Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 3 All My Daughters Part 2

That Saturday morning while Lonnie attended to chores around the house Loni Faye practiced her piano and tried not to ask him when, when, when could they could go to the park as he had promised her last night?

At last, right after lunch, they were on their way. Loni Faye got to fish in the pond right along with her father and even caught two or three fish although none as big as the ones her father caught. Other people joined them because even though it was quite a large pond, almost a small lake, their spot was one of the favorites. Under a willow tree for shade and believed to be where the “big ones” gather, every serious fisherman headed there.

Loni Faye discovered the swings and Lonnie, never one to let her wander about a public place alone, sauntered over to push her yet higher on the swing.

They moved from there over to the chess tables and Lonnie taught his daughter the rudiments of the game. They played until after nightfall and then headed home. It had been a wonderful day for both father and daughter.

Sunday Lonnie began the portrait of Loni Faye he had promised her earlier in the week,

“Your mother could probably create a better one; but she’s so busy with Liara, I thought you might give me a chance to try--maybe this weekend.”

Lonnie had barely started the portrait when Loni Faye began to sniffle and then cry uncontrollably. It was pitiful.

“What’s wrong, honey?” Lonnie asked, but still continued to paint.

Suddenly Loni Faye stopped crying, wiped her eyes and started to giggle,

“I was just teasing!”

 Lonnie put down his paints and brush and looked at her.

“It’s one thing to pretend you are a queen, or that you are piloting a plane, but to pretend you are crying or in pain, that’s ‘crying wolf’,” he admonished.

Loni Faye looked crestfallen, and then curious,

“What’s ‘crying wolf’, Dad?”

So he paused to tell her the story of the little boy who cried wolf.

She instantly understood and hugged her father at the end of the cautionary tale. Then she went off to play on her mother’s putting green. Lonnie shrugged; the portrait would have to wait for another day...

As day turned to dusk Lonnie decided to make a simple supper of grilled cheese sandwiches. He was much surprised when he burned them. He, the master chef, had burned grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a sad day.   

The next day while Loni stayed with Liara, Jenny went to Goth’s apparel to buy a few little things for the girls. While there, resting from the walk to the store, she noticed a lovely blonde woman who gazed at Jenny as if fascinated. Jenny did not know her, but when their eyes caught it struck her as a weird moment.  Had she met the woman once and forgotten it? Just then a tall brunette lady by the clothing racks called to this woman by name,

“Meadow Ottomas, what are you doing here, girl? Come on over--there’s someone I want you to meet.”

The blond walked over to her apparent friend and they started to converse. The name Meadow was not familiar to Jenny at all. Why had this woman been looking at her with such a strange expression on her face?

Well, no matter, she had shopping to do. She chose a few rompers for Liara and a new dress for Loni Faye, then, on her way out, she ran smack into her daughter, Chelsea.  She had not seen her since she was 16. Now she was a woman and married. Jenny thought Chelsea was more beautiful than ever. At first, she would not look directly at her mother. Then Jenny spoke,

“Please, Chelsea, I know you resent me deeply, but can’t we just sit down and talk? You can tell me off properly and maybe we can clear the air.”

Chelsea continued to look off but she did not make a move to leave.

“Please, honey?” Jenny asked again.

Chelsea returned her gaze finally and then nodded assent. They moved to one of the outside tables set up for visiting.

After some awkward first sentences, Jenny coaxed Chelsea to get her feelings off her chest.

“Why, Mama? I just want to know why you went so crazy and cheated on Daddy?” 

Chelsea asked plaintively.

Jenny sighed.

“It’s a long story. When your Daddy and I married we were only 16—our parents had to sign for us so we could marry in South Carolina. It was unusual but not unheard of down south. I was pregnant with Michael, we had to live with Larry Max’s parents and we had to grow up together from there. We both wanted children so after we found an apartment of our own we had you, Chelsea. Then we could finally afford a very small home where we had Courtney and Andy. 

I stayed home to raise all of you—that was what I wanted to do. I had learned to cook and later learned to sew clothes for you. There was never enough money. I loved Larry Max very much. To this day I still love him; but it’s no longer a married kind of love. When we moved here it all changed. I felt so restless; your father was going to culinary school and working part time. He was never home and when he was he was consumed with the garden and his guitar. I didn’t know what was wrong with me but suddenly I wanted a new life. I wanted the time back I lost when I married so young, I guess. I know now how selfish that was. If I hadn’t run around town all the time I never would have met Lonnie. “

Chelsea was listening with an obdurate look on her face. But she continued to sit there—she had not made a move to go.

Jenny went on with her story,

“Once your father rightfully kicked me out I knew grief, regret and sorrow, even anger. I realized I could never have back what I’d thrown away so carelessly. I missed all of my children, I missed Larry Max. I’d never been on my own before. I had dreams where I went to the house and kicked over the garbage can and stared up at the house that I could never live in again; never call home again.”

“Those weren’t dreams, Mama,” Chelsea cut in.

“What do you mean?”

“You really did come and kick over the trash can, the man across the street took photos; Daddy knew it was you.”

“That’s not possible!” Jenny breathed.

“It’s true, believe me. But in the photos you looked weird—like you were in a fugue state. I guess you remember the things you did only as dreams.”

Jenny was appalled. Not only had she done these things but she’d repressed them. Perhaps a visit with a psychiatrist was in order?

But she pushed these questions aside and went on with the narrative,

“I know now that one of the reasons I wanted to have Loni Faye and Liara was that I missed my children so much—missed being a mother. Admittedly, I also wanted part of Lonnie with me; I doubted he would be committed to me.”

“You wanted to get pregnant?” Chelsea said in surprise then recovered by saying sarcastically, “When I heard about it I thought you were just being careless.”

“I know you don’t want to hear this, but I fell in love with Lonnie before I left the house, at that time I thought if I was free he would marry me.”

Chelsea looked down a moment then met her mother's eyes,

“Daddy is such a wonderful man, how could you fall in love with someone else?”

“It’s hard to explain, Chels, but it can happen. I was wrong to cheat on your father; I know that. I have no excuse—I can never make up for what I did.”

“He still loves you, you know,” Chelsea said defiantly, “Though I don’t know why.”

“I wish he would move on, meet women,” Jenny admitted, “I don’t want to hurt him further. But we married so young and had four children together. We know each other to the bone. For those reasons he will never be out of my life and I think it’s the same for him—we share too much history. As I said, I will always love your father and it would serve me right if life turned around and Lonnie cheated on me. I hope he won’t, especially because of our daughters. But it would be justice served, I realize. And he once was quite a player; maybe that never changes for long.”

“How old are your girls,” Chelsea asked tentatively.

“Loni Faye is in grade school and Liara has just learned to walk and talk,” Jenny smiled, “Would you like to see pictures?”

“I’m not sure I’m ready for that,” Chelsea backed off, “Do they look like...him...or you?”

“I think they’re a combination, but a little more like him,” Jenny paused, “Would you come over if I invited you and Trey? Or you could come alone and meet your half-sisters?”

Chelsea hesitated, “Maybe eventually, but I don’t want to see...him.”

Jenny nodded,

“Well, that could be arranged but I don’t know your schedule and Lonnie works afternoons. He might come in during your visit unless we make it early morning. But if he did, at least then you could see he’s not an ogre,” she smiled as she made the last observation.

Chelsea stiffened, “I guess I don’t blame him for what happened—I blame you.”

“Don’t freeze me, honey. I know I’m to blame. But to be fair, Lonnie didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. Yes, he saw me even though he knew I was married. He very much regrets the way the marriage ended, though. He was sad and ashamed.”

Chelsea shrugged as if disinterested, 

“Well, it’s history now,” then she softened a little, “Let me think it over, Mama. Give me a little time.”

She stood up to go and Jenny rose to her feet as well. She hugged Chelsea who returned her embrace warmly. Jenny was happy and grateful for this. Kissing her oldest daughter’s cheek, she went down the steps and started home. The tears were streaming down her face now so she didn't look back. Chelsea remained by the table and watched her mother walk back to her new life with her new family.

Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 3 All My Daughters Part 1

After Liara was born, life at the Hammond home became a little noisier and a little busier. Loni Faye was still sleeping  in the nursery; while baby Liara’s crib resided in the master bedroom for now. Meanwhile, they had begun to think about decorating the large rooms that would be Loni Faye’s once she had her birthday. Lonnie was all for doing it now, but Jenny wanted this room to be just what Loni Faye would want. She insisted they wait until after the birthday when Loni Faye could contribute her own ideas. 

The former uber-bachelor, Lonnie, had changed his ways for a family life and had no regrets. He continued to be helpful with the kids, although he still had a cooking show that kept him very busy. Both he and Jenny were excited because the girls’ birthdays were right around the corner.  Jenny loved both her girls very much and showered them with attention, it didn’t get rid of the miss-Chelsea sadness in her heart, but it helped a little. She had not seen her grown daughter, nor had she talked to her, since the night Larry Max ordered her to go.  Now Chelsea was married to her high school sweetheart, Trey Lassiter. 

It was hard to picture Chelsea and Trey both grown—she still had a vision of them holding hands at 16. She had quit trying to contact Chelsea long ago—she would not speak to her mother. Jenny could not blame her but she missed her oldest daughter more than she could tell anyone but Lonnie.  She had so much happiness now, but the rift between her and Chelsea was like a thorn in her heart. The boys, Michael, Courtney and Andy, they kept in touch sporadically. She’d avoided their weddings for Chelsea’s sake. She heard regularly from Larry Max who kept her apprised of the latest happenings. Before she’d married Lonnie, Chelsea and Larry Max had formed the habit of meeting for coffee once a week, but it was a little trickier now with the children.

One day Lonnie came home from work and before he could change his work uniform, Jenny informed him it was “time”.

“Time for what?”

“For Loni Faye’s birthday! I’m putting the candles on her cake right now. Would you mind bringing her here?”

“Oh! Yeah, that’s right!”  He went into the living room where Loni Faye was playing with her xylophone. Scooping her up in his arms, he carried her to the cake in the kitchen.  He adored this little girl and part of him was sad to be saying goodbye to the toddler, but he was also excited to see become a grade-schooler—he would be able to really talk with her and to take her places like the Woodland Park and Rapid Racers Roller Rink.

The next minute Loni Faye went from toddler to child before their eyes. The first thing she did was run to her father and hug him. 

After they polished off the birthday cake, Jenny served spaghetti which would soon become one of Loni Faye’s favorite meals. Loni Faye loved both her parents, but even as a toddler her preference for her father had been marked. Now it was obvious, she mimicked Lonnie in many ways and plainly adored him. Her personality had many natural traits like Lonnie’s as well; she was quite neat and tidy, had an even-temper, loved music of all kinds and had a bubbly engaging personality that few people would be able to resist. She was eager to start this new phase of her life. The next day she trotted off to school while Lonnie stayed with Liara and Jenny headed off to town to purchase a new wardrobe for Loni Faye.

Loni Faye turned out to be a very social child and soon made friends in school. In no time, she was hauling a different child home every day after school.

“They seem to always be boys, though,” Lonnie remarked to Jenny one day, “Doesn’t she go to school with any girls?”

“I wouldn’t worry about that; as I child I tended to have more boys as friends than girls, too.” Jenny meant that to be comforting to Lonnie but it most certainly was not. He looked at Jenny skeptically,

“Just ‘as a child’? I don’t think you changed much as you grew up.  You have to admit that has been—until now--one of your weaknesses and one of my mine—this tendency to over-focus on the opposite sex, so I don’t consider it a good sign. I want her to have friends, but I think it would be better at her age if she brought home little girls, too.”

Jenny was stung by his criticism but at least he included himself as well, so she said, “Okay, never mind the critical remarks. She’ll bring home a female little playmate soon, you’ll see. It’s no big deal.”

One of the first boys Loni Faye brought home on the bus was Ty Generica. A seemingly quiet child who played pinball with her and stayed to eat pork chops with Loni Fay and Jenny. His family of five had just moved to Pleasantview. Lonnie was working late and when he came home Loni Faye ran out to the sidewalk to hug him. She returned to where Ty was waiting and hugged him goodbye. Her Daddy was home now; she’d see Ty tomorrow at school.

Loni Faye did indeed have input on her bedroom décor. She loved color, and the brighter and more of it the better. Jenny said she could also decorate the bathroom that was right next door. Jenny and Loni Faye had a lot of fun consulting with home décor books and dragging Lonnie to Lowe’s Hardware and Home Improvement Plus. Even after they finished the room Loni Faye became as addicted to HGTV now as Jenny already was. 

A short time after Loni Faye’s room was finished; it was time for baby Liara’s birthday.

“She looks just like Loni Faye!” Lonnie exclaimed as he brushed the colorful confetti out of Liara’s hair, “Just like her! It’s amazing!” his voice dropped to a whisper, “It’s like she was cloned.”

Jenny said, “Yes, well, she does look remarkably like her, but remember, she’s her own person, she’s Liara.”

Lonnie looked at Jenny in surprise, “Of course she is, I just meant that the physical resemblance is more than just sisters…if they were the same age anyone would think they were identical twins.”

Jenny nodded, but she looked thoughtful. She took Liara from Lonnie and smiled,

“Well, here I go with potty training again.”

The next boy that Loni Faye brought home from school was a handsome kid named Angelo Severino, his family was brand new to Pleasantview, too, and he stayed for macaroni and cheese and SSX3 before he had to go home.  

Jenny had put Lonnie in charge of teaching Liara to talk; while she concentrated on potty-training and walking. Lonnie was also helping Loni Faye with homework and it didn’t take long before she came home proudly with her first A+. She showed it to Jenny and then wanted it back to personally show it to her father when he came home.

On that same day Loni Faye saw Christopher Cooke in his front yard invited him over. They played with the pinball machine and then ate leftover pork chops that Loni Faye nuked in the microwave. They vowed to be fast friends all their lives and this would be easy since they lived right across the street from each other.

Liara was now walking and talking and Lonnie would no longer let her point and jabber when she wanted something; she had to ask for it using real words. She had taken longer than Loni Faye to learn to speak, but once she had started she picked it up faster and had a bigger vocabulary as a toddler. She spoke so clearly now the family couldn’t resist coming up with new words to teach her.

Lonnie continued to tutor Loni Faye with her homework and she kept up her excellent grades and even won a few little school prizes for her work.   Jenny worked with both girls, but focused attention often on Liara; who was learning so many new things at home.

At last, much to Lonnie’s relief, one Saturday Loni Faye entertained a schoolmate who happened to be a girl. Actually, Kirstie Burb had only been walking down the street when Loni Faye looked out the window and recognized her. They had spaghetti for lunch while they got to know each other better. Once they’d digested their food, they headed out back to the pool and played Marco Polo. Eventually, Lonnie finished his piano practice and joined the girls.

Lonnie had noticed that Loni Faye had developed a little pot belly and mentioned it to Jenny when they were alone for a moment upstairs in their bedroom. Kirstie was still here and she and Loni Faye were talking in the living room--Kirstie was about to leave for home as the sun was starting to go down and she had a block and a half to walk.

“I’m just worried she will have a weight problem as she enters her teens; kids are so mean,” he explained.

“Yes, I know, but she’s very active and I try to limit her second helpings. She’s still a child and I don’t want to make her self-conscious or to make her think she should be striving to look gorgeous to suit the world’s taste,” Jenny shook her head, “Anyway, she’ll probably grow out of it when she hits puberty.”

“If she’s teased about it; she’ll become self-conscious in a hurry.”

“I don’t know, Lon. She’s popular with her friends. I tell you what; I’ll start her on a little, easy-going, exercise program and see where that leads.”

“All right, I guess.”

“Well what do you want me to do—have her get a tummy tuck?” Jenny was suddenly sarcastic.

“Don’t get mad, Jenny. I want her to be healthy and I don’t want her to be ostracized,” Lonnie answered, “Maybe we should talk to her about healthy eating and living?”

“Ostracized? That’s ridiculous, I told you; at least one or two of her friends call here every day! As for being healthy; she runs rings around me.”

They just looked at each other. Lonnie started to speak again and Jenny cut him off,
“For crying out loud, Lonnie--she’s just a kid--leave her alone."

Another disagreement over one of their children was looming. That morning Jenny had cut Liara’s hair short but Lonnie had been so busy he had not seen his youngest daughter until evening when she toddled in to the living room to play. He took one look and motioned to Jenny to meet him upstairs. He skipped the door to the master bedroom and went into the nursery.

“What did you do to her hair?” he hissed angrily when Jenny came in.

“I cut it, obviously," Lonnie was still glaring at her and she went on, "Lonnie, every time one of our friends sees Liara for the first time all they can say is that she is “just like Loni Faye” or even, “My she’s like a little clone of Loni Faye, isn’t she?” Liara is only two but I don’t want her to be continually compared to Loni Faye. So, since I can't stop what other people say, I cut her hair short—I think she looks cute--and she doesn't look quite so much like Loni Faye did at that age. Even you say it sometimes, or words to that effect ‘Just like Loni Faye…just like your big sister’, you know; you’ve heard yourself. I don’t care if she looks exactly like Loni Faye or not. I love both girls better than my life, but Loni Faye is herself; Liara deserves the right to be whoever she is, too, and without undue comparisons. She’s another person entirely from Loni Faye. I wanted her to have a different hairdo than Loni Faye had at that age.”

Put that way it made a little more sense to him; Lonnie was both ashamed for any thoughtless comments he had made in front of either girl and sorry for upsetting Jenny.

“You’re right, I guess I just wish we’d had this conversation before you changed her hair and not after.”

Jenny kissed his cheek,

“Now I have to apologize; I did this on the spur of the moment after there was one comment too many and even Loni Faye was on the phone telling her friend that her little sister was a miniature of her. Well, it’s just a haircut and if you still don't like it in a few weeks, it will grow back.”

One more kiss and they had made up happily.

To be continued very soon...(because Blogger lost the last part of my update for no good reason and it's very late now; therefore the update will now be in two un-equal length parts)  *sigh*