We sat through the night,

unlocking puzzles

with magic words

and drowning out the sounds

of old funeral hymns

with laughter

and good red wine.


You spoke of travelling

to far off and exotic places,

peopled with colorful cultures

and filled with stories

of history and folklore.

I, in turn,

shared all of what I had;

recounting the tale

of Daniel’s battle with cancer,

my teenage granddaughter’s pregnancy

and my youngest son’s addiction.


There were never judgements in your eyes,

only the dancing light of the lamps

reflected in your brown eyes

and a kindness that never wavered.

You let me pour out my pain,

while you poured another glass of wine;

more that I have drank in years,

but I was safe with you.

I was always safe with you.


You brought out a little pendant

made of gold and jade

and told me that it was a talisman,

from East Asia

and that it was meant to bring peace

and good fortune to whomever wears it.

Such a silly thing,

but I took it

and I wore it.


As the night wore on,

you told me of your lovers;

none of which could stand

your gypsy lifestyle.

Bruno, the Italian business man,

who owned too many fast cars.

Johnathan, the writer,

who took the teaching job in London

and Charles,

the explorer,

who broke your heart in Argentina.


Then I poured the wine for a while

and you rested your head on my shoulder

and we decided that the world

was full of trouble,

full of awful people

and terrible circumstances,

but sure as God is in His Heaven;

we could endure it all,



The lamps burned low,

we talked about Mom and Dad.

How Mom baked Christmas cookies in October

and dad would have them eaten by November,

with our help, of course.

How we loved the old house,

before we moved to Ottawa

and snow-days and summers at the cottage.

We made a promise,

to return to visit the old house

sometime next summer,

when the kids were out of school.


The wine finally gone,

and both of us wrung dry

of tears and laughter;

we went to bed,

but before I closed my eyes,

I thanked God for my sister

and asked Him to protect you.

And I know,

down the hall,

in the guest bedroom;

you were doing the same thing.


HG – 2016

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