The wind was especially chilling along Michigan Avenue. December the 5th was winter in the Windy City. Billy Bump and Carl and Steve and Susie, were on their way to see the new release of the Disney movie, Lady and the Tramp. The bright lights of the city and the Christmas Carolers along with the Salvation Army workers and their kettles, at every store front…created another worldly atmosphere that was compelling and unique!
As they entered the massive theatre and walked under the strobing lights of the marque…Billy and Carl were a bit overwhelmed. As the movie played, Billy fell in love with Lady, and felt good about it! There were intricate carvings on the walls of the movie palace, and ornate sconces and angels and gargoyles and mystery.
Billy became sleepy and sat on Susies lap, who was 15 years old…while he was 6. The combination of being close to his human girl friend and watching his canine paramour on the gigantic screen….was Christmas nirvana!
After the movie the happy group, chaperoned by Jane, who was Billy’s mom, and Ivy who was Susie and Steve’s mother, began to walk toward a nearby restaurant to enjoy a holiday meal and reminisce about the outstanding movie. The throng of people who were shopping for Christmas gifts created a crush of humanity. Billy had hold of Susies hand…but he lost his grip, and soon everyone and no one looked like his mom and his friends.
Suddenly a grizzled and tired woman grabbed his hand. Billy looked up to see eyes that appeared to have witnessed more suffering than any human should have to. The woman asked him what his name was and he responded that it was, Billy Bump. He then asked what her name was, as she seemed to be very kind, and she responded, Abigail.
Abigail asked Bill B. if he was lost and he said that he was. She went on to inquire where he had come from and he pointed to the brightly lit theatre marque. Abigail then asked where he and his family were going and he said, to a nearby restaurant. Abigail took his hand and started walking to Cunetto’s House of Pasta, which was next door to the theatre.
Outside Cunetto’s, they’re was Jane and Ivy and Susie, in an apoplectic state as they frantically searched for Billy. However, Carl and Steve…seemed nonplused! When Abigail took Billy to Jane and she saw that he was safe, she said, “Praise the Lord,” and asked Abigail to join them for dinner.
Abigail demurred and noted that she was not dressed for a fine eating establishment…but that she would be grateful for something to take away and eat outside. Jane insisted that she join them, and so she did.
Ivy asked Abigail how she had become homeless? Abigail told the table, the following. She and her husband had met in the Peace Corp and had worked for four years in Cameroon. They had returned to Chicago and both obtained teaching positions in the Chicago Public School System. They had an apartment near Michigan Avenue and were in to and involved in all things regarding their city, Chicago!
Abigails husband had a stroke at the age of 29, and his subsequent health care had caused them to have to move to a walk-up in the south-side of the city. Two years later he had another stoke that took his life.
Abigail was laid off from her teaching position during a teacher reduction. She had been without work for three years. Both Abigail and her, late, husband had been orphans…and had attended college on government assistance. For the past year…she had been living on Michigan Avenue or nearby streets, and working occasional jobs when they became available.
Jane, Billy’s mom, announced to Abigail that she was coming home with them…and she must not say no! Tears welled up in Abigail’s eyes. She not only accompanied the Bumps home but she showered and dressed in some of Jane’s clothes, as they were close to the same size, and slept on the clean sheets of the guest room bed.
Abigail became Billy’s nanny…until she could resume her teaching position. She instilled in Billy a love for writing, as she was an accomplished writer.
Abigail never married again…as her life became entwined with the Bump family.
Billy B. is now an old man…but he still talks daily with his former nanny and his beloved friend, Abigail!