Chapter 45. The Mother-Child Reunion
She watched Glenn leave to do the chores for his mother, Kaylee turned and walked in the house and handed the platter to her mom, sat at the dinner table and waited for the matriarch of the family put her mobile phone back in her holster.
Not often in the family kitchen, Mama Grant, the hard-driving and meticulous leader of local business after the girls had gone off to college.
Once-upon-a-time she was a soccer-mom with dresses and worked as an office accountant. She did odd jobs on the side to balance books for local businesses, her life was one of four walls, erasers and double-entry books.
Then she had to hold a meeting with the owner of a small, money-losing enterprise called ‟Java Hut” and give the owner the bad news that he was broke.
The owner sold the business to her in lieu of the work she did to balance his books. Preventing a foreclosure on his contracts and business with creative book-keeping to keep the collectors at bay. Even then it was a major effort. Linda Grant took a personal loan, using her car as collateral to keep the doors open.
After months and diligent following of the business map the previous owner had created, she discovered the flaws in his business plan and corrected the minor operational errors.
The net income increased geometrically after each change in operations. In a six-months time, she paid off the loan, opened a second café on the opposite side of town with easy access of the main highway.
The income increased enough that and a third café opened, followed by a fourth and a fifth. No longer called Linda by other businesses, she was Mrs. Grant.
When she left her employer, in anger he predicted that she would return, humbled, despite of her first successes.
‟Women do not have what it takes to operate in this coffee business.” The old man said. A coffee roasting company owner of a mind-set era she thought was dead, his last words motivated her with anger. She became determined never to go back.
Even if she lost her house and starved. She would never work for that dinosaur ever again.
He, she promised herself, would work for her.
Her husband, father of two princesses, kept his job only for the retirement account. He helped his wife, followed her directives and business model, imposed strict observance of Mrs. Grant’s rules of operations.
If ever a husband was proud of his spouse, it was the Patriarch of the Grant clan.
The change in Linda surprised Kaylee in both outlook and attire.
Before, mom was in skirts and blouses. Now she wore slacks and a polo-shirt with the logo of her company, her hair, differently styled and her demeanor was more focused and intense. A coffee buyer, learning how to roast coffee and her business success, becoming known as a keen business mind and a well-respected leader of the business community.
Kaylee loved her mom before, now, amazed and truly proud of her. Unlike some of her college friends, embarrassed about talking about their own parents. Kaylee already enjoyed talking about her mom, and she was Kaylee ‘s personal super-hero.
Mother and child sat down over the coffee and Kaylee opened the subject.
“Glenn is acting odd.” Kaylee said before her first sip.
“No.” She corrected herself. “Not odd. He was…”
“Reserved.” Mom said and nodded.
‟I noticed that. He wasn’t excited answering the phone when I called his mother and asked for the platter.” Linda Grant and Katherine Tucker-Schroder were friends who went back to their own high school days in Salem, both moving out the northwestern state for different times and reasons and kept a close friendship.
‟I wonder if he is in trouble somewhere. Maybe his job is in jeopardy in Washington.”
‟Perhaps.” Mom nodded slowly. ‟I think it is more personal. Something close to his heart that is scaring him.”
‟Well, he doesn’t have to be scared to talk to me.”
‟Have you ever done something that scares you to talk about?” Mom sipped her coffee and looked over the top of the rim into her daughter’s eyes. A sparkle there that meant that mom was fishing a little.
The story of Thomas Harrison Harte, drinking and a summer of adventure poured out of Kaylee in laughter, tears, smiles and more laughter.
‟Anullment makes it that you never divorced. Someday maybe we can talk about it with your father, but for now? I think it would be best if we kept it between ourselves.”
‟And Melanie .” Kaylee said.
‟Yes, and Melanie .” Linda stood up and kissed her daughter on the head as she refreshed her coffee.
‟I won’t ever tell Glenn. It would be a problem that we might need to do counseling over.”
‟Well, that’s up to you.” Mom said. ‟You are Glenn’s girl to go through all that, rather than bringing home a millionaire husband.”
‟Should I have done that?”
‟It’s done. No going back to worry about it.” Mom said quietly. ‟Besides, Glenn and you have a relationship that you need to take care of.”
‟Yes, this is true.” Kaylee nodded. ‟Glenn and I have a lot of good memories and I don’t need to bring up anything that might screw things up. Melanie thinks that Glenn is going to ask the question.”
‟Oh honey! That would be terrific!” Mom said. ‟That might be the thing that is stressing Glenn out. Men have such problems with that issue. Your father couldn’t even say it right. It took him five minutes and I said yes before he got it out.”
The two women laughed and made jokes at the expense of the male gender for several minutes.
‟Kaylee , take my keys. Go talk with Glenn, we can make this an engagement announcement dinner.” Mom smiled widely. ‟It’s full of gas and the wheels are winter readied. Oh! When you come back if you can pick up a five-pound bag of russet potatoes from the grocer, we can have enough bakers for dinner. I have a roast in the oven that would go perfectly with that.”
‟Thanks mom, you’re the best.” Kaylee said, standing up and heading to the door.
Standing on the front porch for a moment, she thought about what her mother had said. She did not want to hold anything back from dad, but there was time enough for that discussion.
Looking around for the dark red Dodge Durango, the car her mom had named ‟David” sat in the two car detached garage. The garage was her dad’s own design. He had designed it as a pull through with cobblestone drive around the entire structure.
One thing her father had an eye for, was beauty and function. He had turned the attached garage into his shop that he spent long hours in with his IT skills. Sometimes mom would worry that government agents might come and take him away as a hacker of some arcane database.
Kaylee wanted to go surprise Glenn at his house, she got into David the Durango and started up the powerful engine and it grumbled to life.
Kaylee wondered if mom had work done to the new car, it felt unusually powerful when she pulled out of the driveway.
She smiled to herself and nodded in her thoughts. *Mom’s was right. Glenn sometimes stressed out when he had important things to do and if he is going to ask me to marry him would be no different, he might even panic.*
Even if it was a forgone conclusion that she would say yes, it would stress him out if he was already having troubles at college or his assistant program.
In deep thought, she drove over a newly paved road, the old section, patched for years, becoming a solid patch, each asphalt patch that filled a pothole covered part of its neighbor, new patches overlapped old patched asphalt until the funds became available to replace the patchwork pavement. The ride was a smooth surprise that made Kaylee laugh, she remembered the route to Glenn’s house as so bumpy, people had to slow down or risk damage to their wheels and tires.
It was a nice drive today, a classic country road that was perfect. Trees glistened in the mist, it was a Kate Williams watercolor image, Kaylee smiled. She wondered if Glenn would have gotten an engagement ring that duplicated the cigar band that he had given her a few years before.
That would be funny and romantic!
Pulling in the Schroder driveway, the two-story A-frame home was a beautiful place in the small town. Peaked roof homes were the norm, but this one used extensive glass to look out over the valley.
She got out and looked up, in the tree, the elaborate treehouse that Glenn and his dad built when Glenn was not even a teenager, was still there. She had sneaked up into the treehouse with Glenn more than once. A good place for a couple of kids with the summer off.
She created more than one sketch of the views from the treehouse.
It looked tired and dusty. A window, broken sometime in the years she was at college, and the ladder from the Rose Suchuck Ladder company that leaned up against the tree, looked unsafe at best. It had been years since she climbed the ladder to get inside of their little home away from home.
Natural stone steps, built by his father after he spent weeks in a rock-hunt along riverbeds for just the right kind of stone fit tight together.
Plus four small nuggets of gold, a lost wallet and one victim of a mountain lion attack over the months of his hiking. The victim stayed in touch with Anders Schroder over the years and they often traded services to the business benefit of each construction company.
Kaylee walked slowly up the steps, she enjoyed the memories of childhood passions and anticipation of being a member of this family.
The natural wood door was taller than most, shaped like the A-frame of the house, hundred-year-old iron knockers from some antique store that a talented cabinet company took great care to fit in the middle of the doors. The effect was dramatic and castle like. When the doors opened, it was as if the whole front of the house welcomed you in.
She rang the doorbell and looked around, Glenn’s car was not in the driveway, she had arrived ahead of him.
This was fun. David the Durango was new and Glenn had never seen it before, plus she had parked near the neighbor’s house. She would surprise him, twice today. If she needed, she would beat the engagement ring out of him, then kiss all the bruises better.
Footsteps, she knew the sound of heals, his mom would be surprised, too. If she beat Glenn home, she did not know that Kaylee could stop by.
And the pregnant woman who opened the door was a complete stranger to Kaylee .
‟Um. Hello. I’m looking for Glenn?” Kaylee had a thrill of fear, like what the lookout on the Titanic might have had at the last moment.
Smiling, the pregnant, blond woman held out her hand.
‟Hi! I’m Samantha, Glenn’s wife.”