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    Past and Present

    Jerry picked them up at the airport, somehow fitting in with the elusive landing area a private jet commanded, throwing a squealing Rosie in the air as Angie hid behind Tina. Larger than life was Jerry, his familiar battered hat on his head, a toothy grin wrapped around his head, his hugs large and friendly. He was a whirlwind of activity, infusing them with his happiness and energy.

    “How did you get to be so big, Miss Rosie Rabbit? You been eating all the pizza in LA?”

    “I’m little, Mr. Jerry. Mama says I’m not allowed to get any bigger, but I just do anyway…”

    She was perched on his shoulders now, turning his head to make him go in the direction she wanted, laughing when he pretended to walk into doors or go in circles. Glancing at Bette, Tina smiled softly, the answering smile making her heart flutter. It wasn’t often their children got to be around a man like Jerry and today he was like Christmas morning and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one.

    “A minivan, Jerry? Oh, this is poetic justice…” Tina dissolved into fits of laughter, one hand covering her chest as she shook her head, hazel eyes crinkling with laughter.

    Giving her a withering stare, Jerry frowned, Rosie’s hands lowering to cover his eyes.

    “It’s Allie’s. And she said with y’all three babies that I had no choice but to bring it… and I have learned to always do what my girlfriend tells me to do…”

    “Smart man,” Bette commented at the same time Rosie chimed in, “Two babies, Jerry. Two babies and one Rosie…”

    “…besides, I ain’t driving it. You are… I left my truck here yesterday so Rosie and I could get some shrimp and count the fish at the pier…”

    “Yes Mr. Jerry, that’s a fine idea…” Rosie approved.

    Bags loaded, car seats secured, Tina started the engine as Bette put on her seat belt. “Poetic justice is you ending up being the one to drive this thing…” she teased, her eyes dancing as Tina chuckled again then blushed when Bette leaned in to tell her just how sexy she was. “Maybe we need to get one of these things after all. Tell me again about the power sliding doors and fold away middle row…”

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    1. Elena evidently is a strange young woman…. making the house dark, keeping the home warm, keeping Yaya under a schedule as if she were in ICU at a hospital? No light, hot, darkness? Anyone who has ever been in a hospital knows that warm temperatures promotes growth of bacteria and all the things you do not want for a sick person to be exposed to. That is why operating rooms are like going into a refrigeration unit. I’m afraid that Elena’s relationship with YaYa is influencing her care for YaYa. How long has this been going on? This is not going to be easy for Bette and Tina to make YaYa as comfortable as possible and take care of their children and possibly battle with Elena over what will benefit YaYa in her final days. And on top of that – try to allow Elena to reconcile her life’s situation to what may have happened to cause their life long separation and say goodbye.

      But one thing for sure, if Bette and Tina do not make an all out attempt to make YaYa’s final days as comfortable as possible, they will live with the guilt of non-action for the rest of their lives. This is reminiscent of the final days for Melvin. Bette was smart enough to contact his house keeper in Philadelphia to ask that some photographs and keepsakes be sent so that he had something familiar in his surroundings as well as Kit and Bette spending time with him.

      This is heart breaking to lose someone… but it’s cruel to walk in on a situation where the caregiver may be speeding things along even through ignorance.

      I hope that Bette, Tina, Boo and Jules can make YaYa’s life a little more comfortable… possibly just instill some hope maybe?

      Thanks for the chapter….

      • Hey Martha,
        It’s actually pretty common for families to keep the house dark and hot when there is someone failing in the house. I see it quite often in my line of work. So I think that part of the story holds water. I am not a nurse or a doctor so there will be some liberties taken for the sake of the story but hopefully everyone can read it for the sole purpose of reading a good story and not face checking. That is my goal and may be lofty but I do this for fun and for a little escapism so there is that. Thank you for taking time to comment, I always enjoy your insight

    2. This chapter has a lot to unpack. So they arrived at the River only to find Yaya’s heretofore unknown daughter Elena on the scene. Both Tina and Bette are stunned but Bette seems to need a minute to wrap her brain about what this means. She desperately wants to see her loved one: “Hands on her hips, Bette lasted about five seconds before the questions came. “So… Elena… it is a pleasure to meet you. I was wondering… I mean, I was wondering… and you know…we are so worried about Yaya. Is she here?” Closing her eyes briefly, Tina inwardly soaked in all of Bette’s angst. That the brunette was stumbling over her words spoke volumes. “She is here.” “We didn’t know she had a daughter. She never mentioned… she never really spoke about her family.” Tina intervened, her hand going to the small of Bette’s back, rubbing gently.”

      Thank goodness for Tina. She is having her own issues with being back on the River – so many memories – not all happy ones – but really shines in this chapter as she works her loving magic to calm Bette and support her and help her to understand that there is nothing they can do and they just have to proceed one step at a time. “Boo could say it better. But… she knew how difficult I found it when things were changing. She used to tell me that I could never step in the same river twice.”

      Despite feeling somewhat helpless and more than a little miffed Bette listens to Tina. Bette always listens to Tina. Is comforted by Tina. Of course it helps that they are so very much in love. I really enjoy their banter – the easy going back and forth – the kind of communication achieved only when a couple is this connected. I especially liked the conversation about the mini van and Tina so excited about the the fold away middle row. And Bette finding her wife’s excitement so sexy. “Bags loaded, car seats secured, Tina started the engine as Bette put on her seat belt. “Poetic justice is you ending up being the one to drive this thing…” she teased, her eyes dancing as Tina chuckled again then blushed when Bette leaned in to tell her just how sexy she was. “Maybe we need to get one of these things after all. Tell me again about the power sliding doors and fold away middle row…” This easy, carefree exchange is so loving and indicative of their more than solid marriage and love and affection for one another. The chapter is filled with several of these little moments. And of course their intense physical connection so powerful and essential and therapeutic to both is once again beautifully incorporated.

      Tina knows the situation is dire. As she contemplates when she sees the garden: “Yaya would never let the garden go if she could help it…” The garden symbolic of Yaya’s illness and the end of life. Tina and Angie pull weeds to restore some semblance of life and Yaya’s spirit. And Tina listens to Bette. Lets her express her thoughts and emotions, especially after having seen Yaya. “She needs sunlight, Tee. Fresh food, music and people around her. Laughter and fireflies. The sound of water lapping on the bank of the river. That room is… that room is too dark, much too dark… just awful. It was sweltering almost. Gloomy, depressing. Like that show you made me watch… the one about the house… what was it?” “Haunting of Hill House. That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?” “No. I don’t think so. Her room… it’s terrible…” Pacing, Bette went on and on, her voice vibrating with emotion. Putting away their clothes, Tina listened. She listened to what Bette was saying but also to what Bette wasn’t saying, the underlying worry, the sorrow, the anxiety.” For the record I have seen that film more times than I can count. I suspect in her sleep deprived state Bette is exaggerating but love that Tina let her get it out.

      I think Bette’s conversation with Elena will be very helpful. They may be reaching an understanding of sorts. Elena needs help and support and I suspect Bette realizes Elena is not the enemy. One of my favorite passages: “Out of nowhere, Rosie marched up to the young woman, surprising her and Elena actually took a step back as the child advanced. With her arm outstretched, Rosie stopped to show Elena the rock in the palm of her hand. Wearing cowboy boots (who packed those, Tina wondered suddenly, pretty sure she didn’t see them in Rosie’s luggage before they left) and a tutu over her underwear with not much else, the little girl held the rock up high, there was no question who it was for. Stunned, all Elena had to do was look at Rosie and realize it was an important gift and she paused, considering the child. “It is a good rock, yes?” She asked and Tina knew this was the right question, and one only Rosie would appreciate.”Yes, Miss ‘Lena. This here is a good rock. It’s for you on account of you don’t have one yet…” And later: “Tina would swear to Bette later that she saw a smile on Elena’s face as she left. Bette now understands. “She needs us, Tee…” Bette responded, “she needs all of us and perhaps Rosie most of all.” Leave it to Rosie.

      Lastly Bette and Tina finally spending time with Yaya was both heartbreaking and endearing and brought on the tears. Tina bringing the wheelchair. “Weighing next to nothing, Bette lifted her easily, a soft blanket over her legs as Tina adjusted a pillow behind her, making sure Yaya was comfortable. Kneeling in front of the chair, Bette spoke softly, “all you have to do is tell us what you need. Where to first?” “The garden…please…”

      Of course…the garden. Hopefully it has been watered and some of the weeds cleared away. Like a beloved family member you do not want to lose I hope for a miracle for Yaya but suspect the end is coming. What will the River community do without her? Thankfully Bette and Tina are there to support Yaya and are getting this important time with her. Beautiful chapter.

      • Billy, you couldn’t have said it better, what a fantastic comment and to the point, you quoted exactly the things i would have!

        BK, wonderful chapter, nothing to add to Billy’s comment. My only wish is for Yaya to get better!

      • Billy,
        I agree with Bibi. You really sum up this chapter so well and catch the small nuances (like the banter in the van) that make the couple who they are. Hopefully as this part of the story evolves I can capture how they trade times to calm the other, you are so right that in this chapter, Tina is the one who soothes and grounds. Next chapter, I hope to show how Bette takes on that role when Tina is confronted with someone from her past. I know you love a spoiler but that is all you get for now.
        From my POV, Bette is wound up, distraught, and exhausted so yes, I agree with you that she is overly descriptive in her recall of the condition Yaya is in. We do know that about our Bette, ever prone to hyperbole. :)
        There is more Rosie and her rocks to come, she will be quite a force to be reckoned with in some ways next chapter!
        Thank you Billy, your posts are beautifully written, thoughtful and engaging. Almost like cliff notes (do those still exist?)

    3. A beautiful chapter, BK. From all the lovely Bette & Tina moments to that ending – Bette & Tina with Yaya. Heartbreaking. Powerful. Emotional. Exceptional writing.

      I feel for Elena. Facing your mother’s end of life is never easy, and on top of it in Elena’s words they have a complicated relationship. No wonder she doesn’t know what to do. She needs Bette & Tina in more ways than one. I loved her conversation with Bette, maybe Bette can help Elena and Yaya have that different ending she spoke of.

      For sure it wouldn’t be easy for Tina being back at the river. Bette’s response to Tina not being sure Bette would have liked her then – “For the record, you’re right. I would not have liked you in high school. I would have absolutely obsessively unconditionally loved you in high school. I would love you anywhere. In any time zone, in any generation, any… interstellar space.” – absolutely perfectly a one hundred percent Bette Porter comment.

      And this was perfectly Bette & Tina – “Their bodies had this way of … talking. Of knowing what the other needed even when words were hard to say. They both noticed it early on in their relationship before even sex became a part of their equation. It was this… fusion… an emotional dance … chemistry that exploded with every touch.”

      My favorite line – “Was there anything better than a 3am conversation with the one person you love most of all?” GREAT line and no there isn’t.

      • Hey there Westy –
        You wrote – “Heartbreaking. Powerful. Emotional.” and I am humbled by your kind words, thanks. I find writing children and that dialouge very difficult so I am glad the overall effect is not to take away from the story. I loved your comment and how you pick out your favorite parts, they often are right in line with my own… especially how you highlighted this – “Was there anything better than a 3am conversation with the one person you love most of all?” GREAT line and no there isn’t.” AGREE!

    4. I loved the chapter. I feel like Elana is a bit jealous of Bette’s relationship with YaYa. Though their stories are similar, I get the feeling that Elana’s father might have been a bit abusive and that is why YaYa had to leave without her. Maybe she will get to know who her mother really is in the time they have left and Bette, Tina, and the kids can bring some sunshine and happiness to her life in her final chapter. Post soon.

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