Ann was counting the days to Christmas, for this would be a Christmas she would never forget. Her favorite tenth grade teacher, Newark High’s, Harold Mason, would be coming to their Christmas dinner and she was excited and nervous, for he was a very popular teacher at Newark High and had encouraged her to take voice lessons, for he thought she had promise as a singer.
It was two days before Christmas and Ann was helping her mother prepare for the event. Suet pudding, a recipe that came from Ann’s grandma, would be on the menu, as well as homemade apple pie and homemade dressing that Ann and her grandma would be preparing. Of course, turkey would also be on the menu, as well as homemade mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, olives, etc.
Everything was going as expected and Ann called the day before Christmas to confirm Mr. Mason’s arrival on Christmas.
She dialed the number with anxious fingers. After the third ring a voice answered, “Hello? Mr. Mason here.”
“Mr. Mason? This is Ann Crawford. Just calling to see if will still be coming to our Christmas dinner.”
“Why, yes Ann! I am looking forward to it with great pleasure. Can I bring anything? Perhaps some wine or a desert?”
“No, that’s alright. Mom, Grandma and I have everything we need. We are just so looking forward to you coming tomorrow…”
“Well, that sounds great, Ann. Will see you tomorrow, I guess.”
“See you then, Mr. Mason.”
Ann was so happy that she talked with him. He was so inspiring and helpful. She considered him to be one of the most inspirational and kindest person she had ever met.
Christmas morning arrived, with Ann and her mother up and at it in the kitchen around six. Ann got the turkey ready, while Ann prepared the dressing and the mashed potatoes. Ann’s grandma was in her own home, preparing the pies and suet pudding. The dinner was going great and Ann was so excited.
Around noon, Ann’s mother checked the turkey to see how it was going. So far, it looked good, was browning well. Ann’s dressing was looking good; moist and delicious, she thought.
Grandma’s pies were cooling off and Ann’s Dad would be picking her up soon. Ann’s sister and brother were upstairs listening to the radio, just “cooling it” a bit before company arrived.
Around one, Grandma arrived with the pies and everything was ready; everyone had arrived, except Mr. Mason.
Around one-ten the phone rang. It was Mr. Mason. He had some bad news. “Hello Ann? I’m afraid I can’t come. I’m so sorry.” His voice was graveled and it sounded like he had been crying.
He continued, “Ann, my mother died early this morning and I won’t be able to come. She had a massive heart attack and I ……”
Ann could tell he was terribly upset and replied, “That’s alright Mr. Mason. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. I send my deepest condolences, as well as my family. Is there anything I can do to help?”
He paused for awhile and then said in a choking voice, “Just keep my mom in your prayers today and know how much I’m proud of you and all the others in our choir at school. She just loved the choir and the beautiful music you all sang. God Bless you all and thank you, dear, for your kindness.”
He hung up after that and Ann paused by the phone before telling the others and thought, “Poor Mr. Mason. Please be with him, dear Jesus and help him with his suffering. He has done so much good at school and I can tell he loved his mother so much!”
Several years later Ann found out that Mr. Mason died but not without sending a message three weeks before his death, to Newark High. “Please tell everyone at Newark High how much I loved each and every one of them and especially tell Ann Crawford not to give up but keep trying—for her voice is unique and lovely.”
Just another wonderful reason why I never gave up on singing and why I’ll never forget Mr. Mason.
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