Danni and Marty Venechek had kept their distance from Matt. It had not been because they disapproved, but rather, because they were proud of his ability to stand on his own. They had kept a distance from his mother as well, but for other reasons. Their last parting with her had been strained at best.
Their relationship with her had not soured, nor had they disowned her over the events that had led to the birth of Matt. She had begun her downward spiral then. She was not the same person they had grown up with. Selma had shown them that.
Danni had kept her father’s last name, even though she had married and become extremely successful. She had been one of those who, in the seventies, declared her independence through retaining her maiden name after marriage. But her husband had not minded. He supported her in all her decisions unconditionally.
Now in her seventies, she wondered what it would have been like had Nattie not been raped. Would she have gone the way she did? Danni doubted it. It had been a sad affair.
Nattie had loved the boy who’d betrayed her and hurt her in more ways than one. And to have him flee from the prospects of prison made it that much worse. But the last straw was her losing her husband shortly before her going to Selma.
She’d had the hots for the young photo journalist who’d joined the march in Selma to record it for posterity. But he was married, happily, from what Danni had seen. Her advances, made in desperation, were unnoticed. At least, that was what showed on the surface. Danni knew nothing of Tom Goldman, just that he was a journalist who supported the civil rights movement. She saw the ring on his finger, and to her, that meant that he was married.
Perhaps Nattie had not seen it. Or maybe, she had chosen to ignore, or was too desperate to think clearly. Danni preferred not to assume anything. She just knew that Nattie had been suffering then. But Nattie had refused to let anyone in.
After that, she had just stayed away. Nattie had made it clear that she didn’t want her help. Even though she needed all the allies she could use, and was coming unraveled emotionally, she pushed everyone away. And so, Danni and Marty backed away.
They had watched Matt with interest. But they did so from a distance. They watched as he was taken under Tom’s guidance and taught music. She had been astounded at his abilities. She’d heard rumors of his being concert-level by five and Tom’s introduction of him in a studio setting.
She wondered if Tom was still alive. Had he survived the seventies? Or had he succumbed to the same ravages as those who sought their calling in the hippie communes. After all, he had been the one who took Nattie to the one she was in for a while. But Danni had not thought he’d done so on purpose. Perhaps she had just clung to him and followed him wherever he went.
But Matt had left his mother at thirteen. He had removed his sisters, quietly, from her care as well. But he’d had help. Cousin Shasta had played Devil’s Advocate on that and the subsequent removals. Amazingly, they had been mini miracles. No Federal or State interference, just family.
In the same space of time, She’d had some children of her own. David, her oldest, had taken over his father’s business. Michael, her second, was a lawyer. Michelle, her youngest, was an actress who worked alongside her cousin Rainbow.
Michelle was her contact on the inside. She kept Danni updated on all, including the upcoming wedding. Danni smiled. She had been present at all seven of Matt’s former weddings. She’d loved Juanita and had mourned her death deeply. She had been good for Matt.
Now, Matt was getting married to a younger woman. Egypt had brought her home for the express purpose of getting her father interested in women again. Danni shook her head. Whoever this young lady was, she had snapped Matt out of his funk rather quickly. She would have to personally thank her. They couldn’t afford to lose any more family to self destruction.
Her phone rang, bringing her out of her thoughts. She answered it. “Hello? Yes, this is Danni Venechek. yes, Sammy. I am very happy to hear from you. Yes, I would be very honored to be at Matty’s wedding.
“Sammy, Dear, I have only stayed away because I was not needed. I have kept in touch with all through Shelly. She tells me all. Yes, she is still on the same soap as Rain. Have you had the pleasure to work with her?
“Yes, I am very proud of all of you. I know, Sammy. That is your choice. I support your decision no matter what. Have you called Marty? You have. He’ll be there? Good. Good. How about Frank Jr and Sierra?
“Good. Good. So you have contacted everyone? That’s good. I wish Your great grand parents were still alive. They would have adores you kids. I will gather mom and dad and bring them as well. They have always loved Matt. Give my love to all. OK, honey. Bye bye.”
She hung up the phone. Her favorite cousin’s son was reason enough to hold an impromptu family reunion. It had been decades since they had all gathered. Back then, it had been because of darker times. Now, it would be for the best reason of all.
She knew, of course, that she would receive the formal invitation, but just hearing Sammy again was a joy. She picked the phone up again. This time, she dialed her son’s number. He answered. “David? It’s mom. Spread the word for your children to be at Matt’s wedding. We’re going to bring the family together. Yes. Yes. Love You too.” She hung up.
It was all set. The whole family would be there. They would all be ready to show their support for the new couple. It was exactly what was needed to bring them all back together. Too bad Nattie hadn’t lived to see it.