Thursday, 14 August 2008
‘Are you sure that you want to do this darling? There’s still time to cancel if you’d rather not go.’
Fiona was worried about her husband. Simon had always known that he was adopted but in all the years that they’d been together he had never shown the slightest interest in looking for his birth mother.
‘We can’t go back now Mum, they’ve spotted us.’ Said Ollie as he shepherded his parents up the path to Gloria and Malcolm’s villa.
Malcolm was feeling nervous as he opened the front door ‘Thank you all for coming. Gloria is in the kitchen putting the final touches to supper, why don’t we go out onto the patio and I’ll fix us all a drink. I don’t know about you but I could murder a beer right know’ said Malcolm as he led the way through the lounge to the garden. ‘What I can get everyone? Fiona would you like a sherry?’
‘A sherry sounds lovely but I you don’t mind I’ll take it through to the kitchen and see if I can help Gloria. ‘
‘Of course I’ll bring it through in a minute. Simon, Ollie will beer be OK or would you prefer to have a glass of wine.’
‘A cold beer sounds just fine to me’ answered Simon as he slipped of his jacket ‘and I’m sure that this son of mine has been looking forward to a cold beer all afternoon. It must be thirsty work painting indoors in this heat.’ laughed Simon.
Malcolm silently breathed a sigh of relief. All day he had been dreading this moment. How was one supposed to act in a situation like this? He had been worried that Simon might feel as awkward as he felt and that the evening would be a strain but so far so good. Ollie was making light work of the dish of olives and Simon looked far more relaxed that Malcolm had dared hoped.
As he made his way into the kitchen to retrieve the beer from the fridge Malcolm smiled when he saw that Gloria and Fiona were chatting away together.
‘Fiona, let me get you that sherry. Is Amontillado OK?’
‘That sounds lovely, thank you.’
‘Gloria can I tempt you with a small glass?’ asked Malcolm
‘Tonight I think that a large glass would be in order. I don’t usually drink mid week.’ Explained Gloria to a bemused looking Fiona ‘but tonight is a special occasion and I think that I might need a bit of Dutch courage.’
‘I know just what you mean.’ Smiled Fiona. ‘This evening isn’t going to be easy for any of us.’
‘Don’t get me wrong dear I’m not dreading the evening, just the opposite in fact. I have been waiting for this moment for my whole life. You can’t imagine how wonderful it is to know that I am last going to be able to sit and eat with my son and his family. It’s like a dream come true.’
Fiona looked at Gloria standing so proud and tall in her neat little kitchen and felt guilty that she had been so angry with Ollie. No young mother should have been put through what Gloria went through. To give up her baby, never knowing what had happened to him or even who had adopted him. Thank God, she thought as she helped Fiona carry the supper dishes out to the patio, things these days were so different.
As Gloria fussed about putting the lovingly cooked food on the table she felt that her heart was bursting with pride for this handsome man and his lovely family. Watching her son as he passed the dishes around the table she wondered what life would have been like if she had been allowed to marry and bring up her baby herself.
‘Penny for your thoughts.’ Said Simon looking anxiously at Gloria
‘You must think I’m so rude’ said Gloria ‘you’ve come all this way and I’m sitting here not saying a word.’
‘We don’t think that at all. Do we Simon?’ said Fiona quickly
‘No of course we don’t. I was just worried that it was maybe all a bit much for you.’
‘I was seeing you there sitting at the table laughing and joking with Ollie, it reminded me of when I used to go to your father’s house for dinner. They always made me so welcome and treated me like one of the family.’
‘What went wrong Gloria, why weren’t you able to keep the baby?’ asked Fiona
‘You have to realise that things were very different forty six years ago. I suppose it sounds daft to say but things were more innocent then. Clifton and I met at the art class in our church youth club. The first time I met him I fell in love with him. He was so kind and gentle. I was only sixteen and he was my first boyfriend. We used to go walking in the park and sit for hours in the café sharing a cup of coffee and a sticky bun. The world could have exploded around us and we’d never have noticed we only had eyes for each other.
My parents were worried that we were far too young to be getting so serious but I was head strong even then and thought that they didn’t understand what it was like to be in love. Why is it that every generation of teenagers think that they are the first to feel that way? We couldn’t imagine ever being apart and when Clifton asked me to marry him I wanted to tell the world but he was far more sensible and said that it should be our secret until I was eighteen when I would be old enough to get engaged without having to ask anyone’s permission. You must understand that we never planned to sleep together before we were married, it just happened the once, but once was all it took and two months later I realised that I was pregnant.
If we’d been older things would have been so much different. But I was still a school girl and there was no way that my parents would let me keep you. We were both heartbroken when my father forbade Clifton from seeing me again but what could we do, we were still children ourselves.’
‘I don’t blame you. I loved my adoptive parents and they did everything they could to give me a good start in life. I suppose that when I was growing up I did wonder about my birth parents but I was afraid to go looking for you. But now I’m glad that Ollie found you and I hope that we can try and make up for at least some of the past forty odd years.’ Said Simon
‘Oh my darling I hope so too’
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Malcolm stood up from the table and raised his glass ‘I’d like you all to join me in a toast. To our new family’
‘Our new family’