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A Fated Conversation


Mario V. Farina

Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina

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Mario V. Farina

Email: mario@mariofarina.com

I went to the address my daughter had given me and was welcomed by Margaret Smith. She took my hand in both hers and motioned me to an armchair. I sat.

"Thank you for coming," she said. "I imagine you're wondering what this is all about."

"Yes," I responded. "My daughter, Marilyn, asked me to come, and not ask a lot of questions. She said it was important."

"I do believe it's important. I'm sorry to hear she made it sound so mysterious."

"How do you know Marilyn?"

"We've done a lot of things together. We've known each other for a long time."

"She never mentioned you to me, but I'm happy that we are meeting. A friend of Marilyn would automatically be a friend of mine!"

She sat in a facing armchair. "My name is Margaret Smith. I'm 73 and retired. I was a schoolteacher in fifth grade teaching English."

"I guess you know my age," I said. "I'm 76."

"Yes, I did know that. You were an engineer at Magna Products. You've been inventing things since you retired."

"Well, I've been trying to invent, but not very successfully, I'm afraid. I'm not doing it for the money. I like imagining what might be nice for people to use and then try to meet their needs."

"You worked a long time. Did you live in different places?"

"Yes, I was born in a small town in Ohio, then moved to Pennsylvania. I was married there. My first job with a large employer was with Magna Products. I married a woman named Peggy. We made our home in Altoona. We had only one child. That was Marilyn, whom you already know. She's 43, is married, and has two children."

"How would you describe your life with Peggy?"

"Very happy," I said. "Unfortunately, our marriage ended too soon. Tragically!"

"I guess I would have to say my marriage ended unhappily, also. Are you willing to tell me what was the actual event that you call tragic?"

"Years after Marilyn had been born, her parents, who been born there, wanted to visit their homeland in Norway. They invited Marilyn and me to go with them, all expenses paid. I was unhappy not to be able to go because of work commitments, but told Peggy that if she wanted to go on the trip, she would be welcome. Her parents made arrangements and they sailed. One day in April, the ship was destroyed in a storm and many on board drowned. Unfortunately, Peggy and her parents were included with those who died."

"It hit you hard?"

"I wasn't able to do anything, work, eat, sleep, nothing for a couple of months. I had never felt pain of this nature before."

"Was Marilyn very young at the time?"

"Yes, she was just a tot."

"How were you able to take care of her?"

"I wasn't able to it. But I knew I had to do something. I hired a young woman to act as an au-pair."

"A nanny?"

"Yes, at the time I used the fancier word because I wanted my child to have the best of care. The word, au-pair sounds more responsible then nanny!"

"Did she work out?"

"Yes, after about a six months, I married her!"

"You must have fallen deeply in love with her."

"It must have been love, because she was doing such a dedicated job with Marilyn, but my love for her was not as nowhere as strong as it had been with Peggy."

"What was your new wife's name?"

"Her name was Magdalena. She had been born in Italy, but had been educated in the United States when her parents immigrated to the United States. To me, she was just as American as if she had been born in this country."

"You and she never had children."

"True. We thought about adopting but never strongly enough to do it."

"I know from Marilyn that Magdalena died recently. How did that affect you?"

"I took it very hard," I said. "I had come to love her very much. Not as deeply as I had loved Peggy. Though I was happy with Magdalena, Peggy was always in the back of my mind not far from the surface."

"You've been alone for a couple of years?"

"Yes, I grieved deeply, but decided that life must go on. My life resumed shakily."

"Have you thought about bringing another woman into your life?"

"I have thought that female companionship would be a good thing, but I have not done anything about it. My feelings were that I would be betraying Peggy. That thought kept me from even thinking of someone else."

"What about . . ."

"Hey, wait a minute, Margaret! You've tricked me! Somehow, you've steered our conversation so it would be all about me. That's not fair! What about you? You must have a story too. You said you had been married."

"Yes, I was married. Like Peggy, I was on the same ship as she. There was a storm at sea. The ship floundered and began to sink. Attempts were made by the crew to lower lifeboats, but they were successful with only a few. Several of us were able to get on board one before the ship sank. There was an island in the distance and the crew began rowing toward it."

"You were rescued!"

"Well not exactly. The island was barren. There were sixteen of us in two boats that made shore. We needed to scrounge for food, shelter, and water. We thought we would be found and brought back to civilization, but this did not happen immediately. Nor did it happen until many months had passed. Finally we were able to signal a passing ship and I was able to come back home."

"Home in Altoona?"


"Was your husband happy to see you?"

"He didn't know I had been rescued. I didn't tell him. He had remarried!"

"He had remarried so soon!"

"It had been well over a year. I had been declared dead. He needed a mother for his child."

"Margaret, many events in your story seem to match mine! So many coincidences!"

"Do you think they were coincidences?" She locked her eyes to mine.

The truth of what she was telling me suddenly became clear. "You're, you're . . ."

"Yes, I'm Peggy. I was your wife! Time has changed the appearance of both of us. Let me show you a photo." She opened an album that was lying on the small table next to her chair. She handed it to me and I saw the photo that you see at the front of this story. "That's a picture of you and me on the day we were married." She said.

"We were so happy," I exclaimed. "Peggy, why didn't you tell me that you had been rescued?"

"For the reason I just gave! I couldn't interfere with the marriage that seemed to be going so well. I took back my maiden name. Never got remarried."

"And Marilyn . . ."

"Yes, Marilyn is our daughter. She has known about you all along! Over the years, she kept me informed about how you were doing. You and I communicated with Marilyn without your ever knowing that I was alive! When Magdalena died, our daughter felt that the two of us should become reacquainted!"

"Peggy, though over the years, your face has changed, it is still a sweet countenance revealing your inner beauty. I know you have remained the kind, loving person that you always were. I believe we should get back together again."

"I think so too, dear one," she said. "Your face has changed also, but I know that you are the same warm, tender person that you always were. But we need to get reacquainted more gradually. I think we should resume dating."

"A wonderful idea," I declared excitedly. "The day is young. There's a nice restaurant right around the corner. Let me take you to dinner."

"I'd love that!" She replied.

"See how happy that couple is in the photo," I said. "I'd like us to hold hands as we did then, and walk outdoors smiling at each other, as we did then. All the way to the restaurant, and after that, through the rest of our lives!"

"Darling," Peggy said, "We were fated to have this conversation!"

"And fated to get back together again," I added.

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