Meeting Lizbeth - Chapter Four - Part II
Her mind was like a boxing match, one idea knocking out the other. How was she going to explain the homeless man to her father? Should she tell him why she went looking for him? He was Doug now, but how was she going to explain that to her father? Should she ask her father to meet Doug? That might not be a good idea. Should she tell him how long she'd been seeing Doug? The other thought she was trying to hide was her new found feelings for him. She had to admit they scared her a bit.
Before she knew it, she was pulling into her driveway. She must have been driving on auto-pilot because it seemed like she just left the bridge. She got out of her car and ran up the stairs. When she opened the door, Maddy was standing there waiting for her.
“Well, young lady you've been busy for the past several weeks. How is Doug?”
Lizbeth was stunned, she thought her jaw dropped. How in the world did Maddy know about Doug? She finally mustered up her strength and courage to reply,
“He's doing very well. How in the world....” she just stopped there.
“This is a conversation we need to have Lizbeth, but not now. Your Grandfather Joseph is coming to dinner. He said he has something very important to tell all of you. He said he's been waiting for a long time and thinks now is the time. He warned it won't be pleasant, but you all need to know. It will just be the four of you. Dinner is at seven sharp, don't be late.”
Lizbeth couldn't imagine what her grandfather could possibly have to say that wasn't pleasant. He was the sweetest, loving man she knew, next to her father. He seemed more interested in her than Grandpa Andrew. Grandpa Andrew always seemed preoccupied, but Grandpa Joseph always had time for her. Oh well, she'd find out at dinner. She wasn't sure exactly what clothes to wear, after all, what do you wear to a secret coming out dinner? She settled on black dress slacks and a pink silk blouse.
Grandpa Joseph's Story
The four of them were seated around the table toying with their food. It was a deathly silence and it was obvious they were all nervous, even Grandpa Joseph. No one was talking and no one was looking up from the table. Grandpa Joseph finally began talking,
“I guess there's no reason to wait any longer. You're all wondering what I have to say. Before I actually get to the point I need to give you a little background. Some of it you may have heard, some not.
After I become Mayor, that office and the store took more and more of my time. June had you Louise so she wasn't able to help in the store. Oh, I had people to help me, but it was my store and if I wanted it to succeed it was my responsibility. Jimmy the Shoe started skimming money off the shoe department. If I weren't on top of things, he would have robbed me blind. I had to spend time there supervising the goings on or I'd wind up losing money instead of making it.
I was elected Mayor so I felt a responsibility there too. I tried to personally answer all my phone calls no matter how late at night. I attended all committee meetings, which were always at night. I did such a good job I was re-elected four times. After the fourth term, the Legislature removed the limit on how long a person could be in office as Mayor and how many times he could run. I was Mayor for forty-five years. That could never happen in a big city but it often does in small towns.
Anyway, as you can see I spent more and more time away from home taking care of my outside responsibilities. After Louise was born June began worrying more about money and my time away from home. She couldn't be at the store so she started imagining things. I explained my time away was necessary to make money, but she even started having a hard time with that. Each year June became more anxious. One of her friends caught her husband having an affair and June began to think I might be too. I reassured her over and over, but soon our discussions became arguments. As the years passed the arguments became louder and louder until that night.”
Louise shifted in her chair and looked away from her father. She couldn't understand why he would want to talk about that night, but she didn't stop him. She dreaded what he was going to say but somehow knew he needed to say it.
“June was especially agitated that night. Another of her friends had a cheating husband and she was convinced I was cheating too. I love June more than I have ever loved anyone or anything, I could never be attracted to another woman or even think about another woman. The more I tried to convince her it was work the more upset she got. She kept backing away from me and finally ran out into the hallway. I followed her and we continued to argue, louder and louder. As we neared the stairs, Louise, you ran out of your room shouting, stop it."
He looked at Louise,
"You came between the two of us. You put one hand on my chest and one on your mother's. Then you pushed trying to separate us. Your mother was near the top of the stairs and lost her balance.”
They all turned to Louise as she gasped then shouted, “I killed my mother!”
“No Louise, you were a fourteen years old girl trying to stop your parents from fighting. It was an accident.”
Louise was sobbing now. Tom got up and went to her. He put his arms around her and kissed her head, then her cheek. Lizbeth put her hand over her mother's to try to comfort her.
“I never told anyone because I didn't want it misconstrued. You loved your mother very much and you were devastated by her death. You blocked it from your conscious mind immediately, but subconsciously it has been with you all these years. Seeing your mother fall down those stairs was a more traumatic event than any fourteen year old should ever witness. It kept you from forming close relationships with other women all your life. When you began to form a bond with Tom's mother I was hopeful, but her pneumonia put an end to that. Why am I telling you now? Because I see it keeping you from forming a close relationship with a very important young lady in your life, your daughter. I've watched you for sixteen years. Every time it seems as if you're moving closer, you pull away.”
Louise became inconsolable. Her sobbing was wracking her body. Tom gently took her hand and led her away from the table. They went to their room. Grandpa kissed Lizbeth and said,
“I'm sorry honey, but she needed to know. I hope you'll all adjust and go on to better relationships. Subconsciously she never let go of that horrible night and without knowing the truth she never would.”
Lizbeth hugged her grandfather. Tears were streaming down his face. She wanted to comfort him. She knew this had to be one of the hardest things he had ever had to do.
“I'm sure you made the right decision. It's always best to have things in the open. Mom knows you lover her Grandpa.”
She leaned over and kissed him. Then he got up and left the house.