IX. PHILLIP COMES HOME
Phillip had been gone for four years. Sure he had kept in touch with his mother through letters home, but he had not taken time off to go back and see how she was really doing. Though she had tried to keep it from him, he knew somehow that her illness had gotten worse. And those letters from Sonny and Lena had clued him in.
He knew that Sandra had returned. He also knew that Danelle and Felicity had given their mother her first grandchildren. He, too, was about to make the announcement that his mother had waited so long to hear. After four years of studying, he had met a beautiful young woman from a wealthy family. She’d been the first that had caught his eye when he first arrived at Harvard.
They’d struck up such a friendship from the very beginning that he found himself thinking more and more about her. At the start of his second year, they began dating. After their first date, they became inseparable. That winter, he went to meet her parents. Her parents were, by the end of the break, enamored with him.
His charm and wit had been his greatest strengths. They had never breached the subject of his breeding. Hell. His last name was all they needed. Grimes. that linked him inexorably to his father, Halford Grimes. And though he had never met his father, he understood well enough that Hal had been a very powerful man…and wealthy.
Now, with his fiancée in tow, Phillip was headed home. He only hoped that his mother would like the new woman in his life. He desperately needed her blessing.
When he arrived, his mother met him at the door. He could see the warm smile upon her face and knew suddenly that all would be fine.
“Welcome home, Phillip,” Maggie stated, “and this must be Honoria. Welcome to my home. Forgive me if I don’t seem overly excited. I haven’t been feeling well.”
“That’s ok, Mama,” he replied, “I just wanted to come home and see you. Also, I wanted you to meet the young lady who stole my heart.”
“If it’s my blessing you want, Phillip,” Maggie stated, “then, you have it. You know very well that I will welcome anyone to this family if they are the beloved of another member. In fact, if you wish, I can contact your brother Todd and set up a date for
your wedding…but that is up to you.”
“I think,” Honoria interjected, “that would be sweet. And I shall contact my parents to invite them here for the wedding. They’ll gladly be willing to foot some of the bill if you wish.”
“My dear child,” Maggie stated, smiling, “money is no object around here. I won’t mind spending lavishly for such an event. Besides. I know a few people who’d pretty much set things up for us for close to nothing. They have been friends of the family for decades. But the dress…and the tuxedo will not be free, so I shall seek the best tailors in the country. Only the best, you know.”
X. THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF BRENNA
Brenna, too, had graduated from college in the days surrounding Phillip’s return. As with Phillip, she had decided to return home. Her correspondence home, and the subsequent answers she’d received, had caused her some concern. Something in the words of Sonny and Lena had set off an alarm in her mind. Her mother had never been in such bad shape. And Conrad was beginning to get a bit frazzled as well.
It was even wearing on the twins. They were beginning to feel frustrated. They knew that there was nothing they could really do to heal their mother, but they felt as if they had to try. Yet, she had lived past the age when her mother had died. Perhaps if Brenna could get home and point that fact out to her, it would boost her a bit and bring her out of the downward spiral that she’d been in since Sammi’s graduation.
Sadly, Charles was still two years away from graduating from college, and Sammi was taking college slow enough to keep involved with helping the twins with their mother. The twins, on the other hand, were just a year away from graduating high school. After that, they’d secretly told Brenna that they were going to hold off with college in order to care for their mother.
So, to help take a bit of weight off the twins-and off of Conrad, her stepfather—Brenna headed home. But, like Phillip, she was not heading home alone. With her, a young gentleman was making the trip. And his name was Tobias Morsbey. He was the heir to the Morsbey fortune, but did not look the part of a trustfund baby. He looked more like a middle class, blue collar office drone. Not saying that he wasn’t handsome, but he just didn’t dress the part of a spoiled rich kid. Hell. He didn’t even drive a sports car! He drove an old, beat-up piece of rust that seemed to move faster than the sportsters he was currently passing on the turnpike. She couldn’t help but laugh.
They reached Chicago at midnight. Lena let them in, their mother already having retired to bed four hours earlier. Sonny showed them to Brenna’s old room and carried up their luggage for them. It no longer mattered if they slept in the same room to him. They had been engaged for some time now, and to him, they were already married.
XI. ANOTHER DOUBLE WEDDING
Todd found himself in another awkward position. The triple wedding that had taken place when his mother had married for the second and final time had been, what he thought to be, a fluke. Now, once more at the front of the church altar, he was now officiating two more weddings. This double wedding, though, was that of his brother to a beautiful woman and his sister to a very unique-but rich-young gentleman.
For some odd reason, all his siblings had found a way to make it home. Even Charles was back. But Charles wasn’t alone. He’d brought a beautiful young lady home with him. Seemed as if everyone had found someone to be with. Even Sonny had a date. And Lena, as well. Everyone but him had a special someone in their lives.
But he wasn’t envious. He’d made his choice when he went into the ministry. He’d taken his vows a long time ago. Not that he had to stick to them, per se, but he chose to. If he ever felt the need to find a mate to share his life with, he’d step down from his post. Until then, he was content with his life. He was truly dedicated to his work as a servant of the Lord.
The wedding went without a hitch. The reception, too, seemed to go on without any problems. The newly weds all went to their respective honeymoon suites for the night at about midnight and were not seen until the next day. It was a fairytale that had played itself out well. It had left a smile upon their mother’s tired face.
Todd only hoped that his mother could hang on just a bit longer. She just had to see Sonny and Lena graduate. It was imperative. They had done so much to ease her to that point of time, and now, she needed to repay their work. It was only right.
XII. THE LAST GRADUATION
Sonny and Lena shared the stage. Both had graduated, as had their brothers and sisters, valedictorian. Now, they both were to take turns as speaker. Their mother had made it thus far and seemed to be hanging on pretty well. Yet, they could tell that she didn’t have much life left in her. The disease that had been eating away at her for so long had finally worn her down to a point where she was tiring quicker and quicker every day.
Even a short walk would take everything out of her. She’d had to endure the indignity of taking a wheelchair ride into the auditorium in order to be present at this ceremonious occasion. Where she’d often take the stairs in the apartment building in years past, she now had to ride the elevator. She was having an even harder time breathing, now, and was restricted to the constant use of an oxygen bottle in order to go outside and get to her appointments.
It saddened them to see her failing so quickly now. When they were mere children, they’d grown used to her being energetic and full of life. Now, it was looking as if the life was leaving her. It was disheartening.
After the ceremony, they took her straight home. In their speeches, they had paid her homage…telling all that they owed everything to her. It had brought her to tears. There was no mention of the past, just that she had taught them the meaning of perseverance. It was a fitting tribute. But now, they took her home. There was to be no celebration of their accomplishments, just a journey home and a quiet evening at home.
But quiet for whom? They fussed over her. They never seemed to rest, possibly thinking that to rest was to allow room for death to take her. And poor Connie. He fussed over her, too.
And for what?