Lunch on the Girder

“I didna know it would be this high, Joe,” Gino put a cigarette in his mouth ready for Joe to light it. “I need a smoke, give us light, quick I aint doing this no more whatever Papa says.” He bent to get the light and took a long breath in savouring the moment.

“You aint got used to it yet, Gino Papa will be mad if youse give it up now. He’ll say you’re a baby making a noise – you aint got to give in, anyway, look whats Mama done for us, one of her specials just for me and you, so stop ya gripe and tuck in.” Joe handed Gino his grub, a delicious homemade pasty.

“Gee, this is good, Joe, Mama knows her cooking.” Gino sighed.

“Hey. Guys, listen up,” Tom reading from the local newspaper, everyone’s attention focused “New York building is on schedule thanks to the commitments of the building force of dedicated men risking life and limb to give us the buildings we can be proud of for our future.” They’re talking about us lot; we should be proud why don’t we get the money if the boss thinks so much of us?” Everyone murmured, Tom was right but, they were earning, which was more than some were at this time. There were so many men in the district standing on street corners unable to work because of the slum, kiddies starving, women scratching to feed them.

“Yeah, but we got Jobs, aint we.” Jack reflected.

“Pat, are you drinking tonight?” shouted Sean. “My Mrs is letting me off the leash only for tonight, so how about it?” The men laughed; they all knew Sean’s wife was a bit of a tartar, so it was a rare moment of freedom for him. This was a Friday night, pay night, so it was a time to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

“Okie dokie, you call for me when you’re ready, do you wanna come Gino and Joe, let us stags show these boys how to rave!” Pat grinned and as he was saying this he gave his neighbour Tom a gentle push on the arm.

Pat’s exploits were legend, he had established himself well and truly in this new country, his Irish charm seemed to capture the ladies and his drinking escapades often got him into a bit of trouble, nothing to alarm, but enough for the mothers and fathers to warn their girls and lads to steer clear.

“You stop leading my boy, into a wicked ways” Papa Acardi said with a big grin on his face. “Gino is righteous like his Papa, eh Gino, and Joe will be pious like his Mama”. Papa Acardi let out a guffaw of mirth. The laughter crept along the line like a wave. All the men called Gino’s and Joe’s dad Papa, he was the oldest there, and the Foreman of the team. They had great respect for him, he was fair and expected his men to be the same with him. However, if a man crossed a line, he would be out. Papa would not stand for any nonsense, but his men knew where they were with him and would pull out all the stops because he was so well liked.

“Gee whiz, Rick, it is cheese again, what’s in your sarnies, shall we swap? I’m sick of cheese man but I suppose it was better than meat paste.” Rick sat deep in thought, his fiancé  had given him an ultimatum, she wanted him to find other work, she said it was too dangerous, but he loved working where he did, he felt he belonged to this small family from different nations all working hard beside each other, laughing, taking the mick with each other, looking out for each other, it felt home to him.  His Dad was a violent drunk using his fists and belt on his wife and kids so many times for Rick to count until one day Rick, aged 15 a strong tall boy, stood his ground in front of his mother to protect her and warned his dad there would be no more from him or he would beat him to the ground. Rick remembered that day so well, since then his dad had died, and he now provided for his mum and his siblings. He had them to think about as well, so it wasn’t easy.

“Are you hearing me Rick?” Ben nudged Rick and looked over at Jack at the same time. Jack was the quiet one, very deep, you just didn’t know what he was thinking but, he worked hard, and he kept his head down. Jack’s wife was in hospital suffering from TB so every penny he earned went on medical costs. He didn’t resent it, but it made things really hard. Thank goodness his parents were able to take the two kids and look after them, but they were such a long way away in Virginia. Jack’s parents really didn’t need any money sent, they had a small farm and shop and did reasonably well, so the children were well fed and comfortable. When Jack’s wife got better, they had decided to go and be with the children in Virginia for a better life.

“If you’re going on the razzle with Pat, Joe, count me in as well”, Dave called as he winked at Sid sitting beside him. Sid smiled, he was too old for the razzle dazzle, he liked a cold beer, tea on the table when he got home, a cuddle with his wife and sometimes a listen to the radio, he was quite happy with his lot.

“New York girl’s wonta be safe tonight with youse lot”. Papa stated with a sense of amusement.

Once again, the ripple of laughter filled the air. Dave was new to this team, he had worked for the company some time but couldn’t hack it with his new foreman, who seemed to want to belittle the men at every opportunity. He had fitted right in here, he loved working with Papa, and indeed, had discovered that Papa’s wife Maria worked with his sister in the laundry of the hotel in the city. Joe and he had become really good mates, they seem to gel with each other.

“Well, youse lot, time to get back to the job.” Papa called out. Lunch was over. The men oblivious to the surrounding, they had sat with the cold of the steel girder pressing on their backside. This was an everyday occurrence, no-one cared what went on many miles below them, their lives had intermingled with each other, through their work and families. They came from different continents but, together they were friends.

Today they were just having lunch.


Sue's Secret

Susan sat at the desk, her head in her hands. What on earth can she do now? She hadn’t told her husband. What was she thinking? Sue always picked the post up to bring to work.  It was easier to sort out any problems that might arise from the correspondence whilst she was there. She often worked late and was at her desk most of the day. 

The letter came out of blue; the Salvation Army had found her; she couldn’t fathom how. Her son wanted to meet her. She couldn’t face the turmoil. How was she going to tell her children that they had a stepbrother?

No this cannot happen. Sue screwed the letter up and threw it in the bin. Days went by, Sue was so busy at work and home she hadn’t even thought of the consequences of this revelation.

The last child of three was just setting off for university in three days’ time. Her life just beginning. Sue was so pleased, she felt that they had done well. Each child pursued their own course, and they were slowly getting on with their lives.

Gordon her husband was a Manager of a logistics firm. He was rarely at home, travelling around the world to secure contracts to grow the business.

Sue arrived home to find another letter without a stamp posted through the door. Her daughter was staying with friends, so there was a sigh of relief when Sue opened the letter.

I know the salvation army has contacted you about me. I have discovered where you lived. I just want to talk to you. My adopted parents know I am doing this. Please call me on this number: 07231 849225. I do not want anything just to talk. Please don’t ignore this letter.

Best Wishes


Sue began to cry, loudly at first, then the sobs taking her breath away. It was such a trauma at the time, Sue hadn’t cried like that for years.  The phone rang, it was Maggie a really good friend.

“Hi, Maggie” Sue gulped “Are you OK?”

“Right, I am coming over, something’s wrong I can tell” Maggie was not taking no for an answer “I’ll be right there”.

“And now he wants to talk” Sue had given Maggie the long sordid tale “How am I going to tell Gordon, he will never forgive me”.

“Sue, it happened when you were only 15, how could you have looked after a child then?”

Maggie gave Sue another tissue. “Your Mum and Dad were right it would have ruined your life. Look what you have done, Gordon will be alright with this I am sure”.

Sue was shaking her head; she should have spoken to him before they married. “I will have to tell him now; I cannot keep this a secret any longer”.

“Before you do anything ring the number and just talk to him” Maggie said nodding her head “That is the first step. You are going to take Elly to Uni tomorrow, so wait until you get back, when is Gordon back?”

“He come’s back on Sunday, all being well, it will feel strange being just us two in the house, me on my own most of the time” Sue had dried her tears concentrating on the now.

“It’s your 50th birthday in a couple of weeks, what have you got planned” Maggie was trying to stop Sue fretting about this latest upset, there had been many over the years and Gordon was not the easiest of men.

“There is a meal planned for that weekend, and Gordon has booked us a holiday in France” Sue stirred the tea and handed Maggie some biscuits.

Days later, Sue rang the number she had been given, her courage nearly went as the phone kept on ringing, then suddenly a breathless voice spoke up “Hello, how can I help you?”

“I …..,” Sue was suddenly speechless

“Is that you Sue” the voice said calmly “I am so pleased you called”.

“It is me; how did you find me?” Sue wanted to ask so many questions, but for now it was enough that she was speaking to James, her son of so long ago.

“I am married with two children now; my parents have been marvellous, and I just wanted to say thank you. I have heard your story and read in the files the trauma of my birth, and the distress you went through having to give me up”.

Tears started to fall; Sue was trying so hard not to remember how distraught she felt at the time. She had hidden the pregnancy from her Mum and Dad right up until the seventh month, then she began to bleed heavily, which meant she was rushed to hospital, and the baby came very quickly as she was haemorrhaging. Just remembering that time Sue shuddered. She was only young and felt ashamed of what had happened.

“It must have been very hard, I look at my two and I can’t imagine what that felt like” James continued “My life has been very good, you made the right decision, I am happy, and content and I just wanted you to know. We don’t have to meet if you don’t want to, I will leave that with you”.

Sue listened to this kind man, “I need time to think about it all James, I didn’t tell my husband you see, and I have three children as well, so you have a stepsister and two stepbrothers” Sue sighed.

“Shall we talk again, it is up to you” James was not pushing Sue, he realised this was momentous and he had said what it was he needed to say, but he would love to meet her just to satisfy his curiosity.

Sue decided to tell Gordon the next day, he arrived from New York and had the next two days at home. They were having a take-away meal tonight, and night in enjoying each other’s company.

“Gordon, I have something to tell you” Sue looked over at Gordon on the settee, he switched off the TV this sounded important. Sue told him the tale and waited for the roar of disapproval.

“Oh, Sue, I know all about that” Gordon came over to Sue pulled her up from the chair and gave her a big hug. His strong arms making Sue feel very secure. “Your Dad, the wise man that he is, pulled me to one side just weeks before we wed and told me the sorry tale” Gordon gave Sue a kiss, and sat her down with him on the settee. “He knew you wouldn’t want to talk about it again, but he thought I should know in case anything came up so I could be prepared”.

So much happened in a short amount of time. There was a great deal of discussion with Sue and Gordon’s children, lots of conversations between James and Sue. And eventually James and his family, including his Mum and Dad came for dinner one evening to meet his stepfamily as well as Sue.

There is much that happens in life, there are many twists and turns but what gets us through is the love we have for each other. We cannot change the past, we must live in the present, and look to the future. We make mistakes, we experience trauma, we laugh, and we cry but that is what life’s journey is all about. There are also perfect moments in our life we should treasure. Opportunities come out of storms that happen.

Sue got to know her son and was able to realise her actions at the time meant he had a wonderful life with good parents. There should never be any regrets, it is not worth thinking of what might have been. Live life for today, tomorrow will take care of itself.





Spirit goes on!

Clare Wilson sat on the edge of the bed; she had carefully picked the dress which her husband had bought for her. She sighed. He was gone. Twenty-Seven years of marriage, four children, 10 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren later they had become closer in the past three years with more of an understanding of each other.

Clare had been helping at the Spiritualist Church for the past two years, and occasionally Ted had come with her to the meetings. Saturday had been a Clairvoyant meeting, with payment on the door to help the funds of the church. Ted told her he felt under the weather and would stay at home that night.

“Text me when you are on the way back, I’ll get the kettle on,” Ted said as he squeezed Clare’s hand.

“OK,” she said gathering all the bits and pieces she needed to take to the meeting. She was looking forward to the family gathering the next day for her birthday. Ted was going to fire up the barbeque, and although he would start the proceedings, Jack their eldest son would probably take over. Clare smiled at the thought of all their family gatherings in the past and no doubt this would be another one to add to the memories.

There was a hush when the Medium was introduced. She was very well known in the area and was well liked. She often got the people laughing and would give a profound talk before the Clairvoyancy would start.

Clare had sat at the back and listened to the messages; she was tasked to write down every other message along with June who was also helping.  This meant everyone would have a copy of what  the Medium had said, which proved so important because often the recipient would be overwhelmed at getting a message that often they would not be able to remember it all.

Suddenly, the Medium pointed to Clare and said,

“Put your pen down and listen” the Medium paused and waited to see if Clare was giving her the undivided attention that was needed.

“Your Dad is here; he was in the Navy and there is a picture of him in his uniform on the wall,” she said

Clare was astounded, the picture had recently been put in a frame for that very purpose.

“He is so proud of all the family and he was glad he was the last to go,” the Medium continued.

Clare’s Mum had died first, and she had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for a time before that. Her Dad visited Mum every day, and in a way, it was a blessing when she finally passed.

“Your Dad was a very proud man and didn’t like being messed about in his final days, and he became cross and upset that he couldn’t do things for himself and tell you how he felt.”

Clare’s Dad had a stroke which meant his communication had been very restricted before he died.

Clare was an only child, her Dad had been a support and inspiration over the years, which had continued even though she had married Ted. He really got on well with Ted and they became football buddies, supporting the same team. The grandchildren had adored their Granddad, and when the first one was born, she called him Ga Ga, not able to say Granddad and that nickname had stayed with all the others that followed. So, the next words the Medium said were astonishing:

“He says Ga Ga, does that make sense to you?” the Medium asked.

Clare was now wiping the tears from her eyes. The medium went on to describe another man that came to her.

“Well, who you were describing sounds like my husband, who is at home ready to put the kettle on when I get there,” Clare replied. There was laughter in the audience, and a pause from the Medium.

“Well, this man comes with a beautiful bouquet of flowers for your birthday or anniversary,” the Medium stated. “He was sorry he couldn’t be at the family party tomorrow, but just know he loves you very much, and now I will say thank you for listening and God bless.”

Clare smiled and thanked the Medium. She would have to figure out who the next man was later, it was her turn to write the next message down.

As she turned into the drive at home, she noticed Ted had not shut the curtains, the room was lit by the TV.  This was unusual, Ted always closed the curtains when it began to get dark.

“Hi, Ted, hope that kettle is boiling,” Clare shouted as she was putting her coat and shoes in the hall closet. “I had a message tonight,” she was saying as she walked into the lounge.

“Ted?” Clare was shaking his arm, he had fallen asleep, “Ted,” Clare touched his face, it was cold, “No, No, Ted!” Clare shook him again, with no response.

“Jack, I can’t wake your Dad up, please come quickly, I have called an ambulance, please come!” Clare’s agitation made her voice rise, she was almost shouting down the phone. Jack immediately responded, “I am on my way, Mum.”

That was two weeks ago. Clare had forgotten the Medium’s message in all the traumatic days that had followed. Ted had had a massive heart attack and had died where he sat, in the chair.

She was now getting ready for the funeral when she found a piece of paper tucked in her black handbag as she was clearing all the rubbish out of it for her to use today.

“Well, this man comes with a beautiful bouquet of flowers for your birthday or anniversary,” the Medium stated “He was sorry he couldn’t be at the family party tomorrow, but just know he loves you very much.”

These were the Medium’s words. Ted had managed to bring that message through immediately knowing Clare was at the meeting. She clutched this piece of paper to her chest and tears slowly fell.

Just then, the bedside lamp flickered, she had a sense that Ted was near and would always be looking out for her. She would frame that message.

She believed her Dad was watching football with Ted and they were laughing together. Now it was time to give the formal goodbye to the body, but Clare had come to believe that life is eternal, and the spirit goes on, this gave her such comfort, not just for today but for the future.