Monday, September 5, 2011

Chapter 27: Una's Day

Captain's Log -

Inevitably, Una's wedding day dawned deceivingly promising.  The sun bright, no cloud in the sky.  Her wedding was to begin at sunset, in the privacy of our modest back yard that boasted new Spring growth.

In the last few weeks, with Carey Verona having moved in, I have seen behavior from him that I cannot accept.  He is sly, sneaky and unfaithful to my daughter.

I have caught him on occasion cornering Ursula, flirting with her outrageously when Una wasn't around.  I have called him out on this, only for him to proverbially shrug off my attempts to convince him to call off the wedding.

He will do no such thing, claiming he loved Una.  

I have no doubt that outside the sight of even myself, he may be dabbling with the feelings of other women.

I broached Ursula about the times I had witnessed a touch from Carey to her cheek being to forward, or his proximity to her too close to be brotherly.
"What is going on, Ursula?  Are you encouraging his behavior? Do you love him?" I asked her, when the two of us went out one morning to her small garden.
She stood up from her weeding, shoulders back and chin high.  "Father, I hate him," she declared. "He seeks me out to tease me and pester me, nothing more.  Una shouldn't be marrying him and I've tried to talk to her but she won't hear of it."
I sighed, my chest feeling tight, "I am going to throttle the man."
"He is just a bully, father.  Don't do something rash, he's just saying pointless dribble and it's more of an annoyance than anything else."
"What about Una, has he bullied her?"
Ursula seemed to think on this, "On the contrary, Papa, I have seen him be very good to her.  I think that is why it is so hard for Una to see him the way we do.  Do you think he really loves her as he claims to?"
I shook my head, "I wish I knew - I honestly can't believe he has the capacity to truly love.  But I will talk with Una, she must be told what's going on."
"If she were to believe anyone in this house, it'd be you, Papa." Ursula replied, bending back to tend her garden.  I noticed her hands trembled a little.  Somehow, our conversation had shaken her bravery.  This was of concern to me, but I said nothing.
The following day, a week before her wedding, I found Una painting in the family room.  She smiled brightly at me when I entered, her hazel eyes glittering with that special light that only brides have.
"Good morning!" she chirped.
" 'Morning, Una." I felt uncommon nervousness,  that tightness in my chest returning. I eyed her latest creation, a vase of white calla lilies.  They were bright and promising, much like her own hope in her future, no doubt.  I hated to bring up the subject that pressed on me.  A pain in my chest made me pause, I pressed a hand there as if to staunch the ache.
Una placed her her paints down hastily and hurried over to me, her arm on my shoulder, "Daddy, are you okay?"
"Heartburn, it's just heartburn," I explained, excusing the pain away despite it still burning in my chest.  "I need to speak to you," I took a deep breath and made an effort to look like nothing was wrong, though I felt otherwise.
"What is it?" she looked genuinely concerned, her eyes, so like mine, dimming a little with concern.
I took her hand from my shoulder and led her over to the nearby sofa.  We sat down but I kept hold of her hand.  Her engagement ring, though a little plain, glittered mutedly.
"I must be honest with you, Una.  My words may scare you.  First, my time is short.  I fear I won't be here much longer.  This change in the air is heralding my end."
Una's brows furrowed, "Daddy, what are you talking about?"
She didn't sense the change, or maybe I was loosing my wits a bit.
"Una, you can't marry Carey.  I can see he won't make you as happy as you deserve to be.  He has been making advances on your sister, something she hasn't been encouraging.  He has made it clear to me that he has no interest in being faithful to you -"
Una interrupted me, she pulled her hand away from mine.  "You can't talk like that, you can't say your 'time is short' and that you're not going to be here much longer.  You're fine.  And Carey loves me, if you could see the way he looks at me, how gently he holds me, you'd know it.  You're just sad because I'm growing up and may not live here much longer."
"What?" I felt like my heart stopped.
"We're talking of getting a place of our own after the wedding.  We want to start our own family."
"Give children time, Una.  Don't rush into motherhood before you get a chance to settle in to married life." I warned her.
"Please don't preach to me Daddy, you made worse mistakes." she snapped.
That smarted, and I thought of what to say.  "I've made my mistakes, yes, Una.  I moved in with your mother after finding she was pregnant with you and that turned out to be a major fault.  I played around too much in my younger days.  But my mistakes aren't the point, Una.  I want you to not make one now.  Don't marry him, please, don't marry him." I begged.
She must have heard the desperation in my voice because she took my hand, kissed my cheek.  "I'm sorry.  You and Delia and Ursula are both telling me what to do, I feel like I've lost control of my life.  I want to marry him, Daddy.  If he's a mistake then I'm willing to take the risk.  I love him."
I could see the determination in the set of her shoulders, the glint in her eyes.  She would not be moved.  And with everyone telling her to not marry him, it had probably pushed her to be more certain of her choice.
I could not tell her she was wrong.  She had made the decision long ago.

Now her wedding day has come, the guests have arrived and the merrymaking begun.  Just after sunset, the vows were exchanged, the rings placed on waiting fingers.  The deed was done.

And just as the new ring on Una's finger sealed her fate, the pain in my chest sealed mine.

This, I know, is my last entry.
~Tom Calico

Chapter 26: Something Off the Horizon

Captain's Log - 

I hear little from Muriel, who lives in town but visits only when she needs money.  Mairin never visits, having invested herself into a busy career.  
If it weren't for Una and Ursula, my eldest and youngest, who have stayed home, I daresay Delia and I would be lonely.
I don't know why Una and Ursula decided to stay on just as much as I know why Mairin and Muriel felt the urge to leave.
But I am grateful for them, for they have brought me joy.
 Una has turned her creativity into a job.  She has found a niche in the literary world, publishing her writing.  She generally writes dramatic works, full of a little bit of everything.  She has even been selling some of her artwork on the side and has been featured in the local art gallery.
 Ursula has grown a modest garden, and won a few blue ribbons for her vegetables.  She sells the excess vegetables at the local market, but we use much of it in our day to day cooking.
 Ursula even got a job at the local fire station.  I saw her off, on her first day.  And even then, she was brave.  If she was nervous or afraid, it never showed.
Ursula and Una have even settled into a peaceful, though not necessarily friendly existence.  For what has seemed like the longest time, we are able to have meals together without a fight.
Although sometimes, Una had to bite her tongue on an occasion or two when she turned her nose up at Ursula's choice in job.

For whatever reason, Una felt Ursula was showing off.  Despite my talks with her otherwise, she believed no different.  I think that Una is a little jealous of Ursula's notoriety about town.  It wasn't long into her career that she was awarded for her bravery and given a few promotions. 

Nonetheless, I am very proud of both my girls, and their decisions.

 Save one --
Una's choice in men has left a bad taste in my mouth - one that has me worried about the outcome and if I'll be here to protect her from heartbreak if it happens.  Like a wind that changes direction before a storm, like the pink clouds of dawn before rain, I sensed something beginning to change in the house - something not all together for the better.
 Una has become attached to Carey Verona, her childhood playmate.  His mother Veronica, an old flame.
I thought for sure they would realize their love for each other didn't go beyond childhood infactuation.  They had never dated anyone else besides one another.  But inevitably, Carey proposed one morning after staying the night and Una accepted.

And when the news was shared, Una expressed her desire to marry soon.  And until the wedding, she wanted Carey to move in with us.
I balked at this - move in, before marriage?  It was something not done in my day.  But times change and I want to see my daughter happy.  So I begrudgingly agreed as long as separate rooms were kept, and the wedding was indeed soon.
With days before the wedding, and me readying for retirement now that I had reached the highest level of work in law enforcement, I attempted to get to know Carey more by treating him to one-on-one talks and outings with me.
We didn't have much in common.
I enjoyed the popular Barnacle Bay sport of baseball.
Carey wasn't a sportsman.

He seemed even a little weak, where I believed I was strong even in my dotage.
Carey didn't really care for art, when I enjoyed it as well as Una who painted so much of it.
In fact, the only thing of common interest between me and Carey was his line of work.  He had become a rookie cop at the local station and he seemed to enjoy it.
The wedding day draws closer and I worry more and more for Una and Carey both.  They are still so young, so impressionable.
Maybe it's the old seaman in me, but I feel a storm brewing just off the horizon, graying out sunlight and joy.

~Tom Calico
Captain of the Mistral

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chapter 25: Reflections

Captain's Log -

I have been remiss in logging the duration of my time on Barnacle Bay.  Ursula, Marin and Muriel have long since passed their infancy.  Una herself, has blossomed to adulthood.

The time has passed nearly without my knowing so; for I am now a man nearly past my prime.

Una has forever been my girl, my dearest.  We are so much alike in spirit.  When she was younger, we spent a lot of time talking, just by ourselves, usually when Cordelia was handling the triplets and
I was able to break away a moment.

I learned a lot of how she resents her birth mother for not being around, how she was glad for Cordelia to soften the heartache of not knowing why a mother wouldn't want her.
On her sixteenth birthday, Una met Patty.  It was not the most pleasant memory.  It had been the first time that Una had seen Patty since her toddling years.  It was also the last time Una would ever see Patty.

I had invited Patty every year to Una's parties, giving Patty a chance to mend something she broke long ago.  She never came.  After all those years, she never came.  But, on the occasion of Una's sixteenth birthday party, she showed.  She showed, and was greeted with animosity and confusion by Una who knew of the invites every year, and with every year lost more hope that her mother would come.

Maybe because Patty was expecting another child and she felt some form of regret, I will never know for sure.  I only know that whatever words Patty shared with Una only incited my daughter and within only a few minutes of arriving, Patty left at Una's request.
Poor Una's hot-headed tendencies can get in the way, but it has always been understandable to me and Delia, the loss of her temper on that day.  All Una had to say after the party was over and once Delia and I sat down with her long after the triplets were in bed, was "I've met her only to realize I am not truly missing her, but the idea of her."
We never spoke of that occasion again. 

A few years rolled by and all too soon, my sweet Marin, Muriel and Ursula were turning sixteen themselves.  They each had a personality all their own, no two of them were alike.  And sadly, because none were alike - even compared to Una, it caused a lot of commotion in our home.
I wish I could say that every moment of my life was bliss.  
But it is never that way for anyone.  Is it?

Delia or I would receive calls at work of the girls fighting at school.  Not just fighting with words, but sometimes with blows at one another. Whether on the bus, in the cafeteria, or halls, their fights generally broke out when I wasn't around.  Delia herself, had received misplaced blows to the eye or shoulder from the girls when she'd try to intervene.
But if fights broke out when I was home, I was quick to put a stop to it, separating the girls with the strength I once had to use when I lived the life of a pirate.  A brute force I never knew I'd have to use since.
The girls would face nearly weekly groundings for their behavior.  Mairin and Muriel resented me most for this and in retaliation, were caught too many times sneaking out after their curfew.    
How could my dear girls get so mean?  How could they not understand one another that they would fight one another? Mairin and Muriel were likely the worst of my four girls.  

Though they barely tolerated each other themselves, they did often gang up on their older sister Una and sometimes on Ursula.
But Ursula won her fights - so it was rare that she got picked on.  Ever since she was a baby, she was the most independent and brave of them all.  Ursula was blessed to have that quality, as it kept her from many fights over the years with her sisters.  She withheld herself from her sisters, drew closer to me and Delia.  Ursula is most like her mother - in looks and manners - and they have drawn close over the years.
But I ramble, lost in the memories that can never change for the better.
When I think about the time to come, when I am no longer around, I wonder how my family will survive without me to hold them together.  My love and devotion to Delia has been strengthened over the years, she has been my truest joy.  I count every day as a blessing with her.  But I know I will leave her before she leaves me.
Call it intuition or what have you, but I know, my days are numbered.
Mairin and Murial have moved out after graduating high school, went to different colleges.  But Una and Ursula have stayed.  I know they love their home, they love their family despite the shortcomings.  It may be selfish, but I believe they stayed behind for me and Delia.  We are getting old, too old to run a home as big as ours.

I will prepare my will, and think of who is bequeathed my captain's log - my legacy.  And I will pray that this is only the beginning of a great legacy - not the end.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chapter 24: Growing

Captain's Log -

All too soon, time rolled forward.  Our triplets grew to toddlers. And their individual personalities began to truly shine through.
 Muriel was excitable, and could sleep through all the commotion in the house.  She even slept through her sisters' screams.  She ended up inheriting my amber eyes, but Cordela's strawberry blond hair.
 Little Muriel . . . so quiet compared to her siblings.  She seemed naturally born with discipline.  She loved being read to.  She had my dark hair and my mother's green eyes.
 And then little Ursula, she was the bravest.  She was the first to crawl, to walk, to explore.  And Ursula was the first to figure out her peg box.  I do believe she is above average.  She is the spitting image of her mother as a baby.
 It will be interesting to see if her likeness to Cordelia will continue.
 Right now, life is beyond busy for all of us.  Una has made a great turn-around.  She has been a help to us with the triplets.  She works hard in her school studies, earning mostly A's in her report cards.  I am very impressed with her.
The triplets seem to eat all the time, we feed one then another is hungry and the process repeats itself.  Dirty diapers . . . I've seen more than my share.
Potty training is near.  Muriel and Mairin are so close to walking, little Ursula just runs everywhere.
They seem to learn a new word every day, they are in to everything from trash to toilet water.
Outside of raising our children, Cordelia has gone back to work at the office, she's striving to climb the corporate latter, but the mutual hate she has with her boss is holding her back.
I've had a quick succession of raises and promotions, but the price to pay for that is time away from my loved ones and working many graveyard shifts and non-traditional hours.
But when all is said and done, when I come home from work on those nights, I love the sound of peace in the house.

I know all is right in the world when I look in on my sleeping babes and witness their tranquil slumber.

~Tom Calico

Chapter 23: Long Nights, Warm Hearts

Captain's Log -

Labor pains started in the middle of the night.
 With a disarmingly gentle touch, Cordelia squeezed my shoulder gently to wake me.  I was surprised that the lamp was already on.  When I looked at her with sleep-blurred eyes, I could see the beaded sweat on her brow and above her lip.
"They're coming," she whispered to me.
We both got out of the bed, Cordelia taking her time between contractions.
 She was so brave.  Hardly crying out when the pain came, but she made the oddest faces while concentrating on her breathing.
 We grabbed our bag for the hospital and headed into town together.
 Once situated in the hospital, nurses attended Cordelia while I encouraged her with gentle words and praise. Strangely, once in the hospital, time passed quickly and it felt like mere heartbeats later, our daughters came.
We named them Mairin, Ursula and Muriel.
After a few days in the hospital, the doctor deemed Delia and the babies healthy to go home.
Once home, we laid the girls in their cribs.

That first night home was the beginning of lost sleep, long nights, dirty clothes, messy home, warm hearts, and a happy home.
The past was truly forgotten and the future worth living for.

~Tom Calico

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chapter 22: Countdown

Captain's Log -

Cordelia's doing so well.  To battle near-constant exhaustion, Cordelia naps every day and makes a point to do some stretches and only a little exercise. She's nearly through with the pregnancy, the doctor said she wouldn't go full-term so any day could be the day.

 With the nursery in order, Cordelia has used her maternity leave from the office to catch up on reading.  Most of her reading consists of baby-know-how.  She is getting nervous for the day but her excitement is palpable.
Una has warmed up a little to having siblings.  Her fits have lessened and she has settled to the fact that she will not be our one and only.  She has also kept herself busy with her playmate Carey Verona.  Verona as in Juliette Verona's son.  Juliette herself has settled into married life and having a family.  It's ironic to me that the woman I used to be with has a son who now plays (and is friends with) my daughter.
Needless to say, I'm glad Una has a good friend.  I think once the triplets are here that she'll be in need of a friend.  Delia and I will be so busy with the babies I fear that Una will think we've forgotten her despite our words of warning of late to her that it wouldn't happen.
I don't share too much of my worries to Cordelia, she is preoccupied with her impending labor and I know that eventually all things will turn out right.
 Soon, our babies will be here.  The days are winding down, and the moment is almost nigh.  I must attend to Cordelia, for she has need of me in these last days.

~Tom Calico

Chapter 21: Bringing Up Baby(ies)

Captain's Log -

Cordelia has mentioned her desire to have a baby.  Although this entry may mark the first word of it, it isn't the first time she's ever said anything. It is the first time that I've actually started giving thought to having another child in the home - especially knowing now that Cordelia is pregnant.  We never bothered with protection, knowing that the outcome would likely be to have another child.  Honestly, I'm a little surprised she wasn't pregnant sooner.
So yes, my Delia is going to have a baby.  Our baby.  And it's been a long time since feeling this distinct excitement.  I have no real trepidation in the future, because I know history will not repeat itself.  Cordelia is a wonderful mother to Una, I have no doubt in her ability to be a mother to a newborn.
I am however, worried about Una.  She has been flourishing and growing under the guidance of Cordelia and me.  She has been (dare I say) given much love and has not wanted.  I fear in giving so much to Una, she has become accustomed to being an only child.  She has made it clear through her more frequent tantrums that she isn't interested in having a sibling to share affections with.  Time will tell if her feelings will change on the matter.
Yesterday, I took Cordelia to the doctor so we could be sure her pregnancy was progressing well.  She is nearly out of her first trimester.
Imagine my surprise when the doctor confirmed to us that Cordelia wasn't just pregnant with one child, but with three.
And in about five to six months they would be here.
Cordelia laughed, the doctor smiled, and I broke out into a nervous sweat.  Three, really?
"Well, Calico," Cordelia reached over to touch my shoulder.  She kept her perch on the examination table, I was in a waiting chair at her side, "Well, we've been waiting out for some time to see when I'd get pregnant.  All good things come to those who wait, right?"
"And apparently, they seem to come in three's." I replied.
We laughed together.

~Tom Calico