JOHN HAY, WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
by Richard Oti
It was her turn to take the vow, she slid her hand forward and took his. Looking into his eyes, she recited the lovely vow she had written for him:
“I’ll love you forever, I’ll keep your heart safe. I’ll hang a mistletoe everywhere around the house, so you would never cease to kiss me (he smiled). I promise to remain your favorite girl. If our boys turn out to be half the man you are, then I would know I had raised them well. You leave me breathless and yet it feels so good. I want to grow old and grey with you. I’ll like to die lying in your arms, sharing my last moments with you. With these words, she affirmed “I DO” to him. They both adored each other.
Joaquin was born to Marcus and Selena Lopez on Feb. 20, 1986, at 8.am in Sau Paulo, Brasil. Frances the daughter of General Fredrick and Pauline Booth, was born on Feb 20, 1987, at 8.am in Cleveland, USA. She was a choleric, a natural born leader. Having her in a place was like turning on the heating system on a cold winter day, she kept the atmosphere warm. Her charm and charisma were magical.
Joaquin was smart, handsome, and like your average shy guy, introverted. His charisma and charm were 2.5 on a scale of 10, but his brilliance was simply amazing. Growing up in Brazil was pretty rough for his family. His father (Mr. Lopez) was from Nicaragua but had naturalized as a Brazilian. He and Selena ran a restaurant that served the best Feijoada you could taste. Moving to America was the biggest decision they ever made. They sold off their restaurant and realized enough money to begin a new life In Cleveland, America. They say New York is “the city that never sleeps” and we all know, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Truth said, but I believe Cleveland is the darling of all cities, that city that rocks!
Settling into the new environment was easy, especially because Clevelanders are very receptive people. The suburbs of Chagrin Falls, a scenic village of 3800 residents was where they lived. Just a few miles away in Shaker heights lived General Booth. Shaker Heights is the Paris of Cleveland, home to the crème de la crème of the city. General Booth, fondly called GB, had a mean demeanor that made him a dreaded military officer, but to his beautiful girls: Pauline, Frances, and Carla, he was the most tender-hearted man they knew.
High school was where it all began for Joaquin and Frances. In his senior year, he had moved from one of the Cleveland municipal schools to John Hay, one of the most prestigious schools in the city. Switching schools had come at a great cost, but one Mr. Lopez was willing to bear to ensure his little genius got the best education he could. He had spent only a few days in school and was already in deep communion with the nerds, he was a true representative of their brotherhood. His name was a little hard to pronounce, so most of them just called him Jackie. He was a young man of few words, who found solace in his ivory tower, the library. Frances was more upbeat and spent as much time having fun as she did studying.
She (Frances) first took notice of him in History class when he spoke for 10 minutes about the amazing architectural masterpieces found in Europe and Asia, using the Effiel Tower in Paris and Taj Mahal in Arga, India and as key structures. During lunch that day, she walked up to the table on which he sat, and without even an introduction, she said to him “tell me about the statue of liberty”. He was startled by her manner of approach, but before he could consider how to react, he was already speaking. When he was through, she went on “tell me about Niagara falls”. She had enjoyed how he made his words come so alive, they were like paintings on the canvas of her mind. Then she threw the bombshell next: “tell me about your girlfriend” she said with a grin. He almost choked on the sausage he was eating. He stammered a few inarticulate words, it became obvious to her that he had lost his amiable composure. “We would talk about this later,” she said, then quickly walked away before he got more embarrassed. He had never had a girlfriend.
It was only a few days later and he began having that feeling. You know that feeling, right? That one that keeps you staring at her all day and dreaming of her all night. Someone humorously said, “that feeling you get when you fall in love, that is common sense gradually leaving you”. True that! I’m sure you are smiling because you know perfectly how that feels.
3 months later, they had their first date. They were so thrilled to discover how much they shared in common, most especially, being born in the same month, day and hour with just a year apart. 3 years later, he took her to Renaissance Hotel for a special dinner on their birthday. He was a perfect gentleman and she felt so comfortable with him. The waiter walked up to their table handing them each a menu booklet. His accent sounded so Italian. She ordered Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta and Broccoli salad. He ordered same. The waiter returned with two plates: a white porcelain and silver hammered, both were covered with saucers. She stared at him as he walked away. Did she wonder, why two plates only? Why did he have that silly grin on his face before he walked away? The flavor of the recipes should have allowed for her to perceive the aroma, but it seemed aroma-less. She wondered if what lay under the saucers was going to be tasteless also. Joaquin quickly snapped her out of her thoughts with a slight touch. Baby, I want you to choose one of the plates. Choose carefully.
She starred at both plates with many thoughts going through her mind, as fast a bullet. She decided on the silverware. He asked her to open it, she did. In that plate lay a white gold banded ring with a single diamond and a note that read “will you marry me?”. Tears ran down her eyes as she stared at the ring and the note. He took her by the hand, knelt down and repeated the same words “Frances Kayla Booth, will you marry me? Will you spend forever with me?” With tears and a smile, she said: “I couldn’t wish for a better man, I’m ready for forever with my favorite boy in the entire world “. She used both her hands to pull his head closer to her, then she kissed him on the forehead. They were married on Dec. 8, 2008, and had their first child, Daisy, on Nov 10, 2009.
Graduating from Aviation school was a dream come through for him. He had gotten the license to fly Boeing 737 Next Generation and 747 jets. On Sunday, 22nd of August 2010, he was up early, showered and got dressed, looking gorgeous in his pristine white shirt, fitted black trousers, and a well polished Stacy Adams shoe. He held Daisy in his arms and whispered in her ears “I want daddy to be the first word you say. Don’t tell mummy I said so” the little girl chuckled as if she understood every word he had said. “I love you, sweetheart, come back home safe.” They kissed each before he drove off to Hopkins International Airport.
“I think she’s ready to fly. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking, I like to welcome you all on board Southwest Airlines flight to New Ark, New Jersey. Flight duration is 1hour 18minutes and we are expecting a fairly smooth flight today. Once again, we thank you for choosing to fly with us, we hope you enjoy your flight.” He spoke through the microphone from the cockpit. She was up in the air and running at 434knots, a few moments later, he realized the plane was veering off course. There was a mechanical failure and engine 2 was out.
“Mayday! Mayday!! Power failure on engine 2, he quickly radioed the control tower.
Control Tower: Southwest Airlines, read me?
“I read you five by five! Power failure on engine 2, engine restart failed too.”
Control Tower: “Alright, you are two miles from the closest airport to you, bring her down safely”
That was the last conversation before the plane crashed. Standing, looking over Daisy’s crib, she felt something wasn’t alright with Joaquin. She paid no attention to the thoughts until they became stronger. Then she quickly picked her phone and dialed his number, it was switched off, then she got even tenser. Less than 15minutes later, she received a call from the management of Southwest Airlines “Hello ma’am, we are sorry, our 737 Next Generation Jet going to New Ark, NJ, had a crash, but your husband is alive. We’d send a car over to pick you up right away.” She ran into the bathroom, shut the door behind her and began to cry profusely. She wasn’t sure of how truthful they were when they said he was alive. He had been in a state of shock and had just come out of it barely an hour before the car carrying both his girls (Fran and Daisy) arrived. She stood at the door of his room for a few minutes, looking at him through the transparent glass. A female doctor and a male nurse were inside running some test and talking with him. He was weak and could speak only sparingly. He was in bad shape but stable condition.
Then she took a deep breath and walked into his room. She walked up to his bedside “hey baby, how are you?” He could hardly speak, so she just kept on speaking. After a little, with tears in her eyes, the Doctor said: “I’m sorry, but he’s suffering from Amnesia and has no idea who you are.” She began to sob “Baby, you remember me right? This is our baby, Daisy, I’m sure you can’t forget her. Remember the vow? I promised to get old and grey with you. You always called me your favorite girl, I loved the way you said it with a smile. I always wanted to ask you, the night you proposed to me, what was in that second plate? Will I ever get to know? We hoped to have a baby boy next and you said he was going to be called Marcus just like your dad. Please, baby, tell me you remember?” She gently put her head on his chest and sobbed so hard. “I’ll wait for you no matter how long it takes, we can fall in love and start all over again,” she said as the tears flowed uncontrollably. He gently ran his fingers through her hair and said very faintly “I might not know who you are, but I’m sure you loved me so much”
Dedicated to MY mum and Dad… Happy 30th wedding anniversary in arrears.
Written by Richard Oti, May 26th 2013.
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