Long Cold Winter: Chapter Fifty-Two

“Ladies,” Matt interrupted, “And gent. I am sorry to bail on you, but I have a very important phone call to make.” He turned to Tariq. “Can I speak to you privately?” He motioned for Ty to follow and the three of them exited the living room.

The two men followed Matt to his office. Ty was the first to inquire. “What’s this about?”

Matt smiled. “We’re going to begin planning the gallery. I am going to call Juanita’s sister and see if their parents are still alive. If so, I will ask if they have any other art done by her. I want to get this gallery open and all art in one place.” He turned to Tariq. “Terry. I was asked to get your permission to also include your artwork as well.”

Tariq, smiled slyly. “Will I have my own wing?”

Matt nodded seriously. “Yes. If you have enough to warrant it. There will be enough space allotted for any future pieces you might want to show. Your mother’s art will not be for sale. But, if you desire, yours can be given sales tags. Just the new paintings, though. The old should remain in the gallery. All you will have to do, when you send a piece, just mark it sale or gallery. the gallery pieces will be stated as ‘not for sale.’ That way, no one will ask to buy them.”

Tariq nodded. “I like this idea. But most I send will be for sale. Are you going to charge people fro viewing?” He looked at Matt, then at Ty. “I would. After all, you are memorializing Mom and showing off my art at the same time. It will generate a revenue for upkeep and overhead.”

Matt nodded. “I agree. I was thinking about that as well. Asking for donations to keep the gallery open won’t work, and free viewings won’t keep the gallery open very long. The only sensible thing is to charge people to view. Sort of like a museum.”

Ty smiled. “It is a museum, Matt. The majority of the works are not being sold, as a regular gallery would. Only a select few are.”

Tariq continued the thought. “Right. And you can choose when to put the paintings I send you up for sale. They won’t have to be sold right away. Or even for a year or two. One or two a year would be good enough for a while. At least until I graduate from the University in Paris. I haven’t decided which I am going to. Possibly the one Hauvette applies to. I want to remain with her.”

Matt smiled. “Got it bad?”

Tariq nodded. “We’re to be married after graduation this spring. He parents have already given their blessing.”

Matt patted him on the back. “I see no problem with that. Love is love. It knows no age.”

Ty chuckled. “True that.”

Matt went to his desk and picked up the phone. He got his old address book out of the drawer and rummaged through it until he found the right page. He looked up. “I hope this is still current.” He dialed the number.” He waited for someone to answer on the other end. “Sissy? Is Sissy there? Can I speak to her? Tell her it’s Matt.” He waited. “Sissy? It’s Matt Morrow. I am fine. Sorry it took so long for me to call. Yes.

“Sissy, I need to know something. Did Juanita leave any other kind of artwork Behind? Yes, other than the sketch pads. She did? Do you have them? Or do your parents?

“Yes, I think of them often. How is Bertie and Max? Can I meet with all of you? It is important. Good. Good.

“Yes, I have missed y’all too. I should have done this years ago. I agree. I won’t. Y’all are invited to come see me anytime you want. I am nearly always home. No, you are all still family, no matter what. I just lost my way’s all.

“Yes. Yes. Anytime would be fine. OK, see you then.” He looked up and smiled. “What do you want to hear first?”

Ty sucked in a breath. “Paintings?”

Matt nodded. “And sculpture. And ceramics. She was quite prolific when she was a teen.”

Tariq looked at his father. “Was Aunt Sissy willing to come visit?”

Matt nodded. “Yes. And your grandparents are coming as well.”

Tariq grinned. “Cool!”

In the living room, the ‘wedding planning committee’ had decided on a traditional white wedding with all the traditions. Except the bouquet of white. Instead of the traditional all-white bouquet, they agreed that it should be a bouquet of red and white roses. No Baby’s Breath. No heather. Or ferns.

It would be simpler to get all white or peach colored dresses for the bridesmaids, then to seek out the opulent shops for the darker colors. Those would be for the cake. Lu’s sister would do the planning and coordinating, but the committee wanted to have everything thought out beforehand. That way, there was no prodding to do something totally off the wall or disastrous.

They wrote all the decisions down and got them all in one place. Lu took out her cell phone and dialed a number. then waited for someone to answer on the other end. “Darlene? It’s Lu. I have a favor to ask of you. My better half’s brother is getting married and we have been planning out the rough on the wedding. Yes. Would you be willing to take on this as a favor to me? You would? Grand.

“Tomorrow?” She looked at Amanda, who nodded in agreement. “Tomorrow would be fine. Love you too, Sis. Bye for now.” she hit the ‘end’ button. “Ta-dah!”

A cheer went up from all in the room. Everything was set except the date. As soon as everyone in the family sent back the days they would have free in the summer, that would also be set. Now, they waited. And prayed.