Friday, March 14, 2014


      Fifteen minutes later, she had the apartment key in her hand, following tiny, red-haired Mrs. Tabieri down the hall to her first floor apartment. Jeannette was delighted to find her living room window looked out over the wooded slope into the Metroparks.
      "How about those boys who're supposed to help move this little lady in?" Dr. Halliday asked as they approached the door at the end of the hall. "When can they get here?"
      "Not coming," Mrs. Tabieri said. She stepped around Jeannette when she stopped short, and rapped twice on the door.
Jeannette barely had time to gape and wonder what had gone wrong with Max's arrangements when the door of her new apartment swung open. Rita Carson laughed and reached out and enfolded Jeannette in a hug that literally dragged her off her feet.
      "Welcome home!" a chorus of voices rang out into the hall.
      Then Pastor Glenn was there, taking Jeannette from his wife's embrace to hug her. The gray-haired, stocky man always reminded her of a lumberjack, and today he fit the picture with his usual jeans and red plaid flannel shirt.
      Jeannette found herself passed from person to person, into the apartment that smelled of fresh wallpaper and lemon polish and ammonia -- where it wasn't drowned out by the heavenly, warm, rich scents of chili and cornbread and hot chocolate.
      Jeannette was almost in tears as she introduced Dr. Halliday to Pastor Glenn and auburn-haired Rita; Max's parents, Joel and Emily Randolph and their two sons, Joel and Jeremy; Dr. Holwood and his wife, Doria and their foster-daughter, Nikki James; Rick Michaelson and his three sons and their wives. She looked around, and sure enough saw a long sheet cake box on the table set up in the corner.
      "You can't leave Tabor without visiting Rick's Bakery and getting some date nut cake," she finished, feeling a little teary, a little giddy.
      She stepped over to the box and lifted the lid. Sure enough, a cake with 'Welcome home, Jeannette' written on it filled the box. The familiar sweet, spicy, nutty aroma of date nut cake reached up from the box to enfold her like a warm hug.
Jeannette burst into tears.

      Dr. Halliday wisely let Rita, Emily and Max steer Jeannette into the bedroom, where several chairs waited with an abandoned game of Uno, a book, and Emily's ever-present cross-stitch. The three waited with Jeannette, patting her back and holding her hand. Max fetched her a glass of water with ice cubes. Jeannette hiccupped a few times as she finally got her tears under control.

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