All We Knew Ch. 07
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The Characters in this story are all aged eighteen or over and are above the legal age of consent.
John Carpenter put the phone down and walked back to his chair, a puzzled look on his face.
“That was my Mum, seems she’s decided on a visit and it’s this weekend!”
“That’s okay dear,” said Mary his wife, “she can have Jane’s room as it’s hardly used now,” she smiled as Jane blushed slightly.
“Thanks Mum, that was nicely put, and yes I am embarrassed, Kevin, what do you think?”
“OK by me, Nanny can just think we’re doubling up as she’s here.”
“You don’t think one of us should sleep on the sofa then?”
“Oh okay, were you volunteering?”
“Kids it’s okay, you can stay together, the family has to know, I don’t want you hiding away and pretending it’s not happening. After all you have been through, you’re not going to start lying to the family, leave it to me I’ll pick her up and tell her on the way over.”
“You sure about that Dad, it’s a big gamble, she may not appreciate your tolerance and I’m not about to face up to my grandmother when she goes into one.”
“I’m fifty seven and yes she still scares the crap out of me when she gets angry.”
They all laughed at the thought of Mrs Carpenter senior going off into one. She was eighty and only four feet nine inches tall, weighed in at about six stone soaking wet, but her temper was legendary.
“Did I ever tell you about the time I went round to see your Dad, way before we married, I was about seventeen. We were larking around and he said something to Nan, next thing her slippers off and your Dad’s legging it out the door. I nearly wet myself laughing, til she turned round with her slipper in her hand and offered me the chance to take his punishment. I was out that door and past your father in seconds. Half an hour later, we’re back inside and she’s acting as if nothing happened, asked your Dad to pick up some newspapers she’d dropped. As he bent down her slipper was off and she welted him across his rear end. God how he jumped up and yelled. Then I did pee myself a bit, I was laughing so hard.”
“Don’t ever underestimate your Nan,” said John, I can still feel that slipper hitting my arse!”
“Language John, watch that as well when she’s here.”
The family settled back for the evening, trading stories of how their Gran had dipped in and out of their lives. Everyone agreed it would have been duller without her.
The Next Day
The car pulled onto the driveway and even before the handbrake was on and the engine stilled, the passenger door opened and Mrs Carpenter senior was out and walking across the tarmac.
The children and Mary stood on the doorstep smiling as she emerged.
“Damn long drive, why can’t you move nearer, I know because you’d hate it if I was round the corner and kept popping in every two minutes. Get my bags from the boot Kevin, Jane there’s my travel case on the back seat, get that please.” She paused and suddenly smiled which lit up her face. “Mary you beautiful thing, you look radiant, still letting that wayward son of mine share your bed?”
Mary blushed, “Gladys it is good to see you and we would love to be nearer you, you know that, yes I’m letting him stay for now, after all he’s almost housetrained!”
Gladys flushed with the effort of the walk to the doorway, grabbed Mary and hugged her, kissing her cheek. She leaned in close to Mary’s ear,
“John told me your news, not surprised they’ve always been close and it won’t be the first time in the Carpenter family, bit of a shock though I bet?”
“You can say that again, then some, come on in, cup of tea or something a bit stronger?”
“Tea would be lovely, maybe something a bit stronger later, now can I get these shoes off they are killing my feet.”
The family dragged bags and cases upstairs and put them in Jane’s room, Hanging their grandmother’s coat on the casino siteleri hook behind the door. Moving back downstairs Jane and Kevin held hands as John went into the lounge to make sure his mother was settled.
“As I’ll ever be, any exam is going to seem easy after this Q & A!!”
They came into the lounge as Mary and John organised the teas and coffees.
“Right well you better tell me what’s happening, not you John, Jane and Kevin, straight from the horses mouth please, ok?”
“Well Nan, it’s not easy to tell, we’ve sort of always been close and over the last year “ish” , we’ve realised that we just wanted to be together, we were only really happy and free in each other’s company.” Kevin smiled as he finished.
“So who said it first, which of you came out and confessed this “unnatural desire” for the other, who knew first?”
“Kevin did, but he kept quiet, didn’t want to say anything to me in case it spoiled what we had.” Jane smiled too and held Kevin’s hand tighter.
“Then one day I realised that the only man I wanted in my life, apart from Daddy, was Kevin. I didn’t know how to tell him, but somehow we got in a fight about something and I just blurted it out.”
“Yes and I started it by shouting at Janey because she messed up in my room, but argument over, everything came out in the open, then we just had to tell Mum and Dad.”
“What was the argument about? can you remember?”
“Borrowing CD’s and not putting them back, mixing up the CD’s and cases, totally stupid stuff.”
“did the job though big brother, got my man.”
“Well that all sounds so very romantic, but how are you two going to get along in the big bad world?”
The next few hours saw their Nan prod, probe and push them about the barriers and obstacles they faced. The debate continued over their meal and on into the late evening.
“Well this old lady’s tired, been one hell of a day, I hate traveling, but I have to say it’s always worth it for Mary’s welcome and cooking, Johns attention and my beautiful grandchildren, now where am I sleeping, on the sofa?”
“No Gladys you’ll be in Jane’s room, all your bags are up there and I can help you unpack if you want, then John will take the cases out to the garage for now, how long do you want to stay?”
“Well firstly I’m glad it’s Jane’s room, Kevin’s is so untidy and secondly until I run out of welcome.”
“No worries Mum I’ll put your house on the market tomorrow.”
“You will do no such thing Jonathan Michael Carpenter, I will not impose on you and Mary like that!”
“Mum, it was just to say, we want you to stay for as long as you like.”
“That’s fine talk now John, but we will tire of each other, I’d as soon you told me and we can part friends, than linger and get under your feet, you know me I say what I think, always have.”
She drew herself up and looked down at Kevin and Jane, they held hands and gazed up to their nan.
“And I might as well get this off my chest now. As far as you two are concerned, I love you both very much and I understand how you must feel, I was young once, a long time ago agreed, but love is a wonderful feeling. I hope you two are very strong, because you’re going to need to be, every day you will have to deal with the knowledge that what you do Society frowns on. You’ll be hiding something or somewhere everyday of your lives. But and it’s a big but, you have each other and you have your family, we will not desert you, ever. Now get up to bed and get rid of some of that energy you’re wasting sitting talking to me, goodnight everyone.”
She bent and kissed a blushing Jane and a laughing Kevin then walked to Mary and hugged her for a long time, “John is so very lucky to have you. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful Daughter in Law and two wonderful grandchildren thank you, thank you for always welcoming a crabby old bird into your home.”
“Not canlı casino crabby Gladys, never crabby and for my part, I couldn’t have had a better role model and friend to help me when I started married life, had the kids and especially now, I should thank you.” Mary wiped tears from her eyes, as Gladys gripped her arms and smiled.
“Oh bless you. John, escort your old mother up to her bed please, I need a bit of help on the stairs.”
John walked over and cocked his elbow out. Gladys let go of Mary and slipped her arm through his, “Not too fast now I’m not as quick as I was.”
“Bet you still poke a punch though Mum.”
“Do you want to find out?”
“no thanks Mum, I’ll take that as a yes,” John grinned and took Gladys out and up the stairs to Jane’s bedroom. He opened the door and took her in then turned to go,
“Anything you need just say, we’re just across…”
“John you’ve been here thirty odd years, I think I know where your bedroom is and before you go I want a word, close the door,”
John came into the room, closing the door, “Mum…”
“Sit here next to me please, now listen, I haven’t heard everything, but I’m guessing you went ballistic when they told you, right.” John nodded, “Well I would have done too, except there’s a family secret you need to know.”
She looked at her son ruefully and held his hands, glanced round and nodded to herself.
“Now what I’m going to tell you is about our family, but you must share it with Mary and the children,” she paused and gripped his hands tighter.
“You remember your fathers father and mother, Nanny and Grandad Carpenter, well the truth is,” she paused and looked down at their clasped hands, “the truth is that they were Brother and Sister, had four kids, your dad was the youngest, all perfect, no defects, all apparently normal”. she smiled at John.
“You are actually saying my Grandad and Nan were really brother and sister, how, I mean what did the family do, weren’t they thrown out, how did it happen?”
“Long time ago, all they ever told your Dad is that they were the luckiest people alive and that the family digested it and went ‘so what! that’s our business and no one else.'”
“I don’t know what to say, I’m pretty amazed, do the others know this?”
“Yes it seems that the children were told and they were sworn to secrecy, your Dad told me shortly before we married, then when you were little he asked me to pass it to you when I felt it was time, he was so upset but he knew he couldn’t confide that to you.”
“I’m a bit stunned, do you think it’s hereditary?”
“No I think it’s love, me I’m a Reilly and my Irish blood contains a fine streak of temper, that’s hereditary, sorry I know you got that bit from me.”
“Wow, I’m a bit shocked and stunned by this, why now Mum why wait til now?”
“Because darling, after what you said in the car, I realised that the time was right; now I am really tired, I’m going for a quick wash and then I’m into bed.” She patted her sons hand, “Thank you for listening and tell Mary I will need a hand getting up in the morning, I’ll unpack properly tomorrow, for now can you put the bags on the side over there, my nighties in that small carry-all with my toiletries, so just leave that on the bed.” She leaned in and kissed her son on the cheek, “night son see you in the morning, cup of tea about seven thirty would be lovely.”
John stood moved the cases as instructed and walked to the door smiling, “night Mum sleep well,” He turned and left closing the door after him.
Downstairs the others were sat around on the sofa and chairs waiting expectantly. They noticed his solemn face as he came in.
“John, is Gladys okay, is anything wrong?”
“Mum’s fine, fine. However, she did drop a bit of a bombshell up there. Wow my family,”
He sat on the arm of Mary’s chair and slipped an arm round her,
“Well folks this is for kaçak casino your ears only, ok?” he looked round as they sat forward and nodded. He then recounted his mothers conversation and tried to answer their questions, but as his knowledge was scant he could only repeat his mothers words.
“Well I have to say that Grandad and Nan were so in love even when they were in their eighties, held hands and sat by each other in their house. Died within two weeks of each other, first Nan then Grandad, I really loved them from the first time that John took me over to meet them.”
“Mum always said Grandad died of a broken heart, he had nothing to live for when Nan died, family all grown up and flourishing, he’d done his job and just wanted to be with his wife. My God they’d been married nearly sixty years when Nan died,”
Jane burst into tears and hugged Kevin, “That is just so lovely, I think that is just perfect,”
“Hey, hey, if it’s lovely and perfect why are crying Baby Sister, I think it’s just so uplifting, to think two people could be so in love..”
Jane hugged him harder and sobbed into his chest, tears wetting his shirt.
“Way to go Tiger, ” said Mary as she stood and walked to the sofa, slipping next to Jane she placed her arm around her.
John gazed at his family and slipped down on his knees next to Mary, placing an arm around her and Kevin and hugged them tightly.
“Oh that is so lovely,” said the voice from the doorway, “My dears that is just so lovely.”
They all turned their heads to the doorway, where Gladys stood in her nightdress, slippers and dressing gown, a smile beaming across her face.
“Mum, I thought you had trouble with the stairs, how did you manage?”
“Phhh, I have trouble when I want it, although I wasn’t fooling about the mornings, if Mary doesn’t mind?”
“Sorry, Mum I didn’t get to that bit yet. Mary, Mum will need help getting up in the mornings, she asked me to ask you if you minded helping!”
“Of course I don’t mind, what time is good for you Gladys?”
“Well I usually wake about sevenish, but I can’t actually get out of bed too easily and I need help getting to and from the bathroom and washing and dressing. Once I’m mobile, had my tablets and some tea, I can get around, it’s just getting started isn’t easy anymore. One other thing, I know I’m not your real mother, but over the years you’ve always been the daughter I never had, would it be too much to ask for you to call me Mum, well at least sometimes, I really would like that.”
“Mum, I would be honoured to do that. Since my Mum died I haven’t had anyone other than you to pester, moan too, or get advice from and you’ve always been there for me, well us, so yes I will with pleasure call you Mum, Mum.”
“Jane why are crying? what is wrong?”
“Oh Nan, your story was so beautiful, I just got so overwhelmed, I can’t believe anyone could be so in love, it’s like a fairy story.”
“Well their life was no fairy story, they worked hard to raise four kids in a tiny flat in a run down area of London, but all four of the kids had a happy childhood and grew up to lift themselves out of the area and provide for their own families, and also make sure their parents moved out to the country and lived out their lives together in comfort.”
“Do you still miss grandad?” said Kevin, looking at his grandmother.
“It’s been ten years since I lost him and yes I miss him every day, but I am grateful for the time I had with him, and for the son we had and his beautiful wife and children.”
She looked down as tears began to stream down her face. The Carpenters had never seen her like this, she had always been so strong and tough. They all went over and put and arm around her, enveloping her in their hold.
“Bless you all, thank you for putting up with a silly old woman, I am so very lucky,” she said, “I really do love you all so very much, although sometimes it comes out in strange ways.”
“Nan, if Kevin and I are half as lucky as Mum and Dad, you and Grandad and Great Nan and Grandad Carpenter, we’re going to be so happy,”
“Amen to that,” said John Carpenter.
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