The Morrow Family Saga, Series Four, 1980, Book One: Once Around the Ride, Chapter Three

So there it was. Mama had been right. But why had she kept all this from him? What had she thought it would gain?

Peace of mind? Blissful ignorance? What? He couldn’t understand. It just didn’t make any sense.

He’d known that Johnny had died, but not what he had died from. Now he knew. And Mama was going to be dying soon too.

He looked at Shasta. “Will I have time to go ahead with my wedding?”

Shasta nodded. “But she won’t be able to attend.”

He looked up at the ceiling. “What about my honeymoon?”

She shook her head. “That, I can’t tell you. She could last that long, but the doctors don’t have much hope. Quite frankly, neither does she. If I were you, I would see her before you went.”

He nodded. “OK. I will do that. We will find some way to pipe the ceremony in so she can hear it. I know, I will need special permission from the hospital. That is no problem.  The problem is how.”

How he hated it when she hid things to try and keep him from worrying. It wasn’t the best way to be. But that had been Mama’s way since he was old enough to think for himself. He couldn’t help but love her, despite her selfishness.

She had, after all, given him life and seen to his wellbeing until he moved out. But he had taken care of her even after that. He had beaten several men to bloody pulps before he threw them out. Well, until Tom took them out.

He couldn’t remember ever seeing them after that. It was as if they vanished from the face of the earth. Not that he cared. He really didn’t.

But now, she was fighting a foe he couldn’t beat up. He could no longer save her. It scared him to see her this way. And she knew it.

Perhaps that was why she had allowed him to believe that she was not as ill as she knew she was. Perhaps, in her own selfishness, she had been trying to be less so by trying to keep him hopeful. But it hadn’t worked. Not in the least.

She had made him worry even more than he would have had he known the whole story. And now, he faced telling her goodbye. There had been no easing into it. No airing of grievances. Just a sudden bombshell that exploded in his heart.

And it hurt. It hurt more than anything else she had done. Even the numerous times he had to rescue her had been less painful than this. At least then, he had the power to do something. Not now.

Now, she was dying. The newest disease was ravaging her body and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do to help her. At least when he thought it was hepatitis, he could have found her something. But not now.

For the last ten of her thirty-nine years, he had taken care of her. Seen to her needs. Made sure she wasn’t beaten to death by her lovers. Or made sure she hadn’t overdosed.

When Johnny entered the picture, he thought he could relax. Johnny had treated her with respect. He had given her back her dignity. But he had also got her started in making porn. She was the object of many men’s advances, and probably many more’s greatest fantasies.

And she had experienced a little notoriety. And not just a little wealth. Her apartment was as posh as they come. She finally got her wish and moved into a penthouse. She finally got to have her beautiful things. Her wonderful furnishings. She was no longer poor.

Not until the last. She owned her apartment, but ended up having to sell everything-well, almost everything-she owned to pay for the medical bills. Now, she had nothing. Not even enough life to live beyond tomorrow.

Shasta looked at him. “Are you going to be alright?”

He shook his head. “No, but I’ll manage. Take the others so they can see her one last time. I will stay here with Lena.”

Shasta nodded. “OK.” She turned to the others. “Everyone go climb into my van. We are all going to the hospital.”

They all filed out the door with Shasta following behind. He watched them go. Once they were gone, he went to the stairway and sat down. His legs simply gave out. As he sat there, the tears began to fall.

The gentle crying turned into uncontrollable sobs. He leaned back, his tears blinding him. He awoke at the sound of the door slamming. “Matt? Are you home?” It was Belinda.

He wiped his eyes. “I’m in here.” His voice was still full of heartache and pain.

She walked into the foyer and looked at him. “What’s wrong, Honey?” Her sweet voice hid a selfish heart.

He loved her, but there were warning signs flashing in his mind. She wasn’t what she appeared to be. Still, love always won over. He still wanted to give her a chance to prove herself.

He knew what she would say, but didn’t care. “My mother is dying, Hon. I just learned the whole story today. I am also taking care of my four-year-old sister now.”

She glared at him. “Why do you always do that?”

He blinked. “Do what?”

She scowled. “Why do you always ride to the rescue for them? they are draining you dry.”

His pain was suddenly forgotten as his anger began to rise. “How the fuck would you know how much I have? I have never told you. besides. They are my family. Just because you don’t have family to rely on does not give you a reason to be jealous of mine. I am all they have.

“Besides. My money is not yours to dictate to me how to use. The sooner you learn that, the better off we will all be. If you are going to be jealous and bitter, you might as well call this whole thing off. Now.

“Otherwise, get over yourself. And don’t fucking use the upcoming wedding as an excuse for your Jekyll and Hyde routine. Grow up or leave. That is all I have to say. I was making music before you were even old enough to think.”

She went white. “I-I’m sorry, Matt. I didn’t mean to–“

He glared at her. “Oh, bull shit! Don’t fucking lie. You need to remember that my family comes first. Everything else last. That also includes you. If you can’t live with my family, go. I do not need you pulling this crap every time I turn around.

“And don’t forget that most of my time is used in promoting what makes my money. My music. Without it, you would not be here. You would be playing this game with someone like Alice Cooper, not me.”

He watched her run up the stairs, crying. No one told him his family was anything more than his family. And no one told him how to spend his money or on whom. That was not her place. besides. he had enough to live several life times without worry.