I know many have already read this story. But as I promised folks can read before they download. I will have its download links soon on website and linked below the story.
It was a dreary winter’s afternoon in the small Pennsylvania town of Millers-burg. In the empty Salem Lutheran Cemetery, an elderly woman in her mid-eighties sits alone on the bench with her daughter Lilith Randolph Willard in front of their loved one’s headstone.” Lillian Anne Randolph rose from the bench with her daughter’s assistance. Approaching the headstone, she placed a final poinsettia on the grave, then spoke in a soft voice, “Goodbye George, my dear sweet love.”
George Henry Willard was the eldest of four boys and the father of two daughters.
A rather tall and dark-haired man, whose eyes were the deep shade of the ocean. Her own hair had become the color of steel while her eyes remained that youthful shade of green, which had always reminded her late husband of emerald gems. It was also her birthstone.
Every year of their sixty years of marriage, Lillian’s husband had given her a bouquet of poinsettias on the first twelve days of December. Later in the day, as Lilith headed into the kitchen to cook dinner, Lillian went into the living room to watch television.
Lillian recalled a story during dinner, “One year during the Easter holiday after we returned home late in the evening, I settled you into bed, and your father decided he needed to go back out for a bit……I forbade him from going out and threatened that he would have to sleep on the couch if he did. Knowing I would be angry, he just smiled coyly. That is what he did when he was up to no good, and went out anyway. When he finally came back, I was fuming mad at him. “Little did I know…he had bought a bouquet of daisies with a box of my favorite candy and a bottle of my favorite wine. A brand that was somewhat hard to find most of the time back in those days. Anyway, we had a piece of lemon meringue pie with a half a glass of wine and slow danced until midnight.”
Once she ended her story, there was silence for the remainder of the dinner. After-wards, they sat for a while to watch television; it was their nightly ritual before bed. During the night, the old woman was awakened by a cold breeze entering the room. Struggling to get up out of bed, Lillian went over to the window and shuffled back to bed to sleep, only to be awakened again a short time later by the feeling of something cold touching her face.
Quickly she sat up in her bed…but…no one else was in the room. She laid back down, attempting to calm herself, going back to sleep where she remained and remaining asleep uninterrupted for the rest of the night. The next morning they had an earlier breakfast than usual. And They then headed out to pick up Lilith’s sister Ginger Willard-Carroll, and her 13,-year-old daughter Gina at the airport, and do the rest of the Christmas gift shopping. It had always been traditional that Lilith and her sister Ginger help put up the rest of the Christmas decorations, along with helping in the Christmas Eve and day cooking.
Once Gina was old enough, she also joined in on the festive Christmas traditions in the Willard family. That night after her daughters and, niece, went to bed, Lillian was disturbed by the same odd occurrence as the night before, and like before, a breeze in her room with the odd sensation on her face.
Again, she struggled out of bed and shuffled to the window to close it, then went back to bed. This time though, she stopped dead in her tracks and gazed over at the dresser, then thought to herself, it couldn’t be. A poinsettia rested on it.
She went over to pick it up, puzzled. She thought wondered whether she should she tell her daughter, or for that matter, what would her daughter think? Rather than let her daughter think she was senile, she decided to put it the flower in the dresser drawer, out of sight.
She went back to bed and tried to forget what had happened. Coincidentally, her daughter, Lilith, who was in bed across the hall from her, had a similar experience at nearly that exact moment without her realizing it, experienced the same odd disturbance. With the exception of one thing: there were no poinsettia flowers in her room.
The next morning Lillian said nothing about what had happened over the past two nights and remained unaware of her daughter’s encounter. The next few days were filled up with baking, wrapping presents, and putting up the rest of the Christmas decorations. While everyone else slept comfortably, Lillian’s nights were filled with the same odd occurrences.
It is now the twenty-first of December, when aunts, cousins, uncles, and nephews, are the last to arrive. It was now six o’clock that evening when dinner was finally on the table. Everyone had seated themselves when a seemingly innocent question arose.
It was a subject that Lilith’s older sister Ginger would never have thought would upset their mother. However, she was wrong about that. Shocking them all with her reaction, Lillian threw her napkin down without saying a word as she attempted to rise up, brushing off her daughter’s help. She stayed in her room for the rest of the evening. Lilith and Ginger spent the evening wondering why this made her so angry. When in fact it was an innocent question asked by her granddaughter Gina.
With tears streaming down her face, Gina asked sorrowfully, “Why is Auntie Lillian mad at me? What did I do?” Lillian’s Sister, Gina Rebecca, who since her niece’s birth went by Becca, knew why her sister reacted the way that she did. Nevertheless, she knew she couldn’t say it to her nieces, knowing how much Lillian wanted to keep this from them. The same thing happened again the next evening.
Lillian got up, shuffling over to the dresser, placing the flower in a drawer. She got up shuffling over to the dresser, placing the flower in a drawer. Lillian was awakened once again by that same gentle breeze, and again there was a poinsettia blossom lying on the dresser. She got up and shuffled quietly over to the dresser, picked up the flower and held it for a moment before placing it in the drawer with the others. This continued right up until Christmas morning. Lillian walked into the dining room and noticed that everyone else was gathered in the adjoining kitchen, crowded around the table. Noticing her mother standing behind her, Lilith moved out of the way, to show the poinsettias sitting on the table. Standing there in disbelief at what she saw, Lillian knew it was time to tell the whole story.
Lillian pulled out a chair and sat down in front of the flowers and grabbed Lilith’s arm, pulling her over to the other chair to sit beside her. She began to tell her a story of how the tradition between her and her father came to be and how they met each other.
“He’d returned home from being medically discharged from the service, we met that night in a local diner, sitting at the counter, eating our dinner. We hit it right off, began seriously dating soon after. That same year, he proposed unexpectedly on Christmas Eve.
It took me by surprise, and I told him no. I wasn’t ready for marriage. We continued to date for another year after that. Again, the next year on Christmas Eve he proposed to me again. Nevertheless, this one took me by even more surprise because he had managed to get both sides of our families together.
Well, George asked me to go out with him on Christmas Eve night. Even though he knew, I had plans with the family that evening. Oddly enough, they were okay with it. Which struck me as odd. On the other hand, I never questioned it. Before I got ready, he handed me a beautiful purple dress with gold decoration along the top and skirt, asking me to wear it.
I quickly got ready and then off we went. I just thought George was taking me to some fancy restaurant. But, I soon realized he had something up his sleeve. As soon as we pulled up to the church, he asked me to go inside with him. He felt it was too cold to stay in the car, even with the car furnace running.
When I walked into the room, I found the pews filled with our families, and a minister at the front of the church waiting. As I walked up to the front toward your father, George got down one knee to propose to me right in front of everyone. I tell you, while it was the sweetest thing George had ever done! It was also the orneriest! George knew if he did it this way, I wouldn’t say no in front of everyone, which did make me mad. He handed me a beautiful bouquet as he rose up off his knee, and I said yes. Although, I am pretty sure he thought I would say no. A year after that, you were born.
After that, we both decided we did not want gifts for our anniversary, since we both felt we had everything. On the first twelve days every December, he would give me one poinsettia each of the twelve days as a symbol of our love. Each one represented the year we met, dated, married, and gave birth to you. It was silly not to saying anything all these years. I just wasn’t sure you’d understand.”
Lilith just smiled as they hugged with tears in their eyes and said softly, “Don’t be silly, of course I understand. Listen, I have to tell you something, but this may sound strange or maybe you’ll think that I have gone off my rocker. I was in my room in bed ready to sleep when something came up to my bed and touched my face. There was also a cold breeze in the room. That sent a chill down, my back at about the same time. I almost feel foolish telling you this. I cannot explain it other than I think it was Dad.”
Just then, Lillian smiled big.
“I have something else to tell you Lilith. I have been having strange experiences the past several days. An odd breeze would enter my room, as well as someone touching my face.
However, with me they left a poinsettia on my dresser. I had been hiding them and this odd occurrence from you, thinking that you would think I had become senile. Though I felt like it this morning, when I went to look in the dresser drawer and I couldn’t find them. I guess your father decided to pay us both a visit. That little sneak! I bet he did all this to get me to tell you that story.”
Looking up with tears in her eyes, as if she could see him from the heavens, she smiled and chuckled as she thought he was once again was up to his sneaky ways. Lillian then soon took everyone to the old church, where she and George had married back in the 1950′s. To everyone’s surprise, George had one last surprise for them, as soon as they stepped into the quaint little church, something strange appeared in front of them toward the minister’s podium.
George just gazed at them all, as he walked up to Lillian, smiling that old coy smile once more as he gently touched her face and kissed her cheek as he peered over to his daughter, and granddaughter, smiling at them too. He turned back toward the front and within a blink of an eye, vanished, leaving them in a daze and wondering if it was truly him. With the activity now settling down, soon after that chance encounter from beyond the spirit world with their loved one’s ghost, the Willard family spent the rest of the holiday in peace, happily reminiscing and laughing, and crying more.