When Holly and Harvey left for University, life was pretty quiet at the Ferguson homestead. Shep and Madeleine spent a lot of time with their youngest daughter, Debbie. Fishing, in the Ferguson family, is the number one hobby for the boys, but then Madeleine tried it and became quite good, too. The older girls in the family, Gillian, Margo and Holly, did fish, but never became serious about it. Debbie on the other hand, from the moment the Fergusons adopted her into their family at six years of age, adored her parents and anything that they did, she wanted to do as well. Consequently, she fished with Shep and gardened with him as well and grew quite adept at both. Trailing along after Madeleine she developed an interest in cooking and cleaning. Debbie had been quiet and shy in the beginning, but now she opened up and sometimes even got into scrapes as Holly and Harvey had done. She just tended to clean up after herself better. As in the case of jumping on the bed; she always made up the bed afterward. When blowing bubbles she never swallowed them, so she was never sick afterward. Her dollhouse remained un-smashed as well. When she scattered her blocks she always made sure to pick them up when she was done.
After Madeleine worked with her on homework several times; Debbie was quite speedy at getting it done early every morning, although she did tell Shep that fractions sometimes just got on her nerves". He thought her phraseology was funny.
All during these years that Debbie was growing, Madeleine and Shep were growing older. Madeleine told Debbie not to let this bother her; they hoped to be around for a long time yet.
“All of us are growing older every day, honey,” Madeleine explained, “Your father and I have spent a lot of years raising small children and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Now you’re growing up, too, Debbie, you’ll be going to high. It’s time now; time for Daddy and I to become seniors, but we’ll still be here for you. And remember, we have a large family, when we are no longer here you have your sisters and brothers who will be there for you, too, especially Holly.”
Holly, indeed, had never forgotten her mother’s request to look after Debbie.
Debbie’s friend, Jessamyn Blackford, was with her the day of her birthday. Debbie had been a very lovely child and, not surprisingly, she was a beautiful teenager, too, both inside and out. Jessamyn couldn’t wait until she and her twin sister Janice had their next birthday too and caught up to Debbie. Debbie went shopping for new clothes the very next morning.
Two days later Harvey was working in the yard—he and Holly had just got home from University the day before—when Debbie came out in her new duds and chic haircut so he told her he would snap a couple photographs for her to put on Facebook.
Not long after Debbie’s birthday, things got very hectic in the Ferguson household very quickly. Job-hunting, school days for Debbie, a new baby, engagements and celebrations went on all summer.
The first event was a “get-together” to celebrate Harvey and Lori’s official engagement. They’d been “engaged to be engaged” for two years already—while they were still at University. Madeleine wanted to have Lori’s family, all six, over and discussed it with Shep and Harvey one Sunday at lunch. Holly and Debbie had just come in from playing Marco Polo and they listened but did not make any remarks.
“I thought maybe next Sunday would be good.”
“The date is fine for me; I’ll double-check with Lori. Asking her whole family could mean almost as many people as our family, Mom; that would be 12 people total for dinner,” Harvey said, “What about just asking Lori and her parents? Trey is up at Three Lakes with his brother, David, anyway. I don’t know where Grace is but she works at the hospital; her hours are crazy.”
“Well, maybe that will be cozier anyway with just John and Melora and Lori,” Madeleine agreed, “Gillian and Jeremy are pretty busy with the new baby and Kevin and Margo are taking the twins to the zoo that day.”
It was bound to happen sooner or later, but Debbie was discovering boys. She brought home her brand-new boyfriend—this week anyway--for dinner as the other kids had done over the years. Brooks Generica was his name and his family had only recently moved to Pleasantview. Everyone was friendly to him and Madeleine made a note to take some cherry cheesecake over to his mother soon. Shep hoped this wouldn’t make too much difference to how close he and Debbie were. They frequently talked about fishing or gardening over breakfast or supper, just like old pals.
Harvey just had to spend a couple hours that day testing his skills on the grand old pinball machine in the yard. He hoped, when he and Lori married and bought their own home, that he might convince his parents to let him take it with him. If he and Lori had the room.
Harvey as a boy...
Harvey and Holly had initially been shocked to see how their parents had aged while they were gone. Actually their Dad still looked pretty much the same, but of course now he wore glasses and had white hair. But the changes in their mother were profound. She didn’t look much older except for having white hair, but she was certainly different. Holly had noticed this when Madeleine and Shep visited Chelsea and her at their house on campus, so she adjusted more quickly than Harvey.
“Do you think she had plastic surgery or something?” Harvey quietly asked Holly when they were alone at the dining table on one of their early morning breakast confabs.
Holly shook her head, “I honestly don’t know; I’ll try to find out from Gillian and Margo. But even if she did, Harvey, she’s still the same person; she acts just like Mom always has.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” Harvey nodded. But part of him missed his beautiful mother just as she had been. The issue to him was not about aging, but about basic changes to her face. She now had eyebrows and ears exactly as he had when he was a child and in high school. But why now? And her face shape was subtly different as well.
Holly and Harvey were perplexed to say the least. Their parents both seemed in excellent health, however; they exercised and kept busy and their father seemed to be oblivious to any changes in their mother. She would always be Shep’s lovely Madeleine. Eventually Harvey began to relax and get used to his mother’s new look. Besides, he has so many other issues to handle; like getting a job and finding a home for Lori and him.
One day Madeleine was on the phone in the dining room talking to Gillian. Harvey was eating a grilled cheese sandwich when he heard his mother say,
“How wonderful!” she covered the mouthpiece and said to Harvey, “The baby is here! Robby has a little brother and they named him Ryan Jeremy!”
The whole family was ecstatic. Gillian lived right next door so a visit to see the new baby would be as soon as possible.
The family hurried over to check out the latest edition to the Ferguson clan. They let Madeleine be the first to hold little Ryan. Holly took him next as she had a wedding of a friend to attent with Andy and would be leaving in about an hour. Madeleine got him back to feed him his bottle, then Shep, Harvey and Debbie all cuddled and played with him.
"That poor little baby got passed around like a bucket of hot buttered popcorn," Madeleine laughed when she told Melora Lassiter about it the next day, "And he was not phased a bit."
Harvey couldn't help but wonder if and when he and Lori would be holding a tiny little baby of their own one of these days. He hoped they'd have a daughter who looked like Lori, but as far as she was concerned she preferred her children have pointed ears and slanted eyebrows like the Fergusons; she had always considered Harvey and his family to be an exceptionally attractive clan. When she was a friend of Holly six or seven years old, Lori used to practice raising her eyebrows very high hoping to make her own slant up like Spock in Star Trek.
Debbie was next to hold little Ryan.
"Oh, he smells so sweet," she whispered and Gillian laughed,
"Not all the time! But he just had his bath."
Meanwhile plans were already in place for a Lassiter-Ferguson dinner. When asked what was his favorite meal that he might like for the party, Harvey did not have to ponder.
“In July?” Madeleine asked, “Are you sure?”
Harvey shrugged, “You can make whatever you want, Mom, everything you cook is delicious and it will be fine with me. But if you’re asking me what I’d prefer it’s Roast Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and green beans.”
“Okay, Toots, turkey it shall be,” she’d kissed him on the cheek and went off to the supermarket wondering where she would get a large turkey this time of year.
“I just got a job as a commercial actress!” Holly came running in to the living room the next day. Harvey was the only one there and he was reading the newspaper. He shook his head in sympathy as though she had told him she had secured employment cleaning birdhouses.
“At least you got a job, though,” he admitted, “I’ve been trying online; in person; and through the Temp service, but no luck yet.”
“Harvey, I consider this good news. It’s a stepping stone. It might even be for some sort of Hallmark commercial and you know they’re almost like a mini-movie.”
Folding the paper neatly Harvey said, “Okay, but what if it’s one where you have to talk about Preparation H or mouthwash or something?”
They looked up as they heard a large vehicle stop in front of the house, it’s brakes squealing slightly.
The doorbell rang and Harvey answered.
“What is it?” he asked the delivery man when he saw the huge package.
“Ya got me,” the guy said and departed the minute Harvey signed.
It was addressed to Holly Ferguson from The Glamor Costumes Co. Harvey brought it in; it was very lightweight actually, and he put it in the middle of the living room.
“It’s for you,” he gestured to Holly.
Large red letters stamped on the box warned, “Do not open”.
“Do not open?” Harvey wondered.
Holly pointed to little letters underneath that read, “until morning of filming..."
“Oh, my goodness, it’s so light and so big, maybe it’s hoopskirts—could be a historical vignette,” nothing could dampen her enthusiasm at this point.
“For a commercial?”
“Sure,” she picked up the box and shoved it up the stairs ahead of her.
“Aren’t you going to peek?” Harvey called up to her.
“What if it’s a bomb?”
“It’s not ticking, Harvey. Now go back to doing whatever you were doing, would you?”
The next morning Holly opened the box to put on the costume. It seemed her role in the commercial was as a box of french fries. Not what she had envisioned for her first brush with the professional show business world. Nothing to get her into the screen actor’s guild either; no lines. She decided to be positive and ignore Harvey’s howls of laughter as she came down the stairs bumping into the wall. Her balance was off due to the huge and awkward headpiece.
“She looks like a cornbelt Ziegfeld Girl,” Shep murmured to Madeleine who giggled and hushed him.
“Dignity, always dignity”, Holly quoted under her breath thinking of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. The driver considerately opened the hatch so her frenchfries would not get bent on the ride to work. Still it was an embarrassing, uncomfortable drive.
The morning of the party was like most weekends, Harvey exercised and then got off the machine to shower and shave. Soon Holly hopped on it prior to her shower. People called out things like, “Has anyone seen my blue shirt? it was hanging on my doorknob earlier. Things just get up and walk away around here.” or “Oh man, five bathrooms and I still can’t get in to take a shower---hurry up in there!” and “Okay, who put the empty milk carton back in the fridge? Now there's no milk for my cereal."
"Don't panic; there's plenty of extra milk in the little fridge," Madeleine came to her door in her slip and called down the stairs, "If no one is watching it, would someone please turn off that darn T.V.?"
Eventually as they always had, all family members managed to get fed, bathed and dressed before their company arrived.
As the two families met on the sidewalk, Harvey grabbed Lori in his arms and kissed her. He hadn’t seen her in a couple days—way too long in his opinion. Lori responded happily, she thought Harvey looked very hot with his new, fuller mustache. Shep greeted Melora Lassiter and Madeleine welcomed John.
As the parents went into the house Harvey surprised Lori by taking out a jewel box and proposing right there. So she was wearing her new engagement ring when they came in the front door to join the others.
The roast turkey was a big success with the Lassiters.
“This is delicious, Madeleine. I always wish we’d have turkey more often instead of just at Christmas,” John mentioned as he ate a second helping of stuffing, “It’s so good---why have it only once a year?”
“I know just what you mean, John,” Shep agreed, “This was actually Harvey’s idea, though, he’s a turkey freak from way back.”
“It’s so moist, too,” Melora approved.
Lori was so excited to see the two families together. She knew Holly so well, of course, but she wanted to get to know Debbie, too. In fact, she hoped to get to know Gillian, Margo and Nicky better as time went on. And she could not wait to start making real wedding plans with Harvey.
After supper the two older gentlemen enjoyed a game of EA Sports together.
Lori and Harvey sneaked out to the porch to be alone together for a while. They’d both been sort of let down recently about not being able to secure positions, but not tonight. Tonight they felt very hopeful that things would soon turn around, they’d get jobs and they would be able to save money for a home. Everything seemed possible tonight.
Gillian Ferguson Blackford and family...
Gillian and Jeremy were celebrating their son Robby’s birthday. He’d learned all he could as a toddler and even though toddlers were so adorable; now it was time to become a child.
As the days went by after his birthdy, Robby was turning out to be a boy very much like his father in both looks and personality. Jeremy was happy to spend a lot of time with him, too. Helping Robby with his homework became Jeremy’s special job because Gillian tired easily now that she was pregnant again.
One weekend Robby asked his father couldn’t they spend the whole day together? Jeremy thought that would be great; fishing, playing basketball, whatever Robby wanted. It was a wonderful day except for one fairly awful incident. Gillian had been doing her own housework but with another baby on the way, Jeremy wanted her to have help since it was such a big house. The maid, Lucy Hanby, had been coming for a couple days and seemed good except for one thing. When she had finished cleaning and just before she left she always walked into one of the bathrooms and acted like she’d suddenly become lost there. She’d look at the wall and stamp her foot saying she couldn’t get out, something was in her way; then she’d look at the door and cuss it out for the same reason, and the same with the shower. Usually she did this a couple times and then walked out of the bathroom and out the front door as though nothing had been in her way. Which nothing had. However; the Blackfords had already grown used to it.
But today she went on and on as though she was stuck in a time warp. She looked at the wall and complained that there was no door there. (There never had been a door there). Instead of leaving as she usually did, she just kept on with this tirade, stamping her foot over and over and walking toward the wall as if there was a door there. She cussed out the shower for the third time and suddenly seemed to go stiff just before she fell down in a graceful faint. Only it was not a faint. She passed away right there in front of that wall where she’d sworn there should be a door. Fortunately, Robby was outdoors feeding the fish in the koi pond and Gillian was taking her afternoon nap. Only Jeremy was there and it was very traumatic for him as the Grim Reaper sailed away with poor Lucy Hanby. Jeremy sighed and stepped into the bathroom, checking the walls, the shower and the door to see what Lucy could have been talking about. It remained a mystery, though.
Next update: The Shep Ferguson Family Ch. 5 Pt. 2