Robert Garrett is an over 50 Truck Driver who works while the world sleeps. Preferring the peacefulness of the late evening to early morning where there is less traffic. The world slows down and that suits him fine. Most of his life has been spent in the hurry up and wait world. There, it seems, your heart always beats fast and every beat brings you ever closer to an early closure. High blood pressure thrives amid those feelings that have become normal in today’s manmade hectic schedules. Where it takes 5 minutes to find what you need at the store and 10 minutes in the speedy checkout line.
Bob comes to these hours quite by accident, filling in for a friend who needed a helping hand due to illness. Coincidentally, it was when The Comet Hale Bop was visible. Had he not been working at night he would probably not have taken the time to view the night sky. Bob did and became hooked. Every night he takes the time to gaze at the most magnificent sight. This Comet touches him to the core. He feels renewed. He and the universe are now one.
Bob’s friend recovers but, since Bob’s new passion for life continues he decides to stay on the night shift. Every night is new and exciting. He has learned how to relax and appreciate the little things that used to go unnoticed. Animals are everywhere but you must train yourself to look beyond the tunnel vision. They lie at the edge of the high beams. Coyotes and Foxes are the smartest. Possums are the slowest. Deer scare you the most because some appear to understand and wait while others jump right in your path.
Each season brings unique characteristics. Spring breaks free of the winter doldrums. Summer is warm nights with your windows down smelling the corn. Fall brings the first frost and Holiday feelings. Winter is snow cold and everyone’s favorite, Christmastime and the spirit of the season.
One night close to Christmas Bob made his early morning run as usual. Suddenly the radio springs to life causing poor old Bob to jump in the seat. Oh Holy Night was playing. Usually Bob listens to talk radio; however nothing that night held his interest. He was driving along, deep in thought, enjoying the simplicity of the nightly drive in ways he could not do when working days. Bob was caught up in the moment as it was his favorite version by John Berry. A young girl’s voice says “Just for you Bob Garrett.” He thinks to himself “Holly Night!” He immediately pulls off the two lane highway and walks around his truck trying to regain his composure. He leans on the fender opposite the highway and stares into the heavens at the beautiful moonless night. The stars seem to shine brighter than ever. He feels so small, warmth and peace spreads through his body.
It is 3 A M. Lights begin popping on one at a time out of the darkness; Christmas lights. They are stretched around 3 trees and continue up a hill highlighting a small house and going up to the roof where a beautiful golden star shines. In front of the house a young blonde haired girl with big blue eyes is visible as if a spot light was shining on her. This young girl was perhaps 200 feet away yet Bob could see her mouth move as she says “Merry Christmas Bob, may God bless.” It was the voice off the radio. His knees buckle from underneath him. He tries to regain his balance as he sits down on the running board of his truck. He shakes his head and looks up at the night sky; one star is shining brighter than the others. Bob begins crying as he stares steadily at the one star. He looks back to where the house was, but it had vanished. He stares in disbelief. Totally shaken, he gets back into his truck. He starts and backs the truck up. There is a lane and he maneuvers his truck so that lights shine directly where the house stood only moments ago. There was absolutely nothing but a field of corn stubble where the field had been harvested.
The next morning, Bob wakes up convinced it was a dream. He never has experienced such a vivid dream with so much emotional content. That night at work Randy his dispatcher asks
“Are you feeling okay Bob? You did not speak or acknowledge me in any manner as you left this morning.”
“Yes I’m fine, thanks for asking though” Bob answers.
He begins his regular route and focuses on the job at hand, blocking out what Randy said. Bob tries everything to keep his mind off the dream. Even his favorite late night talk show with a subject he normally would be totally interested in could not keep his mind occupied for long.
Later at home as he sleeps, the dream fills his mind once more. That same day in his own vehicle, he retraces his route of the night he experienced the unusual sighting, unable to convince himself it was only a dream. He finds the lane where he pulled his truck into to get a good look only to see an empty cornfield once again. He spots large tire tracks. A feeling of relief followed by confusion runs almost simultaneously through his body as cold chills sweep through his body.
Saturday night he tries to rest but only sleeps for brief periods of time. His dreams are filled with bits and pieces of the little blonde haired girl. He remembers there is a church close to where the house should have been that night he saw the lights. It is a large red brick church with a graveyard as all the older churches seem to have. He drives to the church, why he wasn’t sure, it was simply something he had to do.
There are no cars in the parking lot. Bob gets out of his car and is drawn to the small graveyard. He slowly walks around and stops at a small tombstone with a star and an angel on it. Between an Angel and a Star it simply read “Gloria”. Bob was deep in thought and full of emotions attempting to make sense of his situation. He hears a voice say “Can I help you?” Bob was took a back believing he was all alone and glad that the voice was coming from behind, rather than well, you understand. After the other night anything seemed possible!
“Hi I’m the Pastor here, can I be of assistance to you?” Handshakes and pleasantries are exchanged.
Bob begins, “Perhaps you can, may I please tell you about a most peculiar incident from the other night.” that continues to baffle me? The Pastor motions “Let’s go inside where we will be more comfortable, there is a bit of chill in the air.” After seeing the small headstone and the Pastor he knows he is about to find out the secret he is looking for.
They take a seat in the front. It is your typical old fashion country church, immaculately kept, probably looks the same as it did when it was built.
“Please proceed” the Pastor says. Bob tells the Pastor the story with all of his emotions, nothing was spared. Both Bob and the Pastor had tears in their eyes as Bob concludes.
The Pastor says “That is a truly amazing story. Now I have much to tell you about your vision. Pastor Michael whom I just replaced retired and told me about a most precious child and that child is the one you speak of. Pastor Michael went in to great length about Gloria. He could not remember her last name and I believe that to be unimportant because everyone years ago knew her by her first name. That is how her father wished her to be remembered on her stone with simply an angel and a star. Her father believed that she was an Angel here on earth and surely is now a star in the heavens. Pastor Michael told me one day I would be questioned about Gloria. Seems he repeated the story countless times during the Holidays to strangers just as you in the same situation. You, Bob, are my first but; it will be a great pleasure to tell the story of Gloria to you.
Gloria was an ailing, little blonde haired, blue eyed girl that lived just down the road many years ago. Born with a bad heart, she lived to be 12 years old. Gloria and her family attended church here and people say she always had a smile. You could see her frail body was in pain but, you would never see it in her face; she was always smiling. She was the star of the Christmas play every year and always brought the people to their feet crying. She played the baby Jesus. Her favorite Christmas carol was Oh Holy Night; Bob felt warm from within. She touched everyone’s heart. Some say she was who she played in the Christmas play.
Gloria’s passion during the holidays was the church play and looking at the beautiful lights her father strung for her. Her father bundled her up in so many blankets she could barely move to keep her warm and they would sit in the car down the driveway so Gloria could enjoy her beautiful lights. He would sit with her until she fell asleep, only then would he carry her and put her to bed. She was unable to do much and he would not rob her of one of her few enjoyments. Gloria never complained and always smiled; that alone was what motivated her father and anyone she met.
Gloria’s last Christmas was out of this world. A frail Gloria carried in by her father. She was determined to play the baby Jesus one last time. Just her presence brought the church to an unprecedented level of excitement. The congregation was on their feet before the play began. Energy of the universe filled the country church. When the play began a golden light circled Gloria; she was glowing. The blonde haired, blue eye Angel was inside everyone’s heart. The spirit took control of the church. A golden light from heaven flowed through her
Gloria stepped out of the manger scene and the congregation witnessed a 12 year old Angel as she would look in heaven. This is what she would look like if her body had not been ravaged. Not one dry eye in the crowd, not one fussy child. Gloria led the church in her favorite Christmas song, Oh Holy Night. Gloria sings and it sounds as though 1,000 Angels were her choir. Everyone sways to the spirit with their arms stretched high above their heads, the power of the universe was being felt by all in this Church on Christmas Eve, a beautiful Angel singing, showing no signs of illness.
Suddenly a bright golden light shot through the roof of the church and hovered above Gloria. It penetrated her body and circled throughout the congregation and back through the roof. Gloria was in Heaven.
The tears were tears of joy, not sadness as they witnessed her going home.
Pastor Michael says a prayer and shakes Bob’s hand.
Every year the story of Gloria is repeated and I suspect it always will!
A SMILE IS CONTAGIOUS
LOVE LAST FOREVER
FOLLOW YOUR HEART
A CHRISTMAS STORY FOR YOU “Merry Christmas” G. E