For the Love of Chester
I Loved Mrs.Bean. In the hairdressing world she was a weekly Shampoo and Set. She was always full of fun, smiles and wisdom. Every Friday night she would come to the salon and I would roller set her hair and put her under the dryer and she would entertain me with stories of all she and Chester had done that week.
She did not drive and for some reason Chester could not take public transportation so they walked everywhere. They would walk down to the store and Chester would wait right by the door for her to come out. When they went to the park he would walk between her and the dogs because he knew they frightened her.
He was so intelligent that without even looking at the clock he knew when it was time for her to go to work and when it was time for her to return.
One busy Friday night she came in and I noticed she wasn’t her chipper self and she told me Chester was not well. We prayed for him and I was surprised when she said that if it were his time she just wanted him to go peacefully and be with the Lord. The following Friday she called to cancel her appointment, Chester had passed that morning and she needed to take care of “things”. I offered to come to her home and do her hair and she declined, her sister was in town and would do it for her.
Saturday morning I scanned the obituaries for Chester and could not find him. I called my Grandmother and my Great Aunt and had them watching too. I felt it was truly necessary for me to pay my respects in honor of my relationship with Mrs. Bean. But no one could find Chester Bean anywhere.
I called her home and no answer. I called her work and was shocked that they did not even know (or seem concerned) that Chester had passed merely that Mrs. Bean had called in sick. I began to worry and she called and left a message for me that she was going to her sisters for a few days and would see me the following week. She said she would be returning to work on Friday morning and would see me at her usual appointment on Friday night.
I felt as though I had failed in showing her the proper respect for her loss and decided to send her flowers to her work, A cafeteria style restaurant in the same mall. I ordered a huge and rather expensive bouquet of cut flowers in an amazing arrangement with a beautiful vase. It was a dent in my paycheck but it was for Mrs. Bean.
Friday Afternoon when I came into work the Salon Manager came to me and asked if I had been to eat…. “No I just got here.” She said “I don’t understand what is going on but people from the café keep coming up here and asking to see you. I thought maybe you left something down there.” I shook my head no and went to work.
The rest of the afternoon was interesting to say the least with people coming in and booking appointment after appointment with me for the rest of the afternoon. By my break I was booked solid for the next 3 weeks. I could not figure out what was going on until one of the girls came to me and said “Looks like you got all the café business, what’s your secret.” I suddenly got it. The floral arrangement. They must love Mrs. Bean as much as me and were touched by the arrangement.
Finally Mrs. Bean arrived. Even I was impressed by the size of the arrangement and how beautiful it was. She smiled, hugged me and said let’s do my hair. Every time our eyes would meet in the mirror she would burst into laughter. Her giggles were contagious and soon we were all laughing without a clue about what was so amusing.
When I finished her hair she turned to me and asked why I sent the flowers to her work. I explained how we had all looked for Chester in the obituaries and even called the local funeral parlors to find him and could not.
She put her hands over her face and her shoulders began to shake she was making this noise and I hugged her and said you know we did pray for him to find peace and to go home to be with the Lord. She began to shake more. I could feel the tears welling up in my own eyes and she must have heard the break in my voice she looked up and at that moment I realized she was laughing. Chester was dead and Gone and she was laughing.
I know I looked puzzled. She took my hand in hers and said just above a whisper Chester was my Cat. I was flabbergasted. I stood there in total shock for a good couple of minutes and then all but shouted at her “I called the funeral home!” We both laughed and laughed. She said “No One has ever sent me flowers, I’m keeping them forever!” I laughed and told her after all that she deserved them.
As the weeks went by and the café clients came in the story was all the same, they loved Mrs. Bean and she rarely ever smiled or laughed. They all said she had laughed so hard that day that they had started to think she was losing her mind. When they asked why she refused to tell them and insisted they had to make a hair appointment with me to find out. So I know I told the story a few dozen times.
From that night on she laughed every time she saw me but if other people would try to tease me she would cut them off… “You never sent me flowers so stay out of our business!” Later she had a stroke and I would visit her and my Grandmother in a Care Facility. She always would smile and after a while she started calling me Chester.
When she passed away her children asked me to come do her hair and I was honored. In my mind I could just hear her saying “Tease it up tight! Not too much spray” When her daughter came in to see it she stopped short and looked kind of odd. Did I do it wrong? Do you want me to change anything? “No, its perfect, it’s just …. well, for a minute I thought Mother was smiling at you.” I smiled, she probably was we used to tease each other about a lot of things. She handed me an envelope and told me to please not refuse to take it her Mother had made her promise to give it to me.
I was on my way to work so I stuffed the envelope in my bag and did not look at it. I attended the funeral and had forgotten all about the check. A week or so later I was at home and cleaned out my purse.
There was my envelope I opened it and there was a Thank You Card from the family, cash and a check. There in Mrs. Bean’s familiar yet barely legible scrawl was the exact amount she always paid me for her set and a tip. I laughed and laughed I knew why she was smiling the last time I did her hair, she had gotten the last laugh ~ the check was made out to Chester. I’m sure he was waiting to welcome her home.
People are lonely out there, Be sure to Love someone today! If it made you smile be sure and share!