinner the next evening had turned out perfect. She had started her own tradition of making homemade beef stew to celebrate the first snowfall. She served it with big pieces of garlic bread and a huge green salad, with apple pie for dessert. “Gail honey, this beef stew is the best. It gets better each year!” Her dad kept saying. Her mother and Dennis agreed wholeheartedly. “You will come home for Christmas dinner, won’t you, Gail?” Her mom always asked that every year, knowing the answer would be yes.
After dinner they sat in the living room admiring the tree and Gail’s creative decorating. They reminisced about Christmas pasts and the conversation turned to the “snowman park”, which is what Dennis always called it. “Boy! The snowman we built every year always looked the same,” Dennis laughed. “It was always so tall I wonder how we got the head on it!”
Now Gail laughed. “It was not easy and that big snowball was heavy. Remember how we kept taking turns tossing the hat up there, hoping it would land in the right spot? You always won that game! Then you had to hold me up there so I could poke two of Mom’s knitting needles through the hat to keep it on.”
“Yeah! And when all the snow melted, all that was left was that old floppy hat with the knitting needles in it,” Dennis laughed again.
“Well, at least I always got my needles back,” their Mom said. “But what happened to that old hat? We had that for so many years?”
Something clicked in Gail’s mind and she asked, “Dennis, didn’t we always give our snowman a name after we put the hat on it?”
“Oh, yeah! What was his name? And the holes in the hat got bigger each year. Maybe you finally threw the hat away, Mom. I remember now!” Dennis snapped his thumb. “With the hat finally on, we would say, “We Christen thee, Roger! He was your winter love!”
A vision of last night popped into Gail’s head. “You don’t remember me, do you, Gail? It’s me, Roger.” She remembered he looked sad and that he had a funny black hat on, with two holes in it! “Yes, yes, I do remember,” Gail whispered. “My winter love.”
“Hello!” Dennis snapped his thumb again. “You still with us, Gail?” She shook her head and blinked her eyes.
“Yes – I was just lost there for a minute, remembering the snowman. Roger.” Gail stood up. “Anyone want hot chocolate?”
The next day at lunch time Gail and two of her co-workers walked to their favorite coffee shop. The snow had built up overnight and it was still snowing lightly, but, the sidewalks were cleared. The coffee shop was packed and they found two empty chairs at a table. “You two sit there,” Gail said. “I’ll go sit at the counter till another chair is available here.” She pushed her way to the end of the counter where two spaces were left. When she got up and sat on the stool a man sat down next to her. “You mind if I sit here with you? I have never seen this place so packed.” Gail turned towards him. “Sure! I don’t mind,” and stared at him. She saw him at the park the other night. Roger, her winter love – the snowman! She felt dizzy, in another world, her mind was whirling.
“Thanks. We were lucky these two seats were empty,” he held out his hand. “Nice to meet you. I’m Roger Winters.”
Gail, in a daze, shook his hand. “I’m Gail. Where is your hat?” Roger smiled.
Magical things can happen. When Love is within the heart and soul anything is possible.
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns
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