64 years previously
Manuel Marin worked in his garden methodically turning the soil in the same patch of ground he had been digging at for the past hour as he waited for his wife to return from her doctors appointment. Nausea, feeling faint and no unwelcome gift from Mother Nature for at least two months they were both aware of what those symptoms meant. She’d had those same symptoms three times before and three times it had resulted in a miscarriage and heartache.
At the ages of 43 and 45 they had thought their days of having children were gone. But now it appeared they were being given another chance.
He’d offered to go with her for the appointment but she’d refused saying it was probably nothing and the doctor was more likely to tell her it was her “time of life” rather than a pregnancy.
He dug his spade into the earth with more force than was necessary, it wasn’t fair he thought in a rare fit of anger. He and his wife were good people, they attended church on Sunday, they worked hard so why did God keep denying them the only thing they had ever asked him for. And you get what you are given in life Manuel. Perhaps it is just not meant to be. Be grateful for what you have.
Rosanna Marin walked back to her home in a daze. Now she wished she’s taken her husbands offer to go with her. Three months pregnant! Three months! The doctor had actually congratulated her, something he had never done before. Then he had given her a long talk about the problems associated with being “an older mother” and what that could mean for the baby. Then he’d told her to get some Folic Acid and made her an appointment with the Midwife for the following week.
She had just sat in the chair stunned at what she was being told. She was pregnant and there was every chance this time she would keep her baby. The doctor wanted to keep a close eye on her and doubtless Manuel would want to wrap her in cotton wool for the next six months but… a baby.
The doctor had jokingly asked if she would prefer a boy or girl. But she didn’t care, she just didn’t care. And she wouldn’t allow herself to imagine either. She would wait until the baby was actually here and then she would let herself do some imagining.
“Three months!!” Manuel gasped “Rosanna that means that this time…”
“Shh Manuel” she whispered “Don’t say it. Please.” she started to cry.
Manuel stuck his spade in the ground and took his wife in his arms letting her cry.
“Do you think God will let us keep this one?” she asked him quietly.
“I hope so” Manuel sighed “I hope so”
Six months later, in the middle of the night when an 8lb, happy, healthy baby boy came squalling into the world displaying the lung power that would make him famous they got their answer. Someone had been listening that day.
66 years later that same little boy was staring out his apartment window, waiting for his girlfriend to get ready for the meal they were going for to celebrate his birthday.
She’d been repeatedly asking him what he wanted and he’d repeatedly told her he didn’t want anything “I have everything I need” except for one thing maybe a voice in his head had added. He fingered the box in his pocket the same way he’d done 40 years ago. Because it was the same box with the same ring in it. And tonight he had the same intention as he had all that time ago, the difference being this time he was sure. He checked his watch. And remembered the day he’d found out his Papa had kept that ring all that time.
Eight years previously
As Carlos walked through his parents house he was struck by how quiet it was and how empty it felt. Devoid of any life now his Papa had passed away. His Mama had died five years ago, his Papa had been slowly pining away every since. He had been laid to rest in the family plot alongside his beloved wife, and his parents.
Carlos idly picked up photos, smiling faces looked back at him, happier times captured forever.
The key to the safe was exactly where his Papa always left it, and the door opened easily. There where all kinds of paperwork in there. A copy of both their wills, various bank books and a ring box.
Carlos recognised it straight away and tears filled his eyes. He hadn’t given it much thought at the time, but that was why his papa had given him the money for the ring in cash. He had never taken it back to the jeweller, he had kept it and paid his son back out of his own pocket. “Oh Papa” he sighed.
What to do with it now though? He wasn’t planning on asking anyone to marry him. He had no children he could pass the ring onto, and being an only child there were no nieces or nephews to give it to but somehow he felt he couldn’t just take it to a shop and exchange it for money. Even though he would probably get quite a bit for it. Somehow that seemed wrong and disrespectful.
So he put the box in his pocket and when he got back home that night he put it away in his own safe.
“Penny for them?” Catherine appeared behind him and put her arms round him.
“I’ve decided what I want for my birthday” he turned to face her and pulled the open ring box out of his pocket.
Catherine gasped “I thought your papa took that back to the jewellers?”
“So did I. I only found out he still had after he had died”
Tears ran down both their faces as Carlos got on one knee “Will you make two old men very happy and do me the honour of becoming my wife?”
They married six months later in a simple Civil ceremony at the local Registry Office. Mark had given his Mother in Law away, Susanna had been bridesmaid and Dylan had been put in charge of the rings. It never made the newspapers and the other three members of Il Divo sent their congratulations and “about damn times” via email.
Afterwards the party had gone to the restaurant where the happy couple had gone for their first “official dinner date” just after finding each other again.
Toasts were given, speeches were made and Dylan asked if he could call Carlos “Papa” instead of Grandpa which was what he’d called Richard.
Carlos had hugged him and said that “Yes, Papa Carlos would be just fine”
Susanna had made an announcement of her own. She was pregnant and the baby would be due in six months.
The newly weds took a three month cruise as their honeymoon.
And right on her due date Susanna gave birth to beautiful baby girl they named Rosanna after Carlos’ Mama.