Family Fiction posted June 17, 2014 Chapters:  ...21 22 -23- 24... 

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Paul and Sarah are married and begin life as a family

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

Mr. and Mrs. Paul North

by Fridayauthor

Sarah and Paul marry in spite of their different life styles. He and the children are willing to adapt, and the real test begins.
     If I harbored misgivings about the children’s ability to adapt to a “regular people” life style, they were quickly dispelled. Timmy was thrilled to sleep on the floor of his new home and offered no protest to assigned chores as I cooked our first meal together. Karen expressed a desire to learn to cook and took to it like butter to toast.
     “Mrs. Waterman wouldn’t let us into the kitchen. She said that was her domain.”
     I set a tent up in my bedroom, three corners held down by books and the fourth by the recently delivered love chair, our sole piece of furniture. Karen and Timmy shared the tent, trying out their new sleeping bags. While Karen feigned indifference to the primitive sleeping arrangements, I could see she was thrilled with the adventure. Ever modest, she zippered the tent up against her brother’s curiosity before changing into her pajamas and allowing him entrance. We chatted, sang songs that I taught them, and discussed “real” camping in the woods, an outing I promised for later in the summer.
     Paul was in and out, trying to catch up on business, so he could escape for the few days of our allotted honeymoon. He’d yet to spend a night on the floor with us as he insisted it was only his schedule that prevented him from joining us. None of us believed him.
     My sister Suzie visited us, anxious to check out my new digs. She too spent a night on the floor, old pro that she was. We were kids again and it felt wonderful to be on top terms with my sister after so many years of estrangement. It was her first introduction to Timmy and they hit it off spectacularly.
     Suzie and I shopped, explored and laughed our way through two delightful days together. I followed her back to Connecticut and visited my mother once more, but she neither knew me nor remembered the book lady. I regaled her shadow with the wonders of my emerging life, while I prayed a real conversations would take place in the future. I consoled myself that I was reestablishing our relationship, even if my visits were one sided. My guilt over abandoning her for so long was beginning to fade.
     A few days before my wedding, I pulled Karen away from her studies for a half day. We made use of our time by rummaging through the attic collection of odds and ends, now owned by us. It was a fun scavenger hunt.
     The Alcott family was well represented by ninety years of discarded treasurers, clothing and bric-a-brac. Unlike the heirlooms of the North household, the Alcott treasures were more of the everyday variety. Most of our finds were mere curiosities but dozens of unopened gifts of linens, towels, blankets and kitchen items would prove useful. We began making a pile to cart downstairs and add to our growing collection. Some of the items were so outdated I hadn’t seen them in decades. Others required explanation to Karen. An unused pressure cooker and two fondue dishes were left behind with three irons and a large hair dryer. We took one of the two new waffle irons. We considered a hand mixer that was better than mine and an expensive blender. They were added to our growing stack. Karen insisted on knowing what items were used in my childhood household.
     Medical equipment abounded. There were crutches, a walker, a wheel chair plus bed pans and a potty chair. Karen was curious about everything. She knew the function of a blood pressure cuff and thermometer. We’d store them in our downstairs hall closet. “What’s that?” Karen asked, picking up a hot water bottle syringe combination still in its original unopened package.
     “You fill it with hot water and put it on your stomach if you have a belly ache,” I answered, describing at least part of the product’s function. I admitted we had a similar implement when I was growing up. She added it to our pile, in case I get sick, she said.
     The trunks of old clothing fascinated Karen and she donned a number of outfits over her clothes. Her attire was now more casual since we’d managed a few shopping trips. She preened about the attic.
     “May I bring Timmy up here to play?  He’d love dressing up and pretending.” I could tell he wasn’t the only potential thespian though Karen wouldn’t admit to so juvenile a pursuit.
     “Sure,” I said. “Pretending is good practice. They’ll have school plays once you’re in high school.”
     I was anxious to get back to my exercising, so I asked Karen if she would jog along the beach with me when we finished our attic treasure hunt. She wasn’t dressed for it but agreed, and we ran for thirty minutes before Paul and Timmy were due to meet us. Her indoor gym produced laudable results as she had no difficulty keeping up with my conservative pace. I spotted a sign up notice for a summer soccer program and I suggested she apply. I felt she was a natural athlete in spite of her never playing team sports. She agreed to think about it though she didn’t know the game. I’d have to be patient. Dragging the children, especially Karen, into the everyday world would be a slow and arduous process.
     Paul arrived early, driving past us as we jogged our last leg home. While Karen and I showered, he and Timmy shopped for new play figures, a reward for Timmy’s completion of a home school project with Mr. Potter. When he returned, I sensed he wanted to tell me something.
     “Spit it out,” I said. “You’re looking guilty.”
     Timmy spoke up, no longer able to hide his excitement. “Daddy bought it!” he exclaimed.
     “More play figures for you?” I asked with a smile.
     Paul answered. “I bought you a wedding present,” he said. “I hope you won’t be mad.”
     “A present from the toy store? How nice.”
     “Sort of. Actually I bought you the toy store. You now own Peck O’ Fun.”
     When I managed to catch my breath and open my mouth, it served no purpose as I didn’t know what to say. Paul tried to explain himself.  Timmy jumped up and down while Karen awaited my reaction.
     “We both liked the toy store, and you said you were interested in working with children. Mrs. Peck will stay on indefinitely, and she has a girl who comes in afternoons to help. You can fix your own schedule. Besides, it’s a good business investment. I’m always looking for operations I can help and perhaps expand.”  When I didn’t answer, he continued to stammer. “If you don’t want it, I’ll just take it on as one of our firm’s investments. You don’t have to be involved with the management if you don’t want to.”
     I couldn’t help myself; I had to smile. “Thank you,” I said as I gave him a hug. I couldn’t help but think it was a good choice. It answered my need for a challenge outside the house, when things settled down. It also married us to the community. We left for a celebration of fried clams. What was one more life-changing occurrence in the continuing saga of Sarah Blanding North?
     We married in a small ceremony on a mid-June Sunday six weeks after our Vermont weekend; barely three months since I’d first met Paul North. Nervous Thatcher Wright was Paul’s best man and my sister Suzie was my maid of honor, with Karen at her side. Timmy carried a ring on a satin pillow. A boisterous reception followed in an elegant local restaurant. Suzie and husband Ben stayed at our now furnished house with my niece Maureen Loretto and her husband Jack. Infant daughter Claire, born two weeks earlier, was a hit with everyone.  Her twin brothers soon made friends with Timmy. Mike and his wife Martha, at whose wedding I’d first met Paul, flew in from the west coast, much to my surprise and delight. While Paul feigned innocence, I’m sure he was responsible for the quick trip. All of Paul’s business associates attended together with two college friends. His parents, now living in Paris and did not attend. There were no siblings. An older brother had drowned when Paul was eight.
     Paul had telephoned his parents but was neither surprised nor disappointed when they declined to attend. His father was not in good health, according to his mother.
     “Dad’s drinking his martinis out of a sippy cup,” Paul related. They have no intention of returning to the United States, perhaps ever. They sent a check with their regrets.”
     There was one very special wedding guest; my mother. I cried with delight when I saw her. Paul had arranged with Suzie to have a specially equipped limo and medical attendant transport her from Connecticut. She was dressed in a beautiful outfit and smiled at everyone during the service. Karen doted on her during the reception but she never uttered a word to anyone the entire day. We never learned if she understood what was happening or knew the names of these happy people. Nevertheless, I was thrilled by her presence and saddened when she returned to her facility in Connecticut.
     Suzie remained at our new home to care for Karen and Timmy during our five-day Cape Cod honeymoon. Maureen and her twins joined her for two of the days and from all accounts, everyone got along splendidly. Given the drastic change in the mode of living I imposed on Paul’s children, I marveled at their continuing ability to adjust. Everything was new and exciting and only time would tell, but so far, peace reigned supreme. We were newlyweds and I could honestly say I’d not regretted my impetuous decision for an instant.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Enough to Miss Christmas is a family love story, about sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, parents and children. Foremost, it tells the story of a stepmom and a precocious young lady and how they bond in spite of overwhelming odds.
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