Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Copyright © 12/2/2021 by Clover Journesy
It’s Been Forty Years
It was mom’s seventieth birthday. March 26, 2003, and a milestone that cannot go unrecognized. The three sisters and niece, cooked her favorite meal for dinner. When mom comes home from ‘Readers are Leaders’ book-club she attends every Thursday night, she will no doubt be surprised and delighted that her girls came together without the fussing and chaos that usually ensues when we get together.
“Here she comes. She is getting out of the car. Go hide.” Says Brenda, the eldest sister.
“She is 70, not 7,” said the second eldest, Brandy.
Brianna the youngest, sat pouring another glass of champagne. She rolled her eyes, laughed and added, a P…, Please.”
Niece, Sophia 23, stood at the door giving updates to her gran’s entrance, “Ok get ready.” The door opens. They allow their mom and gran to first, lay down her book, purse, and take off her coat. She turns to go into the living room. “SURPRISE!” She immediately grabs her chest, mouth opened and smiling. “Oh, My Lord. How did you do all of this?” Sophia takes her gran by the arm and says, “Here gran, sit on your throne.” Once seated. Brenda took the paper gold crown that has a big ‘70’ and placed it on her mom’s curly gray locs.
“This is for all the years you have put up with our mess, poor attitudes and yet, you never ceased to acknowledge and celebrate our good. We love you mom, and they all said, “Happy Birthday.”
As they got down to the business of eating the celebratory meal. We could see mom’s eyes were wide with excitement as she looked at the food we had prepared. A salad of fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, succulent cucumbers, radishes, and red onions. The main course: Smothered Cajun Chicken, new potatoes sautéed in spinach, basil and onion, homemade buttermilk biscuits, and string beans with smoked turkey. Brianna saved the Red Chianti Wine for dinner. Brenda remembered, mom once mentioned to her of our dad’s and her first date on the island of St Thomas. He had ordered the Red Chianti Wine. She said, ‘He was debonair with class and smelled so good.’ Then she’d close her eyes, shake all over and say, ‘mm, mm, mm.’
The door-bell rang. Sophia said, “I’ll get it.” Standing there was... as they say, ‘A tall, dark and handsome man, with dull eyes and well - aged skin.’ “Hello,” Sophia said.
“Is Charmaine here?”
No, there is no Charmaine that lives here.” Sophia said, as she begins to shut the door. The man stops the door with his hand, and says, “Is Charm here?”
“Grandmother! Yes, who are you?” The man looks down fidgeting with the brown fedora hat, he held in his hands.
“Gran.” Sophia calls out. "There is a man here wanting to see you." Soon gran comes to the door.
“Who is it?” Sophia looking at her gran with an inquisitive stare.
“You tell me.” Gran pushes past Sophia, opening the door wider. Shock! How can I describe the look on my gran’s face? It was as if she had seen a ghost. NO! That is not strong enough. Her look was more as if she saw the person she killed and they came back to seek revenge. “Brice,” she mumbled at the person standing before her.
“Charm… yes, it’s me.”
Sophia says, “Brice… that is grandpa’s name and he’s dead, right gran?” Gran looks at Sophia with tears welling up in her eyes. She takes the gentleman’s hand and says, “Come in.” Sophia stands to the side, leaning up against the wall to keep from falling. What heresy is this? She did not know whether to be happy, sad, excited or pinch herself to see if she was dreaming... or face the fact that our mom and gran has lied to us all these years.
The sisters were too busy eating and talking to notice the stranger who was standing with their mom. She coughed to get their attention. “Um, Brenda, Brandy, Brianna, and Sophia.” Walking around them and joining her aunts, Sophia took her seat. This is your… father and grandfather, Brice.
The daughters stopped talking, looking at one another and then at their gran and the strange man standing in front of them. The two people that if it not for them we would not exist. Brenda’s daughter leans in and asked. “I thought our grandpa was dead?”
Brenda stood and said, “So did I.”
Brandy said, “We all did… mom, dad?”
“Cinnamon, please set a place for your grandfather.” requested gran. Cinnamon is Brandy’s twelve-year-old daughter that she had at sixteen. The baby’s father married her, but it did not last. The father entered the Air Force and, when discharged, remained in France. He married and started a family, and where he has lived ever-since.
“Somebody say something. It’s been over forty years. I was nine and Brandy five and Brianna two, when you died of an apparent heart attack while on the cruise ship your band was hired to play on.” Brenda now speaking loudly and showing her anger. “Isn’t that what you told us mom?” Throwing down the napkin on the table. “Tell us the truth - you left mom to struggle all this time. Do you know what you put her and us through? The countless number of jobs, the disrespect she’s had to endure because of you - you were not here to protect or provide for your family? How could you suddenly show up here now!
“Brenda, stop it, just shut up! You don’t know the entire story. Stop talking!” Screamed gran.
Brandy stands and says, “Then tell us mom. Tell us what it is that we don’t know. Because ever since I can remember, I would ask you where’s my dad and why could I not go to the Fathers and Daughter’s dance at school? He was never at my birthdays’ not a gift or even a card from him. My father is dead. Cinnamon, get your coat. We’re leaving. “Happy Birthday.”
“Wait! Wait! Brice is now speaking. “Please everyone, can we sit down and talk? I can explain everything. Brandy, please come back - please. I admit, I was not a good father. I should have been here, and if I had - had my way, I would have been. I made your mother promise to tell you girls, I had died. I did not want you to live with my transgressions. I got caught up in something I thought would give us a better life as a family and I was wrong. The entertainment life, playing in different cities brings you into contact with sometimes unsavory individuals. They present opportunities that on the surface seem like a come-up financially and my mistake, I took the bait. A long story short. I helped embezzle five-hundred - thousand dollars, from a wealthy banker and his son was accidentally shot and lived to identify us - me. I was sentenced to forty years in the federal penitentiary. I was released three months ago. The musician’s union invested the money I had earned while I played the many years prior to going to prison. I knew the difficulty, and the sacrifices Charm made throughout these years of me not being in your lives, and I wanted to bring this to Charm and you children, or should I say, ‘young ladies and grandchildren, because I owe it to you. ' He handed the check to Charm. A very wide smile came across gran’s face. Brenda with a doubtful look and lips pursed held out her hand for gran to show the rest of them. The check read. Payable to Charmain Davis, $2.5 million dollars. “I don’t believe it,” said Brenda.
“We can go to the bank tomorrow and you will see. The check is legit and above board, drawn from the musician’s union,” Insures Brice.
Brenda said, “Alright mom, don’t do anything with this check until we can verify it first. Now let’s everyone finish eating this delicious meal we prepared before it gets cold.” Brice removed his coat and laid his hat on the hallway chair. Charm looked at Brice and said, “Welcome home.”
Brice bent down and kissed Charm on the cheek and said, “Happy Birthday.”