The Chance Encounter


He felt old. He had felt old for a long time now. But today, this morning as he walked to his car he felt old. As he walked his knees ached and when he slept his back hurt. But those were nothing compared to the malady he inherited from his father. He was hitting 60 soon but felt in worse shape than his father who was turning 95.

If  his father, Morris had been diagnosed back after world war II they would have treated him for  Post traumatic stress disorder – but back then they were told it would pass and that he should “Man up and let the memories go.” For some the nightmares of dead bodies torn apart in front of your eyes would never go away. For some “Man up” meant getting up each day and living. Morris was better when he came back home and re-married Gabriela.But he still had nightmares and woke up soaked in sweat.

Abe had watched his father go through the motions of the mood swings. Up and down and all around. He would wake up in the middle of the night and find his father smoking in the living room, bottle of scotch and a glass in front of him.


He never spoke about the war, never bragged about it or even hinted. He wanted to forget it but the more he tried to forget the stronger the depression became. He thought that his family was not affected by his emotions but they were. Well at least Abe was.

Abe suffered from “the shakes” as he called them. He would wake up in the middle of the night shaking, shivering and his heart racing.  Not aware of what was wrong. Heart doctors told him he was fine and his regular doctor simply gave him pills to relax him. He threw them away.

Abe called his daughter to see how she was doing.

“I am at the hospital but I feel kind of out of place. He is sleeping and although I want to see him I feel kind of out of place being here.”

“So don’t stay. Write a note to him and tell him that you were there and that you are concerned about him.”

“I know but what do I write?” She asked.

“Short and simple.” His favorite answer for anything complicated.

Gabriela laughed. “OK daddy – I’ll think of something. I love you – thank you.”

He loved to hear his children tell him “I love you.” It made all the bullshit he had to deal with just to get through a night, a day worth it. His wife was fully aware of his “Anxiety” and had even gotten him to begin medicinal therapy as well as office therapy. As she called it. How did she do it?

“Do you love me and our children?” She asked him one morning after a long night.

“You know I do.” He replied.

“Then prove it by getting help and facing these fears head on.”

It gave him pause and it gave him an understanding of how another person’s emotional state can have an impact on others.

Abe remembered his grandfather Ibrahim, but only from a 12 year old viewpoint. He was an old man who spoke with an accent and walked with a cane. He would call him “boy” and kiss him and the forehead while blessing him. When he died and the old Synagogue was packed for the funeral – he realized that his Grandfather must have been a special man. When Abe’s father stood at the podium and spoke, he mentioned things that Abe had never knew before about “Jido.”

My father, Ibrahim, came to New York City with a goal to make enough money to bring his family to America. He was blessed to have met his good friend and partner Jimmy and together they created their business. But my father had his demons as well. He would walk the house at night, pacing the block outside and sometimes wander for hours through the city with regret and sadness. My father had left his parents behind in Damascus and found out several years later that they had died in a fire that was started by a gang of Syrians looking for Jews to kill. They found four homes to burn down and steal from. my father found this out a year after their deaths – he never forgave himself and suffered from guilt his whole life.

Abe and Morris were very close and that closeness was tested when business began a downward trend. Money became a worry for the first time in Abe’s life and it took a year of working together to get the right personnel in the office to help guide it back to black. Tempers flared, accusations were thrown, insults expressed and apologies were made. In the end it was the love that healed them and brought them close. Also Abe’s older brother, David,  took on his old role as CEO. He had a knack for managing a company and each employee and getting the best out of each employee. With David back as the CEO, Abe in his natural role as President of Sales and Morris’ presiding over it all – the business began to stabilize and even grow. This was about the same time that Gabriela, his daughter, became reacquainted with Johnny.

Abe had been going through some marriage issues of his own prior to Gabriela’s marriage to “Asshole” as Abe called him. He was dead against Gab marrying David. He just felt a bad vibe from him and his family – he couldn’t explain it. Meanwhile

Johnny came out of the coma the day after Gabriela left her note. When her cell phone rang and she did not recognize the caller ID she ignored it and put her phone back in her pocketbook. It wasn’t until later that afternoon when she checked her voice-mail. When she heard Johnny’s raspy voice she felt her heart begin to beat as if for the first time.

She went to the hospital when visiting hours were over. As she made her way to his room she found him alone and playing with his phone.

“Hey, good morning.” She said handing him a rose.

“Its ten o’clock. How did you get in? Oh nevermind…you are a sight for sore eyes lady.”

“Glad I came to see you – even though you did blow off our date…”

“Let me make it up to you. What are you doing, hmm, what day is it?”

“Its Wednesday night.”

“OK well how about Sunday we go for breakfast?”

“I don’t know if I can make myself so available to you – I don’t want you to think I am so forgiving.” She smiled.

He smiled, “I think I can get you a Doctor’s note, would that help?”

She smiled, sat down in a chair that was next to his bed and looked at him with a smile full of sadness, fear and relief. “I am so happy you are ok…I didn’t want to lose you again.”

“Nah, this time I am not letting go.” He put out his hand and she held it.

“How is your memory?” She asked.

“I think its fine – was kind of blurry at first, sort of like falling asleep in the middle of the day and waking up feeling confused about when and where you are. But I think its clear now.”

“Do you remember what you told me the night by the carousel?”

“Did I propose or something?” He was unsure but figured he could throw that out there.

“Not yet but you told me you were falling in love with me; when you got hurt I was really scared…I didn’t want to lose you. Even though we have only known each other, again, for a month or so – I felt the same way. I was just scared to tell you…”

“Its ok…I am ok now – I am going home tomorrow.” She put her arms around him and began to cry. He cried as well and after a while they pulled apart.

“So, tell me how you feel…” Johnny said with a big smile.