Saturday, June 8, 2019

Well, It's a Surprise

Della and Sam were sitting at Ed's trying finish the guest list for the wedding. “Are you sure that's it?” asked Sam as he picked up another French fry from Della's plate. They had spent the better part of two evenings trying to pare the list down.

“Well, if I'm not, it doesn't matter now. We don't have any more time to mess with this.” She took another bite of her burger. Sam reached for another French fry. Della swatted his hand and smiled, “Don't eat my fries.”

“Well, you're not eating them.”

“I'm not yet. Just because I have promised myself no more fries until after the wedding, I still want to hold my options open.”

Ignoring Della and taking another fry from her plate, Sam smiled,”Well, all we need now is Mama's list.” Before Della could even say anything, Sam added, “And, yes, I'll deal with that.”

“You are such a dear. Thank you.”

They weren't the only ones working on the wedding. Della's mother was beside herself with the wedding. Her only daughter was getting married. Trying keep her mother from getting all worked up,  Della had been very vague about the details. The last thing she needed was to have to handle her mother when she was trying get everything else done.

However, knowing her daughter was occupied with the wedding plans, as well as her regular job,  Ima Jean decided it would be best not to tell Della that she was making the wedding dress. It was the least she could do.

Ima Jean laid the thin pattern pieces of the Simplicity pattern she had purchased for the wedding dress out on the table in the spare bedroom. She started trimming the pattern, being very careful not to tear the sheets. As she cut down the lines, she realized that she was in Della's old room. All of her daughter's old high school posters and pictures were still on the wall. There was a cork board where torn ticket pieces, old photos, and dried corsages were still pinned to. All this just made Ima Jean even more determined to make the best wedding dress possible.

As a young girl, Della loved lacy dresses and dotted Swiss. Her favorite colors were pink and purple. 'She is going to be thrilled with this dress', her mother thought.

She retrieved the package of eyelet from the bottom of the freezer, under her husband's bags of frozen opossum, squirrel and deer he had shot last year. She was surprised to find that each piece of the lace was still bright white and crisp, as if new.

At supper that evening, Thomas asked,"What have you been doing in Della's room?”

Ima Jean passed her husband the dish of butter beans. “Well it's a surprise.”

“For me?” he asked as he picked a hot biscuit from the basket in front of him and started buttering it. He looked up, “A surprise huh?”

“Yes, and that is all I am saying.”

“A surprise for the wedding?”

Trying to remain coy, Ima Jean got up, walked to the stove, and put some more fried chicken on the platter. “And, why would you say that?”

“Because ever since Sam and Della set their date, you have been 'giddy' as a school girl before the spring dance.”

Doing her best not to look hurt, she quickly responded, “Thomas, I am not 'giddy'. I may be excited, but not 'giddy'.”

“Could have fooled me,” he said with a wry smile, as he took another fork full of butter beans.”

“We only have one daughter and I hope this is her only wedding. Can't a mother of the bride enjoy the moment?”

“Enjoy, yes. Meddle, not so much.” He smiled. “Just remember when we got married all the fussing that went on between you and your mother. Both of you got your feelings hurt before finally coming to your senses.”

“Of course I remember. That's why I'm not going to bother her.”

Taking another piece of fried chicken, without looking up, Thomas added, “Or surprise her, right?”

“Oh Thomas, it is going to be so beautiful.”

“Oh, I'm sure our little Della will have a lovely wedding and make a beautiful bride. Why, I remember her sitting on the den floor setting up a wedding for her Barbie dolls.” He paused, “Just like it was yesterday. And now she is planning her own wedding. Where does the time go?”

Ima Jean quietly buttered a biscuit. Thomas continued, “It is the wedding you are referring to, right?”

“Well, something to do with the wedding. But I told you it's a surprise. I'm not telling anyone until I'm finished.” She looked at him and smiled, “Especially you!”

Thomas raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, I won't ask about it any more.”

Hurt, Ima Jean replied, “So you really don't want to know?”

“You said it was a secret.” He wiped his lips with his napkin and placed it on the table next to his plate. “I'll be as surprised as anyone.”

Ima Jean picked up their plates and put them in the sink. “She is going to be thrilled.”

Shaking his head, Thomas answered, “No doubt she will.” He leaned back in his chair. “Have you talked with Sam's mother yet?”

“No, but I will. I'm sure she is a nice person.” Wiping her hands on her apron, she continued, "Della says they own a farm in Texas. No doubt they are good people.”

“Honey, I don't think I would call Sam's family 'Texas Farmers'. From what I understand their farm, is more of a ranch and is about the size of this county.”

“Thomas, seriously, you make it sound like they are rich or something.”

“My dear, do you remember the TV show, 'Dallas'?”

“Of course, I loved Miss Ellie.”

“Well keep that in mind when you meet Mrs. Peterson”

“You are so silly talking like that. If Sam came from such a family, why would he be an FBI agent. And, why he be living here in Gallagher?”

“I imagine because he could and he wants to.”

“Well, I'm still not telling you about my surprise.”

“I got that.”

“Not even though I'm sure you want to know.”

“Sweetheart, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I can wait.”

“You sure?”

“You're the one who said it was a secret.”

She put her hands on her hips. “Okay, okay, if you are going to beg,” Ima Jean smiled with pride. She turned and left the room returning with, what looked like, a large bundle of white cloth.

“I thought only brides wore white. Certainly you are not going to wear a white frock to your daughter's wedding.”

“This isn't for me, this is for Della.” With that she laid the dress out on the back of a chair. “It's her wedding dress.” Ima Jean was so excited looking at the dress. She just stood there with her hands over her mouth.

A bit concerned, Thomas said,”Now, I'm just the father. And I don't know anything about dresses, but I do know enough about my own daughter to know she is going to pick out her own wedding dress.”

“You don't think that she'll like it?” she said crestfallen.

“I'm not saying that, I'm just saying that I don't want to see the 2 of you getting all fussed up before the wedding.”

Ima Jean picked up the dress and carefully folded the bottom over her arm to keep it off the floor. “Fiddle dee dee, I know my daughter.” She took the dress back to the bedroom. Thomas moved into the den to watch the evening news, shaking his head.

Later that night, Sam called his mother to discuss the guest list.

“I told you I would email it you.”

“I know, I wanted to tell you that I have not included any of my family on our list. If you want family there, you will need to include them on your list”

“Oh, dear. No cousins? Not even Ed or Mark or Beau.”

"No, mam, 'fraid not."

“Well then, I'll review my list. When y'all said 'small', y'all really meant small.”

“Mama, just remember this is a small town in Alabama, not Dallas, Texas.”

“Oh, I'm getting the idea.” She paused as if she were going over the list. “Honey, can you send me the Della's mother's name and her phone number. I haven't heard from her and think maybe I should reach out. You know, kind of a 'get to know you' call.”

“If you have a pen and paper I can give that to you now.”

Sam gave her the information. She thanked him and asked, “Now, about the rehearsal dinner. Where should we have it? Is there a country club, or a very nice restaurant - just someplace that would appropriate. If you could just get me some menus and maybe some websites so I can start planning that. Honestly, I have tried Googling Gallagher. I must be spelling something wrong because I cannot find any place around there that would work.”

“Mama, don't worry about that, Della and I have something in mind.”

“That's ridiculous. I'll have no such thing. Just send me some information.”

They spoke for a while then rang off. The more Sam thought about it, this wedding may not be such a good idea after all. Elopement was looking better and better. There were some worlds that did not need to meet and he feared his parents and Gallagher may be just be two of those. 'Oh boy,' Sam thought. 'Here we go'. 

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