She stood over the bed packing a suitcase. It was well past midnight. She seemed very brave about it Remliel thought to himself as he looked on. Remliel and Sammael had been doing this job since before they could remember. It always amazed them how differently each client reacts. It was like they were never really sure if they were still asleep and dreaming or just too terrified to ask either Remliel or Sammael what was going on.
On this beautiful August night in Montreal, in the suburbs the moon was out and the humidity had subsided for the evening it seemed anyway. And Eugenia Mary Agnes Chippen Langford was not dreaming. Eugenia was 89 years old; she was a retired school teacher, mother of two and wife to Milton Harry Langford of the Langford’s down east. Well she should say widow; Milton had been dead now four years. Eugenia missed him like crazy!
Eugenia noticed that she seemed to be looking at herself as a much younger woman, imagine that. Across the room Remliel and Sammael just smiled and stared at her, she knew what she had to do; she had to pack her bag. She was leaving, she knew it yet she still was not quite used to the idea.
I suppose people think 89 is old, well when your 75 Eugenia thought 89 will look young. But Eugenia didn’t care what people thought, she didn’t hold grudges and didn’t care to gossip. She just felt sad that she would be leaving everything she loved so dearly.
What would she pack for such a journey? Remliel and Sammael were of no help at all and had they tried to help Eugenia she would have been much to shy to reply.
Eugenia had travelled before. Nothing extravagant like the Wilsons during the early 80’s when they went to Europe but Eugenia had been to Buffalo in “48” or was it “52” Oh she couldn’t remember. She had a good time though going by train. She wondered how she would be travelling to her next destination. She assumed by air since Remliel and Sammael did introduce themselves as her flight attendants.
Eugenia lived alone in the house she and Milton bought in the early fifties. She loved the old house. The creaks and crashes of the furnace bellowing out hot air faster than Milton could when he was alive. The home she loved so much where they raised their children, Sandra and Michael; where they entertained friends. And a safe haven during storms, those of nature and those engineered by life.
Nobody will know that she is gone till her daughter Sandra calls her promptly at 8:00am as she does every day to check up on her mom. By then Eugenia hopes her bags will have been long packed and she will have been escorted to her seat next to Remliel and Sammael on her way to her destination. Eugenia never liked good byes they were always far too sad and always made leaving such a complicated event.
She better get to work, what should she bring? She looked at herself in her bed an old woman, a woman ravaged by time. Eugenia was a woman who was content and never wanted for anything.
There was always food on the table, and a roof over her head, Milton loved that expression. She came a bit closer to herself and examined her face. It was a good face, a strong face for a woman. Not beautiful certainly not by today’s standards for women, but it was a face that might have launched a few ships a long time ago. Wrinkles set deep into that face, lines of duty, of worry of love and anger, lines that spoke to you when you looked at them. I have a good face Eugenia thought as she smiled at herself.
Eugenia wasn’t sure what to bring on such a journey so she just packed her usual things she would take on a trip. Although Buffalo was sometime ago she had been to Toronto once with some friends to see a show. And she once went down East to look up some of the Langford family members when she was working on her memoirs for her children.
So she packed her walking clothes, her good clothes and some extra underwear just in case. She also packed her locket she kept on her nightstand with the pictures of her two children inside of it. She packed her Grandma Photo album because the next best thing to having children of your own is of course to be a grandma, and Eugenia was an exemplary grandma indeed. She had seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. And each one of them was precious and loved beyond compare by her and by Milton when he was alive.
Eugenia went to the bathroom and when she saw herself in the mirror she almost jumped out of her skin. She was so young looking. It was a bit of a shock after so many years of wearing all those wrinkles to suddenly see you looking like some super model, well all right maybe not a super model. She packed her brush and toothbrush and toothpaste and lingered on in the bathroom thinking. A home is such a memory box isn’t it?
She wondered if she would see Milton again. The thought raced across her brain but Remliel and Sammael were tight lipped. They just stood guard as Eugenia continued packing her bag. So many friends so many relatives she might see again? But she quickly sent the thought from her mind again and grabbed her pajamas and slippers from the hope chest at the end of her bed. The hope chest her mother had given her long before she even had met Milton.
It was a beautiful piece her hope chest made of strong cedar. Suddenly all the memories she had of her life seemed to drift into her thoughts, all of them feeling so real. She saw her hope chest fill with pots and pans and measuring cups, then with linens handed down from one generation to the next. She saw it filled with her wedding dress and her children’s first communion outfits. Her children’s children baptism dresses. Mostly her cedar chest was filled with hope.
And now Sammael whispered to her it was time and Eugenia said goodbye to her old self lying in her bed so peacefully. She said good bye to her home the place where a thousand smiles where shared and hundreds of thousands of guffaws, of laughter and where tears were shed. She was ready; she loved to travel even if it was just to Buffalo. Because someone had told her a long time ago it wasn’t the destination that really mattered it was the journey. And Eugenia really believed that. What a journey it had been!
L’angelo Custode – Filippo Tarchiani – Wikimedia Public Domain