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My Christmas Rose
By Angela Juarez

From Fifty Something Magazine

Fifty Something Magazine

My hands felt sweaty as I made my way toward the administration building. The newspaper ad read "Mature woman to work in hospital kitchen."

Well that I am ... all sixty one years of me. I'm surprised they called me so soon after submitting my resume. They must be desperate.

It's time I got on with my life anyway. Five years is long enough to wait and mope around hoping John will come back to me. It's sad we never had any children, at least I'd have someone to help ease the pain of divorce.

I did have a child ... once ... for five minutes. How beautiful she looked, all pink like a little rose, a Christmas rose. It seems like yesterday, not 45 years ago, and that ache in my heart never did go away.

"Mrs. Crane the supervisor, will be with you shortly," said the young woman at the desk.

There sure are some good smells coming out of the kitchen ... cinnamon definitely.

"You can follow me if you like," she said leading the way.

"Hello Jenny, I'm Mrs. Crane," she said smiling. Everything seems to be in order. When can you start working?" "I can start immediately," I said.

"Tomorrow will be fine," she replied.

Whew, I'm glad that's over with. My first job ever! I wonder why John was so adamant about my not working. I'll always take care of you he said. Sure, until some young thing came along and made him feel like he was 25 again. Oh well, I'm not going to dwell on that subject. I'm starting a new life.

The next morning when I arrived at the hospital for my first day on the job, I was flabbergasted by the hustle and bustle in the kitchen. Everyone was so nice, and the people that stopped by the salad side to say hello to me warmed my heart.

"I have some notes that might make this job a little easier for you," the young lady at the desk said. Gee she's a sweetheart, always smiling and so pleasant. She reminds me of someone, but I don't know who.

Little by little I caught on to the tasks of getting trays ready for the patients. I loved my job and looked forward to coming in to work in the morning. By the end of the summer I could swing that hospital cart like I had been doing it all my life. It seemed as though I had a new lease on life and life was good.

One day Rose, the young woman at the desk, brought a picture album to work. I picked it up while I was on break and started leafing through it. I came across a picture of a building that was disturbingly familiar. "Where is this building?" I asked.

"Oh somewhere in upstate New York. Ten years ago I started a search for my birth mother and this building was as far as I got. It's a home for unwed mothers."

My heart hit the pit of my stomach. I knew that place. That's where my parents sent me 45 years ago. "Gee Jenny you look like you just saw a ghost," Rose said.

"I was in that home 45 years ago. I gave birth to a beautiful little girl but had to give her up. Back in those days an unmarried 16-year old having a baby and keeping it was unheard of."

"When did you have your baby," Rose asked sympathetically.

"Christmas Eve 1955."

"What a coincidence, that's my birthday too. I inquired about my birth mother at the unwed mothers home and was told they would try to make contact with her. If she agrees to a meeting they would let me know. I never heard from them again so last year I gave up. I guess they couldn't locate her."

That afternoon, I looked up the phone number of that home in upstate New York. I asked if there was any information about my daughter. They told me they had been trying to locate me and an old neighbor told them I was deceased. She would contact my daughter right away and arrange a phone meeting.

The next day my heart was beating a mile a minute when Mrs. Crane told me I had a phone call. I heard the most beautiful and familiar voice say ... "Hello, my name is Rose and I think you might be my mother."

I turned around and looked through the glass-enclosed office and saw Rose on the phone. She gave me a thumbs up and I said, "Yes, Rose, I do believe I am your mother."

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