Gold Fish

                                           The Goldfish                                 Saryu Parikh

 

   

               “Wow, what a beautiful fish pendant you have! From where did you get it?”

              Every time I wear this pendant, this curious question brings a smile to my face, carried on the gentle breeze of sweet memories.

            When my children were little, I started selling Avon products in Placentia, California. One evening I stopped by at the home of Margret Kyling. This pleasant lady invited me in and very happily placed an order for a few things. After that, our visits every other week became a welcome routine. She wanted me to spell her name “Margret” and not “Margaret.”     She would always place her new Avon purchases into a cabinet. Later on I would witness her generosity many times over. She used to take two or three pieces out, without any hesitation about the price of those items, and would happily give them to visiting guests. When we had known her less than a year, I took my sister-in-law to meet her.  Margret welcomed her very lovingly and gave her two beautiful gifts, which Didi cherished for many years. 

              With the passing years we experienced her kindness on so many special days like birthdays and Christmases. One time was exceptional – after our son Samir was born. She came over to see the baby with a large bouquet of roses from her garden and a huge carton of about twenty boxes of diapers. As young parents, this was the nicest surprise we received.

            After years of struggle in her youth, Margret had moved from her homeland of Germany. She valued the safe and wonderful lifestyle that she discovered in America. Margret and her husband Ben had two white, gentle dogs. She had a steady job as an accountant and she kept her home beautiful. She did not have children, but she became like a Godmother to my children and showered her affection upon us.             

            My children got to know Margret for about six years. After that, we moved away and eventually Margret retired and moved to Hemet, California.  We lost touch.

           And time flew by. Dilip got a job with AT&T Bell Labs, and we moved to Orlando, Florida.  Sangita and Samir were in college and I started working. Once in a while some reminder of Margret would pop up and we would lovingly talk about her.

           One day, after almost thirteen years had passed, I thought, “For old times’ sake, let me try to find Margret!” I inquired for her phone number in Hemet, California, and I was pleasantly surprised when the operator gave me her number. But I was hesitant to call. I was thinking that she would be close to eighty years old and may not remember me. It may be awkward. But I decided to give it a try.

          “Hello, Margret,” I spoke into the phone after hearing a sweet Hello. “You may not remember me, but years ago, we lived in Placentia—.”

           “Is this Saryu calling?” she responded.

           I was speechless for a few moments, overwhelmed with my emotions.  I could not believe that she remembered me. We talked for a long time. She was all alone, living in a mobile home community. Her husband Ben had passed away several years before, and she missed him terribly. I had met one young German couple at her house, and they were like her family. When I inquired about them, she regretfully told me that they both had died in their private airplane crash. Unfortunately, Margret herself had suffered a stroke.  She was blind in one eye and had many other medical problems. But her good nature had prevailed. She said a good friend was helping her, and she was happy. After that, every time we talked I hardly heard her complain. She was always very interested in hearing about my children’s lives, just as a grandmother would. We were very happy to reconnect with her.

         About 8 years ago, Samir was in law school and had an opportunity for a summer job in Los Angeles. On his trip there, I accompanied him, and we decided to see Margret in Hemet. Samir selected a big flower bouquet for her. She was thrilled to see us. She introduced us to her neighbors and friends as if we were her family. She could not take her eyes off of the six-foot tall Samir’s smiling face.  “Wow! Look at him. Isn’t he a handsome young man? He’s all grown up!”

           After that, Samir continued to visit Margret, never without the flowers. He sent her flowers or fruit baskets on her birthdays. We also made sure that she may not have financial difficulties. 

            The last time we met, I showed her my goldfish pendant. I asked her, “Do you remember when you gave me this?” With age and time her memory was cloudy, so I told her the story. One day, when I had been visiting Margret on an Avon sale, we had been talking about something that made her realize that my birthday was the following day. She had told me to wait, while she ran into her house. She had returned with the goldfish pendant and had placed it in my hand, kindly closing my fingers over it. It had surprised me to see the Aquarian symbol, my birth sign! She had said that her husband Ben was also born in February. She had held my hand for a moment warm, saying, “But it was meant for you.”

              Upon this refreshed memory, her face blossomed with a smile like a white rose.

She said, “Saryu, at that time I did not want to tell you the somber story behind this pendant, but today I will. I was a teenager during the war, and my sister and I were staying with my aunt.  Right before we were to escape and leave the country, my aunt hugged me for the last time and gave me this pendant.  I was afraid that if I put it in my bag, it could be snatched away, so I held onto this pendant tightly in my hand. I am glad to see that it is in  good hands today.”

                 Margret recently passed on. Her sweet memories fill our hearts.
And the unconditional love she shared with us was gladly reciprocated when she needed it most.

                                           —————————————–

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2 ટિપ્પણીઓ (+add yours?)

  1. Rosemary
    ફેબ્રુવારી 22, 2010 @ 23:51:06

    Rosemary | February 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm
    I have lost my parents and was/am going through their things. My parents were very close to margret for many years. they use to work together. I came upon a letter I wrote to margret but it was returned to me . I wondered if she was still alive and tried to find her phone number but sadly your letter says no. I grewup in calif. and considered margret and ben my adopted per say aunt and uncle as we had no other family. I knew of the other german couple and use to play with their girl . what a shock to google your letter, i had to respond. sincerely, rosemary

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  2. Amit Patel
    જાન્યુઆરી 21, 2009 @ 21:32:55

    Very nice to read this article.

    Like

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