Meeting Lizbeth - Chapter Three Part II
Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen
As the Happy Birthdays died down Lizbeth looked around the room. Here was her family; Mom, Dad, Maddy,. Grandpa Andrew, Grandpa Joseph, and Matilda. She thought how sad it was that neither of her grandmothers was alive. She had never met them but she felt secure and loved with those around her.
Sometimes Maddy took her to visit Matilda, Maddy's mother. She treated Lizbeth just like a granddaughter. She truly adored Lizbeth and Lizbeth felt the same way. She was like part of the family because after all, she had been Daddy's nanny. Grandpa Andrew and Matilda were very good friends. Her girly imagination thought they should become lovers and get married. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Neither of them would be alone anymore and she would have a real grandma. At sixteen she knew this was a teenage fantasy but it was fun to dream. What she didn't know was how close to reality her thoughts were.
Maddy's mother Matilda, thought about her husband John. John had come down with Alzheimer's at sixty-five. He was able to take care of his basic needs but beyond that he needed help. He didn't know who Matilda or Maddy were.
It wasn't that Andrew wanted to take advantage of John or the situation but Matilda was as lonely as he. Her affair with Andrew was more than a fling. She loved him truly and deeply and the birth of their child only cemented that love. Andrew felt the same way. He always loved Sophie but Matilda filled a place Sophie never could. When Sophie died of pneumonia he felt so alone and broken. Matilda was the only one who could help him and understand. Their affair had lasted forty-five years and they knew each other inside and out.
It was hard to believe after all these years, no one knew. Matilda's guilt was only there for John but he never seemed to care. John had always lived in his own world and Matilda wasn't a part of it. John loved the children but sometimes even that was halfhearted. The children didn't seem to mind, their mother and Mr. Andrew more than made up for it. They never noticed anything wrong with Mr. Andew's constant presence.
Matilda often wondered how different her life would have been if she met Andrew before John or Sophie came into the picture.
She worried about Maddy. She could see Maddy's love for Tom. When he married Louise she was afraid Maddy would be doomed to a life without the only man she ever loved. How cruel life could be. She truly loved Andrew and now here they were in their sixties and still apart. She didn't want the same for Maddy.
John needed her constant attention. He would sometimes wander out into the fields and not know where he was. Was this her punishment for loving Andrew?
Looking at her mother and Mr. Andrew brought back the thoughts she'd had for years, were they having an affair? There was a tenderness between them and a look that spoke of love. She wondered, what had happened to draw them so close? Would they ever come out in the open about it?
She felt terrible for her father though. He was never a passionate man but now he was devoid of all feeling. It seemed everything he did was mechanical. He had no beginning and no end. She thought too of what this did to her mother, having to care for the man who always cared for her.
She was not happy with her brother Jared. If he couldn't come home to stay you would think he'd at least visit to give his mother some relief. Tom had given her extra days off to help her mother. Jared had taken off sixteen years ago. At the ripe old age of twenty-nine he was still reckless and irresponsible. She had thought he was going to start to settle down when he started dating Beth but instead it seemed to have driven him away.
At first she thought the two of them had left town together but when Beth returned alone a year later she knew it wasn't so. Beth came back changed. She wasn't the reckless, fun loving girl she was with Jared. Maddy figured being away from Jared helped her grow up. Six months later Beth married Billy Green. Everyone was shocked yet they seemed happy. So happy that nine months later Beth gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Somehow something went very wrong after the birth and Beth was committed to the Deerborne Sanitarium. Poor Billy Green raised that little girl by himself. No one ever told Jared what happened to Beth but then Jared never really asked.
She was really disappointed that she hadn't heard from him. Growing up they had been so close. He was a year younger than she so he was always her baby brother even when he was bigger and stronger. He'd always been mild mannered until his teens. Something had changed him drastically and no one ever knew what. He stayed around on and off until that fateful sixteen years ago.
Each person at the table seemed to have their own memories of sixteen years ago. Lizbeth's birthday had significance to all of them. Of course it was Lizbeth's sixteenth birthday, that special birthday in a girl's life.
With John's illness it was a time for Matilda and Andrew to reflect on their lives and past. Maddy remembered her brother's disappearance and Joseph had a lot to think about as well.
Joseph had always told himself when the time was right he would tell Louise exactly what happened the day her mother died. Joseph was Louise's father and knew it was his responsibility.
Every year he grappled with the truth and what effect it would have on Louise. Thirty-two years is a long time. Emotions and events tend to blur and help us cope with things that happened in the past. At least that was what Joseph told himself. His memories were as vivid as yesterday but Louise was only fourteen at the time and didn't seem to remember..
He truly loved her mother, June. Her insecurities about money were what drove him to work night and day. He had no time for other women and no desire. June was his life. The store grew in popularity and demanded more and more of his time. Even with department managers and overseers he was still needed. She just couldn't understand.
Then there was being Governor. Did she really think it was a nine to five job? He explained over and over yet she insisted he stayed away from home needlessly, or because he was sleeping with other women. Poor Louise heard their arguments over and over. That fateful night they wound up out in the hall. If only they had stayed in their bedroom, but June was feeling trapped and ran out of their bedroom.
“For the love of God June, get back in the bedroom.”
“Why so you can lie some more?”
“No, so we can talk about this. I love you and only you. I do all this for you.”
He heard a noise behind him. He couldn't go on. Thinking about this here at his granddaughter's birthday party just wasn't fair. He knew it was time but this wasn't the place. He had to tell Louise the truth. No more hiding, no more lying.
They all sang “Happy Birthday” as Lizbeth cut the cake.
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