by DiVoran Lites
Family Comes to Visit
It was almost the end of summer — round-up time when Ellie drove to the station to meet her mother and grandparents off the Chicago train. The mountains, as yet, had no snow on them, but she knew from the talk around the table that Aldon was planning to bring the cattle down this week in order to avoid bad weather for the trek.
That afternoon, when she hugged the members of her small family in their elegant department store suits, she felt tall — tall and protective. When Granddad removed his hat she saw him in a way she hadn’t seen him before. Was his hair always pure white? Had his shoulders drooped slightly the last time she saw him? Mother looked as if she were Grandmother’s sister instead of her daughter, and Grandmother was looking downright frail. Had they changed or had she developed a more mature way of looking at them? She would need to watch and listen in order to understand whether they had problems now that they hadn’t had before or whether they were the same as always and it was she who had changed.
At the ranch, Aldon, Molly, Kate and Seraphina, everyone except the Solanos, came out to welcome them and usher them inside. Ellie, Kate, and Seraphina had moved to the third floor so that the guests would only need to climb one set of stairs. Aldon lugged their Alexander Clark Co. Ltd. luggage to their rooms right away they might change into more comfortable clothing.
It wasn’t quite suppertime when they came downstairs so Molly asked Ellie and Aldon to show them around. At the corral, they stood and watched Sunrise leap and mince around Summer. Ellie’s mother, Vera, laughing at the colt’s feistiness, thanked Aldon for giving the mustangs to Ellie.
“She’s a good horse. Did she write about how well she and Summer placed in the rodeo race?” Aldon asked.
At bedtime, Vera came up to her room carrying a brown-paper wrapped package. She handed it to her daughter and Ellie tore it open.
“That’s beautiful,” she said, running her hand around the smooth silver frame. She glanced into her reflection, though, and thought her face looked drawn and shadows under her eyes spoke of poor sleep.
“Thank you, it’s just right. I hope he’ll accept it from me.” Ellie said putting it on the desk.
“Why would he not?” Vera asked. “What’s going on between you and that handsome young cowboy?” Vera sat on the bed, and patted the spot beside her. Ellie sat down too. These bedrooms were smaller than the one on the second floor and had even less space for a private visit.
“I don’t think anything is going on between us. Not anymore,” Ellie sighed.
“Are you fond of him?” Vera lifted Ellie’s chin and turned her head so the young woman would look at her. Ellie nodded.
“Does he love you?” Vera’s voice held a poignancy her daughter had rarely heard.
“I thought he did.” Ellie wiped away a tear, hoping her mother hadn’t noticed that she was crying.
“But you’re afraid of something?” Vera seemed genuinely interested. Suddenly, Ellie realized that all her life she and her mother had been nearly strangers. Vera was only sixteen years older and they could have been friends, but something had kept them apart. She did know that Vera was always busy keeping house and entertaining for Grandmother while she was either away at school or working at the store. She would love to know something about her own father – anything would do. She had made up stories and fantasies about a handsome young man who carried a three-year-old on his shoulders, but no one at home had ever mentioned him.
“Are you afraid Aldon will leave you as you believe your father left us?” Vera asked.
“Did you love my dad before he abandoned us?” Ellie sensed a possibility of finally learning what had happened between her parents.
“No,” Vera said taking a deep breath. “I didn’t know him very well?”
“You didn’t know…him?” Ellie gasped. “How else could you have had a child…? Ellie stared at Vera who now refused to meet her eyes.
“You had the best possible father in your Granddad, why don’t we leave it at that?”
“Because, I want to know, I’ve always wanted to know.”
“Oh, Honey, I love you, isn’t that enough?” Vera lightly touched Ellie’s knee.
“I know you love me. You’ve shown it in many ways. I’m so grateful for the work you’ve done to take care of us all. Living with Grandmother and Granddad instead of getting out on your own couldn’t have been easy. Even though we didn’t have much time together, you kept me clean, fed, and dressed. I now realize there were times when you wanted to talk and I was too busy, and I’m sorry. Please, Mother, tell me the whole story.”
DiVoran’s Promise Posters, Paintings from Go West as well as other art can be purchased as note cards and framable art