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Sarafina - Two funerals and a wedding - a short fiction story
Sarafina returns home
As Sarafina MacAllan stepped out of the taxi, she noticed the black wreath that hung on the front door. She paid the driver, retrieved her overnight bag, and spied her grandmother, Jenny, over in the rose garden. She was digging and fertilizing among the roses. She walked over to the garden.
"Sarafina, darling, you're here," said Jenny. Of all the grandchildren, Sarafina was the most like her grandmother and Jenny always enjoyed their quiet moments together.
"Oh, Grandma, I'm so sorry," said Sarafina as she hugged her grandmother. "It's a double blow to you, I know," she said.
"Oh, Sarafina yes . . . my two men are gone - the sea has claimed them back together," said Jenny as her blue green eyes misted over. "But, I am sorry for you, too. dear - loosing your father way too soon, and a grandfather," said Jenny.
Both Sam and Paul had been lost at sea four days ago during 'the storm of the century.' They had been out on a lobster boat checking over their fishing areas and lobster traps and got caught up in the fierce storm. The next morning, the battered lobster boat was found - but not
Sam and Paul. It was determined by the Coast Guard, after a thorough search, that they had been washed overboard during the storm and drowned. No bodies had been found.
"I stopped by the house, but it was closed up - Mom, Sabrina and Tabitha aren't there," said Sarafina.
"Your mother is devastated and practically inconsolable. She's been staying with your Grandma and Grandpa Laren since the storm and the accident. Sabrina and Tabitha are over there with her. But. your mother's strong and she'll come around eventually," said Jenny. "I have faith in your mother. How are Sydney and Steven?"
"Sad and sadder," said Sarafina. "They're coming in later tonight on a later flight. There wasn't room on my flight for them, so they took the next flight out - they should be here around midnight," said Sarafina. They'll go straight to see Mom. I came here, because I don't want you to be alone at this time," said Sarafina.
Ah, that was Sarafina, always so thoughtful thought Jenny. "I'm glad to have you here, dear although you need to see your mother soon," said Jenny, "She needs you children now more than ever," said Jenny sadly.
"I will, Grandma, I'll give her a call, and I'll see her tomorrow for sure," said Sarafina, "Right now I need to see you, Grandma - you shouldn't be alone," said Sarafina. "Plus, Sydney and Steven are going there immediately when they get here."
Sydney and Steven, the twins and the oldest of the MacAllan / Laren grandchildren, had ventured out to California to attend a sailing school following high school, and much to their parents disappointment, had stayed there falling in love with the west coast. Sarafina had followed them out there a year later. Sarafina, 'the lobster girl' had surprised them all by becoming a marine biologist, attending school in California and then settling in Mendocino, CA and working in a marine biology lab there. Sydney and Steven had stayed in the San Francisco area and all three of them were definitely northern Californians.
"Grandma, your roses are beautiful," said Sarafina and then she noticed the small granite tombstone in the rose garden with the name Toby carved into it. The final burial and resting place of Tabitha's Toby, the lobster, from when they had been small children.
"Remember Toby?" laughed Sarafina. "Dad always called him 'that blasted lobster' that went everywhere with Tabitha. He couldn't stand Toby."
"Oh, yes," Jenny remembered also. "He always hated 'those smelly, slimy things,'" laughed Jenny.
"He said he would never attend a funeral for a lobster, but Mom made him go and be respectful. Then he bought Tabitha a puppy and said 'finally we were a normal family with a normal pet' but it wasn't as much fun without Toby," said Sarafina, laughing.
It was Tabitha and Sabrina who had gone into the MacAllan and Son Lobster Co-op family business after all. Sam had been proud and happy they stayed and worked in the business and so was Paul. They had large shoes to fill with Sam and Paul gone now.
"I remember, Paul was nearly apoplectic when you announced you were following Sydney and Steven to California for school to become a marine biologist," said Jenny.
"Yes, grandma, but it was you who was my staunch supporter and in my corner the whole time convincing Dad and Mom I should go," said Sarafina.
"I just wanted my granddaughter to be happy - and if marine biology was what you wanted to do - that was fine with me," said Jenny. "Your father temporarily forgot I supported him in his sailing boat architecture career, short lived as it was," laughed Jenny. "But, when push came to shove, your father was proud of all five of you and what you were doing with your lives. And, your Grandfather MacAllan has always praised all five of you to everyone here in Boothbay Harbor," said Jenny. "We both couldn't have been happier with our family."
Sarafina bent down to smell the roses - they smelled heavenly. "This was Grandpa's favorite flower garden - the rose garden - he always said it was because you were like a rose, Grandma."
Jenny laughed, "Yes, he always said I was soft and beautiful like a rose pedal, but I had my thorny side, too. Oh, Sarafina, I miss that man after all these years together - and your father, too.
"Oh, Grandma," Sarafina's eyes fill with tears as one tear slipped down her cheek. Both Jenny and Sarafina stood among the rose bushes hugging one another and having a good cry.
"Well, enough of this," said Jenny. "Let's go inside for a cinnamon roll - I made a bunch, knowing how much you're father and you kids loved them," said Jenny.
"Oh, Grandma, you're the best," said Sarafina wiping her eyes.
Later, Jenny and Sarafina were sitting in the family room reminising over old times and were pouring over old family photo albums. "Sarafina, I have noticed a glow about you, a certain radiance. I noticed it the minute you stepped out of the taxi this afternoon," said Jenny.
"Oh, it must be all that California sunshine," said Sarafina.
"No, it's more than that," said Jenny. "Sarafina, are you in love?" asked Jenny.
"What? Grandma. I'm suppose to be comforting you in you're time of great loss" said Sarafina.
"Answer your grandmother," said Jenny with a twinkle in her eye.
"Well, yes I am," said Sarafina.
"I knew it!" said Jenny. "You have a quiet calmness and confidence and glow about you," she added. "Who is he, if I may ask," said Jenny,
"He's one of the doctors of research that works at the lab I work at also," admitted Sarafina quietly. "He's a bit older than me, but we get along fine and we have so much we enjoy doing together - work, recreation - we both bike the trails and mountains of California, we love the national parks in California, and we've been camping in Big Sur."
"Well, my goodness, how long has this been going on?" asked Jenny.
"Two years - ever since I started working at the marine lab. We looked at each other and that was it," said Sabrina. "We're practically inseparable," she finished. "You know, I bought that old farmhouse in Mendocino - well, he's helping me restore it. We have a great time together doing that."
"And . . ." said Jenny.
"And, what?" asked Sarafina.
"There's something you're not telling me - there's something more, isn't there?" asked Jenny.
Sarafina blushed. "Grandma, whatever makes you say that?" asked Sarafina.
"I just have this wonderful feeling about you Sarafina - something wonderful and happy is happening to you," said Jenny. "Why, Sarafina, you're expecting . . . You're expecting a baby," said Jenny. Sarafina blushed more deeply.
"Grandma . . ."
"It's true, isn't it Sarafina, you're having a baby," said Jenny.
"Yes," Sarafina admitted. "But, how did you know? I've told no one, not even the father knows," said Sarafina.
"You just have that radiance - I remember when I was first pregnant with your father," said Jenny. "A woman is at her most beautiful then."
"To tell you the truth Grandma, I didn't plan this baby - it's truly an accident - it just happened," explained Sarafina reddening. "Please don't tell anyone in the family. I mean it - the father doesn't even know," said Sarafina, " and I have to decide when or whether to tell him.
"I won't say anything to anyone," Jenny assured her. "It's entirely your news to tell, dear when you want to or not want to. But, how are you feeling?"
"Most of the time, fine. I get a touch of morning sickness every once in a while, that's all," she said.
"How's your appetite?"
"Huge," said Sarafina, "and you're not going to believe it, but I crave lobster rolls," she said.
"Oh, I can believe it," said Jenny, "that's what I craved when I was pregnant with your father," said Jenny.
"No kidding?" asked Sarafina.
"No kidding," said Jenny. "How far along are you?"
"Just six weeks," said Sarafina. "I really just found out this morning, literally right before my flight here to Maine," she added.
"Are you going to tell him, the father?" asked Jenny.
"I think so, and Grandma, I'm scared - I mean I'm happy - I want this man's baby - but I don't know what his reaction will be," said Sarafina. "I wanted him to be here with me and attend the funerals and meet all of you - but he said he's not ready for all that and he doesn't think funerals are an appropriate time for him to meet all of you. But with Dad's and Grandpa's deaths and funerals and everything - and tragic deaths like this - I really need him here and near me. I need his love, support, understanding and compassion - but he didn't seem to understand all that," said Sarafina sadly.
"Good heavens, how much older is this man than you?" asked Jenny.
"Ten years, Grandma, not so much really," said Sarafina quietly.
"No, that's not bad," said Jenny.
"I'm worried, if he's not ready for this - will he be ready for a baby?" asked Sarafina.
"What if he's not ready Sarafina? Some men remain adolescents all their lives," Jenny said.
"Then, I'll have the baby alone - I want this baby, Grandma," said Sarafina. "Would you be upset if I had the baby alone - unmarried?"
"No, Sarafina - not at all. I was faced with the very same dilemma when I was pregnant with your father," said Jenny.
"You - you were? You mean . . ."
"Yes, Sarafina, your father was conceived in love, but your grandfather and I weren't married," said Jenny.
"Grandma - I never knew that," said Sarafina.
"Well, dear, we didn't exactly broadcast it around," said Jenny.
"What happened? Well, obviously you got married - but what did Grandpa say? Did he know about the baby before you were married?"
"Oh, yes, I told him right away. He had a hard time with it at first - you know how organized your grandfather always was and he didn't like surprises of this kind, but he ultimately wanted the baby, your father, too. We loved each other dearly. There was a terrific storm at sea - he was out on the lobster boat - the Coast Guard had to bring him in. I think he was so scared during the storm and of everything he could have lost, so we were married the next day.
"That is romantic," said Sarafina. "Did Dad know all this?"
"No, we never told him - there was no reason to. We here married, happy and had a beautiful baby boy - it just wasn't important or something we felt he ever needed to know," said Jenny. "But I know how you feel and what you're going through. I'm glad you want this baby," said Jenny.
"Our baby was conceived in love also, Grandma. The father's name is Brad. Brad and I love each other very much. He's so good, kind and gentle towards me. I just hope he wants the baby and to be part of the baby's life. I hope he wants to be a father."
"Has he ever been married before, I mean being ten years older than you," asked Jenny.
"No, he's been in a few long-term relationships, but never married," said Sarafina.
"Well,all you can do is talk it over with him - but he has rocks in his head of he doesn't want this baby with you," said Jenny.
"Thanks for saying that Grandma, I think so, too," agreed Sarafina.
"Well, dear, you have my support. If he doesn't stick around, you're welcome to come here and have the baby or I'll come out to California and help you," said Jenny.
"Oh, Grandma, you're wonderful. I'm so lucky to have you - always in my corner," said Sarafina.
"Now, to bed - you need your rest and and I have a big day tomorrow making funeral arrangments," said Jenny. "But, I'm so happy for your Sarafina. A baby."
An unexpected guest
Early the next morning, Sarafina and Jenny were awakened by knocking on the door and the door bell chiming non-stop.
"We're coming, we're coming," said Jenny as they rushed down the stairs in their robes running to the door. "Good heavens it's seven o'clock in the morning," said Jenny. Jenny and Sarafina reached the door and Jenny opened It. "Why sheriff, what are you doing here?" asked Jenny in surprise.
"Is Sarafina here? There's a man looking for her, a Dr. Bradley Mason from California. Does she know him?" he asked.
"Brad? Yes, of course," said Sarafina. "Where is he?"
"He's in the car - is it okay for him to come in? He arrived in Boothbay late last night and I didn't want him disturbing any of you with the tragedy this week."
"Yes," said Sarafina, "he can come in."
"Okay," said the sheriff, "I just wanted to make sure all was on the up and up. Better to be safe than sorry," he added.
"Okay, sir," said the sheriff, you can come in."
Out of the car stepped a very sheepish Brad.
"Oh, and here's your cell phone," he said as he handed it to Brad.
"Thank you, sheriff," he said.
"Brad, what are you doing here? What's going on?" asked Sarafina. Jenny was eyeing the tall, handsome man and giving him the once over.
"Sarafina," Brad bent down and kissed and embraced her. "I apologize about our discussion recently and I've had second thoughts - I thought about everything you said. I love you and I need to be here with you," said Brad.
"Oh, Brad," said Sarafina as she kissed him. "I'm so glad you're here. Please meet my Grandmother MacAllan - Grandma this is Dr. Bradley Mason."
"Delighted to meet you, Dr. Mason," said Jenny shaking his hand and smiling.
"Thank you, and I'm sorry we have to meet under such sad circumstances. My condolences to you in the passing of your husband and son."
"Thank you," said Jenny. "I'm glad you're here. I think Sarafina needs you," said Jenny "Now, how about some coffee and breakfast?"
"Thank you," said Brad, "I certainly need some coffee about now,"
"Brad, what were you doing in the sheriff's car?"
"Long story --- after you left yesterday afternnon, I had second thoughts - so I jumped on a flight as soon as I could. I called your cell phone, but you didn't answer or return the call, so I thought you must really be sore with me."
"Actually, Grandma and I were talking until late last night and I never checked my phone - sorry."
"Well, when I finally got to Boothbay Harbor, it was after midnight. I had no idea where to find you, so I googled the name MacAllan and got several addresses. The first one was the lobster co-op. I just read the address and didn't realize it was the business. So when I arrived, there I was peering in the windows, when the sheriff pulls up - he picks me up and takes me in like I'm a criminal casing the place or something - starts interrogating me - about several hours later - he finally checks me out and finds out I am who I say I am and just looking for you.
Man, they're safety and security conscious in this town. By now it's two or three in the morning - he says he can't disturb the family now with the two deaths in the family and everything. He says I'm welcome to sleep the rest of the night in his jail cell and he'll bring me to you in the morning, but he's not letting me go.
By this time, Sarafina as giggling. "Brad, you actually had to spend the night in a jail cell in Boothbay Harbor?"
"Yes, Sarafina. Not one of my better nights. In the morning he takes me to your parent's house, but no one is there."
"That's right, they're all at my other grandparent's house," said Sarafina, continuing to giggle. "Why didn't you just call me on your cell phone again?"
"Oh, I forgot to tell you, the sheriff had confiscated my cell phone. It seems Sarafina MacAllan is a VIP here in Boothbay Harbor and is not to be disturbed in the middle of the night. So, I showed the sheriff the other address I had for you, so the sheriff said we'd try this house, but I had to stay in the car until he got an okay from you that you wanted to see me. If you hadn't been here, I think he would have personally escorted me out of town."
By this time Sarafina was laughing out loud and so was Jenny. "Mainers are very suspicious of outsiders," said Sarafina.
"Sarafina, if this is not true love - everything I've had to go through to get to you - I don't know what it is, said Brad.
"Oh, Brad. I hope you think I'm worth it," said Sarafina.
"You are," he said winking at Jenny and kissing Sarafina.
"As they sat down to breakfast, Sarafina took one look at the food, cinammon rolls included, felt nauseous and raced to the nearest bathroom.
"Is she all right?" Brad asked Jenny.
"I think she is now, Brad," said Jenny. When Sarafina returned to the table she was a bit pale.
"Sarafina, are you sure you're feeling all right?" asked Brad concerned.
"Well, Brad, I do have something to talk over with you," said Sarafina.
"Excuse me, you two," said Jenny, "but I think I have some funerals to plan, she said as she quietly got up and left the room.
Two hours later, Sarafina knocked on Jenny's bedroom door. "Come in," said Jenny. She was sitting at her desk, papers arrayed around her? "How did it go?" asked Jenny.
"Grandma, he's over the moon happy we're having a baby," said Sarafina. "He's thrilled about the baby, in fact, so thrilled he wants to get married right away - like here in Boothbay Harbor before we return to California," said Sarafina. "He says I'm the love of his life, and of course, he's the love of mine," she said. But, I don't know about about getting married here with the funerals and everything. It's too soon. I told him may be we should wait and get married when we return to California."
"Sarafina - you do it - get married here if that's what he wants. Life must go on - you have to keep the cycle of life moving on. Your grandfather and father would agree with me," said Jenny. "We all need something to look forward to. You and Brad getting married will help us get through this dreadful loss - a marriage and a baby! How wonderful! Grandpa and your father will be present in spirit," said Jenny.
"Well, will you come with Brad and me when we go over to tell Mom and Grandpa and Grandma Laren?" asked Sarafina.
"Of course, and everythiing I just told you, I'll tell them," said Jenny.
"I just hope Mom takes it well, you know, with just loosing Dad, and she's going to find out she's to become and grandmother and mother-in-law all at the same time," said Sarafina.
"Oh, goodness, I didn't even stop to think - that makes Mack, Kate and I great-grandparents, and grandparents-in-law all at the same time. I think we'll all survive this, Sarafina," said Jenny with a laugh.
The next week was sad, although Mackenzie was happy for Sarafina and glad to meet Brad and even happy about the baby. Mackenzie needed her five children with her that week during the two memorial services. She was devastated at loosing Paul so young and so quickly and she had loved Sam, too. But, she was grateful for the children who helped her through this horrible time.
Sarafina and Brad were married a week after the memorial services. It was a quiet, small ceremony with family only attending at the church. There was no reception afterwards. The family just gathered back at Jenny's house to toast the happy couple. Sarafina toasted with ginger ale and the rest toasted with champagne. Then the family amused Brad by reminiscing and telling all the funny stories of their family, especially the ones about Paul and Sam, so Brad would be up to speed. Finally, it was Sunday evening and time for Sarafina, Brad, Sydney and Steven to fly back to California.
Jenny, Mackenzie, Kate and Mack made plans to fly out to California in seven months for the birth of the baby. Sabrina and Tabitha would join them, too - and they would have a family reunion in California over the birth of Sarafina and Brad's baby.
Jenny was happy. Yes, she and Mackenzie were devastated by the loss of their husbands and Jenny her son, but they did have much to look forward to down the line. Life would go on. Another child would be born and become part of the family. The family would live on. Sam and Paul would be happy about that, Jenny was sure. Life had come full circle.
Sarafina gently knocked on her grandmother's bedroom door. "Come in," said Jenny. "Grandma - Brad and I are nearly ready to leave. Thank you so much for all you have done for us and especially for me - standing by me and telling me about you and Grandpa and your beginnings. That will always stay just between you and I," said Sarafina.
"I know that Sarafina, or I wouldn't have told you," said Jenny. "I love you dear and I'm proud of you - Brad is a fine man, so intelligent and handsome, too. He seems so well-grounded. And you're so lovely and will make a wonderful mother - I can't wait to meet my great-grandchild. We'll all be out soon. I hope that farmhouse is big enough!" said Jenny laughing.
"It is, Grandma and there's always room there for you. Brad adores you. Of course, you'll have to put up with some construction - it's a work in progress," laughed Sarafina.
"I know, but you and Brad will never be bored - there will always be something for you to do. You know, you can always fill it up with children," laughed Jenny.
"But, Grandma, what about you, here now. What will you do? How will you fill your hours in this huge house?" asked Sarafina.
"Well, Sarafina, after all these years, I'll finally have time to write that novel I was going to start after graduating from college. It's only taken me fifty years to get to it," Jenny said as she laughed.
"I know it will be a bestseller no matter what it is about," said Sarafina as she hugged and kissed her grandmother.