Sunday, December 25, 2016

Kiki Lowenstein and the Missing Gift, Part VI (Last Part)

By Joanna Campbell Slan

Author's Note: I decided to challenge myself by writing an ongoing short story. Kiki Lowenstein's friend and co-worker Margit has neglected her own health while caring for her mother, who has dementia. In addition to worrying about Margit, Kiki has a problem. One of the gifts she bought for Anya is missing. Although Kiki searches high and low, she can't find the gold chain she bought to accompany Anya's Star of David. Meanwhile, Margit's mother has taken a turn for the worse. Could this turn out to be the most horrible Christmas ever?

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

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

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

Margit’s mother passed away two days before Christmas. A call from the nurse on duty had hurried our friend to the memory care facility. I kept in touch with Mrs. Claws, the caregiver in charge, and she told me, “It was an easy passing. She slipped into a coma and only awakened once, briefly. But Mrs. Eichen was by her mother’s side the whole time.”

“I don’t know whether to expect Margit for Christmas or not,” I told my husband as we put the gifts from Santa around the tree on Christmas Eve.

Detweiler gave me a sad smile. “We’ll play it by ear. She’s welcome, of course, but she might not feel like surrounding herself with the noise of happy kids opening presents. I couldn’t blame her. Maybe we can slip away around lunch and check on her.”

That sounded like a good plan.

Not surprisingly, Erik was up at first light on Christmas morning. His shouts rang like a church bell as he shouted up the stairs. “Anya! Come see! Santa came! He brought us stuff! Lots of stuff!”

Anya politely knocked on our door, although we were already hustling our way out of bed. Brawny met us in the hallway with a sleepy Ty in her arms. I took my baby and like a Biblical procession of old, we marched down the stairs and into the great room. While Erik hopped from one foot to the other, Detweiler lit the fire. Anya had passed out one gift to each of us when the doorbell rang.

Gracie, my rescued harlequin Great Dane, stood in the foyer, barking and wagging her tail. This was a sign that our visitor was a friend, not foe.

“Look who’s here!” Brawny sang out.

A bundled up Margit entered the great room with arms full of wrapped packages. Her eyes were red, as was her nose, but her smile assured me she was pleased to be joining us. Anya helped her unload the parcels, but before she could set things down, Margit demanded that we close our eyes. When we opened them on her command, each of us found a beautifully embroidered stocking in our laps.

“Next year, if you hang these, Santa will fill these up,” she said.

An hour later, the floor was covered with wrapping paper. Ty was chewing on a box. Erik was totally absorbed in a Legos set that Anya was helping him build. Brawny had gone to put a breakfast casserole in the oven, and Detweiler was outside shoveling our walk.

“How are you?” I slipped an arm around Margit.

“I am fine.” Her eyes confirmed her words. “I did all I could while I could, and she is without pain. She is beyond all earthly cares now. I am free to move on.”

Margit stayed all day and accepted our offer to sleep in a guest room rather than drive home. I watched her carefully, but I quickly realized she’d told me the truth. She was fine. She was at peace with herself. Sure, she would grieve, but she knew she’d done all she could.

Detweiler and I were holding hands in front of the fireplace when Anya took a spot next to me on the sofa. “Mom? This is the weirdest thing ever. See this?” She handed over her stocking. A beautiful Star of David had been stitched on the front.

“Uh-huh. Margit was very thoughtful to combine both aspects of your spiritual life, wasn’t she?”

“Oh, Mooo-oom.” Anya chided me in that special way that’s unique to a teenager. “Not that! Look closer. See the gold trim around the star? It’s a link chain.”

And then I saw it. The missing portion of the necklace I’d purchased for Anya so she could wear her Star of David. My jaw fell open in surprise.

“How do you suppose it got there?” Anya marveled at the sight.

All I could figure was that when my gifts fell off the shelf, Margit had found the chain, thought it gold thread, and stitched it into the design. But, thinking of my friend, upstairs in the bedroom, this explanation seemed too simplistic. So instead, I told Anya the truth.

“It’s a Christmas miracle, honey. A Christmas miracle.”


To all my readers and friends, I wish you many, many miracles! Thanks for following along as I wrote this story.

Need a last-minute gift? Here's an idea...

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!

1 comment:

Roxy said...

Hello. Great story. FYI the Part IV link goes back to Part I. I don't know what happened in part IV! Well, on to party V. xxoo & thanks for a great story. Can't wait to find out what happened.