Every Fourth of July for thirty years I was with my wife — until her death a year and a half ago, so that makes the last two Fourths without her.
Alone on this Fourth and in need of human contact I played a little game with myself, almost as deadly as Russian roulette.
Whoever among the half a dozen extended family members I have left and the two or three “friends” I have phoned me on the Fourth would be my only true friend(s) and if no one called then I would have to face the fact that there is no one who thinks enough of me to pick up a phone and call. One rule — I wouldn’t phone any of them, since I was the one to call in recent, rare conversations anyway.
AND THE WINNER IS
By midnight (I figured no one would call after 9 p.m. but I waited until the midnight hour anyway) the results were in.
[Drum roll please]
One person phoned.
It wasn’t either of my two sisters-in-law, it wasn’t my brother-law, it wasn’t either of my two nephews, or my two nieces, or my cousin. It was none other than Renata de Dios, my wife’s colleague from when we all lived in Miami Beach in the wild Miami Vice 1980s and who I had lost touch with until a year ago when she called me out of the blue with condolences over the death of my wife. At that point she became my spiritual advisor and we kept in touch — albeit with little progress in getting me on that “road to God.”
I told her how much I appreciated her phoning me on the Fourth, that she was the only one who did, and she said, God could sense your loneliness and your need to talk to someone and He tapped me to make the call.
To which I replied, You know something, Renata, I’m beginning to think you’re onto something.