Thursday, March 8, 2018

What Family is For

Belva and Wells were the first to arrive at Cordelia's that evening. They both gave Cordelia warm hugs. Belva told her aunt,"I know I have not been a very good niece. Please forgive me."

"Honey, that is what family is for."

Belva handed Cordelia a bottle of her favorite sherry, "For you."

"Oh, you surely know how to purchase forgiveness," Cordelia laughed as she took the bottle and put it on the buffet with her other bottles of ports, cordials, and sherry.

Pearl walked in the room. Belva and Wells gave her a warm hug also. Belva apologized to her. Pearl was just thrilled they were there. "I just wanted to let y'all know that supper will be ready in about 10 minutes." She looked at Wells, "You want to come help me with the biscuits?"

"Boy, do I?"

"Well come on then." The 2 of them turned and left for the kitchen.

Belva and Cordelia sat down on the sofa. Cordelia took Belva's hands in hers. "Dear, how are things?"

Belva sighed," I really do not know. In some ways, I am relieved. In other ways, I am heart broken."

Cordelia asked, "And, Culler, where is he?"

"I don't know. I don't know where he is, who he is, if he has changed his name. As far as we know he has just dropped off the side of the Earth."

"And, you miss him."

"I do. But, not as much as Wells does. Poor thing lost his beloved Grandfather, then the same year his father."

"Does he know the truth about Culler?"

"Oh, I made sure he got in with an excellent counselor, who specialized in children with a transgender parent. I think he has a healthy understanding. At least he asks a lot of questions. He talks about it. Funny, he is more upset that he is gone than that he would rather be a woman - the uncluttered minds of children."

"Well, it seems as if the 2 of you are doing OK. Now what about you? Are you moving on? Are you ready for the next chapter of your life?"

"Oh, Aunt Cordelia, I don't know if I want to."

"Yes, you do. And, yes you can."

The door bell rang and Pearl brought Liza into the room. Liza's response to Aunt Cordelia's welcome was not nearly as warm. Obviously, she had not changed. But, Cordelia expected no more.

After some general conversation, Pearl came in to announce that supper was ready. Aunt Cordelia stood up and walked into the den. She turned and looked behind her. "Come on now girls. We don't want Pearl's biscuits to get cold do we?"

Belva and Inez followed her. Inez looked at Belva, "See you are sucking up to the old lady."

Belva just stopped. "You know Liza, some of us just grow up."

Liza just looked at her. "And what does that mean?"

Belva replied,"We do not have Mama or Daddy here any more. Nor do we have any grandparents. But we do have Aunt Cordelia. She loves us. Why were we so ugly to her?"

Liza did not respond. They made their way to the table and had a seat. Supper was enjoyable. Wells entertained them with stories about school mates. Cordelia was thrilled to hear her grand nephew sound like the normal little boy he should be.

Liza miffed at Belva's earlier comment's, asked,"Well Belva, do you see Culler much these days?"

Cordelia, reaching for another piece of fried chicken with the tongs, calmly answered before Belva could say anything, "Now Liza, why would she do that? Everything has been settled."

Everyone was quiet until Wells calmly said, "Aunt Liza, Daddy didn't leave us because he doesn't love us. He left us to figure out his life." He paused. "You know some people are born as boys but when they grow up they realize they are really girls inside." Wells looked at Belva. "That doesn't mean he doesn't love us. Right Mama?"

Being so proud of her son, Belva said,"Wells, that is right. And we are just fine."

Wells laughed, "Now we just need to find Mama someone else. I saw this ad on TV where she can go online and find someone, but  she said she didn't think so."

Everyone laughed. Cordelia said,"Wells, I think that is a brilliant idea. You keep finding good ideas."

Cordelia looked at Belva and smiled. Belva just rolled her eyes.

Cordelia turned to Liza and asked about her life, Liza told everyone about her tennis team, her work with the Junior League and planning the annual Cancer Fund Ball. All Cordelia heard was 'me, me, me'. Somethings just didn't change.

At the Gentleman's Club, Anna Belle called everyone together, the girls and the staff, to tell them about Miranda's death. She kept it simple, only saying that the MPD had come last night to say they had found her body. Her death looked like an overdose. An autopsy was planned and they would let her know the results.

After they recovered from the shock, there were several questions. Anna Belle tried her best to answer them. No, she did not know anything about Miranda's family. If anyone there did, she would appreciate them telling her. No, there were no funeral plans yet. None would be made until after the autopsy. No, Anna Belle had no idea of any issue with Miranda or her background until the officers showed up the night before.

Anna Belle asked them if anyone knew anything about Miranda or had heard her comment about anyone or anything questionable or confess anything amiss in her life. She told them they did not have to tell her now if they felt uncomfortable. If they wished, they could find her sometime later when they could talk one on one. She also told them that she would tell the members as they arrived during the day but it was no secret, they had nothing to hide.

Before they disbanded, she said,"I want you to know I think of you as family. I will do anything for you. But, please, if there if anything in your background that I need to know, or anything in someone else's background that would negatively impact this business, please share it with me. I promise it will be kept in the closest confidence." She paused. "Remember, an issue with one us, effects all of us." They all nodded in agreement.

Lesson learned, Anna Belle now knew she needed a background check on anyone she employed from now on. She asked herself, if she needed to check her current employers. No, that would not be necessary.

At the Quinton supper table, Dixie was all excited to tell Harrell and Kathleen about 'The Columns'. As she started describing what she had found and the services they were able to provide, Harrell interupted her. "Honey, before you go any further I want to let you know. I have asked around about the costs of weddings. The most expensive one any father would admit to was Abby Lowle's wedding. Theo told me they paid $35,000 after it was all over and that was 2 years ago. But, he also added that his wife had a family trust fund that paid the bill."

"Well that was a nice wedding," said Dixie, as if offering it the kiss of death.

"It was. I remember thinking, while we were there, what a great job Theo's wife and Abby had done planning it." He paused, looked at Kathleen and smiled. He looked back at Dixie, "So I went back and looked at our finances. After doing some math, I think we can afford a wedding budget of $40,000. After all, I only have one little girl."

Kathleen jumped up and hugged his neck. "Oh, Daddy, that is too generous. I know it won't cost that much. I love you more than anything. You know how special this day is going to be for me and Jeb!"

Harrell was holding back tears. Dixie was furious. How could he expect her to plan a decent wedding with only $40,000? All she could think of was the list of 'Required' expenses she had put together just that morning. The measley $40,000 wasn't even close to the $63,900 she needed. That number wasn't even including the 18% gratuity. And what about those incidentals that she knew would pop up later?

Harrell looked at Dixie with a big smile. "So Dixie sweetheart, you can throw that grand wedding you have always wanted Kathleen to have. Now, tell us all about 'The Columns' and the services they can provide to make Kathleen and Jeb's wedding perfect."

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