After Van left, Kristin immediately up to her room. After retrieving her blue leather bound Bible from the mahogany nightstand, she lay down across her peach-colored sheets and turned to the book of Ruth. Although Kristin already knew the story, she eagerly read it again, desperately wanting to see what Van had seen. He seemed so sure of his role in her life and she wasn’t exactly sure where she belonged in his.
The first chapter of Ruth discloses that a woman (Naomi) and her two daughters-in-law (Orpah and Ruth) lose all of their husbands while living in a land called
But Orpah and Ruth want to go with her. Although Naomi is touched, she insists that they return to their own people and start their young lives over, maybe even get married again. Orpah finally decides to return to her family, but Ruth insists on going with her mother-in-law back to
Kristin stopped reading for a moment, letting those things sink in. That’s what I did with Mama Gray. Mama Gray is Naomi. And I’m Ruth? I’m Ruth, she rehearsed to herself. Kristin already knew how the rest of the story went. In
Van is Boaz, Kristin deduced with a mixture of undeniable pleasure and a sliver of uncertainty. Like Boaz, Van has been very generous in his quest to help the two widows rise up from sorrow. In fact, he seemed to have taken a personal interest in their welfare. And it seemed to please him to do so, too. Kristin and Jana never felt like a charity case with Van. His benevolence overwhelmed them at times, but it always left them with their dignity.
Now what do I do, Lord? Boaz and Ruth got married, but I’m not ready for another marriage. Am I? Kristin prayed, closing the Bible and her eyes. She had much to think about tonight.
* * *
Work became even more of a strain after that. It was good thing that Van had two other businesses which kept him occupied; otherwise the situation at the center might have become unbearable. Trying to act professional around a person who not only held your heart, but who you’d also rather be making love to than talking about COBOL with, was not an easy task for either of them. Sometimes their intense feelings had a way of seeping into the workplace; no matter how hard Van and Kristin tried to prevent it from happening.
One cold November day, a prestigious client came into the training center and requested a meeting with Van and his staff. It was a gentleman named Tray Davidson. Mr. Davidson was from the local youth detention center. He wanted them to train some of their troubled teens who were going to be re-entering mainstream society soon, teens that he wanted to equip with more marketable skills.
Kristin observed how Van not only accepted the venture, but flat-out refused to charge them anything for the services. Van also agreed to establish a Saturday workshop program for the teens in order to address their specific needs.
Kristin felt tears form in the back of her eyes at his generosity and selflessness. Almost involuntarily, her arm went up as the first instructor to volunteer for this worthwhile program. She had to help him in this venture. These were the kinds of things Van thrived in.
Kristin knew enough about him by now to know that helping others fed his soul. Even now she can still remember the look of satisfaction Van wore when he’d given Jana that new car and when he’d given her those beautiful hair combs. Because of him, Kristin bought more decorative combs and now wears her hair down three out of five workdays.
Van felt a surge of deep emotion hit him at Kristin’s willingness to help him impact their community’s youth. For a brief moment, their eyes embraced in mutual admiration in a way that they both wished their lips could. Give me strength, Lord. You know I much I want her.
Picking up on their fervent exchange, Claudia immediately volunteered as well. She shot Kristin an icy glare before turning her attention back to Van. Each woman had a reciprocal dislike for the other and it showed. Despite those few tense moments, the meeting went on smoothly and another worthwhile charity had been formed.
* * *
Although fighting challenges at work (internally and externally), Kristin’s home life was finally stabilizing. Since she started working at the center her income has increased tremendously, largely due to all those bonuses she earned through client referrals. For the first time in a long time, Kristin could actually buy the things she wanted without feeling torn. She no longer had to choose between her needs and her wants. Now she could have them both. Kristin liked the freedom that came along with being gainfully employed.
Great changes occurred in Jana’s life, too. The first of which was the fact that she found a job working as a customer greeter in a clothing store at the local mall. Jana loved her new job at Garnett’s department store. It was obvious by the way she constantly talked about it, and the fact that she got to be around so many people was therapeutic for her.
It was through this job that Jana encountered another great change in her life. There, she met a nice gentleman named Jimmy Binace. Jimmy was in his mid-fifties with salt and pepper hair and a warm smile. Jana met him one day as he searched for birthday presents for his twin granddaughters. He made her laugh as she watched him constantly raking his hands through his hair, trying to remember what sizes they wore. Although amused, Jana’s heart went out to him.
Now totally disheveled, Jimmy listened quietly as the beautiful dimple-faced woman not only insisted that he call his daughter to confirm the twins’ sizes, but also later helped him select two matching outfits for them. So grateful and impressed by the helpful woman, Jimmy considered asking her out. But he was too shy.
Fortunately for him, Jana didn’t have that problem. “Are you married, Mr. Binace?” she boldly asked as the cashier rang up his purchases. Jana busied her hands with helping to fold the garments on the counter.
“No, I’m a widower five years now,” Jimmy said. His pulse was racing as her deep dimples reached out and captured his heart. I do believe I’m falling for this fine lady.
“I see. I, too, lost a mate. It’s been almost a year now. I also lost a son,” Jana added solemnly. Then her gorgeous face transformed into a warm smile. “It’s been pretty hard, but my daughter-in-law and I are making it okay now,” she said, folding a dangling sweater sleeve back into the purple shopping bag.
As they continued to talk, Jana found out that Jimmy was a retired schoolteacher who now owned several car wash establishments in the area. After exchanging phone numbers, she invited him to go to church with her.
“I’ll meet you there next Sunday,” Jimmy readily agreed, wanting to see this beautiful vision of dimpled loveliness again as soon as possible.
“It’s a date then,” Jana confirmed, thrilled with his acceptance.
* * *
When Jana told Kristin about Jimmy later that evening, her face glowed with excitement. It amazed Kristin to see her mother-in-law so openly excited about another man. She envied her courage. But instead of following Jana’s example, she occupied her mind and life with other things.
One of the things Kristin occupied her mind with was the renovations to the house. Although Jana physically and financially helped with the repairs, too, it was the younger Mrs. Gray that spearheaded the major renovations until the Gray family home was completely restored to its former glory and then some.
Seeing the two-story brick home finally refurbished gave the two women a huge sense of accomplishment. All of the carpet was replaced, the heating system was updated, another bathroom was added, and a patio was installed in the back. Even the gravel driveway had been paved.
Even though Kristin was feeling stronger these days (she’d successfully made it past her November wedding anniversary), Christmas was coming fast and she was starting to get depressed. December had been the month of the fatal accident, and although missing Sammy wasn’t an area of torture anymore, she feared that she’d waited too late to make something happen between her and Van. They hadn’t really talked since October and Kristin was starting to believe that his feelings for her had cooled.
© 2007 by Suprina Frazier