Rural Idaho, 2006 – Margaret adjusted the potted plant for the umpteenth time. All day, she’d been occupied with cleaning house, though it hardly needed it.
She’d needed something to keep her busy though, instead of sitting idly and watching the clock with anxious eyes.
Connor was coming to Idaho, and he was bringing his wife and infant son with him. Finding out she was a mother-in-law and a grandmother soon after hearing her son’s voice for the first time had sent her emotions into a tailspin and joy had swelled in her heart.
Then she’d remembered John, and her joy had dimmed. If she hadn’t pushed him away and if she hadn’t cut off all contact with him nearly thirty years ago, would he be here?
If he was still alive. Her ex-fiancé had been a rookie police officer when she left and whether or not he had been killed in the line of duty during the past twenty-seven years, she didn’t know.
If, if, if. So many ifs and uncertainties. And the only ‘if’ that had been put to rest so far was the fact her son was willing to meet her.
She absentmindedly played with her hair. Did Connor have her strawberry-blonde locks or his father’s rich brown?
“Are you okay, honey?”
Connor glanced over at Kelly and shrugged. He turned his light brown eyes back to the road, tapping the steering wheel while he waited for the switch from red to green.
Kelly tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear. “You’ve hardly talked today.”
“No,” she said. “I guess you could say I’m worried, but I’d say-“
“-you’re only observing,” Connor echoed the end of her sentence. He sent a weary grin towards her. “I’ll be fine, sweetheart.”
Her smile in return reached her mixed-brown eyes and the concern that still resided there. Four-month-old Liam started to stir in the back seat just as the light turned and Kelly reached over to push his pacifier back in his mouth. Connor fell silent again, his thoughts drifting to his mother.
With Connor still on her mind, Margaret moved through the small living room to the kitchen and grabbed an orange. She peeled it and popped half of a wedge in her mouth. Instead of her stomach being settled like she’d hoped, it threatened to toss the wedge back up.
She sighed, gave up on the remainder of the tangy fruit, plopped her chin on her hand and waited.
And she waited…waited…wait-
The sound of tires on her gravel driveway made her jump.
She raced to the front door and grabbed the door handle. Instead of opening it right away, she prayed yet again that all would go well.
The door opened and a woman–his biological mother–came out onto the shaded porch. She stopped at the top of the steps and touched one of the posts holding the porch roof up, shielding her eyes with her other hand.
Connor unbuckled his seatbelt but didn’t move to get out. Kelly reached over and grabbed his hand. “Do you want to pray before you meet her?”
“Y-yeah.” He sounded as nervous and as scared as he felt.
Margaret watched the car, waiting for the door to open. Waiting to see her son for the first time in almost thirty years.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the driver’s side door opened. When she saw him, she swallowed. From a distance, he looked like John. Yet as he walked up, she could better see the resemblance to herself.
She held the post with both hands now, taking in deep breaths to gather her bearings.
This was it.
Connor stopped halfway to the porch. What was he going to say? Hello? Naw, that didn’t seem right, somehow. Too formal for his taste.
“Hi. . .” His voice came out high-pitched and he cleared his throat. “…Mom.”
He called her Mom.
Margaret let go of the post and started down the steps. Emotion swelled up and caught in her throat.
It had been easier on the phone, yet now that she was actually standing face-to-face with him, she couldn’t say anything. She could hold out her arms, but they wouldn’t lift. She was glued in place.
Connor seemed to notice and covered the last few feet to the porch in a half-walk, half-jog. Margaret hardly had time to look up, because almost immediately, her son reached out and embraced her.
The floodgates opened, and she found herself whisked back twenty-seven years, to the last time she’d held him. He’d fit in the crook of her arm then and today, he towered over her.
After some time, they finally pulled apart. Connor shuffled his feet, debating whether or not to start the conversation.
Margaret wiped at her eyes. “Hi,” she croaked. She cleared her throat. “I’m-I’m sorry if I’m a little shy.”
“It’s okay,” Connor said. “I’m like that too sometimes.”
“Heh.” She sniffled. “You got that from me then.”
He sent a glance at the car, then turned back to her. “You wanna meet Kelly and Liam?”
Margaret smiled and nodded. A few seconds later, she was introduced to her daughter-in-law and grandson.
“Can I…hold him?” Margaret asked, gesturing to Liam. Kelly nodded and handed him off to her.
Margaret took him with trembling arms. He yawned and opened his eyes at her, revealing light brown irises. “He looks just like you,” she said, sparing a quick look at Connor. He grinned and slipped an arm around his wife’s shoulders.
“Why don’t we go inside, and get out of the heat?” Margaret suggested. “We have a lot of catching up to do.”
And so ends this little series. . .for now. 😉
©H.S. Kylian 2018
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)