For years a beautiful poinsettia plant appeared at my home on the day after Thanksgiving, a gift from my wonderful former step father. He was only married to my mother for a few years, but he was committed to a relationship with both my sister and me far beyond what he had lived with our mother. And we adored him, in all his gruff bravado but kind interior, he remembered every birthday, something my mother had never done, and made every effort to include us in his life beyond the Sharon years. At my father's memorial he told me that when he died he wanted something very similar to what we did for Dad, a celebration. I brushed him off, said of course but there were no plans to be made quite yet. Nine months later my stepfather died, unexpectedly really, and there we were again, at a celebration.
And that year, on the day after Thanksgiving, no poinsettia plant arrived at my door.
One day, many years ago, I walked into my office at The Bank and was surprised to find that my light had not been turned on. It didn't register immediately, I stopped, sensed something was different, backed up and then flipped on the light, realizing, quite suddenly, that I didn't remember a day when I had actually turned the light on myself. Around lunchtime it hit me. The day before the branch security guard had a heart attack while opening the drive through, one of the tellers found him. I had been at a meeting downtown and didn't make it back to my office until well into the afternoon. Carl was a wonderful person, a person who actually took a real interest in the well being of those who worked with him, those whose safety was his responsibility. He often chided me for staying late, worrying that I was vulnerable in that bank all alone at night (I was). He wandered the branch during the day, eyes darting around looking for anything unusual, moving towards the teller window or personal banker desks when he detected unrest. Carl appeared right outside my door whenever an angry customer found his way to my office.
And Carl had been turning my light on for five years, every day, and I never once noticed.
Every year at Christmas my kind husband sends me, and my sister, a beautiful poinsettia, having witnessed my break down the year it failed to appear. A nice reminder now of two people very dear to me, my stepfather and my husband. And Carl, who always left the light on.