I love organization where everything is in its place. But, I have a terrible time achieving such neatness. My girlfriends seem to be able to keep everything where it belongs, but for some reason my things move from room to room. I have dishes in the living room along with shoes I wore the day before. My painting supplies are all in one room, but getting more than me in that room is simply impossible.
I seem to work in a whirlwind. I remember one time when I worked in a corporate office, my boss assigned another woman to help me get my cube organized to make me more efficient. I guess somewhere there’s a rule somewhere that says “only touch a piece of paper once.” Any more touches breeds disorganization and wasted time. I never did get the knack of it. However, I also never missed a deadline. I told my boss I work more effective in organized chaos. She said, “Whatever works, Barb. Just keep hitting those deadlines.”
I believe part of me doesn’t want to work myself to death to keep everything in place because my mother was a fanatical housekeeper. She put keeping things clean ahead of everything else. One time she came into my bedroom with a white glove after I cleaned. She found a trace of dust under my bed and made me clean again. See what I mean?
I tell myself I am far too artistic to keep everything neat all the time. I also love my friends enough to put them first even if I scheduled the day to scrub the kitchen floor. I do have priorities.
I also live with two animals and a husband. I rest my case.
Even though my home is somewhat disheveled, I am organized in my writing. In fact, to keep the timeline correct in the second edition of “Apple Pie and Strudel Girls” I keep a spreadsheet to make sure real history is weaved with the fiction element of the story properly.
The moral to this story: Everyone’s definition of organization is different. Make your world perfect for YOU.
APPLE PIE AND STRUDEL GIRLS – BOOK 6 (CONTINUED)
London, England – Christmas Eve—On his wedding day, Danny decided to dress at the base to allow Heidi her privacy as she prepared to make marriage promises again. His wool chocolate brown dress uniform with brass buttons provided a stunning backdrop for his jacket ribbon bar and the silver wings he wore over his heart. He spit shined his black shoes so bright he saw his himself. He studied his reflection in the mirror before he left his room and realized the boy who came to England to fly planes and kill Germans had disappeared. In his place, a man who experienced friends falling from the sky, became a prisoner of war, and found the love of his life stared back at him..
At the flat Mrs. Smithe draped the lace and satin dress over Heidi’s slim figure. After Heidi gazed at her reflection in the mirror, she didn’t believe the beautiful woman smiling back at her could be the same girl who didn’t think she possessed a happy future after graduating from secondary school. A Jewish family and three long journeys changed her forever. The children made her an adult. Her only disappointment was the wonderful people who entered her life during the past five years could be with her now. Tears welled in her eyes as she thought of her parents, Leisel, Marta, Dora, the Rabbi and Gavriella and Dominik.
A lace veil trimmed in pearls fell from a tiara Mrs. Smithe pinned on Heidi’s head. She carried a bouquet of Christmas cactus flowers Mrs. Smith grew in her apartment.
“There, my dear.” Tears formed in the landlady’s eyes.
Heidi saw the older woman’s distress. “Oh, Mrs. Smithe. I knew I should not wear Catherine’s wedding dress. It causes you such pain.”
“Don’t be foolish, sweetie. I am not thinking of Catherine; I’m overcome by what a beautiful bride you are.” Mrs. Smithe dried a tear rolling down her cheek. “We better make sure the children are ready to go. We don’t want you to be late.”
Ruthie wore a pretty pink velvet dress Mrs. Smithe made from a pair of curtains she had at the window in one of the rentals. She even solicited her friends and neighbors to find suits to fit both boys. As Heidi and the children emerged from the apartment, no one would guess soldiers still fought and citizens still died. For the few hours they’d be in their wedding clothes, as their lives appeared normal.
Danny arranged for a car to pick up his family and bring them to the base where the Major, the Chaplain, and Danny waited. As soon as Heidi and the children entered the chapel, Danny’s jaw dropped. Heidi reminded him of a drawing of a princess he reembered in one of his sister’s childhood storybooks. At one time he believed Rosalie Lombardo was the most beautiful bride in the world, but now Heidi took that honor.
Ruthie ran to Danny. “Papa Danny, Mama looks pretty, huh?”
“Yes, sweetheart. Mama is the most beautiful bride in the world.”
“So kiss her!” Ruthie said.
Everyone laughed. Ruthie wrinkled her forehead not understanding why everyone laughed. Brides and grooms kissed in her story books, so why did people laugh at her?
Mrs. Smithe wore her “mother of the bride” dress she hid in the back of her closet after Catherine died. When Heidi asked her to be the matron of Honor, she pulled out the dress and could smile again. Major Jamison stood in as Danny’s best man along with David. The whole group gathered around the altar with Chaplain and the intimate wedding ceremony began.
“We are gathered here together to marry Daniel and Heidi in holy matrimony.”
Jacob yelled. “What is mat-tri-monee?”
Everyone turned toward the little boy in short pants, and said, “Shhhh.” The child looked down at his shoes and started to cry. Danny picked him up. “Everything is okay, son,” he whispered to Jacob. “I’ll tell you later.”
Jacob wiped his tears and smiled. “Okay, Daddy.”
Danny returned Jacob to the floor and held his hand as the ceremony continued.
The chaplain said, “Repeat after me, Daniel. “I, Daniel, take you Heidi to be my lawfully wedded wife . . .
Naples, Italy—As Christmas got closer, Josie wore a melancholy expression. This would be her third year of celebrating Christmas without snow and family. She became uncharacteristically nostalgic. As she gazed at the palm trees, she thought about Christmas back home. Sap on logs would crackle in the fireplace; a fresh pine scent would waft through the living room while the sweet aroma of cinnamon would come from the kitchen. Her mother always baked dozens of different cookies, but the entire family decorated sugar cookies together around the kitchen table. Christmas in Italy this year would come with cold winds, rain, canned turkey, and hydrated potato flakes.
Mario found her starting out into space in the courtyard. “Hi Sweetheart. Whatcha thinkin’?”
Josie turned toward him with glistening eyes. “About home. I envisioned my parents drinking eggnog in front of a fire as the snow fell and laid a beautiful white covering over the bare trees and brown grass.”
Mario sat beside her and put his arm around her shoulders. “Yeah. Christmastime here leaves something to be desired. I want to go home too. But seeing we can’t, how about we spice the holiday up a little?” He grinned.
“Let’s go to Rome and celebrate Christmas Eve at the Vatican.”
“Don’t tease me, Mario.”
“I’m not teasing. We can go. It’s safe there now.”
“How will we get there, genius?”
“Details. Details.” A Cheshire cat smile crossed his broad face. “I got a buddy in the motor pool; he’s got a jeep all gassed up for us, Miss Smarty Pants.”
“You’re the only guy I ever met who can get the impossible done.” Josie laughed. “Mario, I’m glad you didn’t give up pursuing me. I love being with you. You make me so happy.” She leaned over and put a peck of a kiss on his cheek.
Mario blushed. “Thanks, doll. I’m glad you appreciate me because I never worked so hard to get a date. Hell, I almost died to get one with you!” He chuckled as his eyes twinkled. “So is Rome a date?”
“I’d be nuts to turn down a trip to Rome. After I get home, I’ll probably never want to come to Italy again.”
“Only time will tell.” Mario said. “Life can be a constant surprise if you let it be.”
Josie smiled. “Amen!”
On Christmas Eve morning, Josie and Mario took off for Rome. They remained silent as they whizzed through the hills and valleys of the countryside. As they got closer to the city, Josie expressed her fears of what they might find in the Eternal City. “Do you think the Krauts bombed Rome into oblivion?”
“Nah. They got in bed with Mussolini. I think the Italian dictator put down a few rules. I don’t think the Krauts are that barbarian.”
Josie said. “Really? I think bombing hospitals is pretty barbarous.”
Mario answered. “You’re right about that. I just hope Vatican Square didn’t appear on their radar.”
Once they passed Rome ‘s city limits Josie basked in the city’s beauty. The evening stayed warm and balmy. The stars burned bright and a full moon gave Vatican Square a warm glow. Mario and Josie waited with a throng of people in the courtyard for Pope Pius XII to appear on the balcony.
The Pope appeared through an open window and prayed the familiar prayers in Latin. A choir of beautiful voices sang out, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” and Josie thought about her little church back home where she sang the same song every Christmas Eve. In about eight hours her parents would celebrate Christmas with the same ceremony. For the first time in a long time, she thought about Peter. This would be the first Christmas without his funny sense of humor and sweet demeanor. Josie bowed her head and prayed for her parents because Christmas would be so difficult without any of their children close at hand.
Mario held Josie close. He loved everything about her. He loved her spunk, her courage, and her ability to banter with him. He loved the empathy she showed everyone. He loved her self-confidence and fearlessness. He bent down and kissed the top of her head as the Pope asked God for peace. Josie looked up at Mario with a tender smile.
After the Mass, people left the square, but Mario lingered. He didn’t want the magical night to end. He turned Josie to face him and placed a kiss on her lips. He whispered. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart.”
With tears in her eyes, Josie whispered. “Merry Christmas, my sweet Mario. Thank you for bringing me here. This Christmas turned out to be more special than I ever imagined.”
He handed her a small box.
He grinned. “A present, silly. Open it.”
He interrupted her. “Will you just open the GD present.”
“But we agreed to wait until tomorrow to exchange gifts.”
“Look at your watch. Miss Smarty Pants. Isn’t it after midnight?”
His voice took a tender tone. “I want you to remember this night forever. Please open the gift.”
“Okay. You win.”
Josie tipped open the lid of little wooden box to find a beautiful solitaire diamond perched in the center of a white gold band. “Mario! Oh my God! It’s beautiful!”
Before she said another word, Mario went down on one knee. “Josie, my love, will you be my wife?”
She said the one word he wanted to hear. “Yes. Oh God, yes!” She pulled him to his feet, wrapped her arms around him, and kissed him like never before.
His eyes glowed with love. “Let’s try the ring on for size.” He took the engagement ring in his thick fingers and slipped it onto her left-hand ring finger. The ring fit perfectly.
Josie couldn’t take her eye off the sparkling stone. “How did you ever buy such a beautiful thing?”
“Let’s just say, I know a guy, who knows a guy, okay?” He paused, “It helps to be Italian in Italy.”
She laughed and kissed again him, while happy strangers shared their joy with applause.