Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chapter 35


The next yard sale was a bust and Jeannie was upset and wanted to go back to the first yard sale.

"I have an idea ... maybe."

"Kay-Lee ...," Linda said reading my thoughts.

"Well, that's where they always took us and you know they'll probably have the kind of stuff Jeannie needs.  I'm not too sure about the guys though."

"I don't know about Benedict and Sawyer but Tommy isn't going to go for it."

Sawyer asked, "Where?"

I turned and said, "The Mission Thrift Store downtown."

Sawyer and Benedict said, "No."

"But ..."

"No.  I'm not taking Jeannie anywhere near that place.  It's right next to the 'hood."

Sawyer said, "Absolutely no."

Knowing when I was licked I just shrugged, "OK."

But Jeannie hadn't had her say.  She asked, "Why do you think they'd have what I was looking for?"

"Because all the rich people around town would always donate a lot of stuff at Christmas and the people at the Mission would package it up and get it where it needed to go but there was always so much extra coming in - sometimes deaprtment stores would donate stuff they couldn't get rid of on clearance or anything that got too messed up and wouldn't sell - that they had to build a thrift store.  A lot of stuff is second hand in there but its like name brand and in really good condition."

Benedict said, "I don't care if they're giving gold diapers away.  No."

They started bickering and I said, "Aw geez, don't start squabbling.  You sound like Harley and Davey after the same bone.  If that place is out how about the clearance mall in Hightown.  It means a drive but ..."

The three guys looked at each other and said, "I feel a drive to Hightown has moved to the top of my list."

Jeannie said, "What about gas?"

Benedict answered, "I'm good, both tanks were full before we left.  What about you Sawyer?"

"We should be ok.  Let's stop at the tractor place coming back.  Gramps was talking about needing some pins and other stuff for the tractors like ..."

Jeannie rolled her eyes.  "If it isn't cars it’s tractors."

Linda grinned and said, "Yeah, and I bet before the day is over they take credit for Kay-Lee's idea since it seemed providential that they could stop at their man stores."

Jeannie smiled and asked me, "You ok with that?"

I yawned, "Anything to stop them from looking at me like I have three heads just 'cause I suggested going downtown.  I didn't mean anything bad by it."

Linda walked with me back to the Sawyer's truck.  "I know you didn't.  They know you didn't.  But you gotta remember they're as nervous about going downtown as most of the folks in the 'hood would be about traipsing out to the country.  They just don't mix too well."

"Whatever."

Sawyer was on the cell phone with his Gramps almost as soon as we pulled out and by the time we got to the highway had added almost a page of stuff to his already long list of things to look for.  He'd call something out and I would write it down.  About twenty minutes later we were pulling into the clearance mall.

"Wow, this place looks dead," Tommy said.

"It's not a paycheck weekend.  Let it get towards the first of the month again and people will have money to spend," Sawyer said as he helped me get set.  He asked me, "You ok for this?  Not too tired?"

"I'm fine.  If I need to sit down there looks like there are plenty of empty benches.  But does this wreck up what you wanted to do?"

"We may have to do the thrift stores another day but maybe not, we'll have to see.  I heard back at that place we stopped that now that the grand opening is over with the discount store is jacking up their prices and doesn't have as much on the shelves either ... their restocks are on backorder or whatever you want to call it.  Basically they can't get stuff to restock with."

Our other plans may have been a bust but the clearance mall was a hit.  In fact the guys had to go take some bags out to the vehicles and then come back because they said they were starting to feel like pack mules.  I had fun looking while Linda and Jeannie shopped for things on Aunt Pearl's lists.  I did get a couple of things but not bags and bags like they did.  The guys had been good about going in every place we wanted to stop but they drew the line at the discount beauty supply place so we left them salivating in a tool store.

Jeannie and Linda were testing out nail polishes but I was looking for a hair brush because mine had lost more bristles than it had left and I had forgotten to look last time we were out.  What I found were boxes of the inexpensive throw-away combs that you get in the barber shop and from there I found nail scrubbers, nail files and clippers, and the sort of little odds and ends that the charities always put into the Christmas stockings of teenage girls.  They were actually useful though in some homes they were a prohibited item so were confiscated.

I picked up a bunch and then took them to the counter.  Jeannie saw me heading that way and stopped me.  "Watcha got?"  When I showed her she asked, "Actually that might be a good idea."  Linda agreed and we all came out of the store with stuff like that.  While in line I also added a bunch of hair bobs and clips that were in a clearance box just begging for someone to take them home.

We came out to find the guys were starving to death and there was an inexpensive Chinese place in the food court.  We all ordered something different and then shared it all around.  I had never done anything like that and had a lot of fun.  Even the corny fortune cookies were funny.  Sawyer's said "Flattery will get you far tonight."  Everyone laughed at that one while I blushed but then when I opened mine they laughed harder still.  "Marriage lets you annoy that one special person for the rest of your life."  OK, so yeah, I saved those two fortunes.  Dorky but I've got a place I can stay and keep stuff now so I don't have to get rid of every little thing that might weigh me down or take up room in my backpack.

After eating we finished up the last aisle of the outdoor type mall and then headed off to the tractor place.  We - us girls I mean - were set on waiting the guys out but across the road from the tractor place was one of those tourist traps that sold all sorts of junk and then some.  There was also a used book store and a news stand.

It was two story and I wasn't loving trying to hobble up the stairs but there was a kids' consignment shop up there so I told Linda and Jeannie that I would hang around downstairs and to take as much time as they wanted.  I went straight to the bookstore and looked around and then got lost in the dollar bin that amongst all the bodice rippers there were some pretty interesting old cookbooks.  I debated and picked up a couple of the cookbooks, a couple of "trash to treasure" craft books, a book on "fixing just about everything," and then a big book on frugal living that had a huge section on homemade cleaning supplies and beauty supplies and another big section of recipes for things like condiments and a bunch of other stuff like that.

From there I wandered through the stores that I imagined tourists would love with all their goofy collectibles like t-shirts, spoons, thimbles, shot glasses, and other stuff that had absolutely no use except as a dust magnate.  The news stand was the last store and I was considering buying a couple of the women's magazines that had decorating ideas that looked cute when Benedict stuck his head  in and said, "There you are.  Uh ... look ... we got a situation."

I followed him out immediately and found Jeannie looking green in the gills, Linda crying, Tommy looking upset, and Sawyer looking like he was about due for a nuclear meltdown.  I looked at Benedict but he was already heading towards Jeannie and was pulling what looked like crackers out of his pocket.  Sawyer was completely unapproachable and stomped off when he saw I was heading in his direction.  I turned to Tommy and he said, "Jeannie ran into her sister who was here with her aunt who was visiting from out of town and there was a scene.  Linda's mom told her she can't come by.  And Sawyer is mad at Lisa who was at the tractor place with her dad and brother getting their riding lawn mower fixed and complaining about how high the bill was."

"Ooooo-kay."  I looked for Sawyer but didn't see him and wasn't in any shape to chase after him where ever he was so I took Linda and sat her on the bench away from where Jeannie was retching into the barrel trashcan.  "What's up?" I asked her.

"I called Mom and she said I couldn't come by."

"Did she say why?"

"Because Dad is ... is having a bad day and wouldn't remember me.  Then she said it might be better if ... if I not plan on coming by at all ... ever ... because ... because ... Dad isn't really Dad most of the time anymore and that ... that it would be too ... too hard ... that he has gotten a lot worse a lot faster than anyone expected and they think he might have had strokes and I'm not supposed to even come see him if he has to go into the hospital, that she'll let me know ... know when ... when he dies."

"Oh Linda."  I held my friend as she tried really hard not to cry.

She was only getting worse and I knew I needed to stop her spiraling thoughts.  Linda didn't get like that often but when she did it could get really bad.  "Hey Linda ... look, you know your Mom and Dad care about you right?  You do know that don't you?  They picked you.  Out of all the kids they had fostered they picked you and only you to adopt."

She sniffed and said, "I know.  I just ... I just don't understand.  And he ... he just forgot me ..."

"He isn't forgetting you on purpose.  He has something wrong with his brain.  You explained that part to me yourself.  You ... you knew this was coming.  Maybe not so quickly but ..."

"I know.  But Mom doesn't want to see me either."

"Now that's just not true."

"How do you know?!" she snapped.

"Because your Mom is one of those really nice people.  Not gushy or sweet but honestly nice.  Who has she put first in all of this?  You.  She wanted to see you settled before things got bad.  A lot of people might have had something to say about you and Tommy getting married, they might not have understood or might have even been nasty about it ... but not your parents.  They want you to be happy and taken care of and living in a situation where you can ... where you can flourish and reach your full potential.  And you are.  Don't you think she needs to know that you are?"

"Then why won't she let me see her and Dad?"

"Because right now she really needs all her energy to focus on your Dad.  I guess they thought they had more time to get things straight, to ease into this ... this new phase they are going through.  But apparently they don't and it is taking all of your mom's energy to try and help your dad the best she can.  And seeing you seeing him not knowing you would probably be too hard for her ... and she doesn't want him to hurt either so ... so even if maybe it’s hurting you I don't think she is hurting you to make you hurt but to prevent you from hurting worse."

I doubt that would make sense to anyone else, but Linda grabbed a hold of that idea with both hands and I could see her wanting to believe it so much.

"I wanna help her Kay-Lee.  She helped me so much, I want to help her back."

"Well, for right now how about writing her a letter telling her that you understand that it would be really hard for her to have you around right now but that you want her to know all the ways that you appreciate all she's done for you.  You could put in all the good memories you have.  This way even though your dad is losing his memories your mom knows that someone will remember the good times besides her.  She'll know for absolute certain that she isn't alone and that you are thinking of her all the time."

Linda nodded.  "Ok.  I'll give it a try.  But you know I don't write very good."

"And the fact that you took the time to try will mean that much more to her."

"You think?"

"You always told me that your mom loved getting mail ... real mail, not bills."

Linda smiled and said, "She does.  She really does.  She kinda dances back from the mail box to the house when she gets a letter from someone."

"See?  And maybe with some time for your mom to think about it she can find a way to see you and you her.  OK?"

"That's a really good idea.  And I'll tell her about what I'm doing.  Maybe ... maybe she can read the letters to Dad on his good days."

"Sounds like a plan to me."

"But now our day is all messed up.  Why do bad things have to happen like this?  We were having so much fun."

Remembering what one of my foster families used to say I told her, "Adversity is the opportunity to discover that you are more than you think you are."

"Huh?"

"It means in the bad times you can find strength that you didn't realize you had.  Bad times is when you find stuff, not just lose it."

"Well it feels like we are all losing stuff.  My dad, Jeannie and her family, Tommy worries that he's gonna lose me because I'll go back to living with Mom and Dad to help out, and Sawyer lost ... um ... I mean ..."

"It's ok Linda.  I don't know what happened but I know that girl hurt him really bad and he lost his love for her."

"Yeah."

"Look, you're dad isn't running out on you on purpose.  It's bad but ... kinda out of anyone's control.  Like that time I almost died because of that infection I got after they put those screws in my ankle.  No one meant it to happen, my body just got sick and ... and now I've got drop foot.  It made things hard but I learned to live with it and even though my foot is forever going to be weak part of me is stronger because my foot is weak.  Jeannie ... well Jeannie can't control how her family is reacting.  Maybe she and Benedict did some things backwards but they're trying to do the right thing now.  I don't know why her family is running out on her but they are.  Maybe things will get better and maybe, like my foot, she'll have an injury to her heart that won't.  But she can be stronger for it.  Her and Benedict together can be stronger for it and learn from the mistakes her family is making."

"And Sawyer?"

"I don't know what all happened.  It is kinda not my business but ... but if I have it right that girl Lisa ran out on Sawyer when things got tough.  She ran instead of getting stronger.  But when she ran Sawyer got stronger.  He ... he stopped being a boy and all that trouble he went through when people ran out on him ... well he learned to be stronger.  Except Gramps ... Gramps didn't run out on him, it just took time until Gramps could reach him in a way he could understand.  It can be the same way for your mom.  And you can let Tommy know you aren't going to run out on him ... and Tommy's hand writing is pretty decent, you can get him to help you write those letters and that will help you and Tommy to get strong together."

She nearly strangled with a hug and then ran over to Tommy and started talking to him and in two seconds he seemed to be ready to take on the world.

I leaned back and then someone behind me said, "Not bad Sunshine, but it is going to take more than words to help Sawyer."

I turned and Benedict and Jeannie were standing there.  "What happened?"

"You know who Lisa is?"

"Generally speaking."

"Yeah well, generally speaking she messed Sawyer up bad.  You come along and he laughs more than he has in a long time.  We all thought he was going to become like Uncle Mark."  I made a face and Benedict nodded solemnly and said, "Exactly.  But seems like Sawyer is still pretty sensitive because we were in the tractor store and we didn't even notice them until Lisa's old man comes bulling over and shouting at Sawyer to stop stalking his daughter."

"Huh?"

"Yeah, I didn't know what he was talking about either."

Tommy who had come up added, "Lisa was at the flea market.  Yeah I know Kay-Lee but Sawyer didn't want to ruin your day and he seemed to get over it after you two were back together.  That Lisa is a piece of work and her dad is really loud and embarrassed Sawyer I think."

"Where is he?"

"Around the other side of the building."


 

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