The warm, country kitchen was alive with the sound of laughter and the aroma of fresh gingerbread. Marybelle smiled as she watched her three beautiful grandaughters baking Christmas cookies for her. The girls rarely saw each other anymore and it was so good to see them together once again. Marybelle had called each of the girls earlier in the month and asked them to come for the weekend. Her smile dimmed slightly. The reason for this gathering wasn't as pleasurable as the girls were led to believe. Marybelle knew it wasn't the best timing, but it had to be done now, this weekend. She shook her head trying to dislodge the sadness that was moving into her thoughts.
"Grandma, are you okay?" Marybelle looked up and saw that all three girls had stopped their talking and baking and were staring at her.
Forcing a smile she nodded and said, "I'm just tired. I think I will go and sit by the fireplace with my knitting." With that she slowed raised from the hard wooden chair by the dining table and shuffled towards her favorite armchair in the adjoining room. She saw Gwen step forward to help her, but she waved her back to the kitchen.
Sinking into total comfort, Marybelle allowed her aching muscles to relax. Heaviness sunk into her lap as her silvery, gray cat curled up and began purring. She pushed her fingers throught the soft fur at his neck and allowed her eyes to flutter shut. For a moment she listened to the whispers out in the kitchen. She knew they were concerned about her and for once they had reason to be, only they didn't know it yet.
Once she was sure the girls had stopped watching her she openned her eyes and gazed back in towards the kitchen. It still amazed her that her grandbabies were all grown up. They were all in their mid to late twenties now. Each one of them were as different as they were beautiful. Gwen was the oldest of the three. Her life took her to the city and into the fast paced world of business. Even now, standing in the kitchen with her cousins, she had a look of professionalism and perfection. Her blond hair was swept up tightly to the back or her head and pinned so not a strand could fall free. Her makeup was done with great care and she wore a spotless white blouse. Her only dash of daring was the bright red skirt she wore in honour of the Christmas season, but even it was cut in a straight conservitive style. Sylvia, on the other hand, was as dark and casual as Gwen was blonde and formal. Her skin was wonderfully bronzed from contant exposure to the sun and her dark, chocolate eyes glittered with mischief. She wore her hair up also, but hers was in a casual ponytail. A red and green plaid shirt hung loosely over her frame not revealing the femininity beneath. Sylvia was a landscaper by trade and she loved it. The youngest of the bunch was Fern. A mop of wild, sandy curls bounced around her small delicate features. She was very shy and she used her wild hair to hide behind. Fern's entire stature was small, but there was nothing small about her round stomach. Marybelle's lips twitched at the memories of the day Fern got up enough nerve to call her and tell her she had gone to a doctor about having a baby by an anonymous donor. She figured that she would never meet Mr. Right if she didn't have enough courage to talk to anyone.
Settling deeper into her chair Marybelle closed her eyes and smiled. This was going to be an interesting weekend, definately bitter sweet.