I sit at the kitchen table, cradling the phone. Auntie Ellie had hung up five minutes ago, but I feel… paralyzed. “Ma,” Sara, my eldest child calls. She walks into the kitchen carrying Melissa her five month old sister in her arms. “What’s wrong?” I am silent for a moment. She looks at me worried, “Should I call the others for a family meeting?”
“Yes,” I nod. “Please do that,” I sigh lightly. Mel stretches her chubby little arms towards me. I take her from Sara and kiss her cheek.
She smiles and giggles as she puts her little chubby fingers over my lips. Mel’s big gold eyes so bright and shiny, while her dimples cut adorably in to her chubby cheeks.
I kiss her cheek again, making sloppy sounds. She giggles as she tries to put her hands on my lips. “What, you don’t like Mommy’s kisses?” I smile, “Give Mommy kiss.”
Melissa smiles big, showing off her two bottom teeth that peek out. She puts her hands on my cheeks and push them together. She kisses my top lip and giggles.
I laugh as she rests her head on my shoulder, playing with my necklace. Adam and Abigail, my twins, walk in. “Hi Mom,” Abby smiles as she kisses my cheek.
Adam kisses my other cheek. “Are we having a family meeting now,” he asks, sitting down. Abby takes her seat across from him.
“Yes, but it won’t be long,” I say. “Why, you were busy?
“A little,” he admits. “But it’s okay. I like family meetings.”
I smile, happy to hear it. Family meets have always been fun in this house. Sara returns with Jon Jr. After Jon left, we just renamed him Junior. “Hi Mommy,” he smiles. At three, his adorable dimples and big blue eyes still make me smile. Looking like your father every day.’
He kisses my cheek and takes his seat next to Adam. Sara sits beside Abby. “Hi Hun,” I smile.
“We’re all here,” she says, waiting patiently.
“Then Junior can pray,” I smile.
We bow our heads and close our eyes. Junior starts to pray. “God… thank you for this family. Thank you for our Mommy…” He pauses. “Today I pray that this family meeting will bring us together, closer and stronger than before.” He pauses, “In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Everyone’s eyes are now focused intently on me. “Well… I called you all here because Grandpa died,” I say.
They are all silent. “Which one,” Abby asks, confused.
I smile gently, “My real father.”
“Oh,” Junior says. He looks down, but his head comes back up. “Did we know him?”
I try to keep a straight face. “Well, you wouldn’t remember him so much, but he has met all of you, except for Mel.”
“But why,” Junior asks.
“He was sick in the hospital before I was pregnant with Mel,” I say.
“He was sick for a long time then,” Adam asks.
“Seems so,” I say. “I was told today.”
“If we had known, we could’ve prayed for him,” Abby says.
Junior’s eyes go bright. “And then God would have healed him.” He slowly frowns, the brightness in his eyes dim somewhat. “But now he’s gone.”
Sara has been quiet through this all. I glance her way now. Abby asks her if she remembers him. “I don’t remember him,” she shakes her head. “I only remember Grandma’s wedding to Pappi.” No emotion in her voice.
“Are we going to the funeral,” Abby asks.
“Yes,” I nod. Abby slightly frowns. “It won’t be all bad. Kay will probably go too… depending on—” I stop my sentence. “Uncle Marcus and his family, Auntie Clarisse and even Auntie Kathleen probably might—”
“Is Uncle Antonio going to be there,” Junior smiles.
“Probably,” I say.
“Why probably,” Abby asks. “Don’t Kay and Uncle Antonio like their dad?”
“Well… I can’t answer that question since a lot of years have gone by since I’ve really seen either of them,” I say slowly.
“Well, hopefully Kay shows up,” Sara says. “Because without her and Kathleen it will get kind of boring,” she adds.
“Like the picnic last year,” Adam says. The others agree. “When are we leaving?”
“Thursday we’ll be leaving, since we’re driving up,” I say. Everyone nods, relieved we aren’t taking a plane. “The funeral is Saturday, we’ll actually get there Friday and then we’ll leave… the next Friday,” I say.
“This isn’t our vacation, is it,” Adam asks.
“No,” I say smiling. “Darrien Lake is already booked for two weeks in August.”
Their eyes widen with excitement. “Will we get a chance to see the Statue of Liberty up close,” Abby asks.
“Mmm, that’ll be great,” I smile. “Yes, and we’ll go to see Ground Zero.”
“And Times Square,” Sara smiles.
“Alright,” I smile. “And a little shopping.”
“Yay,” they say, smiling.
“Well this concludes our family meeting,” I say. “Unless anyone else has something to share.”
“Oh, I do,” Abby smiles.
“Go ahead,” I say.
“Before we go to New York, could we visit Sherry,” she asks. “It’s her birthday on Sunday.”
“Oh no, I forgot all about her party,” I say. “Yes, we’ll go over there tomorrow.”