Tune In To Life

She hears her husband fumbling with the keys at the back door, and he finally enters as quietly as possible. He too looks exhausted, but the swing shifts are paying him double time, and they need every nickel to afford this apartment. He smiles at her and comes over to gently kiss them both.

Later, with the baby back to sleep, he emerges from the shower and joins Eva in bed, where they fall asleep in each other’s arms as the snow falls softly outside.

Wrapping Up

At the office, Stanley cleans out his desk, finding photos that were meant to be framed, but never were: his wife with the kids on that fishing charter boat. Eva was so seasick her face was almost green.

Stanley smiles.

There is a picture of Lee when he played Little League at 10 years old, and Stanley was the coach. He shakes his head at his slim waist in the picture.

Another photo is a good one, but his wife had such a solemn look on her face. Then he remembers — it was of a Fourth of July picnic the year she miscarried what would have been their third child. His arm was tightly wrapped around her waist, but he could see she was emotional.

He packs the photos among the other items, and closes the box. How much has happened in all those years. He looks up to see his staff rolling in the office door with a cake and wearing party hats. “Which nobody can deny, which nobody can deny.”

A Gut Wrench

Mark is proud that he picked Ashley up on time, and they had a nice dinner together. As he returns her to her mother’s home, he sees a strange car in the driveway. He walks Ashley to the door as he typically does, but when he starts to follow her inside, his ex-wife, Angie, meets him in the threshold.

“Hi, Ang,” he smiles, “what’s wrong?”

She closes the door behind her, and they stand in the cool night air.

“Nothing’s wrong, I just have a guest.”

Mark feels something in his chest drop into his stomach. “Oh,” he tries to say casually, “I see.”

Her lips form a tight smile, and she shrugs. “You don’t have to walk her to the door anymore,” Angie says. “Just watch her until she gets in the house, OK?”

Mark nods and tries to collect himself. “Sure thing. No problem. See you next week.”

He gets into his car and backs out slowly, looking over the car in the driveway more carefully than he did at first. He hopes the date on Saturday is a good one. He’ll tell Ashley all about it so she’ll be sure to tell her mother.

The Curve Ball

Stanley pulls into the driveway and leaves the boxes in the trunk. He has the next 35 years to put them away.

As he rounds the corner to the dining room, he sees across the entrance a banner that reads, “Finally, We Get a Turn!” On the table he sees what looks to be a feast, and his son Lee with his girlfriend, Eva with her husband and two kids and, of course, his wife, still looking as beautiful as ever, even though she’s clearly been cooking all day. Their waiting for him freezes like a snapshot in his mind, and a tear rolls down his cheek.

“Speech,” Eva shouts, “speech!”

Stanley swallows the apple in his throat, and thinks about the lives he’s touched, the friend and boss he’s been, the father, the husband, the listener and the “fixer” for people. He thinks about his substantial pension, paid-off mortgage and other blessings on this day of celebration.

He clears his throat and whispers, “Thank you — I am a very blessed man.” He sits at the head of the table, and Eva hands him the baby.

“Tomorrow,” his wife says, “we start looking for colors to paint this dining room.”

Full Circle

As Mark says good night to his date, she asks if they will see each other again. He tells her he’d like that very much. Indeed, she is a sweet girl, not quite the career-minded gal he had hoped for, but very nice and easy to talk to.

He switches on the radio and heads home.

A few miles away, his ex-wife, Angie, says good night to her new “friend” and smiles as she closes the front door behind him. Deciding to sleep with some music on tonight, she turns on the radio.

Stanley falls asleep in the rocker with Rebecca in his arms. Eva gently takes her from her father and reaches to turn off the radio, but the tune catches her ear, and she smiles, sits back on the hassock by her dad and the baby, and listens.

Her mother looks on and smiles, wiping away tears as she clears the table.

All of the radios are tuned to the same station, but each person is listening in a different way as Mick Jagger sings: “You can’t always get what you want. You can’t always get what you want. You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find — you get what you need!”

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.

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  2. The Beat of Life
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  4. Urgent Life
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