Thanksgiving was two days away. It was George's favorite holiday. It had meaning for him, even if the basis for the holiday were a myth. For him, this holiday had a beautiful symbolism. It represented friendship; two diverse groups having a meal together, in peace. Other holidays, such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day, had lost their meaning, and meant a day off from work for many, and that was all. On these two occasions, television channels ran a festival of war movies, and to George it seemed like it was a glorification of war, instead of honoring veterans or remembering the fallen soldiers in different wars. He did not believed that "every war movie was an anti-war movie." Besides, he did not believe veterans really care for fictionalized reminders of past armed conflicts.
This holiday gave George just another opportunity to give thanks for being alive. He was thankful every day; thankful for his wounds, because they got him out of the war, and thankful for having met Beatriz.
The weather in San Francisco had been very nice. Not the usual fog and cold temperatures for that time of the year. It had been this way for two months now. On this beautiful day, George was running errands for himself and Beatriz. This was helpful to him, because he needed to keep himself occupied. He had a lot of nervous energy to spend, and he needed to be alone with his thoughts. There were sad and happy things to think about.
Sadly, George's grandparents had both passed away a couple of months ago. Grandpa Manoel had been found dead in his bookbinder's shop. He had worked until the very last day of his life. When George's parents found him, they realized he had left no unfinished business. Grandma Amelia died in her sleep three weeks later. Maybe she considered her job on this earth finished also, George thought.
Beatriz was on maternity leave. George was going to be a dad. He was happy, but he also had misgivings. Being a parent was an awesome responsibility. He was afraid of bringing up a child into this world, so full of danger, of wars and conflicts. His doubts, his fears were assuaged when he thought of Beatriz. A child with a mother like her? Everything was going to be all right.
For Thanksgiving dinner both set of parents would be there. George's parents would come from San Leandro, still sad about the family losses, but happy with the news they were going to be grandparents. Estela was still running a dry cleaning business, but Jorge had retired from his job as a bus driver, and was helping Estela with the family business. They had become closer, after Estela's parents passed away. They spend more time together, both at home and at work. Beatriz's parents were also happy with the prospect of becoming grandparents. They were quiet and polite. He was a gardener and a landscaper. She was a clerical worker. The glimmer in their eyes showed they were still very much in love. George saw in them strength and gentleness, traits they had passed on to their daughter.
Thanksgiving day came, and it was a very happy occasion for everyone. George was happy and relaxed. He was enjoying the company, and the delicious dinner. His fear of becoming a father was totally gone. The grandchild was going to have four wonderful grandparents, and, in George's view, a perfect mother. Lucky child and lucky dad. Life was worth living.
The day after Thanksgiving, George slept in late. When he woke up, he heard Beatriz and the future grandparents having a lively conversation. They sounded very happy. George remained in bed for a while. I was another beautiful day, sunny with clear skies. Nobody in San Francisco was complaining about the lack of rain. The younger generation was not aware that the Bay Area had been agricultural before, from San Francisco to San Jose. Now there was a string of towns,with many electronics companies. Computer software companies were also there. However, many portions of California were still agricultural.
He remembered the rice paddies in Vietnam, designed to hold water, and how important rainfall water was to the farmers there .George would never complain about rainy days, unending drizzle, or heavy fog. Rain was needed by farmers, in California, in Vietnam, and anywhere else where there was farming.
"That's enough thinking," thought George, "time to get up and go to work." He showered, got dressed,and went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. He was not surprised that the conversation between Beatriz, and all the soon-to-be grandparents was still going on. He used to be like them; he used to be talker. He hugged everybody and started to leave for work. Beatriz followed him to the door, and kiss him good-bye. She cupped his face and caressed his cheeks, then sliding her hands softly touching the scars on his neck. George felt her tenderness and the softness of her touch. George caressed her tummy very gently, and thought, "Daddy is going to work. Daddy is a very lucky man."
It was Friday, the busiest day at the bank's processing center; even busier on the day after Thanksgiving. All those checks and credit card charges had to processed. He expected to work overtime. He was hoping it would be raining when he got off work.
Beatriz gave birth a baby daughter, She was named Miyoko, after Beatriz's mother. Beatriz and George were still deeply in love, and they absolutely adored their daughter. To care for her, Beatriz accepted a position as hospital administrator, responsible for the recruitment, and the supervision and continuing education of nurses. George quit his job at the bank. He still had his disability checks. With more time at home, George decided on a couple of hobbies. He brought home his grandfather's tools and equipment from San Leandro, and set up a bookbinding workshop in a spare room. And he bought a course in Portuguese with tapes and workbooks. Of course he would never be able to speak it, but he wanted to hear the Portuguese language, and to be able to read it. His hands and his mind were going to be kept busy.
Life was good. Beatriz was still gorgeous, and would still turn a few heads when she, George and Miyoko went for a walk in the park. People wandered why they were smiling, perhaps because they didn't hear them talking.