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Open Features: Great'ma - Part Six

Sleep evades Great'ma so her thoughts again drift back to former timers..

Jackie Wearing continues her perceptive account of ageing and family life, a novel in progress. To read earlier chapters please type Jackie's name in the search box on this page.

Sleep did not come. The absorption in thoughts of former times was happening more and more with her.

This time she was back in Judith's house. Dottie had asked her to come and she initially thought there must be some bad news connected with Judith. In her hurry to get there she arrived earlier than expected. The two were engaged in setting the afternoon tea spread.

"Oh, it's a celebration. How nice."

They exchanged glances. Dottie began. "We'll just finish this. Make yourself comfortable."

Judith nodded in agreement and they both left the room.

The atmosphere was decidedly not one of celebration. She moved to look out of the window and thought inconsequently that everything was eating everything else out there.

The door opened and she went to help set the table.

"I want to know what I am here for. I don't think I can eat anything till I know what is going on."

Judith looked cross and Dottie moved to stand where her mother had been standing and was now looking out of the window.

Judith said in a very decided manner, "Dottie is going to have a baby and I have offered to ...."

She stopped as the sharp look from her sister registered.

Dottie turned quickly and said, "Mummy please a sit down. Please! I wanted to tell you this....To explain...."

"You're not getting married?"

"That's impossible."

"Oh."

Judith, the commanding older sister, now cut in. "Sit down and let us talk rationally," she said, "You Jennifer have always floated along. Everything fell into place for you. Your family, the children. I wasn't so lucky."

Dottie looked from one to the other, only now aware of the undercurrent of feeling between the two.

Her mother broke the ensuing silence.

"Yes, let us sit down. Dottie you have talked this over with your aunt and this is what you want?"

"Yes, but I want you to understand. I know you would provide for me, but I want to work. I've got used to being independent. I didn't expect aunt Judith to offer. I have always confided in her... You probably knew this..."

Losing a bit of the older sister attitude, Judith now said, "I don't want you to feel hurt or anything. Being illegitimate won't be so obvious if..."

Dottie looked from one to the other and resumed her study of the garden.

Looking at her daughter's back for a moment her mother said, "I am a bit put out, but what Dottie feels best," then, after a short pause, "I will agree to it."

There was now a longer silence in the room broken by Judith who started pouring tea.

"Let us all sit down now." Surprisingly they ate with enthusiasm.

Great'ma came back to the present thinking, "I smiled and talked and the other two became more relaxed. I hid my feelings well and Jeffrey's mother, my grandchild was brought up by my sister. Dottie working. It didn't go smoothly. Did I lose her then, or was it when she married? What was it? Three years later? Derrick, who I never got on with."

Then later there was Delphine, Amy's daughter and my granddaughter, coming to me with a similar problem How much better it turned out for her.

Cynthia and Jeffrey. Margaret, my granddaughter, labelling me the Sphinx.

The thoughts drifted into sleep.

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