It had been twenty-four years since she’d last seen it, but the place looked exactly the same. Which didn’t surprise Lorraine aka Raine.
Named in colonial times for the Founder’s son Trent was that same 1950s throwback she’d left behind. The alternative had been marriage to self proclaimed high school sweetheart Tommy. Having dogged her teenage footsteps, and ruined School Ball night because she’d let another boy take her Tommy had staked his claim on graduation day.To both families’ delight he’d even bought a ring.
As mum explained, gushing. ”He’s been saving for it ever since he was a little boy.”
Their friends reckoned. ”How sweet. “It’s obvious he really loves her,”
While inwardly Lorraine screamed, ”Help I’m being suffocated.”, because that’s what marriage to Tommy or any other local would amount to. A slow, drawn out existence within the same narrow boundaries.
In the absence of a rescuer it fell to Lorraine to save herself. Once a week, mid-morning Saturday the Intercity bus passed through. On the day of her surprise engagement party (which was no surprise at all) as their families were setting up at the rugby clubrooms she’d walked to the town limits with all she could fit in a backpack, flagged it down and not looked back,
Meanwhile in blissful ignorance the rellies continued to deck the halls. Both mothers had gone all out, with hearts, balloons, roses on the main table and a spread to rival any cafe. Not to be outdone the fathers had clubbed together for cigars and a mini tanker. As the would-be groom’s dad put it doing my boy proud because he’s a man now. Tommy for his part had stood by beaming like a Cheshire cat, dressed like this was already his wedding day in a dapper suit. Blissfully unaware that his would-be bride was now bus-bound for parts unknown.
In the city Lorraine reinvented herself as Raine, and winged it helped by looks and an outgoing personality. A hometown legacy of hard graft took her from menial jobs to an eventual position in real estate. Natural attributes made up for what she lacked in formal qualifications and in time she earned promotions. Generous commissions enabled the purchase of a small doer upper flat. After twelve years though still refusing to visit her family extended grudging forgiveness. Not so Tommy’s for whom ‘forgiving her her trespasses‘ was never going to happen. They still referred to the bitch who broke Thomas’s heart and encouraged him to wallow in self pity rather than move on. Which made her own family’s situation uncomfortable. So for their sake or so Lorraine aka Raine told herself she kept her distance.
Even when she met Jono a client, married him a year later and became a mum of two.
Jono’s family couldn’t understand this attitude, but took their daughter-in-law to heart all the same. There were lunches with M.I.L., client referrals from F.I.L. playdates with the S.I.L.’s broods and holidays at the family batch. They had a circle of good friend, a varied social life and shared interests. Which made for a good life.
Until the morning Lorraine aka Raine opened her Inbox to an email. It was from her parents’ solicitor Bob Neilsen. Besides handling their legal matters he was also a family friend.
Dear Lorraine, I’m aware that I’m overstepping the mark here, but Derek and
Maureen keep hedging. So I figured someone had to break the news before it’s too late.
It’s your dad, He’s been diagnosed with cancer and its late stage.
That business about Tommy and the engagement is water under the bridge now. The important thing is your mum and dad. They need you and I also believe there’s a couple of grandchildren to meet. That’d really cheer Derek up. So please do the right thing and if you can try to forgive an old legal eagle for sticking his nose in.
Sincerely, Robert S. Neilsen (Barrister & Solicitor)
Which had led to this, a step back into yesterday knowing how Trent would appear to her thoroughly big city kids. Madeline (Maddy) and Josh considered anything smaller than a suburb as naff, laughed at hick towns in movies and had no idea their stylish, PTA mum was the product of one. Until now.
One look at their maternal heritage and Maddy shrieked.
“Oh my freakin‘ goodness. My Crew is so not going to believe this.”
Zoning out as she txt’d. Arrived. U R so not gna believe this. Like something outta the Stone Age.
Josh taking in their surroundings like he’d been beamed up and transported to The Twilight Zone, Lorraine aka Raine could imagine him worrying about future street cred. Txt’ng just as frantically Disaster. We are New-Zealand’s newfound hillbillies. the Kiwi version of trailer trash even though his mum’s parents lived in a house.
“Enough of that you two”, Jono exclaimed following his wife’s eyes as she watched a vehicle approaching. It was an old style pick up truck pre dating the modern SUVs and as it drew closer the driver was revealed as an older woman, Beside him Lorraine aka Raine gasped “Mum”, the years falling away as Jono tells their kids.
“ That’s your grandmother.”
Shaking heads, voicing denial because the only grandparents they’ve known live in a North Shore townhouse and go on cruises. Except mum’s eyes are liquid, as she hurriedly explains. “She’s my mum and this is where I grew up. I’m sorry you’re having to find out like this but my father’s sick. He’s very sick actually and he’s also your grandfather,”
Kissing the top of her head Jono gave her a squeeze as the truck pulled in alongside them.
The years melt away as Maureen drinks in the sight of them. Her runaway bride grown into a stylish city matron. Two fresh faced kids and a Ken doll husband to match. Then they’re falling into one another’s arms, Lorraine aka Raine apologising over and over, Maureen getting in years of missed hugs. Jono arms around his children waiting until the circle opens to admit them.
”Mum”, so choked up she can hardly get the words out. “This my husband Jono and these are your grandchildren Maddy and Josh,”
”That’s short for Madeline,”, adds the girl as she’s caught in a Nana Hug. There’s alot more where it came from, together with stories, photos and guided tours,
Then Lorraine aka Raine has to ask that question. About her father, praying all the while that it’s not too late. So relieved to hear Maureen reply. “Oh darling knowing you’re here means the world to your father. He’s wanted to put things right for so long. We just couldn’t figure out how. He’s been praying for the chance before he goes.
I know now we should’ve been the ones to tell you, but.....”
She breaks off unable to find the right words.
”No mum I should’ve come sooner.”,but Maureen shakes her head.
She’s having no more regrets. Tommy and his family have also been put on notice. This is about Derek not them. His daughter has a right to say her farewells. and there’ll be no disruption from interested parties,
“What’s important is that you’re here now. We still have time.”
’Time to pick up our threads, lay the ghosts‘, Lorraine aka Raine mused following her mum to the pickup as her brood followed with their luggage. Because unlike for so many others time would prove to be their friend, allowing closure......nothing left unsaid.....reconciliation which included coming to terms with her origins....in the time left to become a family and that was all that mattered,