“It was late in December, the sky turned to snow
All round the day was going down slow
Night like a river beginning to flow
I felt the beat of my mind go
Drifting into time passages
Years go falling in the fading light
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight”
From: “Time Passages” 1978, by Al Stewart
It was a low-keyed Christmas this year. Enough snow on the ground to give a half-hearted effort towards the “White Christmas” standard on expects, and the temperature stayed in the margins of a winter wonderland, vice an arctic blast from the Canadian plains.
Food was plentiful, wonderful smells sending advance waves of anticipation, pleasing to the tongue, and taste-buds. Coffee, teas, nogs, and more, were at the ready, to quench the thirst of any takers. Deserts stood by, in the rear guard. Pies, cookies, and various candies, there to round out the holiday feast.
Few presents were exchanged, and this year saw no tree or lights adorning the house, inside or out. It wasn’t due to a lack of money, for the first part, or a disappearance of bags and boxes marked “Christmas Lights” and “X-Mass Tree”, on the other.
This year would see one special person in the family given the gift of peace. We would not be the ones who directly gave her this gift, and all in the family would feel the aftereffects of this gift being “accepted”.
Deb’s mom dealing with attacks to mind, body, and spirit over the past few years, particularly within the last five months or so, accepted her call to close out this final chapter here on earth. On the day after Christmas, she completed her transition from this level of existence, to the next. No longer in pain. No longer restricted, in a body which ceased to honor her will, wishes, or desires. She was set free…to be at rest…and at peace.
I remember when Isabella’s first opened, down Grand Prairie Texas way, in a little hole in the wall at Marshal Plaza. In the space of two years, the big move down the road to where they exist to this day. All the fellow military from the old NAS Dallas who worked there over the years. LEO’s from various cities, both counties, and probably a few Texas Rangers as well, who graced the tables.
The delivery drivers used to compete against each other to see who could make the most tips (and some of the tips….well, there were very interesting stories told about them) on any given evening.
One time when Howard (the owner, fellow retired Navy type, and most importantly, friend) and I raced out of there, as soon as we could close up (Want to say it was a Monday or Tuesday night), to go and see the first Star Trek film. We hopped in my car, an old Mazda RX2 with the rotary engine, and broke land speed records to make it to the theater in time, getting there just a few minutes before it started.
Holidays were always special. The egg-nog and sangria would be flowing, food (and not just Italian) was consumed in mass quantities…and gifts exchanged. And yes, I still have the Navy fight jacket Howard gave me better than 25 years ago. (It saw time overseas btw, in Asia, the Med, and Atlantic)
The pizza was outstanding, the cheesecake “to die for”…but for me the best part of Isabella’s was the people. Howard and Iz were the spark that gave the place life, and character, the rest of us “supporting cast”, added our own little idiosyncrasies…for a bit of added flavor. But Isabella’s would never have been what it was, and what it came to be, without Howard and Izzie.
The mixer will silently sit, ovens cold and stoic their cavernous maws empty, chairs at rest atop their respective tables. All will be silent, and the community will be all the poorer for it.
The memories will live on long after the doors finally close. Those of us who worked (and sometimes, I think, lived) there….the customers who came back time and time again…the families and friends who became permanently intertwined….we are all the richer from the bounty of memories made there.
So the year comes to a close. We are left with memories, and that will have to do. Allowing for the occasional time passage, especially as one gets older, with less time at hand for the future, but an ever-increasing supply of memories…a luxury, an earned mental liquor, to be sipped on a cold winters eve.
Mom and Isabella’s … both provided comfort, joy, the living of life in large chunks. Both were loved and will be treasured.