“Come What May”
Short story and poetic musing
Laura A. Diaz
Me: “What is the meaning of life? Life is hard! There’s so much bad in the world! I just don’t get it!”
Obe: “Okay, kiddo. Here goes. Now you’re one smart cookie so you’ll want to take notes.
Me: “Okay. Go.”
But I know Someone who does.”
This is for Obe Hokansan. A short of stature, missionary pastor- guy, that spoke the Truth and nothing but the Truth.
“You ready? Put your steel- toed boots on then.”
Who believed that if you wandered into his life it wasn’t by accident. He was a pastor/shepard/ teacher (and retired Air Force, jet engine mechanic) that did big things for God unknowingly, and impacted the lives of a lot of young Airmen.
Chapter One: What-if?
In life, every crossroad - every choice- opens the door to a life shadowed with the thought of “what-if”; and with “what-if” dogging your steps like a tired pack mule, does anyone really get a “what-if-free” happy ending?
This was the dilemma that 62-year-old Cayla Lysander pondered one purple sunset evening, in her cozy, three bedroom home with its gleaming hardwood floors, on Broadway Street.
This particular evening Cayla was, by all accounts, “dawdling”- and she knew it. She was supposed to be getting ready for a dinner, being held in her honor.
Oooh-la-la! All of this fuss for a retired, high school Literature teacher! Why should she be honored for doing something she loved anyway? Cayla shook her head at the irony of it all.
What if she had never even taken that job at ISD? She sure wouldn’t have to be figuring out what she should wear to this thing! She rummaged around in her jewelry box searching for a pair of earrings that would be “just right” as she recalled the conversation she’d had with her husband Arthur after the job had been offered to her.
“Why do you want to go back to work, Cayla? I don’t really understand your motivation here.” Arthur leaned forward, his elbows resting on the table, his soft brown eyes looking directly and intently into hers.
The two were sitting at the breakfast table in the bright and airy kitchen. The massive bay windows overlooked the glorious garden Arthur had designed, and put in the hours, constructing for her. He may have been a professor at Purdue University teaching Mechanical Theory and Design, but he was not in reality a desk-job sort of guy.
He glanced at his work-roughened palms. He loved being in that garden and working with his hands. It cleared his mind. He had spent many hours sweating and praying and communing with his Lord out there.
Cayla warmed her hands, wrapping them around her coffee cup. It was her favorite mug. It was the bright, Cheetos-orange one that had
- I love my Mom- painted in candy apple red all around. As she took a careful sip of the steaming brew her glasses fogged up. Taking them off and setting them on the sunflower-yellow tablecloth, she caught Arthur’s eyes with her own.
“I just do, Art. I’m 37 years old with a Bachelors and Certification in Secondary Education that qualifies me to teach High School Literature. I’ve done nothing with it.”
He looked away. And then slowly Arthur nodded contemplating the garden. He noticed that the Butterfly bushes needed to be trimmed soon.
Arthur finally said, “We have five kids that learned to read and got their love of books from you more than they did their teachers at school. I wouldn’t say that’s nothing.”
He absently picked at a crumb from the lemon chiffon cake they had been sharing, that had dropped onto the tablecloth. The crumb was almost the same color as the tablecloth.
Cayla leaned back and put her bunny-slippered feet up on the sunflower patterned, cushioned chair adjacent from her. Something Arthur considered a ‘bad habit’; but just one of her ‘things’ that he humored and had grown to love about her.
She took a breath, and placing her coffee cup on its coaster, she forged ahead, “That’s just it. The girls are in 8th grade now. The boys are all in high school, with Caleb graduating this year. I just feel like this is something I’m supposed to do. My next step I guess. I didn’t even apply for it; you know that! Terry, from church, recommended me. She’s in the Math Department over there. Remember?”
She sighed and took another sip of her hazelnut coffee. “I only went to that interview on a whim. I never, in a million years, ever thought that they’d actually want to hire me!”
“Is there something you want?” Arthur asked, his eyebrows drawing together with concern. “Something I haven’t been able to give you?” He rubbed the cake crumb between his fingers and then dropped it onto his tea plate.
“What? No! WAY no!” She took his hand in hers. Her eyes begging him to understand and not be hurt. “It’s not about the money, hon. And I haven’t even given the principle, Mr. Wheeler, my answer yet. I told him that this was a family decision, and that I needed to talk you, and that we’d have to pray about it as a family first.”
Arthur had smiled then. A smile that almost looked relieved. “Let’s do that then. I’ll support you in whatever your final decision may be. You’ll be a great teacher, Cayla. You always have been. Even if you weren’t getting paid to do it.” He reached over and kissed her on the cheek as he got up to refill his coffee mug.
That evening, after the kids were in bed and while Arthur was grading papers, she had signed on to the computer that sat in the family room, in order to catch up on her e-mail. Her eyes scanned the names and subject lines.
Junk. Click. Delete.
Junk. Click. Delete.
Junk. Click. Delete.
Junk again. Click. Delete.
Ooooooh! NASTAY junk! Click. Delete.
Subject: Hey Slim!
She smiled. “Slim” was Daniel’s teasing nickname for her ever since he claimed that she hasn’t changed a bit since college or gained that extra poundage all married people are supposed to gain.
Arthur walked by and snatched a pencil off the desk.
“Anything good?” he asked.
“Mostly Junk. Something from Daniel. Haven’t read it yet.”
Arthur bounded up the stairs calling over his shoulder, “Tell our old college buddy I said hi!”
And then cheerfully from the top of stairs she heard, “And I do stress OLD. He’s what, 41? Tell him he needs to settle down; he doesn’t have any more wild oats to sow!”
Cayla laughed, “Sure- sure. Or you could tell him yourself!”
Cayla chuckled to herself, knowing that the day Arthur took the time to write anyone she’d have to be in her grave and nobody else available to do it for him.
She shook her head with half smile. Naw! Not even then. He’d say that’s why God gave Alexander Graham Bell the know-how to invent the telephone! She chuckled as she clicked on the message from Daniel and began to read.
Subject: Hey Slim!
Hey guys! Hope everything is going good with everybody over in Indiana land. Tell Art I said, “Hey back!” I know he probably told you tell me hi. And what else? Oh Yeah! Probably told you to tell this old doctor to get married already, right? (I know you’re smiling now cause I’m right!) :] Tell him,
One: I’m not old!
Two: what are guys doing in August? I know Caleb is graduating in May. Tell him Uncle Dan has something up his sleeve for him. And no! I’m not telling YOU, Cayla! ;]
Anyway, I told you about that girl Leslie I’ve been getting to know from church. After a LOT of prayer and counsel from my pastor-
Drum roll please………….We’re getting married in August! I want you guys to be there. I can understand if you think Portland is too far away- BUT- I just HAPPEN to know of an awesome deal on roundtrip tickets!
Let me know.
In His Plan- Dan
As her vision blurred Cayla clicked ‘reply’ and began typing.
Good to hear from you! I am SO SO happy for YOU!!!!!!!!! Did I say so, AMAZINGLY SO? LOL ;o)
Of course we’ll be there!!!!! No question!
In fact, I’m running up to tell Art now! :o)
Cayla clicked send and leaped up the stairs two at a time calling out to Arthur as she did.
“Hey, Art! Art! Guess what? Guess what?” Then, without waiting for Arthur to guess she exclaimed, “Daniel’s finally going to be marrying Leslie!” Tears began to track down her smiling cheeks.
Arthur pumped his fist in the air. “Woo-hoo! It’s about time!” Noticing the waterworks he said bemused, “But hey –hey- hey! What’s to cry about, hon?” Art stood up and folded her into his arms in a gently rocking hug.
“Happy tears. These are happy tears. I’m so so happy for him!” she responded.
Arthur chuckled kissing her forehead, “Silly, girl.”
Happy tears. They were. Right?