Time in Willow Creek: 12 months, 6 days
It had been a while since Harold and Harriett had been to Rebecca’s house to see their older grandchildren. Mallory, the youngest, was the one they saw often as Rebecca would send her to the library for the various activities Harriett had for the neighborhood children. She also sent her to the house to visit during times when she needed to stash her someplace for a few hours. She didn’t trust her oldest to take care of her, and the boys weren’t responsible enough in her eyes. This visit was a planned one, and Rebecca made sure the children were around and spent time with their grandparents. She mostly spoke to her father as she had plans to speak with her mother privately. After she felt she had spent enough time with him, she made a loaded statement to Harriett. “Mama, I’ve got some iced tea on the gazebo…” Everyone within earshot knew what that meant. Harold turned his attention back to his grands while Harriett and Rebecca made their exit. Walking through the house and across the yard, Harriett was so proud of her daughter and everything she accomplished. Sure, she didn’t do things the way she thought she should have, but according to Harriett’s world-view, Rebecca had everything she was supposed to have and did everything she was supposed to do. The two ladies sat at the table, and Rebecca poured a glass for her mother. The ice clinked against the glass and sounded like a wind chime that needed to be tuned.
“Oh, thank you, darlin,” Harriett said. She sipped the amber-colored liquid and dabbed her lips with a folded white napkin that was prepared for her. “Mmmm. I swear you make the best tea!”
Rebecca and her mother didn’t always see eye to eye, but she still respected her. Deep down, when no one else was looking, she actually still wanted her approval like most children did. Little compliments like that made her happy.
“You look tired, mama.” That was as close as she would get to asking her how she was doing. She took after her father in the verbal intimacy department.
Harriett’s eyes opened wider than usual. She didn’t realize the stress she was experiencing showed. After the initial shock wore off, her eyes relaxed, and she realized the purpose of the tea date. She took another sip before she made her reply. “Well… I’m sure you’ve heard by now.”
Rebecca took a long sip of tea. Internally she chuckled at the fact that despite how hard Harriett worked to raise three perfect little children, none of them turned out exactly how she wanted them to be.
“That child…” Harriett shook her head and took another sip. “I swear she’s gonna put me in an early grave!”
“Oh, mama.” She rolled her eyes.
“I can talk to her ’til I’m blue in the face, and she always does the opposite! She wants to get married, but she ain’t ready for that kind of life. She just wants someone to carry on with and take care of her! She’s a child!” She swirled the ice in glass as if the drink wasn’t cold enough.
Rebecca could see that her mother was frustrated. That was not typical of Harriett. Usually, she either got fed up and abandoned her plans or she kept pushing forward. She rarely ever let things get to her like that, and so, she let her mother talk.
“She doesn’t cook, she doesn’t clean… I don’t think I’ve ever seen her use the washing machine. And I swear she thinks money grows on trees! How is she gonna take care of a child? She barely takes care of herself!” She took another swig and briefly wished it was something stronger. “I’ll help her. Lord knows I will. But she has another think coming if she thinks I’m going raise this one too!
“How has daddy been?”
Harriett cut her eyes at her so fast, she should have been left in two pieces.
“About the money I mean,” Rebecca said, stifling laughter.
“Oh. He don’t say anything about it, but I know he’s thinking hard about supporting a third child. Juliana, bless her heart, she tries not to be a burden. I think if it were up to her, she’d still be wearing that same outfit she came here with. I have to make her go shopping. Good thing this friend has taken an interest in getting her things.”
They both took a few sips of tea, sat back and watched the sun begin to set.
“Sounds like they need jobs,” Rebecca said.
“Hillary for sure needs to be working! I just talked to her a little while ago about finding something to do with her time, but I don’t know what else to say to her. She just don’t listen!”
“Let me handle her. And, don’t worry about anything. I’ll take care of the baby furniture and the shower. We can have it here.”
Harriett was so relieved she could have cried. She reached out and grabbed Rebecca’s hand. “Thank you, sweetie pie! That’ll help so much. And, your daddy will be relieved!”