“Wh…what is this?” Violet whispered, staring at the woman stepping carefully over the threshold and into the house. She placed a hand over her outrageously beating heart. “Oh, my…”
“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” Freddy said, bringing Violet forward. “It’s Mom and she’s all better.”
“Mostly better, Freddy,” the woman said.
“My God…Freddy, what did you do?” Violet muttered, taking hesitant steps forward. “Is this real?”
“It is! I’m sorry that I couldn’t tell you sooner,” Freddy said. “But Mom insisted on surprising you.”
“Merry Christmas, Violet,” the woman said, caution in her voice.
“Mom?” Violet said, afraid to get any closer, lest the illusion vanish.
“Forgive?” Violet repeated, feeling completely numb and expecting at any moment to awaken from this extremely vivid dream.
“I wanted to be sure I was all right, that I wouldn’t relapse or something,” she said. “I didn’t want to disappoint you.”
“Yes, it’s me,” the woman said, with a small laugh, holding out her arms to her first born. “It’s all right, Violet. I’m still a bit weak, but I won’t break.”
“Mom, how…” Violet said, stepping closer yet not quite close enough. She was actually afraid.
“Sweetheart, please,” her mother said. “Please, let me hold you for a moment. I’ve missed you so much.”
Violet stepped closer, reaching out her hand, to touch the soft, warm cheek she’d so often kissed with no discernible reaction from this person she loved so dearly. She saw her mother’s smile and tears blurred her vision. The next moment Violet was wrapping her arms tightly around her mother and for a change her mother hugged her right back, whispering words Violet had been wishing to hear for far too long.
Georgiana slipped her hand in Victor’s and asked, “Daddy, who is that?”
“The man is Dr. Benjamin Kruger and the lady is Harmony Norton. She’s Violet’s mother,” he said, wearing a satisfied smile.
“But… Violet told me she didn’t have a mother,” Georgiana said, staring at the scene before her with much confusion.
“In reality, she didn’t have her mother around for a very long time, since she was a young child, I believe,” he replied. “You see, Violet’s mother was very ill and away at a special hospital.”
“But now she’s all better?” Georgiana said. “That’s really nice for Violet.”
“Yes and for all their family,” Victor said, looking around. “Do you know where Sophie is? She really ought to be here to meet her grandmother.”
“I’m on it!” Georgiana said, but she made a detour first. She grabbed a box of tissues and went to stand by Violet and her mother. When they finally stepped out of their embrace, Georgiana handed Violet the box. “I think you need this, Violet,” she said.
“Oh, Honey, you’re so thoughtful,” Violet said taking the box with a watery smile, a red nose and streaming eyes. “Thank you so much.”
Georgiana smiled then turned and ran down to her father’s den where she suspected Ronnie and Sophie to be hiding. She knocked, waited for a response, then poked her head in the door and said, “I’m not Simon.”
Ronnie grinned. “Nope! I could never get you confused with him,” he said.
“Then why did you call me Simon?” she asked, stepping inside.
“We just figured it was him,” Sophie said. “Cuz he’s always sneaking up on us when we least expect it…although, now we kinda expect it, don’t we?”
“Probably his plan all along!” Ronnie said. “He’ll pop in any second now that he’s got us off guard.”
Georgiana shook her head. “You’re safe. Simon’s not back yet,” she said.
“Back from where?” Sophie asked.
Georgiana shrugged. “I think he went to… uh, I better not tell you. Might be a secret.”
“It’s not a secret unless he said it was and only if he told you not to tell us,” Sophie said, wearing a mischievous grin. “Go on… where do you think he went?”
“To give Cassie a present…maybe,” Georgiana said.
“Wait… how do you know that?” Ronnie said.
“Cuz he had the present in his pocket at church,” Georgiana said. “And he said I couldn’t ride with him back home cuz he was going to see a friend first.”
“But how do you know it was a present for Cassie?” Ronnie asked. “He’s got loads of friends, you know.”
“Cuz I’m the one who wrapped it for him and I saw him write the gift tag out to her. I can read upside down,” Georgiana said, rather impressed with herself.
“Wait, why were you wrapping his presents?” Ronnie said.
“Only that one present. He asked if I would do it for him, cuz it was for someone special and I’m good at wrapping and he’s not,” Georgiana said.
“Doesn’t have the patience for it, I bet,” Sophie said. “I know I don’t.”
“So…what was it…the present I mean?” Ronnie asked.
“Um… I don’t think I should tell you. You don’t like it when he knows stuff about you that you want to keep secret,” Georgiana said.
“I hate it when you make sense,” Ronnie muttered.
“Simon might get mad at me if I told you what he got for her,” Georgiana said, wearing a guilty expression. “I wasn’t supposed to look.”
“But you did?” Sophie said, grinning. “We won’t tell him you told us.”
“I don’t believe you,” Georgiana said, shaking her head. “Nuh-uh!”
“She’s too smart, that kid. Don’t worry, Georgie, we don’t gotta know,” Ronnie said. “Anyway…what’s up? Why were you looking for us? Did Simon tell ya to spy on us while he was gone?”
“No he didn’t!” Georgiana said, indignantly. “I wouldn’t do it even if he did!”
“I was teasing,” Ronnie said.
“Oh…okay. Daddy said Sophie and you should come say hello to her grandmother and her doctor friend,” Georgiana said.
“Whose grandmother?” Sophie said, curiously.
“Yours,” she said.
Sophie laughed. “Um, no! I don’t have any grandparents. All my grandparents have been dead since before I was born.”
Georgiana shook her head again. “She’s not dead. She’s in the living room right now with Violet and Uncle Freddy and everybody and they’re all real happy that she’s back.”
Sophie looked at Ronnie then back at Georgiana. “Back from where?”
The little girl shrugged. “I dunno, some special hospital, cuz she was real sick, but she’s better now.”
“That’s crazy,” Sophie said. “Are you sure they weren’t talking about Aunt Laurie’s mom? She sometimes comes to Catalpa Valley for Christmas.”
Georgiana rolled her eyes. “I’m not stupid! Aunt Laurie’s mother hates Catalpa Valley cuz it's not where her favorite daughter lives and Aunt Laurie is NOT her favorite, her older sister is. The lady in the living room is your grandmother. Come and see for yourself if you don’t believe me!”
Ronnie grabbed Sophie by the hand and pulled her off the sofa. “No use arguing. Only one way to find out for sure. Let’s go see,” he said.
“What about my present?” Sophie said, reluctant to leave her new gun behind.
“ It’ll be safe here. You can get it before going home. I won’t let you forget it,” he said. “Let’s go see your grandmother.”
Sophie scoffed. “Dunno who she is, but she’s not my grandmother,” she said following Georgiana out the door.
They had barely set foot in the living room when Sophie was assaulted by her very excited cousins.
“Sophie, did you hear?” Valerie said.
“We have a grandmother!” Nicky said.
“And she’s not crazy or nothing,” Jimmy said.
“Jimmy!” Valerie scolded. "She's wonderful!"
“Come see! Come see!” Molly said, grabbing Sophie's hand and dragging her toward the couch where Violet sat with her mother. “Gramma, do ya know who dis is?”
“No, Molly, she doesn't. Mom, this is…” Violet began.
“It’s Sophie, of course,” Harmony said. “You’re even more beautiful than I remember.”
“Remember?” Violet said. “Mom, you’ve never seen Sophie. You’ve never seen any of our kids.”
Harmony smiled. “Sweetheart, do you forget that you brought me pictures of all the kids? A new one every year so I could watch them grow.”
“Are you saying…you actually…you could see what was going on?” Violet said, trying to wrap her mind around this new development.
“I could see, I could hear and I could even understand everything going on around me,” Harmony said, taking Violet’s hand. “I just couldn’t show you that I could. I’m sorry, so sorry. I tried so hard, but I just couldn’t.”
“Oh, Mom…” Violet said, squeezing her hand.
“Uh...Mom, why didn’t you tell us we had a grandmother?” Sophie said.
“It’s…uh…It’s a very long story, Sophie,” Violet said.
Sophie sat down on the coffee table in front of them. “I got time,” she said.
“My Goodness,” Marty said coming out of the kitchen and into the living room. “What is all this commotion about and why is everybody in here? It’s time to eat…and…oh…hello, Benjamin. What in heaven’s name are you doing here?”
“Mrs. Rothchild,” Benjamin Kruger said, a little taken aback. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”
“I was under the impression you never set foot outside of your hospital anymore,” Marty said, waving a dismissive hand. “And I no longer go by the name Rothchild. I’ve remarried, you see. I’m now Mrs. Morris Kramer. Perhaps you know my new husband?”
“You know him, do you?” Morris said, shaking the man’s hand.
“Ever so slightly,” Marty said. “He was my first husband’s favorite protégé. He would be very proud of you, Benjamin, I must say, even if you did decide on neurology over cardiovascular.”
“Thank you, Ma’am,” Dr. Kruger replied.
“I believe we’ve met once,” Morris Kramer said, squinting as he looked over the doctor.
“Yes, Mr. Kramer, we have,” Dr. Kruger said laughing. “You gave a rather generous donation to my hospital wing…can never forget that!”
“Did I? Seems I forgot all about it,” Morris said, scratching his head irritably.
“So, Benjamin, what brings you to Catalpa Valley? It’s a far cry from John Hopkins or wherever it is you do your medical magic,” Marty said.
“John Hopkins! Now I remember!” Morris shouted. “Yeah, it was quite a chunk of change I gave to them.”
“Oh, will you pipe down, you old coot!” Marty said, annoyed. “No one cares about your philanthropy!”
“I beg to differ,” Dr. Kruger said. “It meant the world to me and to thousands of patients.”
“See that, you old biddy? I’m not totally useless,” Morris said.
Marty rolled her eyes, then listened as Benjamin Kruger explained precisely why he was in Catalpa Valley. She looked over to the sofa where Violet and her mother sat talking with several kids around them and she nodded appreciatively.
“Benji, you’ve done well,” she said, patty him on the cheek and walking toward the the group.
©2017 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved