A Spoof Hallmark Production Written by Bernideen Canfield
It all began in the summer of 2011 when I graduated from High School in Fulton, Missouri. Let me tell you about the events of my life that summer:
I certainly had no intention of staying in my home town. After 23 years of family sacrifice, my Grandmother stepped down from her position as the Fulton town Mayor which frankly consisted of lousy pay and long hours. And did I mention that for the last five years she had talked about it at every family gathering? While volunteering at the Churchill Museum, I heard about a summer internship at the Smithsonian Institute so early in the summer of 2019 and with my Masters Degree in hand I knew I was ready for an adventure. My Grandmother was in great health and said she would spend her time in her beloved garden so I set out for DC. It’s hard coming from a small town but DC meant a real adventure which I was more than ready for.
After high school and while attending MU, I had dated a couple of professors at Westminster (our local college) but nothing serious. I didn’t even find it hard to say goodbye to my friends – many I had known since grade school. Mr. Sharper, my next door neighbor was probably going to be the one I would miss. I had tried every trick in the book to match him up with my Grandmother but all this was to no avail. She had no interest in Mr. Sharper because he had allergies and my Grandmother had plants everywhere in her house – even in the laundry and the bathroom. Once I invited him for Thanksgiving without telling her who he was. She had agreed I could bring a friend but didn’t realize it would be him. After sneezing for 15 minutes he excused himself and down the lane he went in his SUV. I never call Mr. Sharper by his first name because he’s the sort of man you refer to with dignity and find yourself thinking of him in a professional way.
If there was a possible companion for my Grandmother he would have to love gardening for sure. But let me get back to my story and tell you that Washington DC was everything I dreamed about. My job allowed me to visit eight other museums in town as I was responsible for coordinating various events at the Smithsonian Institute. I worked in the same building as some very interesting people (they are everywhere in DC) but Franklin Sutherland was certainly a person of interest to me. Franklin was tall and had red hair. I don’t usually notice men with red hair but he pulled it off well. My summer in DC went so fast and before I knew it I was packing to come home. Now this will certainly surprise everyone, I rode the Amtrack home. Yes, I had come to DC on the Amtrack leaving from Jefferson City, Missouri, so the return home late in 2019 was part of the plan.
Mr. Sharper greeted me at the station in Jefferson City and filled me in on anything he could remember that hadn’t been texted or emailed. All I could think of was “please just tell me about my kitty” and finally that news jumped out of his mouth. He assured me she had missed me so as we drove home I was anxious to see her.
Mostly, I was horrified to hear that the whole town would be waiting for my response to Mr. Sharper who had been commissioned to pressure me into taking the position as town Mayor. The City Council had met on numerous occasions and Mr. Sharper assured me my office at City Hall would be redecorated. I found this whole idea a bit overwhelming and I don’t mean to sound condescending but I wasn’t impressed at all. With Christmas coming I knew my Grandmother Karen Mertens would be making all sorts of plans. She loves to bake and cook and even in in her retirement remains super involved in all the town activities.
In Fulton we have a busy schedule of events. Of course, as a town Mayor I would be right there involved in so much planning. Really, after a good night of sleep and finding my Kitty spoiled rotten by Mr. Sharper I decided to to down to city hall and see what the position entailed. Did I mention that the Mayor’s office had a real leather sofa? Well, to make a very long story short, I accepted the position as Mayor and became buried in Holiday planning. Can you believe it? Me, Marie as a Mayor of my little town of Fulton. The Churchill Museum was in a big commotion about their Director and the staff complained he spent all his time flirting with the girls over at Westminster and riding his motorcycle over to Columbia to weekend parties at several sororities on the MU campus.
I have to admit, that sounded pretty interesting since I hadn’t had a single date. Not that I would have had any time anyway. I had met a coworker at Beck’s for dinner but we are just friends. I did everything I could to avoid Tim Johnson who owns Brooklyn Pizza on the corner. He was a pest in high school and still seemed to appear out of nowhere.
The whole town came out for all the Holiday activities this Christmas. The lighting of the City Hall Christmas Tree was heralded by carolers and of course as Mayor we had the usual count down to light the tree. I have to tell you that the fact that it started to snow as the tree lights came on was in my opinion something very magical. I found myself feeling rather proud. I had arranged for my Grandmother Karen to arrive right at that moment with (of course) Santa Claus! She was dressed in a red plaid wool cape with a fur collar. I know it cost a small fortune but as the former Mayor she was wanting to make an impression and this she surely did!
After Santa Claus arrived the children of Fulton were extremely excited and the Fulton High School Chorus spontaneously began to sing the Hallelujah Chorus! Right there in front of City Hall I almost fainted! Not because of Santa or the singers or even my Grandmother…..but as I looked back in the crowd there he was. It was none other than Franklin Sutherland, looking very debonair in a black velvet sports coat with red wool slacks and a red plaid scarf. I have to say, I was totally shocked to see him. Can you believe it? Franklin Sutherland.
And here is the rest of my story. Unbeknown to me, Franklin has just been hired to oversee the Churchill Museum in our town. My Grandmother has wasted no time in inviting him for Christmas dinner and he seems very pleased. I guess my life in little Fulton, Missouri won’t be so lonely this Christmas after all. Now I just hope he doesn’t have plant allergies and loves kitties!