Charli being Charli (and Marita's daughter), she had ideas of her own and she thought it'd be more interesting if she and Angel interviewed each other, since both of them grew up with a sometimes-absent parent. Charli invited her mom to come along....
"Mom, are you sure you don't want to come?"
Marita hesitated, then nodded. "I'm sure. This sounds like something between you and Angel." Marita reached out and gave her daughter a one-armed hug. "Besides, I already know how the story turns out."
An hour later, Charli and Angel were parked on the porch swing, oohing and ahing over pictures of Spencer.
"She's growing so fast!" Charli said.
Angel tucked her phone back in her purse. "I know."
"That's good, though, right? Especially with a preemie."
Angel nodded. "Very good." She paused for a moment, watching her stepdaughter pick at her thumbnail. "What's your earliest memory, Charli?"
Charli stopped picking and looked up, scrunching her face in thought. "In life or of Dad?"
Charli leaned back against the porch swing. "I remember Mom singing songs and telling stories to get me to go to sleep when we lived at Grandma and Grandpa's. Grandma always thought Mom put me to bed too late, but when she put me to bed early, I wouldn't sleep. I waited for her to come to bed."
"You remember that?"
"I'm not sure if I remember the part about Grandma or if Mom told me that, but I do remember playing with my stuffed animals until Mom came to bed. We shared a room. How about you, Angel? What's your earliest memory?"
"Picnics," she said. "We picked up fried chicken at the store because Mama never really liked to cook. I'm actually not sure if she liked the picnics either, or if they were Daddy's idea. Mama never really looked happy. Or maybe that's just how I remember it now."
"I'm sorry you grew up without your mom." Charli shook her head. "I can't even imagine."
"It's wonderful that you and your mom are so close. I hope I have that kind of relationship with Spencer."
"You will. I mean, there's no way she doesn't know how much you love her." Charli cocked her head and squinted at Angel. "Does that make you sad?"
"No! Not at all. That was a really sweet thing to say. I was just thinking -- "
"About my dad?"
Angel laughed. "Not much gets by you, does it?"
Charli shrugged. "Mom says I'm dangerous that way."
"What do you remember about visits to our house? When you were little?"
"I remember...I remember not knowing why I had to come -- no offense."
"I remember you having all kinds of stuff planned, but Dad not really knowing how to act around me."
"You remember that?"
"Well, at five all I knew was that he didn't act like the other adults I knew -- Mom, Grandma and Grandpa, and my teacher. Mom explained to me that he didn't have a lot of experience with kids."
"What did she tell you about why you came to visit?"
"Well, she told me he was my dad, and so I asked why he didn't live with us and she told me it was just better that he didn't. I asked her why and she told me that they didn't get along anymore and he was happier -- they were both happier -- living their lives apart from each other."
"You remember all that?"
"I asked a lot of questions, and Mom always answered them. As I got a little older, I could tell that it was hard for her to find the right words. Mom always answers things right away and when I asked questions about Dad, she always hesitated, like she had to think about the answer. And sometimes she got a funny look on her face. I think I even asked her if I should stop asking but she told me to never stop asking questions."
"It wasn't really fun for you to come over, was it?"
Charli hesitated. "Not at first because I was so used to it being just me and Mom. But I got more comfortable with it. And it seemed like it made you happy."
"You could tell that?"
"Uh huh." Charli hesitated again. "This is gonna sound wrong, but I mean for it to be a compliment. It's hard for me to believe that your mom never looked happy because you always do."
Angel put an arm around her stepdaughter. "That is probably the nicest thing you could have said to me."
Charli picked at her thumbnail again. "Families are weird."
"Unique," Angel said gently. "No two are quite the same."
|Okay, my imaginary porch swing looks nothing like this |
but, if Angel were designing it....
Photo: vargazs via Pixabay
Want a little more? Check back on Wednesday for the opening to Courting Peace, the third (and final) book in the MAC Series.
May all of your stories today have happy endings.