#My52: Week 11
Word prompt: house
Word count – 719
Reading time – 2 mins, 11 secs
Kent whistled. “You said that? To Aunt Pearl? What did she say?”
“Well, she wasn’t happy with me, but she said she hoped to hear from me soon and hung up.”
Jack pointed his finger across the table. “You are so out of the will now, no question.”
Jo ducked her head. “Yes, sucks to be me right about now.”
“Why didn’t we know she and dad were so close?”
“They weren’t that close.”
“But, you just said-”
Jo held up her hand.
“Aunt Pearl’s boys were like their father—loud, brash bullies… they still are. Your dad said he was grateful he didn’t share the same last name because they were always in trouble all the way through school. Aunt Pearl did what she could to keep them in line, but Uncle Ed let them get away with everything, then used his influence to protect them from being held accountable.”
“When he died, they went buck wild and ignored Aunt Pearl. Your Grandma Nettie felt sorry for her and sent your dad to run errands for her and take care of chores around the house. Pearl latched on to him for dear life. Tommy and Dale saw how she doted on your father and straightened up by their early twenties. Your dad said that was when she figured out the power of her wealth and began to use it to get her way.”
“But no matter how much your dad meant to her, I couldn’t allow her to barnstorm in here and take over our lives.”
“And as long as I’m being honest, it felt good to stand up to her. I’ve spent too much time being angry at your dad for leaving me and myself for being a wimp about it.”
“But dad didn’t leave you, mom. Not in the walk-away kind of leaving.”
“I know, baby. My mind gets that, but my heart doesn’t.”
She reached out, touching their hands. “Last revelation of honesty… I feel like a fraud for telling your aunt I’m here to help you when I haven’t been.”
Both boys opened their mouths to protest again, but a stern look from Jo stopped them.
“Look, this isn’t about absolution, deflecting blame, or even forgiveness. It’s about accountability and responsibility—two things I’ve skated on.
We lost an important part of our family, but we’re still a family. I’m your mother and Wesley Cameron Tanner would haunt me to the end of my days if I acted like anything less.”
Kent smiled at the mental pic of a ghostly Wes Tanner in a Crowded House band t-shirt and camouflage lounge pants, his favorite around-the-house attire.
“I’m a blessed woman to have shared my life with your dad, but I’m just as blessed to have you two as my sons.”
“So, going forward, new rules! One, it is okay to be sad and it is okay to cry… but it is not okay to hide it. No more hiding in my room for me, no more skulking in corners for you. Two, it is okay to talk about your father… share things, good and bad. He wasn’t a saint, and neither are we. Jack, I know you were ready to run away from home when he took your bike away for a week last year.”
Jack’s cheek’s flushed a deep crimson as he hid his face. “Oh man, the grass wasn’t even that high. I didn’t think waiting another day or two would hurt.”
“Yeah, but dad thought otherwise.”
Jack jabbed his elbow into Kent’s side, but he continued to laugh anyway.
“And rule number three,” Jo said in a raised voice to get their attention. “it is perfectly okay to ignore rules one and two.”
The Tanner brothers exchanged confused glances.
“Your mom’s not loopy or trying to be facetious. It just goes back to what I said earlier. No one can tell you how to mourn. What’s important is that you do… in your own way, and I’ll always be here for you.”
Kent stared at the genuine love and affection on his mother’s face and anxiety he’d been holding onto for too long seeped from his body.
Jo rose from the table. “Now you two go wash up for dinner and I’m going to share a happy memory of your dad.”
To be continued…
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