This is another except from my WIP, Evelyn Evolving. It picks up from the one I posted a couple of weeks ago, introducing my grandmother, Regina. My mother loved pansies, and when I was a kid I would buy her some every Spring and plant them by the front porch of our house. She loved to go outside and look at them, the little faces dancing in the breeze, and pansy-related gifts became a tradition for many years.
Fred stayed gone for six months, and then one day he came back.
When he walked through the front door, as casually as if he’d only been gone a few hours, he didn’t say where he’d been. He had a noticeable limp, but he wouldn’t explain that either. He did very little explaining, just resumed his routine of talking to people on the telephone and answering the door when the bell rang. Since he was home day and night most of the time, he didn’t seem to care if Regina went out by herself, as long as she fixed meals and tended to the kids first. The marriage was all but over, but he never asked for a divorce. Neither did she, because he was now supporting them again. There was something to be said for security.
Regina didn’t ask where Fred got the money he gave her to buy groceries and pay the bills. She was just thankful that he was able to do that. He wasn’t much of a father, keeping a rather aloof distance between him and his offspring, but he did serve them the dinners Regina left. When she was home, it did hurt just a bit to see him brush any attempts at affection aside, but she rationalized that it would make the girls strong. They’d learn how to handle disappointment and frustration. Just in case their lives weren’t going to be any better than hers had been.
Two months later, Fred left again.
That time he never came back.
Regina didn’t like to think about what it had been like in those months after Fred and before John. She wasn’t proud of some of the things she’d done, and she’d certainly been a terrible mother to the girls. Leaving them for hours when she went out to hustle for some money. But she was still convinced that the hardships strengthened the girls for what might come in the future.
And now, five years later, it appeared that she was right. Life was not going to be wonderful for the girls. Regina had no delusions about how they would be treated at the orphanage. It wasn’t like a home; a real home, and they would be lucky to just have food and clothes.
Was it better than what she could offer?
Her steps faltered as she considered turning around and grabbing them out of there. But then what would she do? Take them to that dumpy little apartment in Detroit? Feed then hot dogs every night from the Coney Island where she worked? Have them sleep on a pallet in the corner of the living room? The girls might come to hate her for what she did today, and that was a painful realization. Still she kept on walking away. It was the best thing for them all. Regina might not be the best mother in the world, but a part of her did care about her daughters and fervently hoped for a happier future for them. She didn’t pray for one, however. She was long past the days of prayers, figuring God had given up on her years ago.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt, and I welcome feedback. Do you have any special traditions you established with your mother? I’d love to know.
Have a wonderful weekend.