Tommy - The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl? - Chapter 137


Tommy
The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl?

A Novel By Teddie S.

Copyright © 2018 Teddie S.
All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 137
It’s a … , Christine, The funeral, The Eagle.

We were back home in Ohio, not for a visit, but for a funeral. One of our friends, Max Roberts, had been killed in Vietnam. And, while we were back home, we just had to take a hike in the park and to the lake. We sat on our bench for a while and no Eagles. Hmm. But, as we got up and started to finish our hike we had a visitor. A young Eagle. Is this Eagle one of the young of the pair that used to visit us here?

Later a dinner of frybread tacos, with cinnamon crisps and a fruit salad for dessert, made a nice meal for the six of us. Mark and Maria had come over.

Friday we had some time, so we were able to get together with Larry and Kelly for a short time until we had to pick up Mark and Maria and go to the funeral home. When we arrived at the funeral home, we learned that Mark’s mother knows about Tom and Kai.

Amy and I met many of Mark’s relatives, and Mark's mother passed out during the memorial service, and it was Amy to the rescue. Then we met one more of Mark’s relatives, Uncle Frank, and that was a little ugly. But Mark’s Grandmother Davidson came riding in on her white horse to save the day.

Amy and I had been talked into going out for a late dinner with Mark’s family and Maria’s parents. It was a nice restaurant, and we had a nice meal, an American meal. And, no it wasn’t hamburgers.

Uncle Frank wasn’t among the diners. I guess Grandma Davidson has sent him to his room without dinner.

As we were sitting, enjoying dessert, and talking, I happened to glance over at Mark and Maria. And they were whispering again, as they had been at the funeral home, and I knew what they’re up to. Maria was busting a gut to tell about the baby.

Maria looked at me, smiled, and the look on her face asked, ‘Is it okay here?’

I whispered to Amy, “I think that Mark and Maria want to tell about the baby.”

“I noticed them whispering.”, Amy replied.

“Think that this might be a good time?”

“It might not hurt.”

I returned Maria’s smile, and slowly nodded yes. She whispered something to Mark.

Finally, Mark said, “Ah … Everyone could I have you’re attention for a minute.”

Mark waited until everyone was looking at him, then he said, “We’re not really sure yet. We haven’t been to the doctor. But, all the signs point to Maria being pregnant.”

As he was speaking, I was watching his mother. And her face went slowly from a sad look to a small smile — a good sign.

It was dead quiet for about two seconds, and then the questions started. I sat back, smiled, and thought, ‘Oh, Great Spirit please make my feelings correct. And see to it that the baby is happy and healthy.’

I felt Amy touch my hand with hers, and she whispered, “The baby will be fine.”

I looked at her and whispered, “Is that from one soul to another?”

Amy smiled and squeezed my hand.

Everyone got up and hugged Maria. Then the men shook Mark’s hand, and the women hugged him. Amy and I were the last to hug them.

As we were saying goodnight to everyone, Amy and I took Grandma Davidson aside, and Amy said, “Mrs. Davidson, I’m an Emergency Room nurse, and I’ve seen people like your Frank before. Something happened to them while they were in the military. We call it combat stress.

“Frank needs to get help before he gets hurt or he hurts someone else. Start with the Veterans people and go from there.”

“Thank you, my dear.”, Grandma Davidson said. “We live a long way from any Veterans office, but I’ll try to get him to go. But he really is against seeing anyone. He doesn’t think he has a problem. And we know he does.”

“All you can do is try to get him to seek the help that he needs.”

“I know, honey. We’ve tried.”

A short time later Amy and I, along with Maria and Mark were headed back to their apartment. As I drove up in front of Mark and Maria’s place, Amy turned to them, and said, “I think you two surprised everyone.”

“Me too.”, Maria said. “I just hope that it wasn’t the wrong time.”

“No, honey. I think everyone was ready for some good news.”

“You’re right.”, I added. “The spirits were happy with what Mark said.”

“You do believe in these spirits.”, Maria asked. “Don’t you?”

“Don’t you?”, Amy asked.

It was quiet for a few seconds, then Maria said, “Maybe I do. But, not in the way you do. But there is something to it.”

“You just haven’t experienced them in the way we have.”

“Now.”, Mark said. “Are you going to tell us?”

“Tell you what?”, Amy asked.

“If it’s a boy or a girl?

“How would we know that?”

“You knew that Tommy’s cousin was having twins. A boy and a girl. So, I’d bet that you know what we’re having.”

Amy looked at me, and I asked, “Are you sure you want to know?”

“Why wouldn’t we?”, Mark asked.

“Wouldn’t a surprise be better?”, I asked.

“Maybe. But it would be easier to plan for if we knew.”

“But, surprises are more fun.”

“Come on. Tell.”

“Well … I guess if you really want to know. I think that you’d better get a … baseball glove and bat, and train set.”

“A … A … A boy!”

“Uh huh.”

With a big smile on her face, Maria asked, “Really!? A boy!?”

“That’s the spirit that I felt.”

“Oh wow! After having us five girls my mom and dad will be excited to have a grandson.”

We said good night to Mark and Maria and headed back to my mom and dad’s place. As we drove Amy asked, “Do you think it was good for Mark and Maria to tell everyone.”

“Yes.”, I replied. “I could feel everyone’s spirits lift a little. It wasn’t much, yet, but it will help with everything in the long run.”

“I think you’re right.”

Later as we were getting ready for bed, Amy was in the bathroom, and I was lying on the bed staring at the ceiling thinking as I’d done many times growing up. Amy came out of the bathroom. Walked over to the bed, looked down, and said, “Something’s bothering you. Isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Max’s death and us being here.”, I replied.

“What about it?”

“I feel that Tom should be here and not Kai. Max never knew Kai.”

Amy sat down on the side of the bed, and asked, “What brought this on?”

“Just me thinking of all the fun times we had growing up. And that was Tom, not Kai.”

“Honey, Tommy is with you as he always is.” Then she placed her hand on my chest, and continued with, “He’s right here. In your heart. You wouldn’t be the same person if he weren’t.”

“I’d just feel better if Tom was at the funeral.”

“Tommy will be there, as will Kai. The two of you are one and the same.

“We could try to make you look like Tommy, but in the short time that we have to do it, you would look more like Kai trying to look like a boy. And, you wouldn’t be happy.

“Just believe in yourself, and everything will be fine.”

I smiled at Amy, and said, “You’re right. We’ll get through this together.”

Saturday morning, Amy and I were up early and joined my parents for breakfast. As we finished eating, my mother got up from the table, and as she started to walk out of the kitchen, she said, “I’ll be right back. I have something for Kai.”

Mom was only gone a minute or so, and when she walked back into the kitchen, she was carrying something. She unfolded it and held it up.

“What’s that, mom?”, I asked.

“It’s a shawl.”, she replied. “It’s going to be chilly at the cemetery this morning, and you’re wearing the Biil dress which is sleeveless. I forgot that I had this and found it when I was doing some cleaning.”

The shawl was tan with a reoccurring pattern in different shades of brown and looked like it would go nicely with the black Biil dress.

“Mom, that’s very pretty.”, Amy said.

“Yes, it is.”, I added.

“Well, it’s yours, honey.”, my mom said to me.

“You don’t want it, mom?”

“No, you’re the one that enjoys dressing in native clothing, and this will make a nice addition.”

“Thank you. Where did you get it.”

“Your grandmother gave it to me. It belonged to her mother, and I think it’s Churro wool.”

I reached out, touched it, and said, “It is soft. It won’t be too much for today. Will it?”

“No, honey. It isn’t a dance shawl with all the fringe and flashy colors. It’s more of a dressy shawl. Something that would be worn to something special.”

Amy and I went back to our room and changed for the funeral. Amy dressed in the suit that she wore for teaching. I was dressed in the black Biil dress with wrap moccasins. I wore a little jewelry, a Concho belt, the new bracelet, and a couple of rings. Amy had redone my hair into twin braids, and I’d added one of the braided leather headbands with the Eagle’s feather. Again no choker except for the meteorite necklace. Amy also wore her meteorite necklace. I also wore the earrings that we’d found in my grandfather’s things, the ones made out of the silver dimes with gold feathers.

As I placed the shawl around my shoulders, Amy said, “Wow! Talk about making a statement.”

“Too much of a statement?”, I asked.

“Oh, no. But, you’re saying, here I am, I’m an Indian maiden and proud of it.”

“Oh.”

Amy and I walked back into the kitchen where my mother and father were. My father looked at me, and said, “Honey, I don’t know how you do this, but you look prettier every time I see you.”

“Thanks, daddy.”, I replied. “I’m just worried that it’s too much for today.”

“Honey, it’s not.”, my mother replied. “You look very nice.”

“I’m not looking forward to this.”

“None of us are. We need to be there to support Max’s family.”

“I know. We promised Mark and Maria that we’d be at the funeral home early, so we’d better get going.”

“We’ll see you, kids, there.”, my mother said.

Amy and I drove over to the funeral home, and we arrived just after the limousine that had picked up the family had arrived. We waited for the family to walk into the funeral home, then we walked in.

Maria was the first to see us, and, followed by Mark, she walked over to us. We shared some serious hugs. As Maria hugged me, she whispered, “I still can’t believe Tom is in there someplace.”

“Sometimes I can’t either.”, I whispered back. “I still think that he should be here instead of Kai.”

“Honey, we, Mark and I, love that you’re here. You’re special, and I feel that you’re helping the family through this.”

“I hope I have.”

“You have.”

We walked over to the rest of the family that was there, Mrs. Roberts looked at me and managed a small smile, then she said, “Kai, just seeing you makes me feel better. And that shawl is so pretty.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Roberts.”, I replied. “It belonged to my great-grandmother, and my mom just gave it to me. This dress is sleeveless, and she was worried about me getting chilled.”

I then handed Mrs. Roberts a copy of the prayer that I had shared with them yesterday and had written down for her. She looked at it, then said, “Thank you, Kai.”

“My pleasure, Mrs. Roberts.”

“Can I ask you to do something for us?”

“Of course. Anything.”

“Could you repeat this prayer at the service today.”

I glanced over at Uncle Frank, and asked, “Are you sure?”

“Honey.”, Mrs. Roberts said. “Don’t worry about Frank. Grandma will keep him in his place. It’s that your prayer made me feel so good, that I’d like to hear you repeat it for everyone.”

“I’ll be happy to.”

“At the grave site?”

“Sure.”

We hugged, and Mrs. Roberts whispered, “Tommy, thank you for everything that you’ve done. You’ve helped me survive this.”

I whispered back, “I just wish that we weren’t here going through this.”

“I know, but we are.”

We stood there with the family, and other people started to arrive — my parents, Amy’s parents, all the friends that we’d grown up with, and others.

Every time that Uncle Frank saw me, he would glare at me. I just ignored him.

Then I felt a wave of sorrow stronger than any that I’ve ever felt. I looked towards the door and saw a young girl, actually a young woman, about our age walk in with two older people who I thought might be her parents. I leaned over to Maria, and whispered, “Who just walked in.”

Maria looked at the door, and said, “That’s Christine and her parents. Christine is Max’s, well was Max’s girlfriend. Why?”

“I’ve never felt so much sorrow before.”

“I think Max when he got back, was going to ask her to marry him. And she knew it.”

“Oh, Great Spirit please help this girl.”

“I’m surprised that she’s here. She was a basket case when she found out about Max.”

“Does that surprise you?”

“No.”

“Introduce me.”

“Why?”

“If I feel her sorrow like this, maybe I can help her.”

Maria, Amy, Mark, and I walked over to where the girl and her parents were standing. As we walked up, Maria said, “Christine, I’m glad to see that you made it.”

Christine just looked at Maria and didn’t say anything.

Then Maria said, “Mr. and Mrs. Adams. Christine. These are our friends from New Mexico, Amy Young and Kai Nez. They grew up with us here in Columbus, and after they graduated from State, they moved to New Mexico along with Amy’s husband, Tom. And, Kai has accepted her native, Navajo, culture. And, we were happy that they were able to make it back for this.

“Amy and Kai, this is Mr. and Mrs. Adams and their daughter Christine.”

Mr. and Mrs. Adams exchanged greetings with us, but Christine didn’t say anything. She just looked at us.

I looked at Christine and softly said, “Christine, I can feel your sorrow. And I’m so sorry for your loss. Would you sit with me, so that we can talk? I’ve been known to help people who feel bad, and I may be able to help you.”

Christine looked at her mother. And her mother said, “Go on, honey. I feel Miss Nez might be someone good for you to talk with.”

I looked at Mrs. Adams, and said, “It’s just Kai.”

I held out my hand to Christine, and said, “Come and sit with me.”

Christine looked at me and nodded yes. Then she took my hand, and I led her over to one of the couches. We sat on the couch, and I sat in a way that I could look at Christine. I took her hands in mine and looked at her. There was such a look of deep loss in her eyes.

I glanced up to where the others were standing, and I saw Amy and Maria talking to Christine’s parents.

I looked back at Christine, and said, “Honey, I feel your pain and sorrow. They both take time to overcome, some of it will always be in your heart. And I may be able to help you if you allow me to try.

“Christine, close your eyes.”

She closed her eyes, and I softly said, “Honey, I’m a member of the Navajo Nation, and we believe that when someone passes on that it’s part of a natural cycle of birth, life, and death. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens to the very young. There is a prayer that helps us with this. I shared it with Max’s family last night, and I feel that it might help you too.

“Listen to my words and take them into your heart. It may help you with your grief. It may not happen right away, but in time it will. Listen carefully to my words.

“Grieve for me, for I would grieve for you.
Then brush away the sorrow and the tears
Life is not over, but begins anew, …

… Nurse not your loneliness, but live again.
Forget not. Remember with a smile.”

When I finished, I saw the tears running down Christine’s cheeks, and I started crying with her.

Christine sat there with her eyes closed for a minute or two, then she opened her eyes, and asked, “Who … who are you?”

“I’m just Kai.”, I replied.

“But, why do I feel so at ease with you? It’s like I’ve known you all my life. Like I can talk to you about anything.”

“I don’t know, honey. A lot of people feel that way about me. It’s just something that I do.”

“Why are you crying?”

“Christine, I feel your sadness along with my own. I’ve known Max since grade school. We grew up together, went to school together, hung out together, went through college together. He was a friend, a terrific friend.”

Christine sat up, and we hugged. She then whispered, “I … I need … need to go over to the casket. And I think that I can do it with you. Will you walk with me to the casket?”

“Of course.”, I replied, as I stood and offered her my hand.

Christine took my hand, stood, and we walked hand in hand towards the coffin. She stopped about ten feet from the coffin. I turned and looked at her. She whispered, “I can’t do this.”

“Honey.”, I said. “I lost my grandmother a short time ago. I was holding her hand when she passed. Seeing her in her coffin was hard. Very hard. But, I said so long to her. It’s something that I had to do.

“I’ll stand here with you until you’re ready.”

Christine looked at me, and said, “Thank you. I’ll try.”

We continued slowly walking toward the coffin. Finally, we reached it. We stood there in silence for a minute, then Christine placed her hand on the casket and whispered something that I couldn’t hear. She then turned to me, and said, “Kai, thank you for the prayer. It meant a lot to me.

“Max and I talked about getting married when he came back. And now he won’t be coming back.”

The tears started. I took her in my arms, held her, and whispered, “Christine, Max will always be in your heart. Remember the last line of the prayer; ‘Forget not. Remember with a smile.’ It’s always helped me with my grandmother.

“The hurt will take time. Just remember, never forget Max. And, remember him with a smile.”

“I will, Kai. I truly will. Kai, you are a special person. And, you have given me some hope.”

“Honey, I’m glad.”

We hugged again, and she whispered something to me. Then she went and joined her parents.

As I walked up to Amy, Maria, and Mark, Maria asked, “What did you say to her.”

“We talked a little, and I shared with her that I shared with you last night.”, I replied. “Why?”

“She just seemed a little different when she walked over here.”

“Maybe she was.”

“Did you feel anything with her?”, Amy asked.

“No, I didn’t even feel her spirit.”

“Do you think that you helped her?”

“Maybe. I think she just needed someone to be with her that understood her loss. We didn’t talk much. In fact, she hardly said anything. I think it was just being with someone that understood.

“What did you tell her parents about me?”

“Just that you were a special person to the Navajo people and that you had a way to bring peace to some people.”

I caught Uncle Frank out of the corner of my eye, and I was being glared at again. Mark must have seen him too, as he said, “Kai, don’t worry about Uncle Frank. Grandma read him the riot act last night, and he won’t make any trouble.”

It wasn’t much later that the service for Max started. And I was happy to see all the people who were there to celebrate his life. The military guys were here, and the one with the crosses on his lapels said a little something as did the priest.

We then went to our cars, and those going to the cemetery followed the hearse and the police escort to the cemetery. Once at the cemetery, we got out of our cars and waited for the pallbearers to remove the casket from the hearse. When they did, we followed it to the grave site. The family sat under a tent, and the rest of us gathered around the casket.

The priest gave a short graveside ceremony. Then we heard a round of rifle shots, I looked towards where the sound had come from, and eight men were standing on a hill. Seven of them had rifles. There was another volley of rifle fire. And then a third. Then the eighth man played taps on a bugle.

The two soldiers from the honor guard then removed the flag from the casket, properly folded it, and presented to the soldier who I took to be a Chaplin. The Chaplin walked over to Mrs. Robinson and presented the flag to her. I watched her closely, and she could hardly accept it.

Then the priest asked if anyone had anything that they’d like to say. I looked at Mrs. Robinson, she nodded, I took Amy’s hand in mine, and we walked to where the priest was.

I looked around at everyone that was there and then said, “I shared something from the Navajo people with the Robinson family last night. And Mrs. Robinson asked me to share it with you.

“It’s a Navajo prayer that’s called Life Must Go On. So if you’ll pray with me. … ”

I recited the prayer, and I heard Amy join me. When I finished, I stooped down, picked up a little dirt, sprinkled it on the casket, and said, “So long old friend.”

Amy did the same. The priest surprised me when he said, “Thank you. That was very nice.”

I just smiled.

As everyone was leaving the grave site, Max’s family was standing by the limousine, and as we walked by Mrs. Robinson said, “Kai. Amy. Thank you so much for being here.”

“Mrs. Robinson.”, I said. “We just had to be here for Max and you.”

“Again, thank you for everything.”

And we hugged.

The military Chaplin then walked up to Mr. Robinson, said something, and handed him a cloth bag. Mr. Robinson, looked in the bag, closed it, turned to Mark, and as he gave the bag to Mark, he said, “Throw these away.”

Mark took the bag and walked over to the nearest trash can and tossed the bag in the can. As Mark walked past us, I asked, “What was that?”

“The cartridges from the salute.”, Mark replied.

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Dad didn’t want them.”

“I can understand that.”

I saw Christine standing with her parents, and Amy and I walked over to them. Christine managed a small smile. I then said, “Christine. Mr. and Mrs. Adams, I’m glad that we met. I only wish it was under better circumstances. I hope that we can see each other the next time we’re in town.”

“Kai.”, Christine said. “Just talking with you helped me. I know it’s going to take time to get over this. But, the prayer you shared with me helped me see things.”

I handed her a piece of paper with the prayer handwritten on it. Christine took it, looked at it, and then hugged me. I whispered, “You take care of yourself and that precious package that you’re carrying.”

“I will, Kai.”, she whispered back. “It’s all I have of Max.”

“No, you have memories. Remember; ‘Forget not. Remember with a smile.’”

Christine hugged me tighter, and whispered, “Thank you, Kai. I will.”

Since we had an early flight out tomorrow, we said so long to everyone, and that entailed some big hugs. And a short time later Amy and I were on the way to my parent’s house. When we walked in the door of the house, Amy said, “I need to go for a walk.”

“Me too, love.”, I replied.

My parents had made it back home before we did, and we found them in the kitchen. I said, “Mom and dad, we’re going for a walk. And when we get back, we want to take you out to dinner. Your pick.”

“We can eat here.”, my mother said.

“Nope. Tonight’s our treat.”

“Okay, kids.”

Amy and I changed into our hiking gear and headed to the park. And, yes, to the lake trail. It was a quiet walk. When we reached the lake, we sat on our bench and cuddled together.

As we sat there, I said, “Do you think that we should tell Maria and Mark that their son will soon have a cousin?”

“Huh!”, Amy said as she sat back and looked at me. “A cousin!? Who’s pregnant now?”

“Christine.”

“You felt a second spirit in her?”

“No, I never felt her spirit. Let alone a baby’s spirit. She told me.”

“Told you?”

“She said that she and Max had spent a lot of time together before he went to Vietnam. And, something developed from it.”

“Developed is right. Who else knows?”

“I don’t know.”

“I think that we should let her tell who she wants to, when she wants to.”

“I agree.”

We’d been sitting there for about five minutes when a big bird landed in a tree not far from us. Amy and I looked at him and he, or she, looked at us. It was like we had a new old friend. The bird seemed to be at ease with us. It was like he knew who we were.

He stayed about ten minutes, and when he took off, he circled us twice then headed deep into the park. We got up and finished our hike back to the car and then drove to my parent's house.

As we walked into the house, I asked, “Are we going dressy or comfortable?”

“I think comfortable.”, my mother said.

“Okay. We’ll go change.”

We ended up having a nice leisurely meal with my parents, and we talked about anything but the funeral. We told them about the young Eagle in the park, and my mother wondered how old they were when they got their white feathers? I told her that I’d read that they didn’t get the white plumage until they were sexually mature at about four or five years old. And that once they mate, they mate for life.

We had a very early flight back to New Mexico, so Amy and I were in bed early after packing most of our things. But, the Prince did visit the Queen’s bedchamber.

~o~O~o~

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