The main floor rooms of our new condo are now mostly presentable and certainly livable. The Christmas tree is up and all the packages are under the tree awaiting the family that will arrive in a few short hours. The pies and cookies are on the counter and the oven is full of turkey stuffing. So I feel as if I can take a few minutes to wish all my followers and faithful readers a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. I hope that this Christmas season will bring each of you faith renewed, joy rekindled and wonder reborn.
My camera has not been out of the case since our vacation and all of my creativity lately has been done with a paint brush so I would like to re post a Christmas Story that I posted in November of 2005. I wrote this story about my first husband who died on December 3, 2003. The only facts I changed were the address of the building. This story is actually the second half of the story. I will reprint the first half in a few days.
What a difference four years makes. Since writing this story I met and married the "Old Salt" and moved away from that second floor apartment so I am no longer known in my neighborhood as the wife of the "Man in the Window."
ARE YOU REALLY HIM?
It was mid afternoon on Saturday, with just a little over two weeks left before Christmas. One of those cold, dark mid-west winter days that looked like the sky would open any minute and unload heaven only knew what; rain, sleet and snow had all fallen in the last ten days and the current guess was that soon all three would arrive at once. The yards were mired in mud and mounds of dirty snow mixed with decaying leaves left in the shadows of hibernating shrubbery. The melting remains of soot blackened snow banks lining streets and walkways sent small rivulets of dirty water running down embankments to the grated street drains.
Scattered around the yards lining the twisted circles of streets in the large apartment complex could still be seen the lopsided remains of melting snowmen. Sledding saucers and long vinyl toboggans were leaning beside doorways to the single family townhouses dotted between large multi family apartment buildings. Everywhere you looked there was a bustle of activity as people tried to beat the weather and prepare for the upcoming holiday; men hanging fairy lights along gutters, others unloading pine trees from the tops of automobiles, bags of groceries from SUV’s, and children running in and out fetching and toting for holiday burdened parents.
Suddenly a caravan of cars, vans and pickup trucks each loaded with furniture and packing boxes rounded the circle and pulled into the only off street parking area on the long block, there were so many vehicles that every available space was suddenly filled, leaving several to block the others in the middle of the drive. As if the sirens had suddenly blared at the fire house on the corner, the street and walkways began to fill with bystanders curious to see who was moving into the empty apartment at the rear of building 21. Children were spreading the word and soon it seemed that every child in the complex was milling in the street, the vehicle drivers began to congregate on the sidewalk; some checking their watches paced the length of the walk while others huddled in small groups, one man untied the ropes securing his overloaded truck and started to pass down ladder back dining chairs and empty dresser drawers to another man. Suddenly, someone said, " Here she comes." and everyone turned to watch a small green Ford Escort pull into the lot and enter the vacant handicap space in front of the building. A short gray haired woman climbed out from behind the wheel of the car and called to one of the men who joined her on the passenger side of the car, where he removed a large oxygen concentrator from the back seat and taking the key offered by the woman headed into the building. The woman opened the front car door and helped a very portly man with a bald pate and long white hair that reaching to his shoulders, a bushy white beard brushed the middle of his chest, and wearing an olive green jogging suit, from the car. The man waited while the woman removed a small oxygen tank on wheels from the car and taking the man’s arm began to lead him up the sidewalk where two men were waiting to help him climb the nine terraced steps into the building and then the long flight of stairs to the second floor apartment.
The moment the man stepped out of the car a small hush fell on the gathering crowd, after a few minutes children could be seen pulling on parents coat sleeves and small voices could be heard asking in awe “is that really him.” Before the couple could take a dozen steps a small boy ran up to the man and tugged on his sleeve; the man turned his cobalt blue eyes framed by round rimless glasses to the lad and politely asked “yes son, can I do something for you” when the child stammered “ are you really him?” The man leaned over propping both hands and his considerable weight on his gnarled and crooked cane with the hand carved gnome for a handle and looked the lad straight in the eye and said “Well Son, I don’t know which him you are referring to, but, I am certainly me.” Then rising he gave a loud and jolly Ho Ho Ho, before turning to continue his slow pace up the sidewalk. Suddenly, the small boy could be heard yelling he really is “Santa Claus!”
As the trucks were being unloaded several of the women in the group began to unpack the boxes while the gray haired lady directed the placement of the furniture. The first piece was a large high back rocker placed in front of the large bedroom window where the bearded man would sit for many hours each day, keeping tabs on the comings and goings of the large complex and watching for and waving to the children playing in the yard below.
For the next two weeks each time the woman opened the apartment door she would find a small pile of envelopes and folded pieces of ruled note paper lying on the floor in front of the door. Each was written in a childish hand. Some included a drawing of a jolly fat man and each began “Dear Santa”. It was only a matter of days before the children in the neighborhood began calling the man who lived on the second floor “The man in the window.”
That moving day was Dec. 8, 2001 and the next year shortly after Thanksgiving the “Santa letters” once again began to appear on the floor in front of the door of apartment 2E as they did again the following year. But, suddenly on Dec. 4, 2003 the man in the window was dead, and as the word spread notes, toys, flowers and Santa Figurines began to collect outside the door, and to this day the lady who lives there is referred to as the wife of “the man in the window” and she still gets asked if her husband was “really him” to which she always answers “Well, I don’t know which him you are referring to, but, I am certain that he was my him.”
Once the letters started to appear the woman hung a small basket beside the door filled with candy canes and a small “take one” sign. At some point a photograph of the man sitting in the window was attached to the basket, and since his death she now keeps the basket out and filled year round. The children now leave happy meal toys and other surprising items in the basket for the lady when they take the candies and each Christmas Season “Dear Santa” and even a few “Dear God” letters will still appear in the basket.