General Fiction posted October 28, 2014 Chapters:  ...29 30 -31- 32... 

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Lucille and guest share Thanksgiving with Emily

A chapter in the book FRIDAYS

Thanksgiving Day Nov. 23 (Part Two.)

by Fridayauthor

Please see Author Notes below for the summary of this novel, to date. Thank you.
     Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd (Part Two.)
     On Thanksgiving morning Mr. Anderson picked me up at seven-thirty as the dinner at Emily's was set early afternoon. The time would enable us to return to Sea View at a decent hour, hopefully ahead of the heaviest holiday traffic. Though my travels were so limited I had little experience for comparison, there seemed to be a large number of vehicles hurrying to turkey and fixings, even this early in the morning.
     We were soon away from the sprawl of the urban coast and rolling hills and small towns sat like post cards in the early morning sun. There was frost on the countryside. The roofs of red barns and white farm house roofs sparkled with crystals amid open meadows. We left the turnpike, ostensibly to get away from the traffic but I suspect Mr. Anderson was allowing me a closer look at parts of my state. While just a few miles from my home, I'd never seen this area.
     Any fear the drive out to New York state would be uncomfortable with long spells of silence disappeared like the morning mist and we had a most pleasant journey. Surprisingly, I did most of the talking! I was chatting away when I noticed my driver had turned from the roadway to a dirt lane. The look on his face was more serious than our banal conversation warranted.
     “Where are we?” I asked.
     “Acton,” he answered as he drove down a tree-lined street and turned at the gate of a cemetery. “I found out more information on our friends,” he added.
      And then I saw it, off to one side, a faded grey stone beneath a tree whose spreading roots had raised one side of the marker slightly upward. “Sarah Fletcher, born November 28, 1830, died September 18, 1851. My darling is with the angels.” Inscribed below the stone read, “Anne Fletcher, 1851.”
     Words escaped me. I bent down and touched the cold granite.
     “She died in child birth,” Mr. Anderson said solemnly.
     “I found the record yesterday. It said she was buried here.”
     “And her daughter too,” I added, biting back a tear. “She named her after her cousin Anne.” I turned to him. “All her plans, all her dreams, none of them ever happened; not even the trip to California.”
     “She never had a chance to go. But she had the dreams and a happy life, as short as it was. And love of a man.”
     I looked at the grave for a long time and silently said a prayer to my God on Sarah and her infant daughter’s behalf. Mr. Anderson held my hand as we stood there.
     “She needs some flowers to show someone remembers,” he said. “Perhaps we can drive out here in the spring.”
     We returned to the car in silence, both of us deep in thought about this young woman we'd come to know so well. We were back on the highway before either of us spoke again.
     “I feel as though I've lost someone close to me, as foolish as that sounds,” I said. “I was so sure we were related. If she left no heirs I can't be a descendent.”
     “You're directly related to Anne,” he answered. “Your great-grand- mother was Mary Agnes Thurston, Cousin Anne's youngest child. That would make you Anne's great-great-grand-daughter and Sarah's great-great-grand-niece.” He smiled and added, “I don't think it's foolish at all. Mostly they're friends.”
     As saddened as I was that Sarah's dreams had not come to fruition, I was thankful to have visited her last resting place and see that she was sent lovingly to her final reward. I knew in the days ahead I would think of her often and still pursue the outcome of her shortened life and those who were a part in it. Did Ez find his dream in the west alone? He never returned to rest beside his young bride. I wanted to know more about Anne, my grandmother's grandmother who treasured the letters sent to her by her young cousin. Did her children and her children's children cherish the letters too? And did my mother? My questions would have to wait. For now, my own family was my primary concern.
      Emily's children would be home for Thanksgiving dinner and Mr. Anderson asked about each, as much to move the subject away from Sarah as to be better schooled in the background of the other attendees of our holiday dinner. I willingly answered his questions, pleased with the excuse to move from the sadness of the cemetery. And my sister's family was a subject I was comfortable discussing.
     Emily, who would be fifty in the spring, married Fred Murphy before she was nineteen. My parents refused to attend the wedding and, as I was only seven at the time, that precluded my attendance as well. Years would pass before I met Fred as he was not welcomed at Hawthorne Street. No reasons were ever given in our near-silent house. Fred is a jovial man, a born salesman, who has been very successful. He adores Emily and dotes on her and their three children.
     Sometimes when Fred would travel, his family would accompany him I'd receive a phone call to meet them, usually in Boston. On occasion we would have dinner, other times it would be a quick stop at the airport, but at least it presented an opportunity to catch a glimpse of my nieces and nephews. After our father's death Emily would occasionally come to the house but her visits were few and far between, and always of short duration, and always without Fred.
     Anne is their oldest child. She was born shortly after her parent's marriage and is twenty-nine. Anne is a dentist and was thought by Emily to be a lifelong spinster like Emily's little sister, Aunt Lucy. But Anne shocked her parents by eloping with a fellow dentist after a Las Vegas convention this past winter. When her parents calmed down and met their son-in-law they were thrilled. Hap Chou is oriental and the couple is thrilled to be expectant parents, as announced to me that fateful Friday weeks past. I will be meeting Hap for the first time.
     Joey, age twenty-six did not attend college. He spent those years in front of a computer screen, at first to the dismay of his parents. But it proved to be times well spent as he now has a high paying position. Joey's employer sends him all over the world and he loves his work. I'm sad to say I've only seen my nephew four times in his life though he and I exchange letters and notes more frequently than any of the other children.
     Billy, Emily's daughter and youngest child is still in college. Her given name is Catherine but the nickname was an early gift from her brother Joey who wouldn't accept the fact he was not blessed with a male sibling. The name stuck. Billy and I are great pals since she and her mother spent a week with me this summer after my mother's death. Over the years I saw more of Billy than her siblings as the family traveled more in recent years. At twenty-one years of age, Billy is in love with a different guy daily, a whiz at school with no effort or direction, and the most confident, loveable young lady I've ever met.
     And now you know why, when I was in the hospital, I told Emily she ruled the world! My only regret is not seeing more of these wonderful people while they were growing up.
     In describing Emily's family to Mr. Anderson I intended to limit the description to simple facts, while skirting more personal matters, but I found myself in the unaccustomed position of blabbering away. Apparently he was not overly bored with my exuberance as he asked many questions and seemed genuinely interested.
     After a quick mid-morning stop for coffee we arrived in Emily's town just after eleven o'clock. I unfolded her hand-drawn map of directions to the house. With only one wrong turn we found it, perched upon a rise at the end of a long dirt drive that swung in a wide arc up the hill, guarded by massive maples. Though I had seen photographs of my sister's home, none did it justice; it was truly magnificent! We learned later the building dated to just after the American Revolution. It stood majestically beneath massive trees like the village patriarch, gazing down a long valley to a little village nestled in a calendar scene a half mile away.
     “I'm impressed,” Mr. Anderson said as we pulled up in front just as the door sprang open to the troop of excited greeters.
     Emily had decorated her home in period antiques showing taste and skill I hadn't known she possessed. Her housekeeping so immaculate I had to catch my breath. She laughed away my compliments in modesty, but her home was dressed as perfect as a magazine.
     Fred Murphy was his usual self, crushing me in a bear hug and kissing me like a long lost child. The children were equally demonstrative. Mr. Chou, who insisted everyone call him Hap, was a delightful little man with a bow tie and an infectious smile. He was six years Anne's senior but the two clung to each other like teenagers. Mr. Anderson, though overwhelmed by the boisterous crowd, seemed pleased to be a part of this happy group. Joey, who was even larger than his father, was an ardent sports fan. He hit it off especially well with my escort.
     There was enough food for the Turkish army and a babble of sounds competed from room to room, a football game in one, a laughter in another and the sound of dishes, glasses and pots and pans in a third. A stranger would never guess that three of us, Hap Chou, Mr. Anderson and I, had never set foot in this house before today. We were so treated like lifelong inhabitants, no different from the occupants of the beautiful home, as at ease as the furniture. It was a Thanksgiving to remember.
     When we were satiated to overflowing, a well-placed half time in the football game allowed the men to be shamed into doing the dishes. The rest of us slumped to the den where I was forced to fend off Emily and her daughter's blister of questions about my friend.
     “Aunt Luce,” moaned Billy, “If you don't marry him, I will!”
     I gave her a hug. “And break the hearts of a thousand young men? You couldn't be that cruel! Besides, he has a son just about your age. Maybe you should check him out!”
     Then, just as I was finally beginning to catch my breath, the men marched into the room. Fred led the parade, holding a cupcake with a sole lighted candle. Everyone began singing Happy Birthday in raucous, off-key voices, much to my embarrassment.
     While my birthday wasn't until the following Wednesday, the twenty-eighth, Emily insisted on celebrating in person, complete with wrapped presents from her and all of her children. I was overwhelmed! Em gave me a beautiful pair of satin black pants and a white silk blouse and belt to go with them. They were far more elegant than I'd ever purchase myself and very beautiful.
     She pointed her finger at Mr. Anderson. “Now, you make her wear these the next time you go out! I know her. Otherwise they'll stay in the closet and rot!”
     “I will, I promise,” he answered and then added, to my further embarrassment, “But she looks beautiful in anything she wears!”
     Anne and her husband gave me a lovely pair of earrings, Joey a pair of gloves and Billy perfume. Fred handed me another can of Mace!
     “This time keep it in your purse!” he said.
     “Yes, sir. I will,” I nodded solemnly, never daring to tell him my assailant had spent a recent night in my house!
     I had to bite my lip to keep from crying I was so happy with my family’s thoughtfulness. While I continue to sound foolish in the saying, I had never experienced the warmth and affection I felt that day. I couldn't hope to share a time of Thanksgiving with a kinder, more loving group.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Lucille, age thirty-seven, is a school teacher and a near-recluse. After her mother's death, she is trying to rid her life-time home of ghosts of the past. Her priest suggests she record her thoughts and feelings in a diary. She has developed a strong interest in old letters found in her mother's dresser. At first reluctantly, now with increased interest, she is having weekly Friday evening dinners with a shy church acquaintance, Mr. Anderson. While comfortable with his company, she shuns a more serious attachment. Part of her, a make-believe friend from childhood whom she calls Amy, is pushing her to stop fighting any hint of intimacy. After being mugged, she feels sympathetic toward her young assailant and agrees to his community service under her supervision. She is nervous about travelling to her sister�¢??s home in another state, for Thanksgiving dinner.
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