Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)
- TITLE: A Lovely Daughter
By Holly Westefeld
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"It's Heather, Mrs. Hastings, the student doing community service."
Eileen turned the lock and swung the door wide. "Come in, Heather. I'm so glad you've come. It's so nice that the schools are encouraging students to be community minded. Please have a seat." She indicated a dinette chair next to a double width oak desk, and pulled out the swivel chair for herself.
"Thank you. I've always enjoyed helping people, though I've never assisted someone who's blind, so I may need some direction. If I say or do anything dumb, please tell me."
Eileen chuckled. "It's unlikely that you will say or do something I haven't come across in my lifetime. Feel free to ask me anything, except my age or weight, of course."
"Well, if we're going to make a dent on this pile of mail and such, I guess we'd better get started."
For the next hour, Heather identified junk mail, read old greeting cards, and waded through a variety of correspondence, watching with fascination as Eileen deftly consigned much to the waste basket, and brailled and filed the rest.
"You must be thirsty after all that reading. I don't keep soda, but I do have milk, orange juice, and homemade lemonade."
"The lemonade sounds great. Thanks."
As they settled on the sofa with their lemonade, Eileen inquired, "Have you decided what direction to take after high school, Heather?"
"It's a toss-up between pre-med and pre-veterinary. I just have to decide whether I like people or animals more."
"Tough choice, from what I've heard. People can be cranky, but so can the people that belong to the animals."
"That's for sure. I've worked a couple of summers at our vet's office, and some of the people can really get on your nerves. Have you ever had a guide dog?"
"No. My white cane has been my sole traveling companion." Heather noticed a shadow flicker briefly across Eileen's hitherto peaceful countenance. "When I was first married, we had a cat. He was a sweet, shy little thing--would snuggle right down between us, if we'd let him--but disappeared under the bed whenever company appeared."
"Do you have children?"
Eileen turned her face away. "Our only son died at birth."
"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to bring up a painful subject."
"That's alright. It was a long time ago, but something like that leaves a mark on the heart, even though I know I'll see him in Heaven one day."
"Yes, I noticed the braille Bible on the shelves over your desk. I'm glad you have faith and hope."
"Ironically, his father got to meet him first. He was killed in Vietnam while I was expecting. By the time I had come around after the delivery--this was before natural birth came back into fashion--they had taken him away, and I never even got to hold him."
The awkward moment was broken by a knock. "That must be my mom. Would you like to meet her?"
"Certainly." Eileen knuckled a couple of tears from the corners of her eyes as Heather greeted her mom with a softly murmured exchange.
"Mom, this is Mrs. Hastings. Mrs. Hastings, this is my mom, Roberta Green."
"So nice to meet you, Roberta. Please call me Eileen. You have a lovely daughter."
"Thank you. Though admittedly biased, I am inclined to agree."
"We were just having some homemade lemonade. Would you care for some?"
"No, thank you. ... Actually, I need to tell you that I was the one who arranged for Heather to help you, not the school."
"My name is Roberta Hastings Green. I was raised by Robert and Beatrice Hastings."
Eileen's faced blanched, and her jaw dropped. "How can that be? My Robert was an only child."
"When Beatrice realized that she did not have long to live, a couple of months ago, she confessed to a vile deed. Not wanting a blind widow to raise her grandchild, she bribed the doctor and nurse to put their names on the birth certificate, and tell you a baby boy had died. It took time to find you, and I was so afraid you might not be my mom, that I sent Heather..."
A kaleidoscope of emotion rippled across Eileen's face, resolving to beatific joy. "My daughter, and granddaughter! And I thought your father had gotten to meet you first!"
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