The directions in the letter were very clear. Patricia and Neil were to board a Greyhound bus to Michigan and then another to Chicago. Neil, who was very doubtful, stood beside his sister in the crowded bus terminal, fished the letter from his pocket and scanned the contents.
“Neil, why are you reading that letter again?” Patricia asked with a ting of agitation. “It “still” says, coming to Chicago would be in our best interest!”
Neil folded the letter and put it back in his pocket, trying hard not to let his sister see how unsure he was about this sudden move that would take them hundreds of miles away to an unsure future. …All on the whim of a letter, two bus tickets and some spending money. It wasn’t logical. Their only “known” relative, Grandma Hanna, had passed away three weeks ago, leaving them with only a strong belief in God and themselves. Neil remembered how Hanna used to paint all things cheery using a song as a brush and Patricia’s face as an easel… He couldn’t sing, but he did want to see his sister happy.
Patricia was seventeen years old and had just graduated from high school. She had the singing voice of an angel and was graced with large brown eyes and silky long hair to match. She was the perfect combination of their parent’s best features, who had tragically died in an accident when they were just babes.
Neil, on the other hand, was exceptionally tall for nineteen; six feet, three inches tall, to be exact. Patricia’s friends used to say, “If every inch counts for handsome, he certainly adds up!” Thick, curly, black hair hung to his shoulders in a way of silent defiance, framing sharp facial features and hazel eyes that could stare right through you. Grandma said he was the “spittin’ image” of George, her husband, whom they had never laid eyes on and come to believe, never existed.
Finally, Neil said, “We’ve got nothing to go back to. This part of Virginia is no more than a shanty town anyway-with no hopes of changing.” Looking into his sisters eyes, his voice gave way into a whisper, “You can sing in anyone’s church choir because it would be their good fortune to have you.”
Neil meant this sincerely and Patricia knew it. He was gradually letting go of his reservations and starting to believe in their abilities.
“Oh Neil,” Patricia bubbled emotionally, “you won’t be sorry!”
As the bus for Michigan opened its doors both of them felt new enthusiasm, and were now ready to take on the world!
“Patricia! Neil!” A man was shouting through the crowd. His apparent alarm caused both of them to move away from the bus. There they stood, frozen, looking at the gentleman who was now in front of them, bent over and out of breath. Patricia was startled, but not so much that she didn’t notice the man’s expensive ring and clothing.
The man was so out of breath he could not speak, forcing the two teenagers into a state of panic and then despair as the Greyhound bus to Michigan pulled off… As if on cue, the man stood up and brushed his fallen, gray hair back into place.
“My name is Henry George Links.”
Patricia and Neil looked at one another. “The man who sent the letter,” Neil asked?
“Yes” he answered. “I went to the house looking for you. That’s when a neighbor told me you had already left for the station.”
“But why are you here?” Patricia asked with a puzzled expression. “We were on our way to Chicago.”
“I’d better explain,” said Henry who motioned them to sit on a bench nearby. “Maybe your Grandma mentioned me to you before-by the name of ‘George’? I’m your grandfather!”
The shock in their eyes encouraged him to continue.
“Forty years ago I was in the Army, stationed near Virginia. I met your Grandma Hanna, fell in love and married her a month later. When it was time for me to be stationed somewhere else, her parents said they would disown her if she came with me. So,” -he said sadly, bobbing his head up and down, “I left, not wanting her to have to make that decision, and not knowing that we would soon be parents.”
Neil watched him staring at the memory in his own head, but didn’t dare disturb his story.
” A month ago,” Henry sighed, “Hanna found me by contacting the government… She then had them forward me a letter that said she was sick and would soon die. Her letter went on to say that our daughter, God rest her soul, had given us two wonderful grandchildren that needed caring for. I was in Greece, on business at the time. So when the Army finally reached me, Hanna had passed on. …That’s when I wrote to you, and that’s why I’m here.
Neil found it hard to speak up over the lump in his throat, but managed anyhow. “Grandpa George, Patricia and I could use some family now, and you seem like you need some yourself.”
“Young man, you’ve got keen insight-just like your grandpa” Henry chided.
Patricia, overjoyed threw her arms around both of them. “Thank God for you, Grandpa George! I just knew we didn’t have to be afraid! Now don’t you worry, Grandma Hanna taught us how to cook and clean and sow and…”
“…Yes, I know Hanna was a fine cook, but you don’t have to worry too much about choirs, where we’re going.”
“Really?” came Neils raised-brow reply.
“Yes “really”. You see after I retired from the Army, I took over the family business, Links Inc. We are wealthy people son…
Hardly able to contain herself, Patricia blurts out “Thank God for music and songs and faith and family!”
We’d better get going Grandpa George, before she really winds up-Neil says with a grin.
Then all three, linked arm and arm, laugh out loud as they walk fearlessly into their new life.