Jonathan and Julio spent a lot of time conversing and making plans for the memorial park, and things were going well. The details and design were firm, and they could begin construction anytime. A huge part of him had grown excited about the project, but another part of him ached. He had shouldered the weight of his transgressions in private until now. Nothing Jonathan did was ever truly private, but doing this would take his private struggles and make them public. It was a very bold move, and he felt the need to prepare the family for whatever came down the pipe. He invited his sister and first cousins (minus Graham) over to discuss the goings on with their old family home.
Oliver kept everyone entertained, of course. Jonathan allowed it as he wasn’t in a hurry to make the announcement. After a few minutes, Skyla scooped him up to take him outside.
Jonathan panicked just a little. “You’re not going to stay?”
“I think I should keep him out of your hair for a while.”
As much as he wanted her by his side, looking after the boy was a more important job. Oliver hadn’t learned to keep himself occupied yet without sticking a tablet in his face. Apart from killing flashcards, he loved the dollhouse the most and always dragged Sky out there with him.
Family time was never a waste, but time escaped them, so he decided to get started. “I have something to share. I thought about inviting everyone, but we’re the only ones whoever spent time in the Estate.” Opening statements were never his strong point, and he knew they were surprised and very curious. “I wanted my girls here because I kept them in the dark for so long. I’m not gonna do that anymore.”
This was it. He took a deep breath. “First…I know we’re all past it, but I never really apologized to you all for…for not being a good steward.”
Some of them stared. The others nodded slowly.
“I know only me and my family were directly affected and nothing changed for the rest of you. We might have different last names, but we’re all Pruetts. What I do affects all of us. Our reputations, the respect people give us…all of it. So…I’m really sorry for jeopardizing all of that.”
Oh how he wished he could tell what they were thinking. The girls looked proud, but he couldn’t tell if the rest of them felt hurt, appreciated the apology, or were just listening. Still, he soldiered on. “We all know what happened, so I won’t rehash it. Tony’s son, Julio, reached out to me because of a letter he received from the city. They’re forcing him to do something about the property.”
“Like what?” Chasity asked.
“Well, they want it demolished, but thanks to Aubrey, Julio proposed an alternate solution.”
She was so smart and loving just like her mother. Julio better appreciate her. “If you haven’t heard by now…they’re dating.” Even though her birthday was a while ago and she was about to open her own restaurant, he occasionally struggled to see her as an adult. Sometimes, he still saw his sweet little girl, but she was a grown woman now with a serious boyfriend; it was a disturbing thought at times. “The Estate will come down, but we’re going to turn the property into a memorial park. Our parents…Juliette…grandma…everyone can stay put.”
Janessa got a little misty-eyed at the mention of their beloved sister gone too soon. “That’s wonderful, Jonathan. Thank you, Aubrey,” she whispered.
“I’m sorry you have to keep dealing with this, man.” Derek had never looked so concerned before. “It can’t be easy for you to keep dealing with this over and over.”
“I appreciate that, Derek. I really do.”
They loved him, and he always knew that, but they always warmed his heart when they chose to show love instead of the disappointment and frustration they would have been justified to display. That’s what supportive families did for each other. No tragedy, no conman, no nothing would ever take that away from the Pruett family.