Being Inspired, maybe – 151 - Be Careful What You Wish For
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
Everyone always wants to
change their circumstances, particularly if you are among those who are not so
My father always said,
whenever we complained about not having enough money to go on holiday or buy
something we needed, that there was always someone worse off than we were.
As a child, I could
hardly believe that was true when it looked like everyone else had everything
As an adult, I promised
myself that I would never be in those circumstances and that I would always have
And, of course, what you
want, what you would like, and what really happens are very different outcomes,
and no matter how much planning, and how many contingency plans you have in
place, a single event can wreck everything.
When you open the front
door and see policemen, two thoughts cross your mind. The first, they're at the wrong place, the
second, that something awful has just happened.
It was the second.
"May we come
As I stood to one side, a
thousand thoughts went through my mind until it settled on one, something had
happened to Jane.
As she did every
Wednesday morning, she got up early, I made her breakfast, she kissed the children
and told them she would be back the next day, then headed for the airport for
her weekly visit to head office.
When we had to move, her
company agreed to let her work from home, and it was an arrangement that worked
well, she was only missing for two days a week, and a week when the annual
accounting was done.
She was due back this
Instead, I had to police
officers in my lounge room, looking very sombre.
happened to Jane, hasn't it." I
almost couldn't bring myself to say it.
spoke. It was like they had drawn straws
and she got the short one.
"I'm very sorry to
say your wife was involved in an accident this morning, on her way to the
Atlanta airport. We have just been
informed she passed away."
It was one of those
moments when there were no words. In
fact, I was not sure what I felt in that moment other than a great sadness.
"We understand a car
ran a red light, and hit the limousine. Had
she been on the other side..."
Not much consolation in
"Do you have someone
you can call; Do you need us to arrange for support..."
"I have a sister,
I'll call her. Thank you for coming and
telling me, I guess this is not what you want to be doing at this time of the
"Part of the job,
I ushered them to the
door and after reassuring them I would be OK, and getting out the phone to call
my sister, they left.
The shock of it hadn't
set in. As I closed the door, my
thoughts turned to the twins, now at school.
They adored their mother and would be expecting her to pick them up from
I would have to get them before news of her death reached them.
These days, with the internet, someone would find out and it would be
better to hear it from me.
My sister, Eileen. She had been amazed that I would find a girl
like Jane let alone marry her. She had
always expected me to be the philandering bachelor.
"Something very bad
"Killed in a car
crash this morning in Atlanta. The
police were just here."
"Oh my God,
George. The girls."
"I know. I have to get to them. Can you be here when I get home? They'll need you."
"Sure. On my way."
Next call, the girls
school. I called the headmaster and
explained the situation, and he immediately had them brought to his office.
When I arrived, I put on
my best 'this is a happy day' face and went in, mustering all of the courage I
had to not look like something bad had happened.
The girls, of course,
thought that their mother had arrived home early and come to get them. She had done it before.
They were only mildly
disappointed to see me.
"Sorry, you have to
tolerate me for a while. We have to go home,
and you've been given a day pass."
Knowing how much they
preferred not to be at school, the diversion worked.
The headmaster gave me a
wan look as we left.
I fielded a hundred
questions on the way home, all of which centred around what surprise Mom had in
store for them, and the fact it had to be monumental since they had to go home
All the time I was trying
to think of a way to let them down gently, but there wasn't one. Being blunt wasn't the way either, they
deserved the truth.
As soon as they saw
Eileen, I could see the hesitation and a note of trepidation. Usually, Eileen came over when Jane was going
to have an extended stay away.
"I need you two to
go into the lounge and sit down. I'll be
then in a minute."
"Is Mommy not
coming home today?"
They knew something was
"I'll be in in a
minute and will explain everything."
At least Eileen had to
foresight not to show any sign of the distress I knew she must be feeling.
When the girls had gone
into the room she gave me a teary-eyed look and a hug.
"You must be
"It hasn't sunk
in. I'm still expecting her to walk in
the door, and this is all a bad mistake."
"This is one time I
hate the idea of being a father."
"Then I'm glad you
called me. You could not break this
alone. They are going to be
Everyone who knew her
Once again, I had to find
the courage to keep it together, but at least I had support.
It went better than I
expected. At first, they thought it was
an elaborate prank, though I was not sure how they could think that.
Then, when they realised
it was true, they, like I was when I first heard the news, were in shock, and
barely able to comprehend the reality of it.
I did remember saying at
one point, "I wish she was still alive, and that she would walk back
through that door..." but not able to finish.
So, we just sat there, in
silence, the rest of the world passing by, going about its business.
Until there was another
knock on the door.
I was going to ignore it,
but a nod from Eileen got me off the seat.
Perhaps the police were
back to tell me it was all a big mistake, and it was someone else who'd died.
I opened the door...
...and neatly had a heart
A wish come true? Standing before me was a woman who looked exactly
like Jane, down to the last detail, including the unmanageable whisp of hair.
"You must be
George. No, not Jane, Jill, the banished
evil twin. Now, where is she?"
© Charles Heath 2023