Sunday, December 11, 2016

Kiki Lowenstein and the Missing Gift, Part IV

By Joanna Campbell Slan

Read Kiki Lowenstein and the Missing Gift, Part II here—

Read Kiki Lowenstein and the Missing Gift, Part III here--

Author's Note: Something is wrong with Margit. When this story starts, Margit has parked her car at a crooked angle in the parking lot of Time in a Bottle, Kiki’s store, and that’s not like at Margit at all. The older woman is a stickler for having everything just right. Clancy and Laurel confirm they’ve seen signs Margit is losing her hearing and her sight. Desperate for answers, Kiki decides to confront the problem in a straightforward manner over lunch at Canyon Café in Frontenac Plaza, and then…Clancy decides to horn in on the event.

Margit’s face turned sullen as she lined up her cutlery next to her plate. After adjusting the placement of her water glass, she looked up with a mulish expression. “You ask who I am? I am the daughter who cares for her mother. Otherwise, I am nothing and no one.”

The sound of my gasp caused heads to turn at the next table.  My shock turned to sorrow. Did she really think she didn’t matter to anyone but her mother? But in that gap I saw Margit more clearly than ever before. Her husband had died a few years before I met her. I’d heard she and her son were estranged. All she had was her mother.

And us.

“Margit,” I reached over and took her hand, noting how paper-thin her skin was. It felt like a small bird, beating against my skin. “You have us. Never forget that. In fact, my family would love to have you join us for Christmas. I know you’ll spend time with your mother, but please plan to come to our house. Anya wants to learn to make granny squares.”

“Brawny can teach her.”

There it was, the ugly competition between Margit and my nanny. I tackled it head-on. “No, she can’t. She has her hands full with Ty and keeping him out of the presents. That’s why I’ve kept the gifts I’m giving on that shelf in our back room. My son loves ripping open packages as much as I do.”

That brought a soft chuckle from our friend.

“Margit?” Clancy’s eyes were wet with unshed tears. Although she often sounded brusque, Clancy was all marshmallow on the inside. “When did you last visit a doctor for a complete exam?”

“I do not remember. I have been busy with my mother.”

“That’s what I thought,” Clancy said as she folded her napkin and set it beside her plate. “You are coming with me. I made an appointment for you with my GP. He had a cancellation. If Kiki will get the check, we can arrive on time.”
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Detweiler pulled me closer. The kids were in bed, Brawny was busy in the kitchen, and we were enjoying a rare bit of romantic alone-time in front of a crackling fire. “Trust Clancy to get right to the heart of the matter.”

“I know. She thinks of everything. I would have never guessed that Margit had ignored her own health. I should have figured it out, but I didn’t. I guess I’m not a very good friend.”

“Kiki, you are a wonderful friend. As for inviting her to spend the holidays with us, I’ve talked to Brawny. She totally agreed that Margit should join us. Brawny promised not to let her get under her skin.”

That made me feel better, and the deep sigh that followed was my response. “Can you believe it? Her ears were clogged with wax? The doctor said she could start her own candle factory. After the GP, who pronounced her a phenomenal specimen of health, Clancy took her to an optometrist and got her prescription adjusted. She even ordered a second pair of glasses for Margit. They’ll help her see when she’s crafting.”

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“What busy Santa’s helpers you and Clancy have been.” Detweiler nuzzled my neck. “And you’ve done all your shopping and wrapping, right?”

“Not entirely. I’ve lost a gift.” I explained how I’d purchased a thin gold chain for Anya. My mother-in-law from my first marriage had sent Anya a charm. “It’s a magen david, a Star of David. I know I bought the chain, but I tore the back room apart. I couldn’t find it.”

“It’ll turn up,” Detweiler whispered in my ear. “How about we head upstairs? I have an old family treasure I’d like to show you.”

Next week I’ll share the next-to-the-last segment of "Kiki Lowenstein and the Missing Gift." Until then, remember: The BEST gift you can give anyone is the gift of being totally present. 

Reserve your copy of Love, Die, Neighbor: A Prequel to the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, right now for only 99 cents. After the release date -- 12/31/2016 -- the price will go up. So pre-order your copy today!


Linda O. Johnston said...

This is such an enjoyable succession of posts!

Joanna Slan said...

thank you so much!