Shep and Madeleine still loved to paint and sculpt and most mornings, as soon as Shep finished weeding his garden, they went to the studio. They’d moved it upstairs so they could make a “game room” out of the space.
Debbie had become much more outgoing once she hit her teens and frequently asked to have friends over for supper. When a new family moved in, she promptly asked the middle son, Vic Severino to come over for hot dogs and to play Don't Wake the Llama.
Right after dinner, while Debbie and Vic played the game and Madeleine cleared and washed the dishes, Shep grabbed a nap on the love seat. Madeleine was noticing how much he’d slowed down in the past year or so. Then again, she supposed she may have been slowing down as well. With Shep, it was hard to tell at first. He’d always been so laid back, carefully considering his words before he spoke, even when he was in his twenties. It had kind of sneaked up on his wife that he got fatigued more easily than he used to. Often he’d doze off as soon as he sat down for more than twenty minutes. She wasn’t all that worried she told herself, but perhaps a little checkup with the doctor was in order. Also she might give phone up her friends, Melora Lassiter and Olivia Flynn, to see if they’d noticed the same things with John and Errol.
When Vic was getting ready to say goodbye that night, he suddenly took Debbie’s hands in his. It was his personal opinion that she was the cutest and sweetest girl he’d ever met. He thanked her for inviting him over and trying to make him feel welcome in the town. Then, tentatively at first, but with growing conviction, he kissed her. It was the first kiss for both of them and a very special moment. Vic floated home as Debbie wrote in her diary.
“Lori told me that no matter how old you get, you never forget the one who gives you your first kiss. And she even married the boy who gave her that first kiss, my Uncle Harvey, so she ought to know. There’s a very good chance this kiss from Vic might really be momentous."
Summer was coming to a close and Debbie often was found by the pond, fishing. She’d loved fishing ever since she was a little girl and Shep had taught her. In the years since he'd tried to impart whatever tips and knowledge he had on the subject to Debbie since she was so interested. He often remarked that soon she would soon be as good a fisherman as Harvey and Nicky were.
“Not as good as me, yet, of course,” he’d told her with a smile, “No one in the family is that good yet. At least, not so far.”
Her mother, Madeleine, still loved to cook and bake and this went right along with her fondness for entertaining. Whether a large group of people or small, she loved a party. In fact, they were planning a family get together for the weekend.
Starting slowly, Madeleine was teaching Debbie to know her way around the kitchen. Of course, Debbie could only work on that so much; she had her homework to do. Her grades were consistently very high, but it took work to keep them there. She was diligent about exercising, either on the machine, or working out to the radio or swimming in their huge pool.
Margo, the Fergusons' second daughter, didn’t live too far away from Shep and Madeleine (though not as close as Gillian, who was next door, or Harvey who was just across the street) so sometimes she would surprise her parents with a quick visit when she wasn’t totally absorbed with her husband and the twins.
She showed up one afternoon not long after lunch. Debbie was just finishing her homework—she’d been too exhilarated to deal with it the night before because Vic had called her and run it straight out of her mind. As soon as she closed her notebook, she joined Margo, Shep and Madeleine in a game of Don't Wake the Llama. Setting out plates of cherry pie, Madeleine said it wouldn’t ruin their appetites; the Fergusons almost always had a late supper, around 7, and Margo was welcome to stay for that as well.
The next day Debbie worked on her very first painting upstairs until she heard the guests arriving. She adored her nephews and nieces—it was almost like having younger brothers and sisters and she knew Gillian was bringing her oldest son, Robby, as well as her husband, Jeremy. Little Ryan was at home with a sitter.
Harvey had to finish up a few things in the office, so he met Lori at his parents house. She’d brought a change of clothes for him so he could trade his business suit for something cooler. Harvey and Lori had no children yet, but Madeleine had high expectations that they soon would.
As the summer day grew even hotter, Debbie and Ryan hit the pool first while Madeleine and Gillian enjoyed the slight breeze and the shade of the porch. Shep, Harvey, Lori and Jeremy soon joined the swimmers. The temperature was just right, not cold, but not bathwater either.
The sun-worshippers, Debbie and Lori left the pool to soak in the rays, while Madeleine put the hamburgers on the grill.
Debbie and Robby sat at their own table because there was not enough room at the big one and…they were “the kids” at this party. Ordinarily Debbie would have resented being kept from the adult table, but Robby was good company so she didn’t really mind.
Once it got dark, they moved inside; the mosquitoes were getting bad. There was a lively Llama game going and the players changed often. Harvey played for a while but then heard Robby playing SSX3 and went in to compete against him. So Jeremy took his place and was almost as cutthroat a player as Harvey.
When Harvey and Lori said they had to be on their way, Robby and Madeleine took their places at the table. Lori practically jumped into Harvey’s arms and he carried her out the door.
“Newlyweds,” Jeremy complained, “I hope he’s not going to try to carry her clear to their house.”
“It’s only across the street,” Gillian remarked, “Ten years ago you would have carried me farther than that.”
“That’s why I have a bad back now,” Jeremy grinned.
About an hour later Jeremy and Gillian were ready to leave and Robby was giving goodbye hugs to his grandparents. Right after that Debbie whispered to her mother—when could they have Holly and Nicky over? The next day was Sunday and that’s what they did.
Holly’s husband, Andy, was also keen on fishing, so he joined Shep and Debbie at the pond while Nicky play Marco Polo with his mother. Holly and Nicky's new wife, Allyn, were in the kitchen, cooking. As the weekend came to a close, Debbie thought, I love having this big warm family around me, so when I get married some day I want to have kids, lots of kids.
Next update: Shep Ferguson Ch. 7 The Rest of the Clan Pt. 2