About Time Oct01


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About Time

In this story, About Time, the word Time is written many Times.  How many Times? Guess? 

Things were just about to get interesting this Time as the three adult brothers were telling childhood stories on each other, when the door bell rang. The entire group waited around the table quietly while the eldest brother, Art, who had called the meeting, went to answer it.  He came back with his son, Don, the last guest, who’s wife Sally was already here.  Don waved and smiled at Sally, who had arrived with Uncle Will and Aunt Jenny, then headed for the empty seat next to his young blonde bride.   On the other side of the table he saw more in-laws Aunt Alice, and Uncle Pete.  The empty end chair belonged to the hostess, Don’s mother, Mary, who left to bring in the drinks.  

Don was about to take his seat when Mary arrived with a large, heavy, tray, so he went to assist her.  “Here Mom, let me carry this heavy tray.”  He said as he took it from her.  She began to take the goblets of the Rose’ wine and place one in front of each person, next to the tumblers of ice water and an assortment of snacks already in place.  That chore completed, they took their seats.

Art stood and surveyed the group.  The table seated ten and nine were already in place.  Art and Mary had hosted this group for a reason.  His sister, Jenny, the only daughter of Chris and Ellen and her husband, Will, had been the first to arrive.  Will was a 

tall, tan, athletic man, younger looking than his 39 years of age.  He wore his dark hair cut short to suit his athletic activities, and his brunette wife, Jenny, four years younger, was as fit as her husband.  

The two sitting next to them were blonde little Alice, just having reluctantly left her twenties behind and hating the word thirty, was still four years younger than husband,  Pete a strong husky 43 year old with short curly, hair the color of sand, who was Chris and Ellen’s second son.   

The late arriving Don was the youngest male, 21, as was his wife of only three months, 20 year old, Sally.  Don was a grandchild of Chris and Ellen, being Art’s son.  The third and last son of Chris and Ellen was 41 year old, Ray, married to smart looking, mid-thirty, ash blonde wife, Karen.

At 46 Art’s gray sprinkled temples gave him that salt and pepper look.  Mary could have had the same, though only 45, she took no chances and with the aid of a box from the drug store her eye catching, red hair remained bright and grey free.

The subject of the meeting was to be the up-coming Golden Wedding Anniversary of the Parents of four of them, Art, Pete, Ray, and Jenny.  Don and his bride, Sally were the only representatives of the couple’s six grandchildren, as the other five grandchildren were still in school.  

Art raised his wine glass and held it high until the others did the same.

“We will open with a toast to the couple who gave us life and who we hope to have with us for many more years, after we help them celebrate their fifty years together.  To Chris and Ellen.”

“To Chris and Ellen!”  They all sipped the rose colored wine and replaced their goblets to the table, to listen to what Art had to say. 

Our first and very important duty tonight is to set the date for the Party:  A date most convenient to the most of their children, grandchildren and their spouses and not forgetting the siblings of the celebrating couple and their off spring… a total still growing with coming weddings and expected births.  But even without them, is already over a hundred people… all important folks to the two of them.  I sent out four possible dates when the Banquet Room we would like to use will be available… if we hurry.  The two most popular by those who responded are, the two first Saturdays in October.  We must choose one of those right now.

Ray stood up to say,  “The first Saturday is impossible for us because we are committed to Karen’s family on that day.

Art winced slightly as Ray and Karen had not responded earlier and he wondered why not, but gathered his wits to ask,  “Is there any objection to the second Saturday?”    

No one spoke up.  “Great,” Art said,  “ Then we have a date, October tenth.  Once I put a deposit on it, that date will be final and all of our other plans will work toward it.  

So gang, as this is the Fourth of July, all who can are invited to stay for the barbeque and wonderful view of our City’s planned Fireworks show, always best seen from our own back deck.  We will work in the little more than three months we have up to October tenth to pull together this coming Family Celebration to honor our Parents.  I have a list for each of you, of the tasks needing a Chief or Indians willing to help, just put your name where you think you can be the most useful and leave it with Mary, our wonderful, unpaid Secretary, sitting opposite me at this table surrounded by my favorite people.  Mary slid the papers out to the middle of the table to be passed around. 

“So now, we will begin to celebrate our Country’s, mumble, mumble, something, Anniversary.”  Art raise his glass of wine and drained it, as a voice from the table called out… “Our two hundred and thirty eighth 4th of July!”   It was Don the most recently graduated from College, who was still in touch with those things.  

Jenny and Will approached Mary with their list of duties.  They mentioned to her that they had agreed to cook or in any way help with food, but had to leave now, unfortunately as their own two children were having friends over for a 4th of July Party.  The twins, Jake and Jerry worked together to share their 15 year old friends and did quite well, but the parents didn’t want to leave them unsupervised too long.  They were, after all, surrounded by other young opinionated teens.    Mary agreed and thanked them for being willing to help for her Parent’s big “Five-Oh.”.

As they finished and Will had begun to walk away, Jenny stopped to lightly touch Mary’s very lovely red hair.  “That should have been my hair.”  She told Mary.   “It was my grandmother, Minney’s color and even though she and grandpa, Alvin, had nine children, none of them had her lovely long red hair and I, as the youngest grandchild, never even saw it myself.  I just always hear the family say, when ever any of the family is expecting,  that hopefully the red hair will finally reappear.  But not until Art married you, and you’re not even in Minnie’s gene pool, did we get a red head in this family.  I would love to have yours instead of this dull brown stuff.”  Jenny tossed her hair and smiled anyway.  Her husband, Will always told her she was beautiful and she did keep herself in good shape.  

Mary leaned her head close to Jenny and told her,   “These days anyone can easily have hair any color they really want it to be.  All colors and shades have been perfected.  Just look at Karen and probably Alice.”  She put her finger to her lips to indicate it was not for discussion.  

Will had already gone for the car and Jenny snickered a giggle and chased after him.

Mary set the first list in her desk on her way to the back deck where Art had already put the ribs and burgers on the smoking grill along with the corn and some skewered veggies she had prepared earlier.  She noticed the couples with their heads together working out who would be best at which party chores, and left them at it.  She wondered if anyone in her own side of the family would soon be making a plan to do something like this for her own parents. As her mind slid over the names of her siblings, she found herself doubting it.  Perhaps, at the last minute she could think of a very nice big gift they could all chip in to present to them. 

Over at the brick barbeque, hand built by Art, Mary observed young blonde Sally leaning close to Art, so as to push her large new boobs into his view as she laughed at something he was telling her.   

Mary cruised by unnoticed by the laughing pair, as she picked up a glass of wine sitting next to Art on the barbeque, and went to find a deck chair facing the soon to start City display of Fireworks to sip at it.   She chose, with some difficulty, not to notice how often Sally seemed to seek Art out for intimate talk.   The cute, young newlywed, seemed to thrive on her not unwelcome attention to the older men, especially Art her own father-in-law.

  She looked around to see what her son Don was doing.  She finally spotted him leaning on the back fence facing the fireworks area, just as she was doing.  Was he also trying to ignore his wife, Sally’s behavior, or did he not care?  She hoped she didn’t need to feel sorry for him.   

It was difficult for  a woman reaching, all too soon, that dreaded age of fifty to not feel envious of those young things like their daughter-in-law, who only recently left her teens and watch her charm older men like Art… Mary was interrupted from her suspicious thoughts by Art’s brother Pete who was handing over his and wife Alices’ list.

She smiled at Pete as he told her they had decided to take on the flowers, if no one else did, and send some from a florist and bring additional from their large garden of roses.  Alice did a very good job of arranging them, if October found them in good bloom.  And the corsages they would order, plus as many other arrangements needed.  

Mary thanked them and decided to take the list to her desk, as she might forget them out here and they might get ruined when the sprinklers…  

“Oh my God the sprinklers!”  She said as she jumped to her feet while looking at her watch.  They could go on automatically in a few minutes and she rushed to the side of the house that held the Timer and switched it off.  Pete just stood laughing. As he thought to himself,  I’ll bet Don would have wished it had gone on and watered down his over-heated young wife, Sally, who now had one hand on Art’s shoulder, as she leaned closer and looked up into his eyes as she rubbed her body against his arm.

Pete took a plate loaded with Art’s good selection of finished barbeque to his wife, Alice and they began to share the finger licking foods with several large paper napkins, just in Time for the first of the Fireworks to explode above them.  Soon the others had followed and Art left the hot fire,  food to one side, and a stack of plates to the guests and loaded a sample of everything on a plate for Mary.  

He had somehow lost his glass of wine and went into the house for another.  Mary couldn’t miss who followed him in.  She sighed with relief as they both came out each with a full glass of wine and returned to watch the fireworks with their own mates.

Art picked an occasional bit of Mary’s food, between sips if wine.  “Hey! This is pretty good stuff!”  he said “If I do say so myself.”

“You’re very good at everything you do.” Mary told him with a sly smile. 

“Everything?”  He asked trying to look macho.

“Absolutely everything.”  She told him.  “I’ll give you a chance to prove it as soon as we get rid of all of these people.”   Then she laughed as she told him how close they came to making it all end quickly… in a home-made rain storm. 

He rolled his eyes and said in a whisper, “Next Time let it storm.”  Art placed his hand gently on her thigh, making her shudder.  “We could have watched this all by ourselves.”

“And,” Mary added,  “The others would never forget this night, as they went home dripping wet in July.”  She ate a few bites from the vegetable heap and watched the huge balls of glittering red, blue and green sparks fall from the high explosions.  Then she softly remarked, “Don’s wife, Sally is a pretty little thing, isn’t she?”  Art kept on chewing and looking up at the gold blast that followed the silver one.  “She’s okay, but what that girl needs is baby to dote on.”

“They have only been married for three months.”  Mary reminded him.  “He chuckled out loud.  “With a girl like that it should have only taken them five or six months to produce a baby. “Don’t you know what the Obstetricians say? “  Mary looked at him for the answer. “The first baby takes from five to eight months, the rest all take nine.” 

Mary had to laugh.  “So why did our first take eleven?”  

Art replied, apologetically, “I’m sorry to admit that in those days you and I were a little backward.”  Mary frowned and anyone watching might have thought she didn’t like that goofy, wiggle-waggle, slowly, dropping, golden firework display.  “Well thanks a lot!” She complained.  

“Not really dear.  It was a compliment in disguise.”  He bent to kiss her and all was well.

Time Two

The last lists were dropped off and Mary found that nearly everything was covered.  All except transportation and Art could arrange for that.  She posted the duty list in one page on her kitchen bulletin board so everyone could see who planned to do what.  Art would be inquiring as to how each was doing from Time to Time as the important Date crept closer. 

Before the invitations went out, Art called his parents to make sure it was on their calendar.  There was no sense in trying to surprise people of their age with anything.  His Mom would kill him if she didn’t know soon enough to get a new dress and have her hair and nails done.  

With that important Party in the works, regular life went on.  Pete and Ray were two years apart, but only had birthdays five days apart Pete on August 31st and Ray September 5th.   So Alice suggested to Karen that they plan a surprise party for both of them on the same day.  She would tell Pete it was a surprise Karen planned for Ray on the Saturday September 3rd, before his actually birthday on the fifth. 

And Karen would tell Ray that Alice planned a surprise for Pete on the Saturday night right after his 31st of August birthday and surprise him September, 3rd.   

Alice would need to bake Pete a little Cake and put a candle on it August 31st to keep him from knowing that he was part of the surprise on September 3rd.  

When the girls came home from school she could warn them again to keep the surprise a surprise and be here on the 31st to say Happy Birthday o their father.  Then they could go to Suzie’s Slumber Party that Friday night.

All three girls were invited although technically Suzie was her Judy’s best friend even with her three girls little more than18 months between each of them, the four school mates were from Judy and Suzie10, and Candy,9 and Lily, 8 in many school activities together.

Time Three

Sadly, and unfortunately Pete felt that Ray was getting a big surprise party while he got nothing.  The cake that Alice baked for him and the little package of his favorite After Shave, she had wrapped in ribbon to put with the cake and candle sat the night out on the kitchen table untouched.  

Pete had taken himself out on his birthday and celebrated alone and with whoever he found in the last bar he walked into.  After drinks in all of the other two, he was mellow enough to cry on the shoulder of a bar girl who felt so sorry for him that she took him home with her, where she put him to bed to sleep it off and emptied his wallet to repay herself for her kindness.

When he awoke almost sober the next morning, he was still too hung over to remember where he had last parked his car.  The lady, he could hardly remember, who had taken him home with her was out.  Just as well, he couldn’t think what he would say to her this morning, so Pete pulled himself somewhat together and went out walking to look for his car.  

After while, still not feeling very well, he gave up and called a Taxi, but when he got halfway home he discovered that he had no money to pay the Taxi driver.

He tried to explain to the driver that he had been robbed and he would pay him when he got home. 

“Sure,”  the driver said, “I’ve heard that one before.” as he pulled over and opened the door.  Pete protested, “But it’s only a mile or two more.”

“Sure, out in the suburbs, where no one ever calls a Taxi, as they all own cars.  I’ll take my chances here thank you.”  He stood by the open door until Pete got out.  So unshaven and broke, still walking a little crooked, he began the long walk toward home, hoping as he limped along that Alice was out doing some driving for one of the kids.  He did not want to face her just yet.  Some birthday he’d had! And it was growing worse by the minute. 

He trudged along scarcely noticing when a small red car pulled up beside him and rolled slowly at his pace.  He didn’t look up until he heard a voice call out.  “Is that you Pete?”  Pete stopped and looked back.  

“Oh no!” he said half aloud to himself. “ Sally! And just when I thought this birthday couldn’t get any worse, the final blow drives up.”  He tried to fake it. 

“Do you need a ride? “ Sally called to him.”

“Oh no, I’m just out for some exercise.”  Sally pulled to the curb and stopped, got out to come to where he had stood, trying to decide what to say to his nephew’s wife.

  “But you don’t look well.”  Sally fawned over him.  “You’re over doing it.  I know… “  Sally suddenly thought,  “Something must have happened to your car.  Were you in an accident or what? “  He was trying to decide if that excuse would work, but his mind felt fuzzy. Sally tugged at his arm. 

“ Come on I’ll drive you.” 

“I’ll walk thank you.”  Pete said and tried to move his feet along, they were not cooperating this morning.  

“But your house is five miles away, let me drive you there and you can call the Auto Club or something from home.”  She began to lead him toward the car.  “Poor Pete.”  she said sadly, “I hope your car is in better condition than you are.”  Then she stopped and looked him over for a few seconds.  “Maybe I should take you to the hospital for a check-up to see if you got injured or something.”   Poor Pete was actually too weak to resist and was soon stuffed into Sally‘s little red car. “Are you sure you don’t need the hospital?   You don’t want to miss your Big Birthday Party tomorrow.”

“That’s for Ray.”  He told her.  “Well, yes, but I thought… “  Then she remembered the surprise part of the invitation, she finished the sentence with “…you are invited.  Sure you are.   Let’s go to the Emergency Room and get you fixed up, so you can go to tomorrow’s party.”  

Sally turned down the next street and went to the Emergency Room with her injured Uncle.  It didn’t take them long to figure out what was wrong with him.  He admitted to the Doctors how many drinks he actually remembered having and they gave him their best hospital remedy.   

Sally waited and took him the rest of the way home.  He really appreciated the rest room the attendants led him to, to freshen up in with the little kit he was given by the nurse. It even had a cheap razor in it, and a tooth brush and a few other necessities. He felt much better when the Tylenol kicked in as they arrived at his house. Hopefully he might pull this off yet. He thanked Sally and hoped she had a poor memory.  

He went into his house and found that he was getting luckier, as no one was home.  But the cake and gift on the kitchen table hit him hard.  He felt like a jerk.  What could he possibly tell Alice? Nothing but most of the truth would come close to matching up with what Sally might say… to everyone.

The door bell rang.  He saw through the glass that it was his nephew, Don standing on his porch.  “Hmm. Did Don already hear about him and Sally. More trouble.  Hopefully he’s just checking up on her story for being so late.  If he knew what she said, he’d back her up, but who could guess what Sally would say…

Don stepped in as soon as the door opened, as if he thought Sally might be there.  Pete waited for Don to speak first. He didn’t know what the problem really was with those two, but he might make a good guess.

“You’re looking better than I expected.”  Don commented. “Sally said she took you to the hospital.”

“She did.  I tried to talk her out of it.  I said I would be alright.  But she didn’t agree and insisted.  I have to admit I looked like the devil, I had a long walk ahead of me from where I ran out of gas.  I guess I’m just not in that kind of shape any more. Yesterday I turned 44.  What is that twice your age?’

“Exactly!”  Don smiled, “So your brain is still sharp.  Sally is very sensitive to people in trouble, things like that.  I’m glad she came along to help.  Have you called the Auto Club yet?”

“No but you can help me if you are willing. I think I can get my car going again if I take a can of fuel with me and I have one in the garage.  I’ll show you where I left it and try adding the gas, to hope I can make the old thing go.     

Pete led him passed his first bar and toward the second and still not seeing his car directed him along toward a third, but certainly not mentioning that he was using Bars as his land marks. 

“It should be here some place.” he told Don, “unless the cops towed it.”   At last!  There it was just around the next corner, parked kind of cock-eyed as if having a problem.  The problem had been Pete’s drunk driving, but he was not going to admit that.  

Don insisted on waiting while Pete poured in the can of fuel and got behind the wheel.  He faked not getting it started for a bit, then it roared to life, and he gave Don a thumbs up, as he slowly rolled down the side street to a dead end and turned around.   He passed Don still on the corner and waved, then they went their separate ways.  He knew Don was happy that Sally had not lied to him and that even he could help good, old, old, Uncle Pete.

If only his next moments with Alice would go as well. He had considered getting her some flowers or something, but the T.V. shows all gave the impression that unexpected gifts made the wife suspicious, so he just change clothes and straightened up the house of his papers and magazines that Alice was always complaining about. 

 Alice did act kind of funny when she got home, which made him wonder what she knew.  It turned out that she had seen Sally.  Alice was out helping the girls plan the Birthday party tomorrow and Sally arrived late telling them how she had helped Pete after an auto accident.  But the hospital said he was alright.  She didn’t even remember that she almost gave away the surprise.

So Alice put away the little cake and present to let it all go, as she knew tomorrow his Surprise Party would fix everything.  Today they had put up the big signs with both men’s names on it.  She could hardly wait for tomorrow. 

Time Four

When Don first saw Sally he thought she must have been put together by a doll maker.  Each little bit of her was perfect and he couldn’t keep from looking at her.  Sally herself expected that.  That was how it was from the Time she could walk.  People stopped her mother on the street to exclaim, “What a beautiful child!”  So she knew she was beautiful… whatever that meant.  In her teens she floated through life being admired and pampered.  She didn’t even cry ugly with twisted mouth and blotchy skin.  If she was reduced to crying, it was always “Oh my dear… what is the matter… how may I help you?”  And like magic whatever she wanted seemed to appear.

By the Time she was 18, she had learned that she was very much like a pastry in a Bakery Shop. If she stood at the bakery window and looked at the cakes she understood what was happening.  She thought of herself as a luscious cake covered with icing.  Everyone who looked at her wondered what was under the sweet icing, but just like the bakery, no one ever found out unless they had the means to buy the cake and take it home.  So she was the same.  She went home only with those who promised something very special a marvelous penthouse or an irresistible yacht.  Then she never wanted to disappoint them.  She wanted to be all that they had wished for and she was.  But even those yachts and things grow boring after Time.  

Then along came Don.  He was different. He promised a home a real house that would be hers to keep.  He took her to see it and she fell in love with everything, even the very young man, Don, almost her same age, who was making this proposal. On the week following her 20th birthday she married him and went to live in his nice house with promises that she could even have a baby of her own to love.  No one had ever offered her anything like that before.

Don had come to have the house when his grandparents decided that they could no longer deal with the stairs and garden and so moved to a very nice building where others took care of everything they didn’t choose to do.

Their big house had once been furnished with wonderful fine furniture and now it was old and shabby.  Don their oldest grandson had just graduated from college and found a good job nearby, so was looking for an apartment he could afford to rent.  

What he found was his grandparents home just sitting there getting shabbier every day.  Why didn’t they just sell it? He wondered, He went to talk to them about it.

The answer was they just might some day.  So he offered to move in and take good care of it for them.  They agreed.  So now they didn’t have to sell it. Ellen was reluctant to do that just yet.  It seemed so final, so Chris who always did his best to grant her wishes, let it just sit.  Don’s offer gave them peace of mind.

But Don didn’t just move in and take care of it as is, he tackled one thing at a Time and restored all of the grand mahogany furniture, now prized antiques, to their original luster.  Even the drapes and rugs were picked out one at a Time and very carefully sponged and brushed then replaced looking only a little faded, but perfect in their various places. 

He spent his weekends doing the same to the yard.  When it was all back to what it was when his grandfather had first put it together, but with bigger trees and shrubs and ivy.  And after he piped water to the two lovely dancing Cherub fountains, just as his grandfather Chris had intended, but didn’t ever get around to, he went to see them and persuaded the two of them come out for a ride to visit their old house.

Grandmother Ellen said it felt like she was young again just standing in her house looking exactly as she remembered everything.  She almost cried when she saw the fountains finally bubbling over with water.

Now Don got up the nerve to tell them, “I want to marry a young woman I love.  So I would like to buy the house.”

Even as beautiful as it looked, they knew they could not go back to live there, so they agreed and came to a price that he should make payments according to a percentage of his income and put them into an account that when it was paid, could be held in trust for the use of the other grandchildren, when they wanted to buy a house someday.

And so the house that Don made perfect would now be home to his future perfect wife, Sally.

Luckily Sally fell in love with the whole house and yard and now for three months they had been living there, happily married and Don happily went to work each day and Sally unfortunately was still a tempting cake in the Bakery window.  

She knew how much Don loved his house, so she kept it nice for him.  She even learned to cook with the long row of his grandmother’s old cook books.  

Everything could have been fine if only other men didn’t see Sally and desire her and if she didn’t crave that exhilarating attention she had always commanded.

She knew he didn’t trust her and had to keep checking her explanations for her where-a-bouts, so she told the truth just enough to get away with a little lie now and then, just to keep Don happy.

So when an attractive man looked at her with that craving look, a thrill ran through her body and she had no choice but to follow it as far as necessary.   It wasn’t that she wanted to hurt Don.  She didn’t, she loved him, but what could she do, but tell a little lie every so often to keep him from knowing and being hurt.  It wasn’t her fault… it just was what it was.

Time Five

Karen was very pleased when Alice called to suggest the two man surprise Birthday Party for both of the brothers. Alice could easily have just made the Party about Pete only, but this gave Karen a chance to participate in something nice for Ray and work with Alice.  

Her Ray was in an odd family position that she may be the only one to have recognized.  Ray was the youngest boy of the three sons of Chris and Ellen, but he was not the baby for long enough to milk it, which would have been a bonus family position, as any “baby of the family” can tell you.  

But  no… suddenly Jenny, was the baby and the only girl, a double good whammy for her, leaving six year old Ray in a no win spot.  As far as Karen could tell, with Art being the oldest and claiming the right to boss the other boys around, and Jenny being the baby and the only girl,  Pete was that notorious “Second son” spot, meaning he was a valuable assent… just in case, and Ray with nothing. 

Ray was nothing he could claim as his birth right, as third child was nothing at all in a four child family, just another mouth to feed.  And the funny part was Karen did not think Ray even noticed those facts.  She did.  

Who did the parents call on to handle anything important? Art of course.  Anyone would have thought he was an only child.  And who was praised and pampered, the family’s little darling daughter?  Jenny.  Pete had a “poor me” complex that she recognized right off, though she may have been the only one who did.  And her Ray was clueless.  Family standing meant nothing to him, which whether he understood it or not was because he did not have any.  

Karen fell for him because he was so nice.  Ray was a quiet and kind and considerate observer of his own life.   Karen was very happy to be in a position to elevate him up the ladder.  She was probably the best educated and most socially aware of the women in this family she had married into.  Ray had done well to marry her and she was determined to be the best and most helpful wife to a wonderful guy who deserved more.  They did not have any children so Ray was her only project.

Alice had asked Pete’s sister, Jenny, to also help with the Surprise Birthday Party, which she was thrilled to do.  Her three big brothers were her pride and joy and her daily terror from the minute she opened her eyes to the life she was born into.

When Jenny was born the boys were all in school as she was a bonus baby that Ellen and Chris had not planned, so she was six years younger than the third boy.  They hung round her crib just staring at her.  Holy Cow and Gee whiz! A sister!   

Jenny regarded them all as more adults… big people who were gone all day and home in the afternoon.  She had to be tough to take care of herself with the three of those rough and tumble boys, who were always wrestling and challenging each other and showing off for her. But they adored her and respected that she was a delicate little girl to the best of their tough guy abilities.

Jenny learned to handle them and could usually get her own way, but she could fight back if it became necessary.  Being a sweet little darling, but strong, girl was soon built into her very core. It actually helped her in all of her endeavors.

Karen could see those qualities in Jenny and rather wished Ray had them.  He did as well as he could to just be the third boy and hold his own with the bigger boys.

Soon everything was in place for the Surprise Party.  Sally had agreed to have it at her house, which in the minds of the other family members, was their parent’s big, two story, roomy, family home, where the kids all grew up.  It was not practical to hold it at either of the Birthday Boy’s homes, and Don did cleverly manage to get his hands on the largest home in the family.  So he owed them, anyway.  

Sally missed all of those feelings.  This was her house as far as she was concerned, never the less, she was as proud of it as Don was and happy to hold the Party there.  

She even did some of the cooking and baked two cakes each with the names written in icing across the top.  Luckily for Sally they both had short names as she almost didn’t get the last E in Pete on the cake. She gave up on writing Happy Birthday after the third try.  She re-frosted the top and squeezed a heart there, with the name below it, then did the same to the second cake.  She proudly placed the two cakes on the Buffet table and surrounded them with flowers from Don’s wonderful garden.

Actually Sally was having the Time of her life doing what she did best… trying to make men happy. In this case even the women praised her ability and she was pleased about that too, it was not often she was praised by anyone, much less other women, for an accomplishment.  Women seemed to think she had enough going for her to credit her with anything else.

So as a family woman now, Sally was learning to enjoy earning praise that was not simply heaped upon her for what she was given at birth and was none of her doing.  Her cooking seemed to do to it best, thanks to Don’s grandmother’s cook books, filled with pen notes throughout, of her improvements and short cuts in the recipes.  They were the real treasure in Sally’s new house.

With everyone hidden Ray and Pete were called to Don’s for an impromptu meeting about the Golden Wedding Party.  They came together as their wives were at a book club or something.

When they walked in they barely had Time to read the Happy Birthday banner, before the guests jumped out to yell Happy Birthday Pete and Ray!

Ray jumped up in surprise and smiled at the guests, Pete stood shocked, expecting it to be Ray’s Party and it had not soaked in that it was for him also.  The second cake did it and he wanted to cry. But guys don’t. Even so, he knew did not deserve this.  

He was lucky enough that first, he did not drive drunk and get arrested and maybe even gone to jail if he had hurt anyone else by doing so, and second, that he got his car home and the woman he had gone home with, who had stolen his money and nothing else, did not get into any conversation with Alice.  He had conveniently forgotten her as he escaped all of the bad things he had coming to him for his own terrible behavior… no he did not deserve this party.  

He just stood there stunned.  Alice came to him and whispered, Happy Birthday darling.  I know you think I forgot.  I hope now you understand why and forgive me.  He put on a happy face determined to put his real Birthday night out of his mind… if only Sally and some unknown woman did the same.

There Sally was across the room.  She looked at Pete and he smiled and mouthed, “Thanks.”  She smiled back and put a stack of Don’s grandmother’s  small rose bud covered china plates next to the cakes.

Ray came over and asked Pete, “Were you surprised?”  Pete could only answer with, “No one will ever know how much.  How about you?”

“Not really.”  He laughed, “Did I do a good job of looking surprised?”

I didn’t see you, I was so startled, even though I knew about it being for you.  I just didn’t know we were sharing.  Didn’t mom do that once too?  Because our birthdays are so close to each other it made sense.  How did you find out?”

“Well I shouldn’t admit this, but one day I was leaving work to go to lunch when Sally walked by in town shopping for birthday presents for you and for me.  She asked me to help pick you out a tie. So I did, so you can blame me if you don’t like it.” Ray laughed, “Then Sally said, right out without even realizing it, now I need one for you too, ‘cause the party is for both of you.”  So I picked mine out also.  But then,”  Ray lowered his voice to almost a whisper, “I invited her to lunch with me and she said sure.  We walked to the Hotel for a good lunch and as we left the hotel we were spotted by Alice and Jenny, who we believe thought the worst of the situation. So if you hear anything, clue   me in.  It was perfectly innocent but you know…  I don’t think Don would understand.”

“You might be right about that.  He came to my house checking on her story that she took me to the hospital.  She did and I was glad to stand behind her story, because she saved my ass that day.”

“Yes, I heard something about that, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt.  Do the same for me okay! Sally gets a bum rap.  It isn’t her fault that we men can’t help looking at her.”    

“She is easy on the eyes, but she’ a very good little liar, too.”

“I can believe that.  I ‘m sure if asked her, she would go to a motel with me, but Karen is much too sharp for me to get away with it.  Besides I feel certain that if a guy went with that one even once, he would jump through hoops to be at her beckon call to go again.”

You might be right about that, but it’s Don’s problem, Sexy as she is, I wouldn’t like trying to keep her stories straight.  Well, have a merry early Birthday!”  

“Have a happy belated one yourself.”

Pete perked up to enjoy the shared party as Alice came to get him to try once again to learn to dance. So why not?  One of these days he’ll get the hang of it, if not on his 44th birthday then when?

Time Six

Will left to go pick up Chris and Ellen.  At first Chris had said they would not be able to attend.  Ellen was not feeling well.  But Jenny insisted that Will drive over to see what the problem was.  Will took the twins with him so if the grandparents didn’t come to the party at least Jake and Jerry could see them for a short Time.  As he drove he taught them the way to the Senior Living Home where his grandparents had moved.  

They were already learning to drive and had high hopes of getting a car for their sixteenth birthday.  Will and Jenny would not promise it, but didn’t say no either.  Even though school grades were the major factor, the ability to drive and pass the test to get a driver’s license was prime with the boys.    

As Will explained the roads and directions he hinted that on the way back to the Birthday Party they might each take a turn driving, just for the  practice.  They pulled into the wide gated driveway and circled the front entry before passing into the parking area.  A few of the residents had automobiles but even those rarely drove as the Senior Living Facility made as many trips as needed to the shopping and medical places with the small Company bus and soon no one even wanted to drive themselves.  The boys did a double take at the number of cars that had for sale signs on the windows.  

“See anything you like?”  Jake asked Jerry.  Most of them seemed to be large Cadillac type vehicles, not exactly what the average High School kid is dreaming of owning.  Right at the end of the Senior Parking Area sat a small blue convertible with the white top folded down.  Jerry looked it over good.

“No for sale sign on that one.”  He reported.  “Nice little car just the same.”

Will parked and the boys hopped out and went straight to the convertible.  The mileage was very low,  “It must belong to one of the Seniors Jerry decided.  “It’s parked in their area.”

Inside of the hotel or whatever it was called, Jerry looked around and decided at once that he would not like to live here.  “It’s not so bad.”  Jake told his brother, “If you get old and need help to do stuff.”

“Maybe… But. I don’t even want to get old.” Jerry answered.

“You will change your mind .”  A soft voice said behind them.  An old lady sitting in a wheel chair that they had not noticed when they stopped to talk, had over heard him and disagreed.  Both boys turned and looked at her.

She was dressed in a long house coat made of soft blue with white flowers all over it and wore blue slippers on her feet..  Her hair was white with waves and a few fluffy bangs on her forehead. Her eyes were as blue was her dress. 

Now that she had their attention she asked,  “Who do you boys belong to?  What I mean, “  she smiled and she had nice white, probably false, teeth. “… Who are you here to visit?”

“Our grandparents live here now. “  Jake told her.  

“Chris and Ellen Caldwell,”  Jerry explained.

“They are very lucky to have young men like you two come to visit.  My grandchildren live too far away.”  Then she asked, “Which of you doesn’t want to get old?”  Jerry raised his hand as if she was his school teacher.  “Do you feel the same?” she asked the other boy. 

“I have never thought about it.”  Then he told her,  “I am Jake and he is Jerry.”

“Very nice names.  My boys were named Alvin and Albert.  They were twins, too.   I am called Peggy.  I just wanted to explain something to Jerry.  Not wanting to be old is a very common feeling with the young.  So don’t worry about it, now.  Just concentrate on being a good driver and healthy eater to see if you even have the ability to get old.  Not everybody does you know.  I am ninety five years old and I hope to live a long while longer.  I cannot do the things I could do as a teen, but I find a great deal of enjoyment in just being alive. I read and even write for fun.  I have friends here who play cards with me.  If I feel tired there is always T.V. guaranteed to put me right to sleep.”  She laughed at her joke but they probably didn’t get it.  Then Jerry said, “My Dad says the same thing.”

“Home work puts us to sleep.”  Jake told her with a little smile.

“Oh my yes!  I remember that, too, even though it was a long Time ago.  Time is a very funny thing.  I can recall things that happened when I was two years old, but often I forget what I had for lunch an hour ago.  They say that your brain contains everything you ever saw or read.  It’s in there, but how to work the recall button is the problem.  Maybe if I say “Christmas,” you suddenly remember something you got from Santa that morning.  But if I ask, what did you get on December 25th last year?  You have to think about it and try to remember.  Some clue has to trigger a recall.  No one knows exactly what that is. Maybe one of you will grow up to be the man who finds that out.  Someone will.  Why not you?”  

The boys found her to be surprisingly funny and interesting.  Pretty strange. Jerry was thinking.  They did not know anyone 95. Even their old grandparents were only 70 and 72.  That was another whole life Time yet to get to 95.  You can do a lot of thing in all of that Time.  

Jake wondered, would they still be visiting their grandparents here when they were what? Almost 40?  They could not even imagine themselves being 40.  Those numbers were real years.  The months until they turned 16 and got their Driver’s Licenses seemed like forever.

“It is fun talking to you, Miss Peggy, I will rethink growing old,”  Jerry promised her.  We will talk to you again when we come to see Grampa Chris and Gramma Ellen.”

“I will look forward to that boys.  I think growing old is about looking forward to something… anything, even just the next chapter in your book.  Oh and please, just call me Peggy.  Miss Peggy sounds like Kermit’s pig girl friend.  They were all laughing when their dad reappeared to take them to see Chris and Ellen.  The boys introduced Peggy to their father and they walked down the hall to see their grandparents.  Ellen was not well so they visited Grampa Chris alone for a little while and left to go back to the Party as Chris went to see how Ellen was doing.

Jake drove part of the way home and Jerry took over to Sally and Don’s house.  They still thought of it as their grandparents house but slowly it was changing.Then the boys remembered that little blue convertible,.  Talking to Peggy, they had forgotten all about it.  Oh well, they would probably be going back again soon.  

Time Seven

Back at the Party Pete was having fun dancing with all of the ladies.  Maybe he had not exactly learned to dance just like magic, but they all wanted a crack at teaching him and as it was his Birthday Party, too, he was going to enjoy every minute of it and erase his real birthday right out of his head.

Pete actually loved the tie Ray said he chose for him and the four others he received that evening.  Alice was very snuggly when they danced and Pete knew home would be even better.

Sally happily announced that she and Don were expecting early next year, to almost no one’s surprise. Don was the happiest of all even he thought that, as he had promised her a baby if she married him, he had to make good, even if she had to be the one to deliver.  

Ray and Karen went to the back patio to be alone as the news of Sally’s pregnancy made Karen a little blue.  She didn’t want to be seen ruining Sally and Don’s happiness so when he saw her go, Ray followed.  Then Karen asked him, “Do you think we would be considered too old to apply to adopt?”  Of course neither really knew but Ray promised to find out.  “Don’t forget we talked about that invitro thing a few months ago.”  He reminded Karen.

“You mean like a test tube baby?”  Karen asked.   Ray soothed her hair gently, her perfectly colored and styled hair that is never out of place and then gave her his handkerchief as a single tear rolled down.  No one in that next room could know how much a baby would mean to Karen, she held her head high and her feelings under control in public. Only in front of him did she show what she felt.

  “Let’s stop wondering.” Ray told her  “Let’s really do something this Time.  I don’t know what they do these days let’s make an appointment and go find out and soon.  I’m not getting any younger.”    Karen smiled, “Oh and I am?  I think maybe we have already missed the baby boat. I can tell you and no one else, but that sexy little Sally makes me feel like a hundred.”   

Ray insisted that she was ten Times the woman of that child bride , so don’t even think of comparing yourself to that little trailer tramp.  That is unless you’re also comparing me to her young, handsome, Don Juan. And if you are I don’t want to know about it.  You’ll just have to dream away and keep it to yourself.”  Karen just shook her head and hugged him.  “Thanks for being you, darling.” She whispered.

They walked slowly back into the house and paused to take a cup of the spiked fruit punch to sip as they got back into that Party mood.   Karen’s last comment was, “I hope I didn’t ruin your Happy Birthday… not after all of the work I did to get it ready and still keep it a secret.”  She looked up at his eyes, “Were you surprised?”

“I almost jumped out of my shoes.  Just ask Pete.  He was right next to me.”  Karen left to go to the Ladies Room to repair her lipstick. As Ray watched her go, he had to hope she never heard anything that tied him to Sally and most certainly not learn that Sally had been the one to let him in on the secret party.  He hated to even think about what she would do if she knew that.

Time Eight

A week went by before Will gave himself the job of checking on his Mom and Dad.  As he backed the car out of the garage the twins ran up.

“Are you going to visit Grampa Chris? “  They shouted against the closed window together.  “I am. Are you two looking for another driving lesson?”

“Yes, but wait, I want to take something, I’ll be right back.”  Jerry dashed off .  Will got out of the driver’s seat and walked around to the passenger seat and Jake sat behind the wheel.  Jerry returned running he had a book in his hand as he opened the rear door and jumped in.  

Jake carefully followed the route Will had taught them on the last visit and soon he was pulling in the big gate and around to the Visitor’s Parking.  Jake slowed as they passed the little blue convertible, then he parked and they all went into the building.

Will was at the desk signing them in and then he began to walk in the direction of his Parents suite.  Jerry started to follow then told is father, 

“Dad you go ahead, we want to give this book to Peggy, then we’ll catch up.  The lady at the desk told the boys where to find Peggy and they dashed off the two boys always dashed, it was much faster than walking.  They found the lady in the wheel chair sitting and reading in the shade of a large oak and surprised her as they dashed up side by side.

“Oh lordy me, For a half a minute there I thought you were Albert and Alvin gone back in Time and came to visit me.”

“Sorry but we’re Jake and Jerry who came to visit you… and our grandparents.

“Well that’s the next best thing, since my boys are long gone.  They were both killed in Viet Nam, long before you were born.”  Peggy looked at the book in Jerry’s hand. “Did you bring your homework with you this Time?”

“No we brought this book for you.”  He continued to hold it in his hand as he explained.  We both liked what this guy had to say.  Actually it’s an old book but still relevant.  But I wanted to show you that it has the big print so it is easier to read.  He opened the book and let the pages flip to show her the print.  He held the book up cover, forward as if he was doing show and tell at school.  Peggy could see that the name on the all black, slightly ragged cover was FASTER.

“The writer is a physicist but the book is perfectly simple.  It is full of examples of how humans are always trying to go faster.  And lots of funny things that you can’t forget.  In the part after the invention of the watch our family keeps repeating this line because it is so true.   

“Now a man with a watch knew what Time it was… But a man with two watches was not sure.”   They both waited for Peggy to get it and smile.  It took a little while but finally she said, “Yes of course that is true because I have two clocks in my room and I never know which one to believe.”   

Jake jumped in, “ I like the part about Mac Donald’s and how man used to have to go hunting for food and it someTimes took days to catch anything.  Then he hauled it back to the cave and the women spent all day getting the meat out and then building a fire to cook it.  When they finally got to eat they stuffed themselves because they might not eat again for days.  Then came butcher shops so you could go buy some meat and come home and cook it much faster than needing to hunt first.  Then came restaurants where you could go in and sit down and order some food and have them cook it and serve to you ready to eat.  Much faster than taking it home to cook it.  Then came fast foods like MacDonalds where the food was cooked in advance and ready to eat and you just took it to a chair and table or even your car and ate it.  How fast could you get?  Then, the writer, James Gleik says he discovered that the real ultimate happened,  MacDonald’s put in an Express Lane!”  

Anyway Peggy you were talking to us about Time and how different it can seem to be, and it made us think about James Gleik’s book, FASTER, and we thought you might like to read it, so we went to the used book store because the new book stores don’t usually carry it anymore.  And when we found the big print edition we said, all the better for Peggy.”Jerry finished and took a breath.

“And you bought it for me?  How nice of you.  I will read it.”

“Yes, cause it doesn’t have a movie plot or anything, it’s kinda like a text book, so it only cost 50 cents at the used book store. We each put in a quarter.” Jake admitted to her. Finally Jerry laid it on her lap.  “We can talk about it some more next Time we visit.”  

“I think that I should warn you young fellas that long ago I was a math teacher, so I love books like this.  Everything sitting around here is either a romance or a western.  So tell me how are your driving lessons coming along?”

“I got to drive all the way here today.”  Jake bragged.

“You have your Driver’s License, already?”  Peggy asked.

“No just our Learner’s Permits, and I get to drive us home.”  Jerry also bragged.  Just as they were ready to leave and go find their grandparents, there they were, walking down the path and across the grass to find them.

They already knew Peggy and said Good Day to her then Ellen smiled and asked her if these handsome young men were her grandchildren.

Peggy nicely explained that she wished they were but they really came to see you, Ellen. 

“Me! Oh my goodness, well, tell me your names.”  Chris put an arm around her shoulder and explained that these were Jenny’s twins.  But they had grown so much since you saw them last.  They are even learning to drive now.”  

The boys were wondering how their grandmother could have forgotten them so soon after moving here, but even more so when she turned to Chris and quietly asked, “Do we know a Jenny?”

“Yes dear and you will remember her when you see her.  She’s going to take you shopping again very soon.”

“Oh good, shopping. I love to go shopping.”  She looked at the twins and said with her same sweet smile, “Tell Jenny I love to go shopping.”

“We will.” They said together.  No one seemed to be confused but them so they brushed it off.  They had not seen their grandparents for a week and they seemed a little different too and they don’t even grow anymore.  They walked around the grounds and looked at the garden plots behind the brick building.  Each small staked out area had a tiny wooden sign at one end with the planter’s name on it.  

Down at the far end they found a brand new one, neatly plowed into rows with little paper covers from the different seed packs placed over small sticks, showing what was planted in each row. The name at the top was Chris Caldwell, their grampa had planted it.  Now they looked at every seed pack cover to see what he had planted.  He had Marigolds, Zinnias, Poppys and the last row right next to the fence he planted some Sweet peas. And some Tomatoes, that made sense, they could climb the chain-link fence. Almost all flowers they could just see him picking bouquets for everyone in the building.

Time Nine

They walked past the garage that the residents parked in and saw that the For Sale cars were still sitting there.  “I guess they don’t have many customers walking back here.”  Jake said,  Then they came to their favorite car.  Last Time they had looked to see the mileage on the blue convertible this Time Jerry opened the door to try to read the Registration.  “None.  Oh Well, It doesn’t matter, we can find out some Time. Maybe Peggy knows.”  

They began to go back to the oak tree but quickly saw that no one was there.  As they stood looking around, their dad came out of the building and they headed for their own car.  

Jerry remembered that it was his turn to drive and rushed ahead to take the driver’s seat. 

When Chris and Ellen heard about the Golden Anniversary Party they were very pleased.  The kids, and they still called their four, “ the kids”, were so wrapped up in their own lives and some in their own children that often the old folks felt left out.  This was proof that they were not.

Ellen went three Times, so far, looking for a proper dress for that occasion.  Nothing seemed to make her happy.  She may not know what she wanted, but she sure did know what she didn’t.  Soon the dressing room floor was littered with clothes she had tried on and rejected.  She walked out to meet Chris, who was  sitting out in the Mall, with the disappointing news… no new dress yet.

She still had Time to find the right outfit.  The Party was not until October, but the Time flew by, as Time does when you are not paying attention.

She asked Jenny to take her to the Mall to try again to buy a dress.  As they left Chris stopped them and told Jenny,

“And make her buy a new purse. She keeps opening up that one and rummaging through it, she can never find what she wants in that one.”

“Will do!” Jenny told her Dad as they left.

So Jenny found herself looking on the insides of the purses, opening them to find one with lots of little compartments for Ellen’s different things to make it easier to find something. But when she found one,  mother shoved it off for being the wrong color or the wrong size.

Then they were back looking for the right dress.  Ellen took six into a dressing room and left them all on the floor.  When Jenny walked in to see how she was doing, she began to pick them up and put them on hangers.  She asked her mother, “Didn’t you like any of these?  This one is cute.  Jenny held up one she had just hung up, but her  mom just shook her head no and began to leave.  

Jenny did a double take.  Her mother had a dress on under the one she walked in wearing.  “What about that one?  The one you have on.  Her mother looked disgusted and pull off the top dress and yanked off the store dress and threw it on the floor, putting hers back on very quickly and leaving so fast that Jenny could hardly keep up with her.

They stopped shopping to have a cup of tea and some lunch.  Her mom sipped the tea but ate none of the lunch.  She had ordered a vegetable omelet, but only pushed it around with her fork never putting any in her mouth.

Jenny complimented her meal and asked Ellen about hers.  “Yes, it is very good.”  Was Ellen’s reply, but Jenny knew she had not taken a single bite.  She reach across the table and put a small amount on her fork and lifted it to her mom’s lips.  Ellen took the bite in and ate it with a, “ umm this is good.”

So eat it, Jenny said, pointing her mother to the fork she held in her hand. Ellen stirred the eggs and vegetables once again, and only took the second bite when Jenny put to her lips.  Her mother was very hungry but seemed to have forgotten how to feed herself. So strange as it seemed to an onlooker, Jenny fed her mother the entire lunch, for her mom was a bright well dressed woman and she looked perfectly capable, but she clearly was not.

That night as they ate the dinner Jenny had cooked for them she noticed what was happening.  Chris became impatient for Ellen to finish dinner and took up his fork and began to eat from her plate himself.  

“Dad.”  Jenny protested, “Mom hasn’t eaten any, so don’t eat hers.”

“Oh I have to help her all the Time she is just slow.”

“But you are not helping her by eating it, you have to feed her.  Look!”

 She took a fork and put the food next to Ellen’s lips. She took it in and began to chew.  Mom is losing weight, because she is not eating.  And she does not need a new purse because when she opens hers, she cannot remember why she did that and can’t find what she does not recall wanting.  Do the doctors have anything to say about this?  Then she leaned closer to her Dad and told him. “When I was paying the lunch bill, a young man who was cleaning the table off, walked up and handed her the purse she left on the bench.  Mother took it with a smile and told him “Thank you”  All perfectly normal, right?  “Then as we went out in to the Mall mother asked me, “Why did that young man give me this nice purse?”  Then because I had been trying to find one to buy that she liked unsuccessfully, as you asked me to, mom told me, “Now you don’t have to buy me a new one.” 

Chris was not all together puzzled by what he was hearing.  And he related a couple of strange things like the problem she had dressing, always trying to put her legs through her bra straps.  

Mother had quietly become another victim of Altzheimer’s Disease without anyone noticing, certainly not even herself, because she was so quiet and unassuming that her little mistakes were only smiled at.  She could sit in a group and laugh when they did and look totally involved and still not have the slightest idea what was going on around her.  She could go shopping and never seem to like anything, but if persuaded to buy a dress someone liked on her, she could sign her name on the charge slip like a pro.  She never forgot how to charge, as in their life style, Dad handled the money and the bills, Ellen only shopped for the children and herself, even for her husband and the house. But always with a Credit Card.  

Chris did all of the grocery shopping as he was out in the car all day and knew where the bargains were, and Ellen never learned to drive, which was why Jenny was usually her shopping partner and driver.  

When Jenny left home, Ellen took a taxi or a bus.  Now things had to change.  She would wear her new dress, which Jenny bought for her, to her Golden Anniversary but have a lady to help her, which she had a hard Time understanding at first, but without a care taker she would wander off and get lost.  It was a sad reality that they all had to face, but especially dad, as he would not part with her to be in a Total Care Home for the next six months, taking care of her himself, until it became Time to tube feed her and he had to become that other Home’s daily visitor to the end.

Those in the family who watched Ellen quietly disappear swore they would not like to have that terrible disease.  But actually Ellen never understood that she had it, it was Chris who suffered the most for her. 

It has to be said that the Golden Wedding Anniversary was a very big success anyway and the photographs prove it. Ellen looks to be no more than fifty herself, standing and smiling beside her husband of fifty years.  She was still quite able still go do everything that was expected of her, except write a letter or one of the things that her brain had lost, like feeding herself, and figuring out how to get dressed, but other-wise she was happy and still knew most of the family on sight.  In others with her problem that was the first to go, but it is a disease of the brain and the places in that brain that are attacked first, went first.

Art and Mary would be grandparents, so Ray told his brother, “That’s what you get for being the oldest, you old goat.”  But secretly Ray was kind of envious as he was not even a father yet, although he and Karen still held out hope.

Even Ellen was thrilled to learn that she was going to be a great-grandmother, whatever that was, as she kept telling everyone about it.

Sally couldn’t wait to wear Maternity clothes, she bought several cute out fits and began at once to wear them, when most women squeezed into regular clothes as long as possible. 

Men still looked at her, she was still pretty, but she didn’t respond as before.  Getting the baby was her prime concern.  She did not go anywhere that sold alcohol which meant no unwanted drinks came her way as before.  She found some yarn and other supplies in a box in the garage and some knit and crochet books in the old library left by Ellen with the cook books and began to follow instructions for baby booties and other small things.

Karen was the first to offer to give Sally a Shower. She was feeling happy for Sally and Don while hopeful for herself and Ray.  

Karen and Ray had been given some degree of hope by the Doctor who put the eggs and sperm together and then planted the fertilized eggs into her body to hopefully allow one or more take hold and develop.  They preferred to keep it secret because of the high odds of failure, but just doing something other than hoping was making them more contented, although the waiting was very nerve wracking.

Time Ten

Whenever one of the family was going to visit Chris and Ellen, Jerry and Jake asked to go along.  The four children of the old couple began to take turns so as to spread the visits and let them all visit their Mother while she was still able to recognize many of them.  She often Times mixed up Pete’s Alice and Don’s Sally as they were both very blonde. She decided that Art’s wife Mary was her mother because of the red hair.  Mary was good natured and hugged and held her hand to make good use of the confusion.  She could see that Chris appreciated that.  The twins visited their grandparents regularly, right after making a stop to see Peggy and take her something they found that they hoped she might like.  This Time it was a smaller size cross word puzzle book, but with large squares and print, that they thought Peggy might enjoy doing. 

They had ridden with Don and Sally this day and of course they did not get to drive her little red convertible.  But they would have loved to as it reminded them of the nice blue one parked in the resident parking shelter. 

They found Peggy out under her favorite Oak tree, but this day she was not alone.  They saw an elderly man also sitting in a wheel chair, deep in conversation with her.  They stood back not wanting to interrupt them, then Peggy looked up and spotted the pair watching from the top of the gentle slope of the lawn.

“There are my boys!”  They heard her say, as she waved them down.  They dashed on down the slope and stopped at her side.  The twins took turns leaning to give her a welcome hug, or rather to let her give them each one as she insisted.  Jake held the puzzle book, looking for a chance to give it to Peggy, but Jerry noticed that the man had the “Faster” Book on his lap.

Peggy told the boys that this man was her friend, Edger and he had just finished reading Faster, which he also loved.  Everyone seemed to identify with a different little funny tale that they found especially amusing. Edger told them that he was surprised to read that Nano-second was a real time. He always thought it was slang for, “I’ll do it when I get darned good and ready.” But now he knows it is really the time it takes light to travel one foot.  Amazing!”  Jake liked that bit too, he agreed, as he passed Peggy the crossword puzzles.  

“My goodness!”  she exclaimed,  “Where did you find one with such large print that I could actually see to work?”  We hoped you would like it.”  Jake told her.  Edger told them that he almost never worked a Cross word Puzzle when he was a working man, but now living here, he found them to be very interesting and informative.  But ho hum, I now have all of the Time in the world to think about the words.  If I couldn’t think of the word I wanted, I got impatient and tossed the thing away.  Now I have Time to just sit with it on my lap and dream until a word comes to me.”  

“I can bring you a big print one like hers if you want me to.”  Jake told Edger.  Jerry and I found them in a cheap paperback place near us.

“I would love that, young man, but I can pay for it. I can’t spend any money sitting here.”  He waved his hands out to take in the whole big green yard, then took out his wallet and passed a five dollar bill to Jake.   

“They don’t cost that much,”  Jake told him.  “Then buy me more.  I go through them pretty fast for how slow this old geezer is. And I could give one to a friend if I wanted to.”  Jake put the bill in his shirt pocket and warned Edger,   

“I don’t know how long before we get back. We have to bum rides here, as we don’t have our Driver’s Licenses yet.”

Or a car!”  Jerry reminded him.  “Right, or a car, but once we get Licenses,  then we will work on that.”     

“Is there anything you want us to bring you Peggy?”  Jerry asked.

“We just keep guessing what you might like, but it would be nice to know what you want.  Our whole family keeps sending stuff to our grandparents so we can’t get them anything.”  Jake shrugged “Grampa Chris says they feed them pretty good in here, so they don’t want any food, but Gramma Ellen wanted some red nail polish so Aunt Sally brought her some today.  He looked at Peggy’s hands and saw no red polish on them.  “Do you not like red nail polish?”

Peggy smiled, “Not really, but I do like Jergen’s Hand Lotion.  They have some kind of lotion here but that old fashioned almondy smell of Jergens takes me back to my youth.”

Jerry smiled big.  “Then don’t tell anyone else and we will bring you some next Time, okay?”

“I guess we better go see them now, Jerry, but gramma Ellen won’t know who we are.”

“Let me tell you a little about that, boys, Your grandmother has something called Altzheimer’s Disease.  I’ve seen some of that often while living here, as it hits mostly very old people.  It attacks the brain cells and kills them.  Whatever that piece of your brain did before is now gone, which leaves you unable to use it to do what you always used to do.  The bad part is that even though doctors everywhere are working on the problem, it still does not have a cure.  They think they can slow it down now, but no cure.  The person who cannot remember something just does something else and slowly loses more abilities.  It is harder on the ones who do not have it to stand by helplessly and not able to do anything, but keep on loving that person as they always have.  Your Grampa Chris suffers the most. Do what you can for him by being kind and loving to them both.

“Nobody told us that before, Peggy.  Why not? “  Jerry wondered,

“ Because people don’t know much about it yet, only after it gets so bad that it is impossible to miss, do they try to learn what has happened.”

“What is it called, again?”  Jerry asked.

“Altzheimer’s Disease.  Please don’t ask me to spell it.”  She smiled, because there was nothing else she could do… or as she said softly to Edger, “If I don’t smile, I’d cry.”   The twins had already dashed off.

Time Eleven

Alice’s three girls, Judy , Candy and Lily, plus their friend Susan who had last week turned 11 and had Judy ready to join her next month, were working on a school benefit for the Wounded Warriors Fund, they had talked Judy’s 8 and 9 year old sisters into working with them. 

So in spite of the late summer heat, they spent all day stringing beads onto stretchy cords , by using their feminine instincts to place the different colors and sizes of glass beads into attractive bracelets to sell and raise money for their share of that school project.  

Bake sales went out with the City’s new requirements for a permit to have one being unworkable.  So everyone was scrambling to come up with new ideas for a fund raiser, other than just out right begging for cash.

This was Susan and Judy’s idea and no one knew if it would work or not, but in any case they soon had Candy’s and Lily’s agreement to work with them for this good cause.  But only if the bracelets looked pretty enough and if they could buy large bags of assorted beads from the craft store to make them cheaply enough, and sell them for whatever they would bring and still have a large enough left to make the project worth the Time.

The girls decided that it would take a mathematical genius to figure all of that out in advance, so they just pooled their allowances and bought the two supplies, beads and thin stretch cord by the spool and sat down to work.  They chose to sit out on their front porch for the cool breeze.  

They each had a tray in their lap to catch any get-a-way beads and a bowl to pour the beads into so they could pick and choose.  Quite quickly they had each accumulated a nice collection of sparkling, colorful, each unique and different, bracelets which they stacked onto an empty standing paper towel holder.  

The beads that were difficult as the holes were clogged or too small were put together in a little box to be dealt with later, but otherwise the thin stretch cord was stiff enough to push through a bead and when there were enough to be six or seven inches by the little ruler they each had on their tray, they only had to tie the cord into a knot and put a tiny dot of glue on it to keep it tied, then drop it over the stick on the stand and start another.

Between each new start they would add more beads to their bowl from the large bulk sack they had purchased because if they were unsorted and by the pound they were much cheaper than the strings of matching beads. If they stirred and studied them, it was easier to decide what the next combination of colors would be. The combinations were limitless as anyone could see looking at the stack of finished jewelry.  They talked about making some necklaces but vetoed them because they would have to sell for too much money as they would use up so many beads.

Jenny’s twins came by on their bicycles. Usually in the past when Jerry and Jake showed up it meant some teasing would follow, but this Time the girls were so busy and the colorful bracelets lit by the morning sun, slanting under the porch roof, caught their attention so Jerry and Jake dropped their bikes on the grass and walked up the steps to see what the girls were up to.

Once they explained the situation and where the profits were going, boys both offered to buy a bracelet and began to look the stack over trying to choose which one they liked the best.  Then Jerry asked, “How much do they cost?”

Judy looked at him and asked, “What will you give us for one?”

“Jerry laughed and replied, “That’s not how it works.  You are supposed to tell us how much they cost. “

“But we don’t know yet. After we see how many we can make from a bag of beads and a spool of stretch cord, so we don’t need fasteners, then we can divide the cost of making them by the number of finished bracelets and double that and, presto! the price of a bracelet. “

“Oh then maybe we had better come back next year when you have done all of that stuff.”  Jake told her jokingly.

“How much do you have into this?”  Jerry asked Judy, 

“Ten each for two bags of beads and two each for four spools of the cord.”  Judy answered.  “That’s…
“Twenty eight dollars.”  Jerry answered for her. Jake was busy counting the bracelets on the stand. Each girl thought she had made about 6 or 7 and sure enough he counted 26 finished bracelets. 

“How much of your bead supply have you used?”  Jerry needed to know.

The girls looked at what they each had in their bowls.  They had divided one bag into the four.  One bag of beads was left unopened.  So they had used less than half.  Jake looked into the remaining beads and guessed they had about forth of a bag left between them and they all seemed to have plenty of cord.  They had decided on four spools so they each would have one and not be always passing one back and forth.  So you had made 26 bracelets with $7.50  cents for beads and call it $1.50 for cord.  So divide 26 into $9.00 so they each cost you 35 cents.  Double that to 70 cents, counting your Time. And don’t think Time is free.  It isn’t.  You had to go to the store and back maybe that took gas or wear and tear on your bikes.  

Now, Jake suggested that they add about $1.30 for their charity for a total of $2.00 each.  If people know it is for charity by putting a little tag on each one, thanking them on behalf of the Wounded Warriors,  you can easily make that $3.00 each. “  The girls were sitting there with their eyes wide as the boys did all of this in their heads.

“Just think,” Jerry continued with the math.  “If you make 100 bracelets and charge $2.00, so they will sell fast, that is $200.oo for your charity.  If you want to recover your $28.00 investment and you should, you only need to make another 14.

“I’ll tell you what, “  Jerry told the girls, “We can help you with this.   You make the beads into bracelets and we will print you a nice sized cardboard sign saying the profit goes to that Charity and make some little Thank You tags, small enough to go on each bracelet.  You know, kind of like that little message in the fortune cookies.’ 

“ We made some of those on the computer for our mom once when she baked home-made fortune cookies for a Chinese Party Theme, and she wanted the fortunes to be more local and personal about her friends, so she wrote them all on a page and we made the tiny notes on the computer and printed them on several pages.”

“Yes and don’t forget who had to sit and cut them all out… boring!”

Lily piped up, “I can do that it’s like cutting out paper dolls.”

It was fun and the guests were so surprised, because they naturally thought she just happened to buy those particular fortune cookies.

Jake asked the girls,  “Will someone please make a Blue and White Bracelet for us to give to a friend?”  

“I will!” The girls all said together. They all laughed and Jerry remarked,

“Look Jake, quadruplets!”  It took the girls a moment to realize that he was making fun of themselves, because they are twins who often speak   together saying one thing at the same Time.

“We’ll bring you your sign and tags tomorrow.” One of the twins said. SomeTimes the girls did not know which twin said what.

As the boys rode off on their bicycles  the girls giggled.  “Aren’t they cute?” Lily, the youngest said.   Judy the oldest answered,  “I didn’t used to think so.  I thought they were a pain, but today was different.” 

“I wonder why that was?” Lily wondered. 

“ I know why”  Candy announced,  “I saw them looking at Judy and Susan, one twin has a crush on Judy and the other on Susan.  I just don’t know how to tell them apart.”

“I wonder how they do it?”  Lily asked the others.  “Do what?” Judy asked. “Tell themselves apart.” Lily said seriously.

“Who are you?” Judy asked Lily.  “I’m Lily of course.”  Judy laughed. “There you are. Everyone knows who they are, so the other one must be someone else.  Get it silly Lily?” 

Lily was thinking about it… but they look so much alike, she murmured.

Time Twelve

Karen was still eating right, skipping all of her favorite sweets and taking good care of herself, just in case she was… She avoided the P word… saying pregnant, was bad luck, until one of the five fertilized eggs the Doctor planted in her takes hold and begins to grow.  It was possible that more than one even all five might.  Not likely but possible.  

This Doctor required that she sign a slip giving him permission to remove at least two if that happened.  No more than three was his rule for the safety of the others and the mother, especially with a woman they designated as an elderly mother  The term insulted Karen, who didn’t feel elderly at 36, but it was in this case, a medical term they used for a first Time pregnancy in a woman over 35.  

The Octo-mom, as the press labeled the woman who gave birth, at her insistence, to all eight babies, caused a hue and cry in the public for Doctors to cease planting so many at once.  Thus this doctor, who placed five would not allow more than three births.  Karen and Ray even agreed that they could handle two or even three, but more was asking too much.  But please, she prayed, at least one.

On the same day as this next Doctor appointment, she had a date to meet some lady friends from her old Sorority at the University.  ‘The Last Century Girls’, as they called themselves, whom she had not seen all together for a very long Time.  Vera had called to announce a long awaited get together for a luncheon and she planned to meet them in the restaurant they had chosen right after her appointment.

If things went well, as she was keeping a positive attitude that they would, right after she would call Ray to let him know they would be parents in six months.  And she would be able to give her friends the good news that she had a baby on the way… at long last.  

There would probably be at least five or six, maybe more, friends from those happy days, back in the last century,1999, when they had graduated and parted company.  Karen looked forward to spending Time with them for gabbing and catching up on what everyone was doing in this century. 

Doctor Jamison gave her an examination to detect the condition of the fertilized eggs.  He was very careful and she had to force herself to breathe as she became aware that she was holding her breath for the answer.  He left and returned for more testing until finally he shook his head.  

“Sorry Karen but there is no sign that any have survived.  We can run five more in three months.  So don’t give up.  It often doesn’t happen the first Time. “

“Could there maybe be just one… too little to detect?”

“If there was even one, your body would be reacting just as it would with regular conception.  You might be throwing up each morning and having tender breasts, and be producing those hormones that tell the tale on those little sticks from the drug store.  If those things occur in the next couple of weeks bring yourself back here for another test.  Otherwise we’ll schedule Ray and you both to return in three months.”

The disappointment had come to her very slowly, as hope doesn’t give up so quickly.  Her heart hurt and her breath came in spurts.  The Doctor noticed and came in with a little pill and a paper cup full of cold water.

Karen as always kept her feelings to herself and went about freshening up in the Rest Room to go to the Luncheon.  She looked at herself in the mirror and smoothed her hair, added a sweet pink lipstick and a quick spray of her favorite perfume.  She noted that she had over dressed for a Doctor appointment, just to be ready to meet with her friends.   So she would go and listen to all of them with little of importance to tell them and nothing interesting to bother calling Ray about, so she didn’t.

Ray knew she had the get together to go to, but without a call from Karen, he suspected the truth.  He called the Doctor’s number just to confirm it.  No baby.

Better than she expected, all ten of the “Last Century Girls” came to the luncheon. They had the foresight to request a Banquet Room so they could talk and clap and get up and down, to move around and get to converse with everyone.  Karen’s heavy heart didn’t give her away.  Inside she mourned the loss of five potential little lives that she had done her best to encourage and nurture to life.  Outside she listened to others and spoke little about herself or her husband.  

On a trip to the ladies room, two friends, the two who lived in this city with her, Lisa, Joan and Vera from New York. followed her and stood around looking uncertain as she washed her hands and sat at the vanity to smooth her not in the least bit mussed hair and apply lipstick.  The women nodded at each other and finally began to speak.  Karen’s mind was still back at Doctor Jamison’s as she wondered if the odds of another round of what they had just gone through was really worth it. 

So as they worked up to the point of letting her know what they knew, she had not followed them well, and had to ask Vera to repeat what she just said.  

“I…we had a hard Time making this decision but we talked it over today and decided that you had a right to know, but this may not be anything, still it is up to you to decide.”

Yes,” Karen asked, “Know what?”

“Well, all we know is what we saw and given who it was, we couldn’t come to any other conclusion. But we were at the Book Store across the street from the Downtown Hotel, just browsing the books, but talking too, so we slowly made our way from table to table. That is when we saw Ray and that Sally girl going into the Hotel.  It wouldn’t have caught our attention but we have seen her before going and coming from that same Hotel, but with different men.  She really can pick them.  Old or young they always are the money’d ones.”  Karen listened to what she had someTimes suspected, but mostly with her father-in-law, Art.  She heard one story about Pete but she just brushed them off as rumors. 

“Well the man this day was… Ray, We’re sorry, but we saw your Ray.  They went in and were there for more than an hour.  He was carrying some packages from the Department Store, but when they finally came out, she had the packages and they walked off in two different directions.  We just wanted you to be aware, that’s all.  But we had a hard Time deciding whether or not to tell you, and decided not to for awhile, but we agreed that we hated it when the wife gets blind-sided so…  well just keep an eye out that’s all.  

They returned to the Banquet room and had coffee.  Karen had actually thanked them for the bad news.   

Finally she went the round and with a goodbye kiss on the cheek for each one, she pleaded a headache, not totally a lie, and left.

At home she sat on her bed for a long Time deciding, then she knew, so she took down her largest case and packed it solid, put it in the car and after a phone call and writing a short note for Ray’s desk, she drove away.  

Ray and Pete walked in together, they had just returned from visiting their parents.  They drove in Pete’s car because he was willing to let Jenny’s twins  drive there and back.  They had a couple of things for one of the old ladies who lived in that same facility.

As they entered the house  Pete had commented that their mother seemed a little better.

“I don’t believe there is such a thing as better with that disease, It’s just that we are getting better at accepting it and just go along with whatever she says, like Mary does when mom calls Mary, mother.”

“I suppose but I would hate to be in dad’s shoes right now.”It must be very hard to be losing her in plain sight.”  Ray stopped at his desk where Karen always set his mail.  He stared at it for awhile, then picked up the plain envelope on top that simply said ,”Ray”, in Karen’s writing.  Pete wandered into the kitchen and took out a coke and a beer.  He found Ray still standing at the desk with a small page in his hand.

“Your choice!” he held out the beer and the coke. Ray looked blankly at him and said, “ I need something stronger. “ then he turne tio the bar and pulled out the Scotch and drank a long swig straight from the bottle.”

“Whoow there guy!’ Pete said.  “I tried that and it makes things worse.”

“There is no worse.”  Ray said and drank another, dropping the little white sheet of paper to the floor.  Pete picked it up and handed it to Ray.

“Go ahead and read it everyone will soon know.  Karen has left me.”

Pete looked back at the page written in Karen’s familiar print.

“Good bye Ray, Today the Doctor told me, no baby and my friends say I have a  cheating husband.  No baby, no husband.   I must go away and make a better life for myself.    K.”

“Short and to the point.”  Pete remarked, “But what a poor conclusion.  Do you think this has anything to do with that Sally birthday thing last month?”

“What else was there?  I haven’t been closer to Sally than a room full of people since that one lunch.  Why didn’t I just come home and say, Guess who I had lunch today with, Karen.  It was Sally. She caught me at the store and ask me to help buy Pete a tie, then we had lunch at the hotel.  I sure hope Don doesn’t get the wrong idea about that.  At least her friends couldn’t wait a month and make it sound like…who knows what?  A regular alliance? But poor Karen had just gotten the word that there was no baby this Time.  I talked to the Doctor and he said she was quite upset, although she tried to hide it, and he had given her a tranquilizer to help her through it. I guess whatever her friends had to say broke her after that.”

“Now what?  She doesn’t indicate where she was going. Can you guess?” Pete was very worried for his brother who he was certain was not a cheater.

“I can only call around and try to see if she charged tickets to anywhere.  She hasn’t been gone long, she can’t have gotten too far, yet.”

“Okay, you call the Airlines and I’ll call the Trains.”

“Actually the first call Ray made revealed plane tickets to New York.  She had gone to school there and had lots of friends and some family that he did not know.  He would hunt through her cell phone record for who she may have called. 

Pete stood by helplessly trying to help.  He only called home to tell Alice and find out if Karen had confided in her.  She hadn’t, Alice was so sorry and would do whatever she could, which was about as much as Pete could do.

Ray soon learned that Vera was the only one in New York, but she was supposed to be out here for that same get together.

“Maybe they are flying back together.”  Pete suggested, “Where was she staying while here?”

“I don’t know.  But I can call some of the others and ask until I find out.”

Vera, he learned, was staying with Lisa for the last month and Lisa lived fairly close by. Her address was in the phone book. Ray was up and in the car quick as a flash and arrived at Lisa’s street above the speed limit. What is house number again? Pete glance down at the back of Karen’s note where Ray had written it.  “2935.”  He searched for a house with clear numbers showing.

Then he spotted Karen’s car parked across the street from Lisa’s house number, which he was also on the watch for then he called out,  “On the left the white house with green shutters.”   

Ray screeched to a halt, jumped from the car and dashed sideways across the neighbor’s lawn back to Lisa’s house and rang the door bell.  He tapped his foot waiting impatiently, wondering what to say to Lisa.

Imagine Ray’s surprise when Karen actually opened the door.  He quickly grabbed her by the wrist and yanked her out the door to the porch with him and wrapped his arms around her.  

Seeing this Pete got out of the car and went to .. he wasn’t sure what.  So he just stood below the porch steps feeling useless.  Karen had let out a scream as she was caught completely unawares, but did not fight to get loose.  She was actually very happy to have the comfort of Ray’s arms around her.

“How did you find me?”  she squeaked out from his tight hold.

Now Pete took a step up and answered as only an eye witness could.  “You should have seen him. He was better than any detective on T.V., I watched as he called around and one lead led to another until he suddenly ran for the car and drove here.  I had to be fast to catch the car, believe me.  If I were a writer I could use his method in my movie.  You would be very impressed. And before I leave now that I see he found you. Let me tell you that your Ray is not a cheater.  That is a fact.“ He hammered his fist into the flat of his other hand to emphasize the point.  A fact! 

He turned to Ray, “You jumped out so fast, you left the keys in the car, not highly recommended, but I’ll drive it home.  You can ride in hers as soon as she gets her luggage back in it.”

“It’s still in the trunk.”  Karen said with a smile, “So run along and say hello to Alice for me, before she tells everyone I am gone.”   Pete walked quickly back to Ray’s car and phoned Alice first thing. As he left the porch steps, looking back at his brother and wife smiling together, he saw Lisa come toward the front door wearing a towel.  So that was why Karen had answered the door.  Ray’s good luck!  

  Ray still holding Karen as if she would run said, “You have a plane ticket for New York, right?”   Karen put her hands on her hips and stepped back, as his grip softened. 

“How is it that you know everything?”  She questioned her errant husband.

“Never mind that.  When is it for? “  Ray wanted to know.  She smiled at him and replied,

“Okay smarty pants you seem to think you know everything…guess.”  Karen waited.  Ray put his finger tips to his temples and slowly repeated with his eyes closed, “I guess that it is on American Airlines on the eight P.M. flight number 711.  Business class.”   He opened his eyes and asked, “Did I guess it right?”

“No…  I was so upset that I changed it to first class, what did I care how much more it costs, it was charged to you.”  Then her face lit up  “Oh I get it now, that was how you traced me!”

“Bingo!  And that is also how I changed it back to business class and made it for two, so we both could take a few days away from here to see some Broadway plays and visit the Statue of Liberty again.”  Ray waited for Karen’s response.  

Lisa, who had heard the scream, was rushed into wrapping in a towel and going to the front room, where she saw that Karen was being held, but smiling. She returned to the bathroom to dress.

‘Well… dinner for two in NewYork.”  He repeated.

“Darling you are a genius. Of course we will make that dinner. But… next Time I leave you, I will have to plan it better in advance.  You are far too clever.” 

Ray put on a sad face to tell her,  ‘Don’t ever leave me again, Karen, I was frantic.  He put his hand over his heart. “And I am too old for that kind of strain.”Karen pulled herself back into his arms, holding his hands behind her back and whispered softly, “And we have another appointment with our new Doctor in three months so, let’s do some exciting things in New York to get in shape for that grueling chore. Next Time it will surely turnout better.”

Pete was left to explain the sudden disappearance of the pair, as Ray had re-confirmed  Karen’s flight back to First Class and they had caught her original ‘getaway’ flight that evening… together.

They sat happily side by side after that nasty misunderstanding and argued about whether this was a second Honeymoon or really the first, because Karen didn’t think that weekend in Catalina, fifteen years ago, qualified as a real Honeymoon.  Ray recalled thinking that being in Avalon with his beautiful bride was as good as a honeymoon could get.  Karen melted at his explanation and they were on their way to an even more wonderful Second Honeymoon.  

Time Thirteen

Jenny was getting angry.  Her boys were always off doing something for somebody, but their chores were left undone. A woman in the Assisted Living Home where their  grandparents lived,  who was old and in a wheel chair was having them jump through hoops doing things for her, while their grandparents rarely saw them.  What was that all about?  This week they had a stack of books, a set of bracelets and a large bottle of Jergen’s Lotion sitting on top of their dresser, obviously to take to that woman.  Why ?  

This week every Time they had dashed past her on their way out the door, they had shouted something about going to Aunt Alice’s.  And before she could ask, “Is the front lawn mowed?” They were gone.  

What could Alice have to do with all of this activity? 

One afternoon when the boys had been missing in action all morning, Jenny went to their room and watched the twins hovering over the computer and then printing sheet after sheet of tiny print.  Curious, she went to read it.  They were all the same.  “The Wounded Warrior Project Thanks You.”

  “How many of these do you need and why?”  She asked.

“Technically, we don’t need them at all.  We’re printing them for the girl’s and their School’s charity project…Jake said.

Jerry continued, “ Aunt Alice and Uncle Pete’s girls, Judy, Candy and Lily and their friend Susan, are making bead bracelets to sell to raise money for this Fund.  It’s a good choice.  So we decided to help them by making these tags for the bracelets, so people will be more willing to buy them.”

“What do they look like? Are they pretty?”  Jerry reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief that contained the blue and white bracelet they had asked the girls to make to give to Peggy. It matched the house dress she so often wore.

“This is very cute.”  Jenny said as she slipped it onto her wrist.  She held her arm out and let the light from the window make the beads sparkle.  

“How much do they want for them?”  

“Either two or three dollars they haven’t decided yet. What do you think they can get?  We also made them a bigger sign that will tell people that the money goes to the Wounded Warrior’s Fund.”  Jenny looked pleased.  So what the lawn needed mowing, even she thought this sounded more important at this Time.  “That is very nice of you two.  Where are they going to sell them?”

“We don’t know.  I’m not sure that they do.” Jake told her.  Jenny stood thinking, “I wonder…” she spoke almost to herself thinking out loud.  “I wonder if the Women’s club would mind or allow me to introduce the girls and their project before our next meeting, and give all of them a chance to purchase them?”  She looked at the boys, “Don’t say anything and I’ll make a few phone calls and get back to you.  May I keep this for a couple of days?”  She bounced the wrist wearing the bracelet.

“Of course.  I have three more. All four girls each made me one.  I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I had to buy all four at $2.00 each. So you can keep it.”  

“What do the other’s look like ?”  Jenny was interested.

“The same. All blue and white like I ordered. ‘But different, made by different girls.  Jerry left and returned with three bracelets.  A small white beads separating the large bright blue beads, a Blue and White crystals, but mostly blue .  and a tri color blue with just a few whites.  Jerry handed them over to his mother.  She put them all on together and the effect was outstanding.  If people saw Jenny wearing them, they would all want three or even four.

With the signs finished, the three of them went to Jenny’s car and Jerry drove them to Aunt Alice’s house to speak with the girls. 

Jenny was wearing the three bracelets Jerry had shown her.  One phone call and Jenny was able to say that the Women’s Club would be very interested in having the girls bring their stock of bracelets to the next meeting.  The Women members, being also very Charity oriented, would welcome a chance to buy from the Elementary School girls and help with their work to earn money to give to the Wounded Warriors Fund.

Alice invited them all in and soon they found themselves sitting around the kitchen table drinking lemonade and watching the two girls wielding scissors to cut the pages the boys had printed into tiny strips.  Followed by someone choosing a bracelet and wrapping the unprinted end of a strip around the bracelet, then putting a very tiny dot of glue on the end and pressing it closed, placing the finished bracelet into a cloth lined, flat, box that made it easier for the customer to handle the various bracelets.

Jenny chose her three as she liked the effect and planned to wear them at the next meeting of the Women’s Club to encourage others to buy extras.

Jerry managed to take his blue and white set back for Peggy to choose between.  Jake had the Jergens Hand lotion Peggy asked for so they kept an ear out for who was going to be visiting Chris and Ellen.  Why don’t we all go now Jenny suggested the girls haven’t been there yet at all.  Susan called home and was given permission to go along. 

The whole group listened to Jerry as Jake drove the car.  Jerry decided to explain Ellen’s disease to the girls, because he felt that he had not been understanding enough, back when he didn’t know what was happening to his grandmother.  Sad as it was, they agreed that it was better to be able to be more compassionate once you knew. 

They found Peggy in the recreation room watching a card game in which Edger was playing.  Once the hand had ended, Jake gave Edger the stack of crossword books he had ordered. Jake explained,

“They were a dollar each with the tax so I bought five different ones. Edger had forgotten that he had ordered them and slowly as Jake explained the cost, he recalled giving the lad a five dollar bill.  Now he was very pleased to receive the new and different games.

Peggy admired the variety of colorful, bracelets on Jenny’s arm and that reminded Jerry that he had three for Peggy.  

Peggy let out such a delighted scream when he pulled them out of his pocket and handed them to her, that all heads turned toward them.  Several came to their table to learn first hand what was going on.  As they stood around admiring the jewelry, Jerry explained that these four girls made them and why.

“May I buy some?” One lady stepped forward to ask.  Judy stammered wondering if they could take her order. 

“I don’t know why not.”  Jenny answered for her.  “I have the box in the car trunk ready to take to the Women’s Club.”

Jenny stopped by the front desk to ask about the rules.  She showed them her bracelets and gave them the explanation.

“Ordinarily we don’t allow people to come in here to sell to our folks.”  The woman explained.  The Elderly are so “susceptible, but we appreciate the unique things your young  ladies had made for that much needed Charity, so we won’t be breaking any rules if you call what they pay you, a donation to your cause.  Jenny brought the box in.

Time Fourteen

Art and Mary were hit with the realization that with their parents in assisted living and their father being completely snowed under by his chosen care of his wife Ellen, they were the new elders and family heads no longer could they look to Chris and Ellen to plan Christmas and have the rest of the family just go to their big house and enjoy each other’s company.

This was not something they had planned for or looked eagerly forward to doing.  It was a responsibility which landed on them too suddenly.  How could they have guessed when their elders would find the burden too much ?  Or foresee that they would quietly move out and on, with their mother failing in unimaginable ways.

  Only a few months ago Chris and Ellen had appeared to be robust and strong prepared to live forever, which they knew no one did, however the future caught up with them. The Time to retire forced itself upon them even catching them by surprise.  Chris knew their Social Security and Retirement funds from his job and their Stocks and Cash savings would keep their heads above water for years yet, but Chris could see that many of his new friends were already in their nineties, a couple already one hundred. And the building was bulging with hearty eighty year olds. 

He and Ellen had just started their seventies. If they should be so lucky, they still had a long way to go.  Chris was sure that he would be around for at least another quarter of a century.  To plan for that he had intended to work another ten years, yet here he was a young seventy two and retired.  Would his savings last?  Never would he have believed that he would be concerned about that.  He will be lucky if Ellen lasted another year, yet he had set his retirement up to be less monthly, so that when he was gone it would continue for her.  Now he was busy taking back some of the securities he had put in her name for that same reason.  She is so young looking and pretty even with this debilitating disease, that it was easy to guess that she would out live him for years.  He hated the realization that he had guessed wrong and he would be the one left alone.  How could he go on alone?  As he looked around him in his new surroundings he could see that people can and did every day.

He had family to fall back on, but that was not the same.  He was accustomed to being the one in charge, but luckily his oldest son, Art was perfectly able to step into his place.  So he won’t need to worry about that. His Time was up and Art had more Time in front of him.

Time Fifteen

When the ladies and a few gentlemen in the recreation room were through choosing and paying for the bracelets at the agreed upon price of three dollars or two for five, there were very few left to take to the Women’s Club next week. They had sold all but a dozen.

Jenny said they could go home by way of the Craft Store for more beads and if they all helped, they could have more by the Time Jenny needed them.

They sold out at the Women’s Club and when the girls, with the boy’s help, figured out the cost and the profit, the girls had more than three Times what their conservative original goal had been .  And they proudly donated it to the school’s Charity Project:  The Wounded Warriors.  And happily giving credit to their good neighbors who had helped.

The little girls began to take an interest in visiting their grandparents and their friends whenever the twins invited them.  SomeTimes Jenny drove and then all of a sudden the boys discovered that it was their birthday.  

Where had the Time gone?  While they were so busy making up the chores they missed at home and taking more trips to visit the Assisted Living Home, Time had just flown by.

They spent the night grilling each other with the questions on the sample driving test and passed it the next day when their father, Will, had the Time to drive them to the D.M.V..  His car was needed for the actual street driving test.  

“Whoopee! “  They yelled together as they walked out after taking turns driving the Man with the Power around, and passing that test also.

They were so excited about that little card that would one day come in the mail, that they didn’t even ask about a car. They rushed home to tell their mother that they had passed the very first Time.  Jenny was happy for them.  That is, as she had twins she was twice as happy as any mother was when her sixteen year old was now in possession of that dreaded driver’s License.

How would she get through this?  It was different when they were learning with an adult.  They were very careful so as not to blow it and lose those chances to drive.  But now… only the statistics told her what to expect now. And they were cruel.  If the twins asked for a car, and they certainly spent a lot of Time talking about what they liked, she wanted them to have a tank, a great big, safe, U.S., Army, Tank.  She wondered where she could buy one of those surplus.  Maybe she should just spend her money on a large bottle of tranquilizers.  

It was a funny thing, their father just beamed with pride as his twins had not missed a single question on the test and had been given a glowing report by the D.M.V Test Driver. Didn’t he understand what it meant?

They waited until the real ones came in the mail.  They wanted to have the ones with their pictures on them to show to their grandparents and Peggy, Edger, and all of the rest.

Just as they expected they were praised, congratulated, and applauded by even the staff.

So are you boys going to share a car ?  Or are you planning on twin cars to really confuse the girls? Edger asked.

Girls, they had been so busy with their young cousins Charity Project that both had neglected their High School girl friends as neither was serious about one in particular.  But it would be different now.  They just had to figure out how. Would they always double date?  Or would they choose different Times to share a car?  That was a joke they didn’t have a car and none was in sight.  All of their talk about what they wanted was just that… talk.

It would be fun to go into a dealership and order two matching new automobiles, as Edger suggested to confuse the girls.  But in reality no used car lot would have two matching of anything, so that was just a fantasy.  In fact getting even one of anything was a fantasy.  To achieve that they would both need to get a good summer job and save until they could get anything… something they agreed upon.  How to share it would be something they would do after they had a car to share.

Don mentioned to Will that he might get a new car for Sally, would he be interested in buying her little red convertible for the twins?  Will brought the subject up to Jenny.  She was horrified. 

“Absolutely not a small anything… especially a convertible that didn’t even have a roll bar.  They could get killed in a thing like that!”  

“So I take it that you’re against it?”  Jenny just stared at her husband.  He passed it on to Don with his thanks for thinking of it.

There is a car in the family that is not being used, Will, thought.  Jenny might approve of it, but would the boys?  His father’s not too old Caddy was parked at the Assisted Living Garage not being used at all.  His father even wondered if one of his boys might want it.  It is a lovely long black automatic Cadillac with fine leather upholstery, a great radio and very good tires.

Will brought that subject up to Jenny.  “What a wonderful idea!”  She proclaimed, “Why didn’t I think of that?  It’s a good strong safe vehicle, why not?”  The only not he could think of was the one the boys would have. He had heard them making jokes about the big pompous monstrosity.

He somehow found himself agreeing to talk to the twins about that idea. How could he go about this?

After dinner Will went to the deck where the boys sat drinking hot black coffee.  

“Would you like to talk a minute or two?”  Will asked them

“Sure dad, what about?”  Will thought a moment. Was now really a good Time to bring this up?  Yes I might as well get it over with if it doesn’t sell it doesn’t. So he took a breath and began… 

“Your grandfather has asked me to tend to his car which he took with him when they moved.  Now he has given up on it and as it was a very expensive automobile he doesn’t want it to sit there and go down hill, so I am supposed to drive it to keep it in good working condition.  But I just don’t have Time.  

Now with you both being legal drivers and because you so often go over there, anyway, I thought it would be nice if you would take turns taking it out and driving around the block a couple of Times, now and then.  He wants it kept clean and full of gas, so I can give you a charge card for what it needs.  Maybe if you have Time you could drive through a car wash.  I would sure appreciate getting off the hook.”

“Sure we can do that, enough to keep it running smooth.  We can do that for you and grampa.”  Jerry agreed as Jake did too, but there is one problem.

“What is that?”  Will asked.  Jerry hemmed a bit, wondering how to bring this up.  “Well if he is not going to drive it, what is the purpose of leaving it there.  We would have to get a ride there and back just to drive around the block.   If you dropped us off one morning, we could visit and then drive it here where we could wash it ourselves to save the money.  If gramp’s ever wanted it, we could drive it back then.”  Jake added his consent by saying,

“That sounds logical to me.  But only if you don’t mind it being parked here.  We both plan on getting jobs this summer to save for a car of our own. If he didn’t mind, maybe we could even drive it to work.”Will sat thinking for several seconds as the boys waited, then he told them, 

“I agree. Let me talk to my dad first, I’ll tell him that you are two good drivers and his nice Caddy will be safe with you.” 

“Really dad we will take good care of it.  Right Jake?”  “Right.”

When the boys left, Will went to tell Jenny about the agreement, so she wouldn’t change the story.  He was feeling a little Tom Sawyerish and smug they way he had worked the deal out.  Even if the boys didn’t eventually grow fond of that fine car, after they saved money for another and really wanted to part with it for something different, they could sell it.  Their mother would have Time to grow used to having them drive by then.

He recalled how his father had not liked him to drive an unsafe jalopy, as he called anything that wasn’t a truck, and lent him an old pick-up to drive. He had been embarrassed to be seen in it for six months, then he grew fond of the sturdy reliable old pick-up truck and when he could, he had it painted white and he kept it until he married Jenny.  He wondered which of the boys would keep the Caddy.  Time would tell.

Recently they had been so busy with their cousin’s project and getting that license and visiting the G.P. Home as they had begun to call the place where their grandparents were living, along with the many people who now welcomed them with open arms. They had become everyone’s grandchildren.  

Jerry said G.P. stood for Grand Parents, Jake said it meant Good People.  It really came from the words over the arch they drove through to get into the parking lot.  In very large letters gold letters, so no one could miss them, it read,  “Guest Parking”  with an arrow pointing the way. 

Peggy and Edger had an idea, so they agreed to approached the twins with it next Time they came to visit.  The boys found them in the recreation room playing cards.  As they spotted the twins walking in they put the cards away and invited them to sit down.

They sat and listened to what Edger and Peggy had to say.  Edger began.

“We were talking about you two getting your driving licenses and we were wondering if you would be willing to drive us to the beach.”   Peggy picked up where Edger stopped.

“We were both brought up near the beach and haven’t even seen it for years.”  Peggy explained, “I have my car and even my own license and when I first came to live here I used to drive myself to the beach for lunch… maybe take a friend. But for the last couple of years my eyes have gotten so poor that I dare not drive, even if I am legal.But if one of you will drive my car and drive us to the beach for the day I will take us to a good place I know for lunch.”

“We would be happy to.  When do you want to go?”  Jerry asked.

“How about now?”  Peggy asked “It’s still early and we would be in Time to have lunch.  We won’t stay long.  We just want to see the ocean, not swim in it.”

“You got that right.”  Edger laughed.  “My ocean swimming days are over. But I was pretty good in my day.   Now I only swim in water that stands still.”

“What?” Peggy kidded him playfully, “Like the bath tub?”

Edger laughed with her, they seemed to enjoy poking fun, so he said, “It’s better than your kitchen sink!” 

They started slowly as old people do and began to roll toward the front door.  Edger asked Peggy, “Didn’t you forget something?”

“Oh yes… you too.  We’ll be right back boys we need to use the bathroom first.  Maybe you want also it’s much more convenient here that at the beach.

Their mother was always telling them the same thing before a car trip, so they went to the one in the lobby for visitors, Peggy and Edger went to their rooms. Then they left the building with two wheel chairs being pushed by two young men.

 Out by the garages Peggy kept going past all of the dusty Caddys and stopped at, of all places, the cute little blue convertible they had been admiring.  Jerry spoke quickly, “Dibs on first.”  He took the keys from Peggy as she was placed in the passenger seat.  She thought she would need to explain her car to this new driver.  Jake helped Edger into the back, then folded the two chairs into the surprisingly ample trunk, which held nothing but a blue blanket.  They talked and then voted to leave the top down

Jake walked past the driver and poked his brother who didn’t turn around to see where Jake was pointing as he said,  “Look what’s parked right next to her.”  Jerry shrugged as he squirmed around to try to see.  All he saw was another dusty Cadillac. “What?” 

“That big black Cadillac is grampa’s.”  Edger and Peggy both looked now also and began to smile as they told the boys…

“That lovely Cadillac it your grandfather’s?  I’ve been admiring that ever since it arrived here.  That is one fine automobile. You should feel that soft leather upholstery it’s luxurious enough to dream on.  I always wanted a car like that.”  Edger added in a memory.  “I had a white one just like it when I had finally gotten into the big money.  I felt like a million behind that wheel.  And did you know that the steering wheels are made of real mahogany, just like the dash board?”

Jerry started the little blue convertible and backed out.  He maneuvered around and out of the parking onto the street, feeling a little insecure in this rather different little car from what he was used to.  On the highway, off they went. Jerry felt better driving now and even so he knew that as much as they like its looks, he was happier driving his dad’s car, where he had learned. Jake would drive back, and he would wait to see his appraisal. 

The line of blue that was the horizon of the ocean came into view and Peggy and Edger sat taller to see it.  Slowly as they made their way though rows of stores and large homes, the Pacific Ocean grew larger, until there it was just on the other side of the immense parking lot.  Jerry pulled in and drove to the front row where there was nothing but sand between them and the ocean.  He opened his door and got out to be ready for whatever the passengers wanted to do.  Peggy leaned toward the car fender and pushed her toes  into the sand, she smiled and took off her shoes and tossed them to Jake who was behind her having helped Edger out.

Seeing Peggy remove her shoes they all did the same.  Now what? The water was pretty far across the sand.

Jerry looked back at Jake and said bring her wheel chair and follow me.  He then picked Peggy up and carried her facing backwards against his shoulder to the water’s edge. Jake rushed the chair to him, and set it on the hard wet sand so Jerry could seat Peggy back into it.

They both put Edger into his chair next to the car, then each taking a side they picked it up between them and walked it to Peggy’s side.  They both sat smiling as they faced the vast ocean, because it was Fall and a weekday, they had the beach nearly to themselves. 

The boys sat on the sand a little bit away so the two of them could reminisce the old days together.  The tide was coming closer and they kept watch but as it promised to roll too close they got up the move them back,

“No.” Peggy pleaded, “Not back, just a little closer.”  So Jerry and Jake pushed them to where their feet could reach the incoming water.  They knew they had finally reached it, when they heard the screams of delight, as the cold water rolled over their bare feet and ankles.   The boys got into it and waded in front to splash their legs with more water.  Peggy pulled her skirt to her knees, but Edger needed help to roll up his pants, although he swore he didn’t mind if they got wet.  

One large wave rolled up and under the wheel chair wheels causing them to sink lower into the sand.  The boy knew it wouldn’t be long before they had a disaster on their hands, so they yanked the chairs back to the high warm sand.  Even that felt good to their cold bare feet and the kicked it around almost getting each other sandy.

To return home they put both Edger and Peggy in the back seat and Jake brought the blue blanket from the trunk to cover their laps. As they both wanted the top left down. 

Jerry put away the chairs and took the passenger seat as he passed the keys to Jake.  As he drove toward home, Peggy mentioned the lunch she wanted to treat them to. Jerry looked at his watch and told her that if they went straight back they would be in plenty of Time to catch the late lunch at home.  They would be happy to take a rain check on the lunch, as they had stayed at the beach longer than expected.    

Peggy smiled her happy white smile and thanked them.  Neither she nor Edger expected, or even saw how, they had a chance to get wet in the ocean ever again.  And you two did it!  You’ll never know what it has meant to us.

They were slightly mess up with the wrinkled damp clothes and wind blown hair, so everyone greeted them with, “What happened to you two?”

Jerry and Jake left them to explain it, and went out to look over the Caddy.  Today was the day they were to drive it home. 

It was pretty dusty and they had to make their first decision regarding this automobile.

They stood outside looking at it and finally Jerry said, 

“Let’s take it through the car wash this Time.  Dad said we could charge the gas and maintenance, and this looks like that to me.”  Jerry decided and Jake agreed.  They were both pretty tired after their day at the beach, which was unlike any they had ever had before. 

At the car wash they performed a miracle by removing six months of grim and dust and shining the large black Cadillac both inside and out.

As they drove away in the smooth riding vehicle they both noticed the enormous difference between this and the little cute one they had driven to the beach.  It was impossible to sit in this car without wanting to run your hands over the elegant woods and soft luxurious leather, while refraining from touching the gleaming brass so as not smudge it.  No wonder Edger had said he felt like a million riding in his.

They had not eaten all day and Jake couldn’t resisted driving through the MacDonalds, as they drew up to the window to collect their order Jerry got the money ready to pay.  A young man passing the packages out, paused in mid-delivery to remark.  ”Man that is some ride you’ve got there.  How did a couple a Dudes like you came to be driving it. Is it your bosses car?”

“Jerry took the food and answered with, “Our grandfather’s”

That explains it.  They sure don’t make em like that anymore.  Everything looks so real.  It’s all plastic and stuff now.”  He passed Jerry his change and they drove away.

The hot food smell was getting to the hungry boys, but neither so much as took a French fry out to eat it.  Without discussing it, they were both reluctant to eat in the polished and gleaming car.  And they certainly would not ever let anyone smoke in it.

“You know.”  Jake said, “I bet grampa might be willing to sell this to us.”

“Don’t count on it bro, we could probably never afford it.  Remember that Edger said he bought his after he was making big money.”

Jake considered that then asked his brother, “Do you think we will ever make big money?”

“It will probably depend on the Time.  Every generation seems to have a Time of their own, Like the “Roaring Twenties, the Depression Thirties, World War Two in the forties, The Hippy fifties.  What did the Sixties and the Seventies have?”Jerry asked.

I don’t know, “ Jake thought, “Except we are supposed be in another depression right now the first one in the 21st Century.  So those eighties and nineties are beyond me, also.  Maybe every other one is better and then things get worse, so maybe we will get to be in the right Time for a good one.  I’ve heard of the Gay Nineties but I think that was the 1890’s.  Anyway the Two Thousand Fifteens are too hard to say.  How can they tack a name on that?”

“I guess that depends on us and what our age does with it.  Maybe we will go to Mars or someplace else in our Galaxy.  Then we could be the Galactic Generation.”  Jerry liked to believe.  He always liked all of that Space Exploration.

“OR,” Jake added with a laugh, “Aliens will land here and take us over and we will be called the “Last Generation.”

They pulled into the driveway and their mom and dad rushed out to see them with the car.  They had seen it often ever since her parents bought it, but now suddenly they really looked at it. 

“Wow, Jenny said, “Maybe I will give you my car and I will take this big beauty.”

“Anything you want mom, but Jerry and I were just talking about trying to buy it.”

They could never know how happy those words made her feel.  This was the closest to a tank she could hope for, for her precious sons.

“You’re already giving it better care than it’s seen for a couple of years.”  Their dad told them.  “Good work.  If you keep it like that, it’s as good as yours now.”

Time Sixteen

Alice watched as the twins drove by in her father-in-law’s beautiful, black, Cadillac.  Now how did they pull that off?  she wondered.  Pete’s parents aren’t even dead yet and Don’s got their big home, and now the twins have his prize automobile.  What did Pete get? Nothing… Is there anything left?  All of the antique furniture went with the house. And Will made off with the car not even for himself but for his children.  Well we have children too.  What do they get?

Alice brought the subject up with Pete as soon as he came home.

“Have you seen your brother, Will’s, twins driving all over town in your father’s Cadillac?”  she asked casually.

“I guess I missed them.” Pete answered, while opening up the paper he carried in. to begin reading this evenings news.  “I knew they got their Driver’s Licenses, so you know sixteen year olds, this is something new and important to them.  It’ll get old soon enough.”

“That’s not the point.  Those two sixteen year olds are driving your father’s gorgeous, mint condition Cadillac. Just why is that?  Shouldn’t you have first chance at it?  You’re their son.”  Pete put the paper down and looked at his wife, not understanding what she expected him to do… go take it back and just sell it or something?  So he told her the facts.

“ I have a car.  So do you. They didn’t.  It’s that simple Alice, Why do you care?”

One brother took over their house and everything in it, Now these kids take his beautiful car, and what did you get? I’d like to know.”  

“I didn’t need anything, Alice, did I?”

“It’s not that.  It’s the fairness.  Does he have another car to give our girls? No. Maybe I would have liked to have some of your mother’s Cook Books that Sally brags about so much.  I’m not even asking for some of the China or Silverware. But we should have been considered for something.  I might have liked to have the Cadillac.  But you just let them take what they want and you ask for nothing.  It’s not fair.”

“You want a Cadillac?  I’ll buy you a Cadillac.  Will that make you happy?”

Alice walked away without answering.  He just didn’t get it. 

She continued to feel slighted, but it was Pete’s fault.  He didn’t get in there and fight for his rightful share.  After all of the Times she had driven those boys around, what thanks did she get?”

Judy came in the house from school complaining. ‘Those twins are jerks.”  she said, “I  see them driving all around town with two older girls from the High School.”  But they wouldn’t give us a ride home just because we were eating popsicles, for goodness sake.   They are so fussy that you can’t even chew gum in their car.”

“It isn’t their car.  It’s your grandfather’s.”  Alice told her.  “So you should have just as much right to ride in it as they do.”Judy went sulking to her room, mumbling something about twin jerks, and Alice, who was already annoyed, decided to do something about it.  She picked up the phone and called Mary.

“Hi Mary, this is Alice and I know this is more Pete and Art’s problem but I am a little ticked off about something and I thought you might mention it to Art.  Isn’t he the one who is in charge of their parent’s affairs, as the acting head of the family now that Chris is retired and Ellen so ill?”

“I guess you could say that.”  Mary conceded, “But there hasn’t been a vote or anything.  Art’s dad just naturally turns to him as the oldest son, I guess.  It just goes with the territory.  What is the problem?”

“Well it’s kind of strange, but Judy just came home from school upset because the twins are driving their grandfather’s car, and my girls just naturally ran up to it and asked the boys for a ride home.  But she said, the twins would not even let them get into the car for minute, just to see it, and refused to drive them home.  Now that is not right.  The boys had always been so nice to our girls in the past, so they were hurt and upset and ran home saying the boys were jerks..  I suppose driving that snazzy Cad has made the twins a bit high and mighty.  Who gave them the right to drive that expensive car in the first place?  Did Art approve of that?”

“ I Don’t know, Alice.  I think Chris was worried that it was just sitting there gathering dust and wanted Art to do something, but he didn’t have Time, so he must have asked Will to take care of it.”

“Well you should see it now.  You’d think the King of Siam was driving it, It gleams like new and the twins are cruising around town like they owned it…  But my girls can’t even peek inside of their own grandfather’s car.”  Alice paused and waited for Mary to agree, but Mary was puzzled.  Nothing had been said to her about the car except that Chris wanted it cared for. 

“I guess I can ask Art, when he comes home, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do.  Then Mary remembered something,  “Isn’t there a rule or law or something, that sixteen year olds may not drive juveniles for six months or a year, after getting their Driving Licenses?  Maybe they just told the girls they could not drive them yet as they were too young.”

“Then just maybe the twins should not be driving it at all.  It seems to me.  One of the adults should have it.  I wouldn’t mind taking care of it for him.  Ask Art about that, Okay?”   They said goodbye and Mary sat wondering how that car had suddenly become a family problem.  If it was clean and being driven that was all Chris wanted…not a controversy.  He had enough on his mind with Ellen.  And Mary decided, probably so does Art, or he wouldn’t have given the chore to Will.  And it looked to her as if Will was doing just that. Anyway Alice had a very nice car, herself.  What would she want that old Caddy for?”  She would try to remember to ask her very busy husband, when she found the right Time.  

Art was late, but not over worried for a change, so Mary decided to just ask about the Cadillac.  She left Alice out of it and got right to the point. 

“Did you get Will to handle your father’s little car problem alright?”

“Yep,” he said as he settled down to take off his shoes and turn on the television to hear the news. “It’s all settled.  Conveniently the twins had just gotten their Driving Licenses and Will said they wanted a cute teen snazzy little car, a bit like Sally’s little red one.  But Jenny said,  “No Way!”  She wanted them to have a big safe car. .. or nothing. 

So, Art laughed, Will knew the boys would not accept that huge black Cad.  They always scoffed at big old people autos, so he kind of tricked them into working on it, just as a favor for their grandfather, who simply could not be bothered with anything other than watching after Ellen.  She’s much worse, I guess you know.”

“ Yes, I’ve been there. It’s almost too depressing to see how quickly she has lost touch with everything.  SomeTimes she doesn’t even know Chris.  I have to force myself to go, because she is still Ellen down deep.  And the twins go more than I do, which is very considerate of them being teenagers and all.  They take little things to them, although Chris says they don’t need anything. Ellen always looks so pleased when the boys come in with a few flowers or a pretty colorful card.  She just beams at them, even if she doesn’t know who they are.  Ellen calls them those “Nice young men.”  “ But you said the car problem was all settled.”

“Right.  Will asked the boys to help out and they said they would.  So one morning he dropped them off with a set of car keys and a credit card, so they could get it in shape and put a few miles on it, then they could drive it home where they could tend to it, every now and then.  

But it is a very nice first class automobile and just driving it, they had a change of heart and asked to buy it.  So Chris gave them the same deal Don got for restoring the house. Remember what run a down mess that place was when Don moved there.  And just look at it now! Chris and Ellen were so happy to see how nice it was after Don’s hard work that they had him open a Trust Account and he pays a percentage of his salary, which has gone way up over the years, in to the Account, which is managed by me on behalf of all of the grandchildren.  When they need college money or a house someday they can apply for a share of that money.  

Well since the Twins made the car look brand new and took such good care of it, they got the same deal from Chris.  When they get jobs of any sort they must put a percentage of their combined money into that same account until the car is paid for. The car is in Will’s name though, because of the boys being under age.

Jenny is especially happy that they will be driving during their most dangerous years, according to the statistics, in a big heavy car.  If I had a son I would feel the same way.  Will is just glad they were tricked into getting to know what a nice car it was before simply rejecting it for age and size.  

Altogether everything made sense, Mary just didn’t know how to make Alice understand it.  Unless she brought it up again, Mary decided to just let Time take care of it. 

Time Seventeen

Ray and Karen arrived back from New York.  They invited everyone to dinner so they could brag, well, talk, about their first Class flights going and returning from the Grand Hotel and all of the Plays and Night Clubs they had seen.   No one ever mentioned the problem that had sent them there.  The problems they had missed here were the most discussed.  

Karen had the dinner catered until she had Time to go to the store and replenish the freezer and pantry.  It would take awhile to come down from the high all of that first class stuff had put her in.  

They had a Doctor’s appointment looming, which they dreaded and looked forward to in a most curious way.  The Doc said something new for unfortunate childless couples like them had been introduced and they could only hope it would be the answer.

Ray hated being sent into the little room with the little cup and expected to fill it with lively healthy sperm.  It was so belittling.  He was too old for this at 41, but most of the men he passed going and coming to that Doctor were much older at least they were grayer.  He supposed that the young men were more potent, having reached the age where they got unwanted surprises and shot gun marriages.  

It wasn’t like that with Karen.  She was a busy professional woman, working in a Company he was building offices for in a nearby town.  So he often arrived on Monday morning, took a motel and stayed all week to oversee the finishing work.  One day as he was sitting at spare desk in her office doing paper work, he watched her going efficiently about her duties and couldn’t take his eyes away from her.  She was not only very pretty but she was more… Sweet and good natured even when others might blow a cork.  She treated him, and unfortunately everybody else, as if their work was the most important thing in the world.    

He decided to see if she would go to dinner with him.  She knew he was at the motel and suggested that he would probably be eating out twice a day and suggested that she cook him something at her place.

Ray jumped at that invitation.  It was more than he had expected or even  hoped for.  There was no mystery about it she was as attracted to him as he was to her.  Thus the home cooked meal so as she hoped, they could get to realize what was happening much quicker.  They were totally suited to each other and were married within the month.  The only trouble in their fifteen year marriage was last month when she thought he had been unfaithful to her. And her reaction was as quick as her decision to marry him.  She was a very astute business woman and made fast decisions.  That one she even admitted was a little too fast, but she just as soon reversed it.  Their only real problem had put her in the mood to give up everything, when the five eggs had failed.

Karen was more realistic now once again.  They had talked it out and if this new method failed, they would adopt.  Talking to people while in New York had convinced them of the real facts about what it means to the unwanted babies taken into loving homes after a poor start.  Many of those they spoke with at an Adoption Facility had been adopted themselves and now worked to help other babies have that same good luck.

The Doctor himself had to remove the eggs from Karen to put them together with Ray’s donation.  She really didn’t understand it all but some chemicals were involved and what else she had no idea, but when they were ready to grow they had to be replaced in her, she had to take some new pills or injections…whatever the Doctor had recently learned.  Maybe she was being a guinea pig, but if it gave them a child of their own she was willing.

Once again, as before, it would be a couple of months before they knew.  This Time Karen would not hold that positive thought as before.  She would keep busy and try to not think about it, which seemed impossible.

Sally’s growing belly kept reminding her. Sally was sailing right along and now knew she was having a girl.  They decided that they would name her Nancy Ellen after both great-grandmothers.  Sally’s grandmother, Nancy, was 70 ,  in good shape and very active in her clubs, as she swore she would not go until she was at least 100. 

Pete’s grandmother, Ellen was also70, but would not get to know her name-sake. However, Pete and Chris would appreciate the honor for her. 

They had already painted her room a soft lavender and leaf green with orchids on the wall paper.  Sally said the little girl would grow out of the dollies and teddies in no Time, that orchids would be more lasting.

Sally’s past boy friends called from Time to Time, but were put off permanently until they gave up.  She now spent her free Time reading Baby Care books.  She discussed child rearing with everyone she knew who had them.  She disregarded the authors and helpful people who had opinions they wished to share about raising children if they had never had any of their own.  What could they possibly know?  Their opinions were just that… opinions.  She wanted experienced information.  In fact Sally thought she learned the most from other little children.  They really knew what they were talking about.

It was almost that time when everyone would try to get together at Ray and Mary’s house.  As head of the family now, they wanted to start a tradition of meeting in their home each Christmas.  The twins offered to drive Chris in his old car as he would be happy to see how nice it still looked.  Ellen was unfortunately bed ridden and under full nursing care, so was not coming. 

First they had held Thanksgiving at the Parents old house which now was better known by all as Sally and Don’s.  Sally cooked the huge turkey and trimmings and the others brought their favorite foods. Sally wasn’t due for four months, so was quite capable.  Karen still was uncertain, though hopeful, and it was not mentioned.

But it suddenly changed a week before Christmas.  Now they knew for certain that two eggs were growing well and due in six months.  At this Time the image photo seemed to appear to be one of each sex. Karen even happily experienced all of the mother to be symptoms.

Sally was the most excited, because now her little girl would have young cousins to play with and as she told Karen, a younger little girl to give her hand-me-downs to.  The child’s closet was already bulging with clothes up to size two. The result of a couple of showers and other gifts that flowed in, and Nancy Ellen wasn’t even born yet.”

Alice had given up the fight, but remained a little bit bitter about not getting anything from Pete’s parents.  Everyone seemed to think that there was nothing unfair, except Alice, she had adopted a “stepchild” attitude, which no one else seemed to sympathize with. So she blamed her husband for being a wimp.  He felt this but didn’t know how to fight it, so ignored her.  His only wish for Christmas was that Alice would somehow get over her envy kick. 

But it soon broke into a full fledged argument.  Pete was making an attempt to appease her but it only made her more angry.

“I said we would buy you a Cadillac if that is what you want.”

“No.  I do not want you to buy me a Cadillac.  You just don’t get it.  It’s not about that.” She yelled and sulked.

“So it’s about you wanting that old unavailable Cadillac. Right?  You want my dad’s old Cadillac or nothing.  But he sold it to the twins.”

“Sure after Will got the keys from him and gave them to his sons, while you did nothing.”

“That is not the way it went down, Alice. Let me explain it to you. “

“No I just wanted to be treated like I was an important part of this family instead of an outsider.  You treat me like my feelings don’t count and so does your relatives.  Sally gets everything. Her little girl who is not even been born yet, has more clothes in her closet than our three girls put together. I get nothing.  Mary doesn’t give a damn and Karen is oblivious, she only worries about Karen.  And Jenny is a spoiled brat who dotes on those twins as if they were princes or something.“

“You left me out Alice… I am a wimp because I stood by and let the twins have the car you wanted.  Well I happen to agree with Will and Jenny. That big old car is perfect for very new young drivers like the twins.  They will probably have each bought a new car by the Time our Judy has a Driver’s License and then we can give it to her.  In the mean Time I have to tell you, I am sick of your sulking and acting like a martyr.”  The room stayed quiet for awhile as Pete had his say and Alice was still sulky.  When Pete finally spoke again it was to tell her something that he had been withholding.  Or at least to let her know he was withholding something.

“My father gave me something to give to you, Alice, but frankly, I didn’t think that you deserved it with your nasty attitude.  He was curious about what you thought as he had not heard from you.  I had to admit that you haven’t seen it yet, so he would not think you were ungrateful.  Which I was not sure you would be.  

It is difficult for a man like him to let the few last pieces of his life fall away and be gone forever.  They at least like to think their gifts are appreciated.  Those who are still living and strong like he is,  would like to carry on as if they had not retired and dropped out of life.  I am hopeful that when mom is gone, he will mourn her for awhile then step up to life and live again.  His Time is not yet over.”

“I’m sorry, Pete I guess I have not been myself.”

“Good guess,”  he said with a smile, “SomeTime soon let me tell you where the money from the house and car is going.”

“I don’t care about the money.”

“You will. I do.”  He told her but nothing else.

“What did he give you to give to me?”

‘Pete moved over to sit close to her and put an arm around her to whisper in her ear.  ”Be a very good girl all week, and I will play Santa and give it to you for Christmas.”

“Oh come on.” she said, “I want to know now!”  

“Christmas morning, darling, I promise…not until.”

He almost said I was going to buy you a Cadillac, but you said you didn’t want one.  Then he didn’t.  As his mother always told him… 

“I have never been sorry for something I didn’t say.”


Time Eighteen

Now was not the right Time to die, just before Christmas, at least not for the mourning people left behind, but three in the Assisted Living Facility ran out of Time and did.

Ellen passed away in her long sleep, which was almost a blessing, as she actually had no real life before her.  It was expected and a bit welcomed by her family who seemed to suffer her condition more than she was able to understand.

The second was Edger, who died of heart failure at age 88,one evening right after supper, as he napped in his favorite winter Time place beside the recreation room fireplace, which burned a log every day on Christmas week. It was a shock to those who knew him, because he was so active and interested in living. 

The third was 101 year old Agnes, who swore all along that she would live to be 100, then having failed to set a new higher goal at 101, she died on her one extra birthday.

Chris did mourn Ellen’s loss anyway, as they had been married for 50 years, and best friends for five years before that.  Even though he believed he would see her again one day, he missed her presence now.

Chris left the Assisted Living for awhile and stayed with Art and Mary, who had plenty of room and the comfort of being close to the rest of the family especially for Christmas, only a few days away. All of the children offered to have him with them.  Don and Sally were the first because they lived in is old home, but actually he declined regretfully because he could not turn around anywhere in that house without seeing Ellen. 

Art and Mary prepared a ground floor room for him not because he was unable to climb the stairs, but because when he did his old, arthritic knees complained too much, even though he tried not to admit it.  It was in his nature to tough things out and try to maintain his manly image.

On Christmas morning each family did what their own family traditions dictated.  Mary served breakfast to Art and Chris while putting the Christmas ham in the oven, already basted with brown sugar, cherries and pineapple, to be ready to turn on to 250 later.   

Don brought tea to bed for Sally, who loved his special morning tea and cinnamon toast as they sat in bed and planned the day.  She was going to bake two big pumpkin pies from his mother’s file to take to Art’s house.

Jenny and Will were awaked by the twins, who wanted to go down and see what Santa had put under the tree while they slept.  They had been doing that every Christmas morning since they could walk, and would continue to do so until it was Time they went away to college two years from now. 

After which Jenny and Will would face the fact that they had an empty nest, as everyone who raises babies to adulthood learn when their job is done and it is Time to rethink their lives. But today she had to make something to take to the family pot luck… but hadn’t decided what.

Ray and Karen slept late and casually got dressed to go out for breakfast. On the way home they stopped at the Uptown Bakery where they bought five assorted loaves of their excellent fresh bread and a box with two dozen fancy cup cakes, which were so popular that the Bakery had to stay open 72 hours until Christmas to deliver them all to their crowds of customers.

Alice and Pete would get their expected wake-up call, way too early, by eager three little girls and go to the living room wearing their P.J.s and robes, as the girls could not possibly wait for anyone to get dressed.  They tore into the packages with their names on them and screamed at everything as only little girls can do

This year Alice, who had always before waited patiently for Pete to remember that he had a gift for her, because he usually did forget, as he was so easily distracted by watching the excited children finding the things he had often had to put together on Christmas Eve, like a doll house or a wheeled thing,  a scooter, bike, doll buggy, or three dozen other toys and only he remembered her gift when the excitement had worn down, as the girls began to sort out the new things and show them to that darling new dolly. But this Time she had something else on her mind.

This Time Alice was so much more curious to learn what Pete’s father had given to him for her that she almost forgot she had gotten him a beautiful new blue cashmere sweater.  She had a hard Time finding the package lost in the heaps of discarded, paper, ribbon and empty boxes and eventually was able to give it to him.

  Pete liked the sweater very much and told her so with a kiss, but actually he was as anxious as she was to see what was in the box from Chris.  He really didn’t know.  One time when he was visiting the G.P Home, Chris had handed him the box in a brown paper sack and told him that he knew Ellen would like Alice to have these things.  When they moved from their home she had spent a long Time packing but in the end she had given him five little boxes and told to put these away for the girls in our family some Time in the future.  He would know when the Time was right.  

There was a name on each one, Mary, Sally, Jenny Alice, Karen.  He gave them to each other woman shortly after Ellen’s Memorial, but he had not seen Alice, so he gave it to Pete. Chris was for good reasons not told of Alice’s complaints about the Caddy, and because of her feelings then , she had avoided him.  She was thoroughly embarrassed about that now that she understood the full story, and intended to make it up to them all somehow… if only they would be kind enough to let her. 

Now was the Time to open the box and see what Ellen wanted her to have.  Pete gave it to her exactly as it was given to him, still in the bottom of a plain brown grocery bag.  Alice lifted out the nice mahogany box with a brass lock on the front and a white envelope sitting on top. On top of the envelope were some words in Chris’s handwriting. “I put these in the envelope with the key to the box. because I wanted you to have them”, signed, Chris. 

Alice pried it open carefully without tearing it and the items slid out into her hand and she began to cry.  They were Ellen’s wedding rings, the very same rings she had worn for 51 years, slightly worn down wide platinum

 band with two rows of what looked like 100 tiny diamonds, and her matching engagement ring had a large center diamond and at least140 or 50 smaller diamonds surrounding it on the top and sides.  They were beautiful and Alice couldn’t believe her father-in-law had given them to her, Why? He had his daughter, Jenny.  She knew Ellen had worn that engagement ring for 54 years. 

Alice certainly hoped Chris had not heard some of the selfishly inappropriate things she had said about that Caddy. 

Because of her tears the little girls gathered around and hugged their mommy.  Then she showed them the rings in her hand.  The beautiful jewelry had a different effect on them, Judy pick them up gingerly and put them on her fingers and danced around waving her hands to the light to see them sparkle. Candy demanded a turn and went through the same dance, so of course, Lily knew exactly what to do when she got her turn.  After which, young Lily went quietly to her mother and asked, as she gave the rings back to her. “ Can I have them when you die?”

“Lily!”  The other two girls shouted, “Don’t say that! We don’t want mother to die!”   Lily looked sheepish and told them, Gramma Ellen did and she gave them to Mommy. Mommy won’t die until she’s very old anyway, like 49.  Alice just hugged her and whispered to her alone, “I will try to remember that you asked first.”

“What’s in the box?”  Judy asked,

“I haven’t opened it yet.” Alice told them.  Pete had captured the key as the rings were being snatched up, so he opened the lock and removed it.

Alice lifted the lid slowly as all little heads bent to see inside. The box was lined with velvet and had two little compartments and a larger open area.  The two compartments each contained a gold ring one with a large ruby, Ellen’s July birthstone. The other was wider gold with two rows of bluish, green opals that Chris had bought at a mine on their trip to Australia and had the packet of 36 small opals set in that ring back at home.  

The center held a pile of gold chains, two heavy interwoven fancy chains to hang alone and several with something on them. Alice picked up an  oval gold locket with a date, maybe of it’s original owner on the back. Not Ellen’s, as it read 1783, a real antique. Maybe Chris knew who’s. She’d have to ask.  Another chain held a gold and filigree silver cross, she also found a framed gold maple leaf coin from Canada.

  There were three pins, tucked in the corners, a gold and very special pearl Cameo, a silver and turquoise Indian Eagle and a round Russian medallion set with a red enamel and golden emblem surrounded with ruby red stones.  Alice let the girls look at each piece and put it back in the box.  She decided to wear the Medallion on her Christmas dress to go to Mary and Art’s house later today, but first she must get dressed and make the potato salad she promise to bring.  

Everyone did their chores and finally got Holiday dressed to go.  Alice handed a stack of wrapped boxes to Pete to load in the trunk of the car.  She would carry the large salad bowl in her lap.

  As soon as everyone was ready they checked the house for anything they might have forgotten and went out the door.  The girls were already running to the car, but Alice had stopped dead in her tracks.  She couldn’t move.  She looked at Pete.  He was looking at her. 

Alice looked back at the beautiful white Cadillac that sat in their driveway.  The girls had already opened the back doors and climbed in and were sitting there looking at their mother who stood on the porch frozen.  Time stood still.

“Merry Christmas, darling.” Pete said softly.

“No I can’t… I don’t deserve it after I… What will everybody think?” 

“I hope they will think, correctly, that you have a husband who loves you very much.”  Pete smiled as he added… “whom you also don’t deserve… but will, if given long enough Time.”

“Mommy! Come on hurry up!  We want a ride in our new car.”

‘Come on Honey, It is their car too you know… and mine.  I didn’t realize it, but I guess I always wanted one of these nice big cars just like my father used to have.  So I thought, it’s about Time I got one.”


Beverly Mosier October 2013