Sunday, July 8, 2012
Part of the Family
Part of the Family
Helene and Neville Merryweather were on their way home to Camden Corners. They had mentioned the possibility of adopting children from the villa but hadn't planned on bringing two young girls to their home this soon.
James, Melinda and Melissa were busy helping the housekeeper put fresh linens on the beds in the spare room and airing out and dusting the seldom used room.
“I think the girls will like this room Melinda,” Melissa said “It's a very cheerful. I like the flowered wallpaper in here. I wonder why I didn't chose it for my own?”
“Because you didn't want the sun to wake you up in the mornings. Won't it be fun to have two more sisters? I think James was hoping Father and Helene would bring home a boy. Not that he doesn't like being our big brother.”
“I wonder what they will be like. Helene said we would love the Marissa, she didn't say too much about Marvella.”
“Wouldn't it be terrible to not have any family at all? We will have to try very hard to make them both feel welcome.”
“I think I have beaten every last speck of dust out of this old rug,” James said as he hauled it into the room. It does look very nice in here. I'm glad you opened the curtains wide. I think our new sisters will like it.”
“I hope they like us too,” said Melissa. “Helene said this was just a visit so we could all get to know each other.”
“I think they'll like you just fine, squirt. I do worry about Melinda though. She can be such a problem child.”
“Oh stop it James.” Melinda spoke up. “You know we have brought nothing but sunshine into your dull and boring life. Now, help me move this bed just a little closer to the wall.”
James laughed. Melinda was right. He loved having sisters to tease. He was happy he sought out his birth father all those months ago. It was hard to believe they were all sharing the same house together now.
On the train, Helene was helping Marvella with her reading. She struggled over the larger words but for a girl who had not attended school regularly she did very well. Marvella liked it best when Helene read the story to her. Marissa was content to look at the pictures in her new book. Margaret read it three times to her and Neville read it two more. Marissa was able to recite the story without reading the words.
As the train pulled into the station in Camden Corners. Marvella was changing her mind. We should have stayed in the villa. I don't want another family. They won't like me. All negative thoughts were going through her mind. Marissa was on her knees looking out the window. “Is that them?” she squealed when she saw a tall young man with two younger girls? “Are they my new brother and sisters?”
Marissa was giggling with excitement. Marvella was practicing her best scowl. If they don't like me I won't like them either she thought to herself.
They all stepped off the train. Helene and Neville hugged their children and then introduced Marissa and Marvella.
“I like our new family, don't you Marvella?” Marissa said on the way to the Merryweather home.
“They are alright,” Marvella hid her face as best she could.
“Marvella, are you reading Little Women? That is my favorite book.” said Melissa “Nobody reads it out loud like Helene. You would think you were sitting right in the March living room.”
“That's what Marvella said, didn't you Marvella?” Marissa said hoping her sister would put a smile on her face.
“It's alright,” was all Marvella said.
They were finally home. The Merryweather girls showed the newcomers their room. They weren't surprised when Marissa jumped for joy when she saw her big bed. James had bought a stuffed animal for each of the girls and put them on their beds. Marissa hugged the animal and hugged everyone in the room. Marvella looked around and said nothing.
Helene said, “Let's go downstairs to see what we can find for lunch. Melissa would you stay here and help Marvella unpack her things. Marissa, you can help set the table.”
When Melissa and Marvella were alone, Marvella said, “How come you call your mother Helene?”
“Helene isn't my real mother. She and Father were married just a few months ago. Our real mother died last year.”
“Is James your real brother?”
“It's complicated. James is our half brother. You see Father and Helene knew each other a long time ago. They were in love but they couldn't be together because our grandfather didn't approve of Helene. James was born because Father and Helene loved each other so very much. Father didn't know about James until last year. Now we are all a big family and we all love each other.”
“Does Miss Helene love you and Melinda even though she isn't your real mother?”
“Oh yes, Helene loves us very much. Our real mother didn't pay too much attention to us but Helene does. She cares about what we think and how we feel. She knows when we are sad or unhappy and she holds our hand and lets us talk to her. Our mother never liked having us around. We still loved her but she didn't seem like she loved us back. Helene says people love differently and our mother did love us in her own special way.”
“My mother didn't like having Marissa and me around either. She didn't want Marissa to be born. I don't think she wanted me to be born either but she never said that.”
“I expect your mother did love you but in her own special way like Helene says.”
“Do you really think so Melissa?”
“Yes, I really think so. Shall we hang your clothes in the wardrobe and go down to see what's for lunch?”
Helene thought Marvella's step was just a little lighter. She had a feeling she and Melissa would get along well. They were close to the same age.
“After lunch we'll take a tour of the town. I think you ladies will like looking at all the pretty Christmas decorations in Pringles. We will go to the toy store and maybe stop for some candy at the candy shop. I'm sure we will meet a lot of the people who live here since it's such a beautiful fall day.”
“Maybe I could stop by the newspaper office and see if Ella is ready to leave for the day,” said James.
“Ella is James' sweetheart. She writes for the newspaper,” Melissa explained.
“May I be your sweetheart too James?” Marissa said
“You already are Marissa and I'm sure you will be Ella's sweetheart too.”
Marvella liked James. He was tall and handsome and seemed so very nice to his sisters. She liked the whole family but she didn't want to be hurt again so she hid that fact from them. She and Marissa did just fine without a family. They said we were here for a visit. That's like all the houses we stayed in after Mama died. They kept us for a little while and then they sent us on to somebody else.
Ella joined the group. Marvella could tell everybody liked her too. “I'm meeting Vicar Will and the boys at the lake. They are fishing now and I promised if they didn't smell too fishy, we would get ice cream. How about it, anyone want to join us at the drugstore?”
Butch and Billy entertained everyone with their fish tales. Marvella couldn't help but laugh just a little bit.
They walked along the beach after the ice cream. “Are Miss Helene and Mr. Neville adopting you and Marissa?” Billy said.
“No, we are just here for a visit. I'm sure they will send us back to the villa. I think they would like Marissa to stay with them because she is so cute and happy. I won't let them take her away from me though.”
“Why would they take her away from you? I'm sure they like you too. Before Ma and Pa adopted Butch and me, I was grouchy too. Being part of a family makes you feel happy inside and when that happens you will begin to smile just like me.” Billy showed off his teeth with a big smile.
“I didn't know you were adopted. Is Ella your sister and is Butch your brother?”
“Ella is my sister. Our mama died when I was just a baby. Ella didn't know where I was. Butch started to follow me around one day when I was in New York City and he keeps following me. He never had a mama until Mama Kate. Now we are all a family and we have a new baby sister. Her name is Hillary.”
“Do you like being adopted?”
“Are you kidding? It's the greatest thing ever. We even have a great grandma and great grandpa. There are a lot of kids around here that are adopted. You'll meet them all soon. I know you're scared the Merryweathers will send you away but I know they won't do that. Miss Helene works in the library. She helps me with my reading when I get stuck on something and she never makes me feel stupid. You are lucky she is going to be your new ma.”
“My new ma. I wish that could be true,” thought Marvella.
The day was passing swiftly. Marissa was so tired from all the activity she could barely make it through supper. Neville carried her to her new bed. She held onto her stuffed animal as though she was afraid to let it go.
Marvella climbed into her own bed. She had never slept on anything so soft and comfortable. She didn't remember a better day in all her thirteen years. She began to cry softly. She never cried before. At least ever that she could remember. The tears wouldn't stop. She heard the door open and Miss Helene sat down and put her hand on her back. “Go ahead and cry my darling girl, you have held the tears in long enough. Now you have a family to care for you and share your burdens. I hope you will stay here and join our family. We love you and your sister very much.”
Nobody had ever told Marvella that she was loved before. “Are you sure Miss Helene, are you sure you want me too and not just Marissa? I promise not to be grouchy, like Billy says.”
“You just promise to be yourself. If you feel grouchy then that's what you should be. Sometimes I feel grouchy too, but that doesn't mean those who love me make me go away.”
Marvella fell asleep with her own stuffed animal tucked inside her arm.
The sun beamed through the window the next morning waking Marissa up. “Marvella, get up, Miss Helene is making cinnamon muffins, I can smell them baking.”
Marvella and Marissa walked into the kitchen hand in hand. “Good morning ladies” said Helene. I thought the smell of these muffins might wake all the sleepy heads up. Sit down and have some oatmeal. Mrs. Turner added raisins to it as a special treat. Everyone else should be down shortly. We have things to talk about when they get here.”
Marvella's face fell. Was she dreaming last night when Miss Helene came into her room? Are they going to tell her she has to go back to the villa, but they want to keep Marissa with them? Marvella's chin started to quiver as everyone walked through the kitchen door.
“What's wrong Marvella? We were hoping you would be happy to stay here with us?” said Melinda.
“I wanted everyone to be here when we made it official. Neville, would you like to ask the girls a question?” said Helene
“Miss Marvella and Miss Marissa, Miss Helene and I wanted to give you some time to adjust to living here in Camden Corners with us before we asked you to become real members of the Merryweather family. We found that we love you both so much we can't wait another day. We would like to adopt you and be your mother, father, sister and brother. I also have a sister who you will meet today. Her name is Miss Millie and she will make a wonderful aunt to you. Would you honor us by becoming our daughters forever and always?”
“Marvella, we can stay here forever, did you hear that? We have a mama and papa. Why are you crying Marvella?”
“I'm crying because I can't keep the smile off my face you silly thing. I'm so happy.”
The only person in the room that wasn't crying was Marissa. Even Neville and James had to wipe a tear from their eye.
“I wonder if Oscar and Nettie decided about welcoming anyone into their home? I know Oscar was concerned about his age. Nettie thinks he's younger than most men half his age and I tend to agree with her. I expect they will be home later today. It has been quite an eventful week,” said Neville.
“Yes it has Neville, and a wonderful week discounting your near death experience. You must promise me you will never do anything so foolish again.”
“I promise dear. Now sit down and relax, you are a mother of five now. It's been a long wait to be together but I have never been happier.” Neville kissed her and heard some giggling. His son and four daughters were peeking in the window at them. All smiling, all happy and all together.