SERENADE 2 SENIORS
While walking home one icy day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the snow. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so that I could call the owner. But, the wallet only contained $3 and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years. The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address. I unfolded the letter hoping to find a clue. Then I saw the datel– 1924. The letter was almost 60 years ago. It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left hand corner. It was written to someone named Michael. She said that she could no longer see him because her mother had forbidden it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him. It was signed, Hannah.
It was a beautiful letter but there was no way that the owner could be identified. Maybe, if I call information, the operator would be a ble to find a phone listing for the address on the envelope. I called and explained that I was trying to find the owner of a wallet and requested information. She suggested that he speak with her supervisor. The supervisor hesitated for a moment then said: “Well, there is a phone number at that address but I cannot give it to you. As a courtesy, I will call, explain the story and ask if they are willing for you to be connected.” A few moments later she called back and put me through.
The woman on the other end of the line said that she had bought her house from a couple with a daughter named Hannah, but that was 30 years ago. “Do you know where I can find that family?” I asked. “Hannah had to move her mother to a nursing home some years ago,” she said. “Maybe they might be able to track the daughter down.” With that, she gave me the name and the number of the home. They said that the old lady had passed away some years ago but that they did have a phone number for the daughter. I thanked them, called and was told that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.
It was then that I decided that this whole thing was ridiculous. Why was I making such a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that only had $3 dollars in it? A wallet that was about 60 years old!Nevertheless, something pushed me to call the nursing home where Hannah was supposed to be living and was told that she was indeed still there.. But it was already 10 p.m.. In spite of the late hour, I decided to drive over to see her and was told that I could do so as she was probably watching television in her room.
The night nurse and a guard greeted me at the door and we went up to the third floor of the large building. The nurse introduced me to Hannah, a gentle, silver-haired woman with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye. I told her the story of the wallet and showed her the letter. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with the flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said; “Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael.” She looked away deep in thought and then said softly. “I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor. Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And, I am still in love with him,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. “I never got married. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael.” I thanked Hannah and left, taking the elevator to the first floor and as I stood by the door, the guard asked; “Was the lady able to help you?” “Not much,” I said, “but she gave me a lead. At last I have a last name but I think I’ll let it go for a while. I’ve spent almost the whole day trying to find the owner of this wallet, you know,” I told him, taking it out to examine the simple, brown leather case with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it he said: “Wait a moment. I’d recognize that wallet anywhere. It belongs to Mr. Goldsteint. How many men have wallets with red lacing? And it figures. He’s always losing it.” W”here is Mr. Goldstein?” I asked, my hand trembling ever so slightly. “He’s one of the old timers on the 8th floor. He must have dropped his wallet on one of his walks.”
I thanked him and ran back to the nurse’s office. I related the story to her and we returned to the elevator and went up. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would still be awake. The nurse said that he was a darling old man and that he was still up and reading. She asked him whether he’d lost his wallet and he looked up in surprise, put his hand in his back pocket and said; “Oh yes I have. It’s missing.” “This gentleman found a wallet and we wondered whether it could be yours,” said the nurse. He smiled when he saw it and said. “I’d like to give you a reward.” “That won’t be necessary, thank you,” I said, “but I have something to tell you. I read the letter in the hope of finding out who the owner was.” “You read that letter?” he asked, his smile disappearing. “Not only did I read it but I now know where Hannah is.” He grew pale. “Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please tell me,” he begged. “She’s fine … and just as pretty as when you knew her,” I said softly. The old man smiled in anticipation. “Please tell me where she is. I will call her tomorrow.” He grabbed my hand saying; “You know something mister. I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I’ve always loved her.” “Mr. Goldstein. Come with me.”
We took the elevator down to the third floor and found Hannah watching television. The nurse walked over to her. “Hannah,” she said softly, almost in a whisper pointing to Michael who was at the door.” Do you know this man?” She looked at him without saying a word. “Hannah, it’s me, Michael. Do you remember me?” She gasped. “Michael. I don’t believe it. Michael, it’s you. My Michael.” He walked slowly toward her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming down our cheeks.
Three weeks later I received a call at my office from the nursing home.. “Michael and Hannah are getting married on Saturday and they would like you to be there.” Hannah wore a beige dress and looked beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me the best man. The nursing home gave them a double room and if you ever want to see a 76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting like teenagers, you should have seen this couple.