Hannah and Michael
One cold morning Arnold Fine, editor of The Jewish Press was walking home in Brooklyn. Looking down at the street he spotted a wallet that someone had lost. Being an honest man he opened the wallet and looked inside for identification so he could contact the owner. But all he could find were three lonely dollar bills and a crumpled envelope that contained a letter. The letter was worn and looked like it had been in the wallet for years; the legible thing on it was the return address.
Fine opened the letter hoping to find a clue to the owner, but his hopes sank when he saw that it had been written sixty years earlier in 1924. It was a “Dear John” letter, written in beautiful feminine handwriting. The writer named Hannah was writing to Michael to tell him that she would no longer be able to see him because her mother forbade it. Even though they were apart, she would always love him.
Unfortunately Michael had no last name and neither did Hannah so Fine was not able to find the owner that way. But Fine did not give up; he called the operator and inquired if she could help him. The operator was not able to give him a number, but transferred him to her supervisor. The supervisor called the phone number at the address on the envelope and asked if they would talk to Fine.
Fine asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the name of Hannah. She replied that they bought the house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years ago. She also told Fine that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home and they might have a contact number for her, even though her mother had passed away a few years before.
Fine thanked her and called the nursing home, the woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home. He then called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living. The man who answered told him that Hannah was staying there.
All though the hour was late, it was 10 p.m., Fine asked if he could stop by and see Hannah. The man answered that she might still be watching television in the day room if he wanted to chance it. Fine drove over to the nursing home and went to the day room where the nurse introduced him to Hannah.
Silver haired with a sweet disposition, she had a warm smile and twinkle in her eye. Fine showed her the wallet and told her about finding the letter inside of it. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, “Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael.”
Softly she said,, “I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor.”
“Yes, Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And,” she hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, “tell him I still love him. You know,” she said smiling as tears began to well up in her eyes, “I never did marry. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael…”
Fine thanked Hannah and took the elevator to the first floor. Now he had a last name for Michael and he was just a little bit closer to finding him. On the first floor the guard inquired if Hannah had been able to help him and Fine told him she had. He informed the guard that he now had name to go with the wallet he was trying to find the owner for. He then took out the wallet to show it to the guard.
When the guard saw it, he said, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s Mr. Goldstein’s wallet. I’d know it anywhere with that bright red lacing. He’s always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at least three times. He’s one of the old timers on the 8th floor. He must have lost it on one of his walks.”
Fine thanked the guard and returned to the nurse’s desk where he told her this new information. They took the elevator to the 8th where they talked to the nurse up there.
The nurse told them that he might still be in the day room as he liked to read at night.
They entered the day room and saw an old man sitting there quietly reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked him if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein checked his pocket, looked surprised and said yes he had. The nurse told him that Fine had found his wallet and was there to return it to him.
Mr. Goldstein smiled when he saw his wallet and offered Fine a reward for returning it. But Fine declined the reward and told Mr. Goldstein that he seen the letter in the wallet and read it hoping to find the owner.
The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. “You read that letter?”
“Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is.”
He suddenly grew pale. “Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me,” he begged.
“She’s fine…just as pretty as when you knew her.”
The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, “Could you tell me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow.” He grabbed my hand and said, “You know something, mister, I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I’ve always loved her.”
“Mr. Goldstein,” Fine said, “Come with me.”
They took the elevator down to the 3rd floor where they went to the day room. Hannah was still sitting there watching television. The nurse walked over to Hannah and gently tapped her on the shoulder.
“Hannah,” she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in the doorway. “Do you know this man?”
She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn’t say a word.
Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, “Hannah, it’s Michael. Do you remember me?”
She gasped, “Michael! I don’t believe it! Michael! It’s you! My Michael!”
He walked slowly towards her and they embraced. The nurse and Fine left them together with tears streaming down their faces.
Three weeks later, Fine got a call at work from the nursing home. They wanted to know if he could come out that Sunday and attend a wedding, Hannah and Michael were getting married.
Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall and Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful. The residents of the nursing home wore their best and all turned out for the joyous affair. Fine was best man and the nursing home even gave them their own room. A 76 year old bride and 79 year old groom but they were as giddy as a couple of teenagers.
A love worth waiting for, they spent 60 years apart but had found their perfect love.