I joined the army the day I turned eighteen. I had worked my teenage years in my father’s hardware store. I was very knowledgeable about stock inventory, ordering, and replacing inventory since we had up-to-date systems just for that purpose – Not very exciting, to say the least. Mom and Pop paid me well and I saved my money thinking I would go to college, but first I wanted to see more of the world other than the small city where we lived. I’d still go to school when my three-year hitch was finished and I would only be twenty-five in age when I completed my education.
I signed up for the Quartermaster Corps. I did have to do my mandatory basic training in the service and then was given orders to a major supply depot in Nevada. Before arriving I had a few days of leave time and decided to visit Reno, it being on the way to my new post. I was driving, thinking I would be stationed at the same place for a few months at least and would need transportation. I bought an old car a few days previously. Not happy to be stuck in the states, I figured I could transfer to a different unit and see some of the world since that was why I had joined the service.
I was a few miles out of Reno and it was almost dark. Suddenly ahead I saw a figure step into the road with hands up for me to stop. First instinct was to blow on by, but then I saw it was a young woman possibly my age. Her hair was a flaming red. I was several feet beyond her when I came to a halt. She ran to catch up to me.
I rolled my window down to hear her ask, “Hi, can I have a ride? I’m going to Reno.”
I looked this woman over and could see she was young as me. She wore jeans and a long-sleeved blouse. She was fairly tall with a decent shape. She had a heavy backpack with her. “Toss the bag in the back seat, please.”
“Because, if there is a weapon in it, I don’t want it where you can get to it easily.”
“Maybe. If you want a ride, it has to be my rules. Where are you from?”
There was a slight hesitation before she said, “Kansas. I’m going to find work here.” I didn’t think for a minute she was from Kansas, but I let it go.
“Do you know anyone in Reno?”
“Nope, but I heard there are a lot of jobs there and I had to get away from home.”
“You’re running away from something or some one then.”
More hesitation. “My father. He doesn’t treat me very well. I’m eighteen and he couldn’t stop me from leaving.”
“You’re a brave young lady.”
“I try to be. What do you do?”
“I’m in the service. I have a few days to kill before I have to report. I thought I would see the big city.”
“Same with me, only you have a place to go to and I don’t.”
“Do you have any money to keep you until you find work?”
“Some, a little over a hundred dollars.”
“That’s not much.”
“The Lord will provide.” I thought, ‘oh no, not one of those.’
“You have faith.”
“I sure do or I wouldn’t be here.”
We drove into the city. I had a reservation at a reasonable priced motel. I pulled up in front of it. I turned to the girl as I killed the engine, “What are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know. It is dark and I can’t look for a job tonight. I know I’m being bold, but can I stay in your room tonight? I won’t bother you.”
“My reservation is for one single man.”
“Oh come on. A motel like this won’t think anything of you having a guest.” She was right. How was I going to handle this?
“We haven’t even exchanged names.”
“That’s easy enough to rectify. My name is Priscilla Redding, call me Cilla. What’s yours?”
“Dan Pierson, from Rapid City, South Dakota. Your town is?”
“I shouldn’t do this Cilla, and I have to ask if you are going to scream rape or attack me in my bed?” I wasn’t really worried, so I said this with a smile.
“It seems as if I would be in more danger of you raping me. I promise I won’t scream if you do. It is a matter of trust on both our parts. I’m very tired and I walked a long ways between rides. Please let me stay.”
I was tired too, and wanted to hit the sack. “I’ll get the key. I’ll probably regret this, but for tonight you can stay.” I took my case in and locked my duffle bag in the trunk of the car. Cilla, as she said she wanted to be called, brought in her heavy back pack. We looked the room over. The bed was a full and the room had a small couch in the corner. That didn’t look too comfortable.
I asked, “Are you hungry?”
There was a faint, “Yes.”
“There is a McDonalds down the block. I asked the desk clerk.” We were hungry and both had a Big Mac and then split an order of nuggets. Cilla held my hand on the way back to our room. She showered and then I did. She was in bed asleep when I finished shaving. Damned, if I was going to sleep on that couch so I crawled into bed. We didn’t touch and I was soon asleep. My last thought before I slept was that I was being a damned fool having this girl in my bed.
In the morning I awoke when Cilla was returning from the bathroom. I jumped out of bed and soon came back. It was pretty early to get up. “Dan, can I hold your hand and lay here next to you? I’ve never been alone before. This is the most peaceful I have been since I was a little girl and I feel so safe with you. You are a very nice person. I’m so blessed to have met you.”
“I take it you haven’t had a very good life at home.”
“You said it! My father is old and my mother was a child bride. She was only fifteen when she married him. He is a terrible tyrant. I have a sister five years younger and Father treats Mom and us all the same way. He slaps us around if we don’t obey him. I had enough of it and left. I tried to get Mom to leave, but she said it was her duty to stay. I don’t feel that I have any duty toward him or bound to him at all.”
“That’s sad. My mother and father is a loving couple to me and my sister. I want to see some of the world and that’s why I joined the service. I plan on returning from the army and going to school for a few years and then be partner with my dad in the family business.”
“It must be nice. I wish my folks had been like that, but they weren’t so here I am making a life for myself. You bought eats last night so let me buy you breakfast.”
“No, you should save your money. I’ll be getting paid at the end of the month and I have money from the last pay period. I’ll stand for meals until you find work. I have to leave in five more days and report in. I’ll help you find something.”
“Dan, would you kiss me?” I rolled over and kissed her. My tongue came out and touched her lips. Cilla thought that was fun. She was sweet and it wasn’t long before she offered up her charms to me. I accepted. I found Cilla unknowing about sex. As soon as I realized she was a neophyte, I was slow and loving with her. I tried, but I came to the point when I couldn’t hold out any longer.
She asked, “Is that all there is to sex? I’m disappointed. I thought it would be fun, but it hurt a little.”
“It’ll get better. Let’s lie here and talk awhile.” We cuddled and she didn’t mind if I used my hands and fingers to brush and stroke different areas of her body. When I brought my lips to her breasts she was aware that she had asked me to enter her too soon the first time. It wasn’t long before she was asking to be made love to again. When we came down and were resting, I asked, “Cilla were you a virgin?”
“Yes, this is the first time I have ever had sex.”
I broke into a sweat. “You should have told me. I may have made you pregnant already. If we do it again I’ll have to get some rubbers.” I had little idea myself about cycles or periods. I questioned her. She had never been told about this either. “I assumed you must be on the pill. You said you were eighteen and very few women have sex without being protected. Their mothers see to it.”
“My mother never told me anything about sex. Maybe she doesn’t know either. My father said he would whip the hell out of me if I ever let a boy touch me.”
“Didn’t you talk to other kids about having sex?”
“Not much. When they were giggling about boys and stuff I would get up and leave. I was kind of an outcast because of my father. The whole village is afraid of him. I’m free of him now, thank the Lord.” When Cilla got up to shower the evidence was there. There were spots of red on the sheet, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
I went looking for condoms directly after breakfast. Cilla had no work skills at all. She didn’t even know how to wait table. We finally found a diner that would hire and train her. She was pretty enough, so when she learned the ropes and how to deal with the customers she should be able to support herself.
She was to start work in three days. We had that much time together. We ate in the diner from then on. This gave Cilla a chance to watch the other two waitresses who worked there and to get friendly with them. One meal the next day there were five soldiers in the booth behind me. I asked if they were stationed at the supply depot.
“Because I’m supposed to report there in a couple of days.”
“Make sure you’re on time.”
“I will be. My car runs good.”
“Oh, oh, you’ll get hassled about having a car. They always give new recruits trouble. Better sell it and come down by bus. There are regular buses going to and from.”
“Kid, you’re in the army now and everything sucks.” One of the soldiers handed me a bus schedule while everyone was laughing. I decided right then to sell my car which I did later that day getting just about what I had paid for it because the car didn’t look like much. It ran good though. I had only owned it a short while and wasn’t that attached to it.
Cilla and I spent a lot of time in bed the remainder of the time I was in Reno. I made promises that I would bus up here every chance I could and meet Cilla at the diner. She promised she would wait for me. I gave her the money I received for the car. She was going to hold the motel room until I came back next weekend. “I have faith I will see you, and I’m so blessed.”
The army had different plans for me. I arrived at the base and reported in just a few hours before Head Quarters closed for the day. “Private Pierson, don’t unpack. You will be shipping out at 0600 tomorrow morning. You have orders for Okinawa.” No time for a good-bye to Cilla. I wondered if she would miss me as much as I missed her.
I did a fourteen month tour on Okinawa. I used my vacation time in Japan and when my tour was up I was ordered to an ordinance unit in Pennsylvania. I was a few months there and then was ordered to do a tour in Germany. I spent a year in the fatherland and didn’t have that much time remaining when I returned at the end of that tour.
Occasionally Cilla would cross my mind and I wondered what had become of her. When I mustered out I did travel to Salina, Kansas where Cilla told me she had come from, but people said they knew no one by the name of Redding. After spending a week enquiring in the area I gave up the search and traced my way west.
I then went on to Reno. I found the diner where Cilla had the promise of a job. But it wasn’t the same. The original had burned two years before. It had been rebuilt after awhile but none of the former staff were working in the new one.
I went to college that fall taking courses in business. The thought of Priscilla Redding receded further into my past, but I did search for Cilla again when I finished school. On completion, I came home and took my place in the family hardware store. I looked up one of my classmates and began a relationship with her. I was an eligible bachelor and had a good job, which was just what she was looking for.
We married, but soon realized that there wasn’t that much love. The divorce wasn’t painful at all. No kids to complicate matters and over time she found someone who fitted her ideal as a husband and she is now happy. We are friends and when we meet we laugh about our short time stint in double harness.
Mom spoke one morning when I came down to breakfast, “Dan, wasn’t it about eighteen years ago when you had to report to that post that you only stayed one night and shipped out the next day. Do you remember that?”
“It was a long time ago Mom, but I do remember it well.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I had a five-day relationship with a young woman before reporting. I tried to track her down when I got out of the service, but couldn’t find her and then again one summer while in college. I did go back again before I came home for good.”
“That’s too bad, Dan, but probably for the best. You would have been tied to her. She would have been alone most of the time because of your two tours overseas. The marriage wouldn’t have lasted.”
“I don’t know Mom, she was a nice girl. Maybe even my dream girl. She was certainly pretty enough. I do think she would have hung in there if we hadn’t been prevented by circumstances to stay together.”
“Etta was a faithful wife to you. I was sorry to see it end.”
“She was faithful, but we found we didn’t love each other and neither of us got hurt over the marriage.”
“I know, son.”
It was a month later when I came out of my office up one level and caught a glimpse of two women quickly turning away from me. I noticed the red hair, but didn’t see their faces. I had the feeling they had been staring at the office. One of my clerks came up to me a little while later. “Dan, there are two women in the store down in the house-ware section. They have been in the store quite awhile and acting weird. Would you speak to them and find out if they are looking for anything special?”
“Sure, I’ll handle it.” I walked down the aisle. The two women had been whispering with their heads together and now broke apart when they saw me approaching.
“Are you ladies looking for something specific?”
“No sir, we were just leaving.”
The youngest woman at that point picked up a $1.89 plastic dishpan that was right in front of her. “I’ll buy this. I have my card. Would you ring me out?” She dug into her handbag and took a Mastercard out of her wallet. She handed it to me and looked right at me.
I knew immediately! This was Cilla, but no, it couldn’t be. Maybe the sister Cilla had mentioned, but then this woman looked too young for that to be possible. She looked like the woman I had made love to so many years ago. The girl even sounded like her. I started for the front of the store to ring up the sale. I hadn’t looked at the name on the card. The two women were following me.
I stopped suddenly and the young woman almost ran into me. I turned and holding the card in my closed hand, I asked, “What name am I going to find on this card when I look at it?”
“The name will be Danica Priscilla Pierson when you look at the card.”
I wanted to shock the young lady. “How is Cilla and why didn’t she come with you?”
“Mama is dead. My grandfather brought her home from Reno. Gram and Aunt Ann said Mama mentioned a Dan Pierson every day until she passed away. I’m hoping you are the Dan Pierson she talked about and maybe you are my father.”
“It is possible.” I looked at another woman who came up to us.
The older woman spoke, “My name is Anita Redding I’m Danica’s grandmother. This is Ann Redding Pierson and she is my daughter. Cilla and Ann were sisters.”
“How come Ann has the name Pierson? I can understand Danica having the Pierson name, but I don’t understand a sister having it?”
“I had her name changed by the court when her father and Cilla died. She could have had any name she wanted, but Cilla had talked about you so much, Ann decided to take your name.”
“Okay. Let’s get out of here so you can explain. Danica, do you really need a dishpan?”
Her face flamed and then she smiled. “No, of course not. I did it that way because I couldn’t walk up to you and announce I was your daughter, could I?”
“I would have known you were. Cilla has been in my mind’s eye throughout the last eighteen years and you are almost identical to the lovely person I spent five days with so many years ago. Come, I will take you home. My mother’s name is Grace and she will be overjoyed to meet you almost as much as I am and she would be grandmother to you. Your grandfather, George is here in the store somewhere, but he can meet you tonight.” We went outside to the parking lot.
“Miss Ann, would you follow my car? It isn’t very far.”
“Yes. Will Danica be riding with you?”
“That was my thought. I wish to get acquainted with this child of Cilla’s.”
Ann huffed up. “She’s your child. It is time you stepped up and claimed her.”
“Okay, I’ll do that. She’s my child. I searched for her mother long enough.” I held the door for Danica to slide into my vehicle.
“This is a Cadillac isn’t it? Pretty plush.”
“I guess. Danica, tell me, when did Cilla go home?”
“I don’t know when, but I do know why. My grandfather learned where she was and went after her, forcing her to return home. If it wasn’t for me she would have committed suicide. She claimed she couldn’t destroy something that came about with so much love. I never knew her because she died about the time I was able to walk.
“Don’t ask me now, for it is a long sad story and some of it is why my aunt and grandmother changed Aunt Ann’s name to Pierson. Your name is on my birth certificate. My mother lied and said she was married to you so when I was born I would be legitimate.”
“I don’t understand much of what you are telling me. I’ll wait and hear everything from your grandmother.”
“Ask my Aunt Ann to tell you because she was very close to my mother, and she could tell you better than Gram could. Aunt Ann is in all respects, my mother. We have the same name to prove it, or at least that is the intent.”
“Okay, I’ll ask her. This is my street coming up on the right. The large house at the end of the street is where I live. My mother and father live in a large apartment in the rear. I lived in that while I was married. Mom liked it and when my wife and I divorced I swapped my living quarters for the more easier-to-care for apartment.”
“You were married?”
“Yes, I was, but it didn’t work out. We are still fiends and you will meet her occasionally if you come to live with me.”
“Did you have kids?”
I smiled as I answered, “No, you are my only one. I felt I was too young to start a family when we first married. We knew that our marriage wouldn’t work soon after the ceremony, so we were careful. I was only married for two years anyway and that included the time it took to become divorced. We’ll continue this later.”
I looked in the mirror. “Your aunt just pulled in behind me, so we’ll all go in together. My mother knows I had a short relationship with a woman I met while in the service and that we lost track of each other. You won’t be too much of a surprise.”
I stepped out and waited on the walk until Ann and Anita got out and came up beside me. “Ann and Anita, you can tell Mom as little or as much as you want to. I think I should learn about everything before I do too much explaining.”
Ann spoke, “Thank you Mr. Pierson. You will hear some things that you most certainly wouldn’t want to share with anyone except family.” I nodded.
“Both of you please call me Dan. Mr. Pierson is my father.” I stepped up onto a small porch in the rear of the house and gave a couple of raps on the door. I opened it.
“Mom, are you home?”
“In here, Dan. You’re early, don’t you feel well?”
“I’m fine. Mom, come out and meet some people I brought home with me.”
“I’m not dressed for company. I’ve been cleaning all day. Your house was a mess and I just finished. What you need is a woman of your own to look after you.”
Mother came through the doorway. “Oh, my Lord, you did bring company.” Never hesitating she said, “We’ll go around into your living room and I’ll find something to drink. Dan has tea, coffee and water. He has fresh lemons for the tea and water.”
Five minutes later in my apartment, “Mom, please sit before you go rushing around. I have a little explaining to do. I don’t know it all, but I’m satisfied these people are telling me the truth. First, do you remember less than a month ago we had a conversation? It was about a relationship I had with a lovely girl while in the service. And also, that I had lost track of her and I did search for her, but couldn’t find any trace?”
Mother nodded and I continued, “I am told she died several years ago, but she left this young lady whom I believe is my daughter. There are ways to make sure, but I may not bother because Danica looks just like her mother and is the correct age. I mentioned that the woman’s name was Priscilla and I called her Cilla. I asked these people with my first question why Cilla wasn’t there with them and was told she had died. Danica could be Cilla except for her age. Isn’t she lovely?”
“That would make you my granddaughter. Dan is in his thirties and I have despaired of ever having a grandchild with the Pierson name.”
Danica took over the introductions. “Mrs. Pierson, this is my Aunt Ann, and Anita, my grandmother. They took care of me when my mother died and brought me up. I’ve been told she died when I was two years old.”
“You poor thing. That’s sad. I know Dan went looking for your mother, but couldn’t find her. That was before he went away to school. And now you have found him. How did that come about?”
“Aunt Ann was going through an old backpack of my mothers a year ago and found an envelope with Dan Pierson’s name and army unit. The envelope also had some money in it. There was a note saying to return the money to Dan Pierson if she wasn’t able too. The town he said you lived in wasn’t correct which threw me way off. I found an address of where the car was purchased and he was driving at the time. That threw me off even more because he must have bought it someplace other than here. The car tags were in the pack too and were supposed to be turned in.”
“I can explain that. I did buy the car off post where I was stationed. Cilla said she would send back the tags. I did give her my wrong address and was going to correct it the next time we saw each other. When I told her where I was from I was afraid of being trapped into a relationship, but I changed my mind the minute I got on the bus while she was waving good-bye, but it was too late then. I really did intend to see her on the weekend. Did she give me her correct home address?”
“No, and that might be because she didn’t want you contacting my grandfather for any reason. It is most likely why you couldn’t find her when you searched for her years later.”
“Either that or she might have died by the time I went looking for her. I’m sorry I wasn’t in a position to do an in depth search for her until I was out of the service. I couldn’t meet her as planned either because I was shipped out for Okinawa the next morning after reaching the post. I worried about what she would think.”
Ann spoke, “She did worry and she had faith it wasn’t because you didn’t want to, but because you couldn’t.”
“That’s the truth.” I could see that a long discussion was in order. The Pierson (Redding) family needed to know why I never returned to Reno to meet with Cilla. Also how I felt when I couldn’t locate her. I needed to know what happened to Cilla when I didn’t return on the weekend. I had promised and wanted to know what happened when she found herself pregnant. I also needed to know why she went home to a father whom she had run away from. “I understood this was the primary reason she abandoned her family and escaped to Reno where she met me.”
Ann spoke in answer, “My father wasn’t a nice person. He ruled the family with an iron hand. Mother was subjugated totally and Cilla and I the same. He was cruel and almost inhuman in his treatment of all of us. Whippings and beatings happened frequently. Threats to kill were the norm. Cilla escaped for awhile as you know, but when she found herself pregnant she didn’t know which way to turn. She began writing to one of my friends who wasn’t aware of the situation in our home. Cilla was hoping Mom would have an answer or at least some advice for her.
“My friend and I were sitting on the front steps talking about my sister, not realizing father could hear us. He came bursting out and confiscated the letter my friend brought with her for me to read. It had Cilla’s return address on it. Mother and I had no way to contact her except by letter and father took off immediately for Reno to get her.
“The two arrived home a week later. Cilla was black and blue from the beatings she had received during the trip home. He kept her tied up and they had slept in the car. Needless to say, mother and I received much of the same treatment because father blamed us for helping her to run away and he was terribly angry.
“When Cilla first left, Mother and I were so happy that she had escaped. When father caught her we were heartbroken that he had managed to find where she was living and able to get her back. I was so stupid for discussing this where father could hear me. Cilla never blamed me though, and she would defend me whenever it came about that father turned his attention to me.
“Cilla’s beatings lessened as she got bigger carrying Danica, but they continued for mother and me. There seemed to be no end to the excuses father used for slapping or punching us. Danica was born a lovely baby and for a time it seemed like father had found someone or something he cared for. The situation was improving for all of us.
“Then when Danica turned two, father made the statement that it was time to begin teaching Danica to mind and he slapped her really hard. She cried and father was pacing back in forth in front of Cilla where she was holding Danica. His threats were explicit. That night Cilla came to me, ‘Ann, if anything ever happens to me, get away and you take Danica and become her mother.’ I promised I would, although I was only fifteen.”
I asked, “Why did you stay with your father so long?”
Anita answered that. “You can’t know what it was like. I can understand how you would question us years after this happened, but we were totally cowed at the time. Ann could have run away like Cilla did, but she was afraid Cilla and I would die at his hands so she refused to leave us.”
“So what happened?”
Ann spoke, “I was worried the next day because father and Cilla and the baby were in the house alone. I came home early from a part time job I had because I was so concerned. Before I got the door open, I could hear Danica crying from Cilla’s bedroom. Cilla had locked Danica inside. The living room and the kitchen had been trashed, showing that father and Cilla had an extended battle. The cellar door was open and I looked down and could see both lying on the floor at the foot of the stairs.
“I didn’t go down because I had Danica in my arms. I called the police, just saying there had been and accident. Our whole situation came out into the public’s eye at that time.”
“Both were dead?”
“Yes, of course. The police surmised that Cilla had pushed father, but he had clung to her and both went down the stairs, or it had happened the opposite way with the same result. There was no way to tell what had transpired. Anyway both had hit their heads on the cement and both died clutched together.”
My mother looked at the three in horror, making the comment, “What an ordeal for you to have to go through.”
“Yes, but then you must remember it set us free. We knew Cilla was protecting Danica, both on that day and for the future. I know she didn’t regret what she had done. Mother and I feel she was trying to kill father and had succeeded. We also feel it was justified if it was homicide and it really was sad that Cilla had to die in protecting us all. She gave up her life so we could have a future.”
Danica spoke up, “I’m so proud of what my mother did to protect me. Aunt Ann has been a wonderful mother to me and Gram worked very hard to support us until I was old enough to be by myself. I was only seven when Aunt Ann and Gram both secured jobs in a factory on opposite shifts so they could watch out for me.”
“So who traced me to here?”
Again it was Danica. “That was me. I was searching for a father and I knew he must be out there somewhere. All I had to go on was that you were in the service and in Reno, Nevada during a certain time. I went to the Veteran’s Administration a year ago. I didn’t get much help, but I kept bugging them. I was being shunted from one department to another. I can’t count the number of letters I wrote that came back saying there was no record of a Dan Pierson.
“Finally, I broadened my search to different states and found the name of Daniel Pierson in Iowa. Actually I found nine Dan Pierson names, but you were the only one of the right age. That was two weeks ago and here we are.”
I received a tentative smile from Danica. I looked at her grandmother, and then at Aunt Ann. I quick looked at my mother who nodded at me to accept this beautiful young woman as my daughter. I opened my arms. When she came toward me searching my face for acceptance and found it, she moved into my arms. I kissed her cheek and she backed away enough to kiss mine. There were tears of happiness from all of us.
I had enough rooms for my new family to stay with me. The room where Danica was to sleep was small and the one I had used when I was a child. The other spare room was large and had two singles in it for Ann and Anita. I carried in their suitcases and Mom helped put things away. Nothing had been said about what their plans for the future were. Mom went down to prepare supper, leaving me to ask questions about their plans.
“How could we have plans when we didn’t know for sure I was meeting a person that would turn out to be my father? I had faith though, that you would be whom we were searching for.”
“I really can’t believe that I have a daughter. At least you knew you had a father somewhere.”
“Yes, and I had faith that someday I would find you.”
“Danica, that is like something your mother would say. She talked about faith and that the Lord would provide.”
“You really loved my mother didn’t you?”
“I did. We didn’t have but five days together and both of us were too secretive about letting each other know where we lived before we met. If we had only had more time together, you might have been able to grow up with a father and mother.”
“I know, but I’m here now and maybe we can make plans to see each other more often.”
“Oh, you are going to be in my life from now on, be assured of that.”
“I knew I would be.”
I turned my attention to Ann and Anita. “Do you still work in a factory?”
Ann answered me. “No, neither of us do, I work in an office and manage it. Mama works at a truck stop.”
My eyebrows rose when I heard “truck stop.”
Anita was smiling at my look. “Mr. Pierson, I take it you don’t agree that working at a truck stop is an acceptable calling?”
“Please, it is Dan. It just surprised me. In fact I don’t know one single person who works at a truck stop.”
“I’ll admit there is a certain stigma with working at a place like that, but most women are there because they need a job. I’m kind of a grandmother to some of the young people who come there to work and I’ll give advice if asked. Remember I was married at fifteen and didn’t have much of a life until after my husband died. There was no chance of any social life for me with him.
“Now the truckers come in and most of them call me Gram or Grandma. They tell me about their families and show me their pictures. I’m not going back home so I’ll look for another one to work in like the one I just left.”
I wanted to hug this woman who had gone through so much. I opened my arms and Anita immediately came and embraced me. “Oh, it has been a long time since I have hugged a man ... or wanted to for that matter. I feel so safe. Thank God Danica persevered and found you.” She kissed me on my cheek.
Danica was waiting for me to embrace her again. I looked at Ann, who was frowning. I wanted to hug her too. She looked so much like Cilla. More mature and more serious, I wondered if she would feel the same in my arms as I remembered her sister. It wasn’t to be because she backed away and didn’t indicate she wanted me to touch her. Okay, no problem.
Dad was as tickled as I was when he came home and I presented my daughter to him. Danica immediately began calling Mom and Dad, Grampa George and Gramma Grace. Anita was friendly and out-going, asking if I had time to help her find work. There was a large truck stop with a diner and convenience store on the outskirts about two miles from our home. I offered to take her over there to apply. She could use me for a reference.
I took off two weeks while we got familiar with the situation my family and Danica’s family found ourselves in. We blended fairly well except for Ann. She was quite reserved, especially around me.
Danica wanted to work in our store where she could be near me. “I want to know all about you. You need to know about me as well. You can’t believe how happy I am I found you.”
“Yes, and you did it all by yourself, too.”
“I know you tried to find my mother, but you didn’t have enough clues to find out who she was or where she came from. I’m so glad I didn’t give up searching for you and I stayed with it long enough to find you.”
“Your mother would have done the same thing if she hadn’t died. We had something together.” I spoke to Aunt Ann, “Ann, what about you? Are you going back to Nebraska where you really are from?”
“No, the only family I have is here. I’ll look for office work somewhere. I’m pretty well up on everything involved in an office. I do want to stay in the area with Danica and Mom. I just took time off from where I work and won’t be going back. I will be missed by my former employer, but I can’t leave my mother and Danica. I brought her up and even changed my name so she would feel she had one parent if not the other.”
Dad spoke up, “Would you consider working at the store with us. We can always use experienced help.”
“Won’t that create a problem for Dan? People will think I am his wife when people find out Danica is his daughter and I have the Pierson name. I am not Dan’s wife, although I consider myself to be Danica’s mother.”
No one said anything, but they were all, including myself, thinking she could be. Dad, ever the one not to worry said, “I’m sure it won’t come up. If it does we’ll think how to handle it at that time.”
“I can work for you I guess, if you are sure you aren’t just making an opening for me. I’ve upset everyone’s life as it is.”
“Do you know anything about keeping track of inventory? Dan and I have been doing it, but we are always behind on keeping up. We’ve had some real embarrassing snafus by not realizing we were out of something and yet were advertising it.”
“I’m sure I can handle it with but little training. I do need work and I also need to find a place to live.”
Ann didn’t win that one, we all pressured her to live right here with Danica and Anita.
During the two weeks off, I drove to Nebraska to close out the apartment where they were from. This wasn’t in Kansas Cilla had told me where she lived but Nebreska. Ann and Anita quit their jobs. We hurriedly rented a storage locker and moved most of their belongings into it. We packed their clothes into the trunk of the Caddie. I could send one of the store’s trucks when they needed something we couldn’t pack into the car today.
We spent a lot of time with Mom. “Say, I think we should take Saturday this weekend and go visit my sister. She and her family are home from vacation. I want to show off my daughter and my almost mother-in-law.” I called Patty when I got home. “Hey, sis, I’ve got someone I want you to meet.”
“Dan, you must have a new girl friend.”
“More than a girl friend, I have an eighteen-year-old daughter I never knew I had.”
There was silence. “Dan, I thought you always took precautions?”
“I didn’t this time. Wait until you meet her and you’ll be glad I didn’t. She is smart and really beautiful.”
“What’s her name?”
“Danica Pricilla Pierson.”
“How old is she, really?”
“She is some months past eighteen. She has been with me for a couple of weeks. Mom and Dad love her. I’m so blessed.”
“Tell me how you found her?”
“I didn’t, she found me. I did search for her mother several years ago, but couldn’t find her. At that time I didn’t know I had a daughter. I’ll tell you all about it when we get there on Saturday. Have lunch ready. There will be Mom, Anita, Ann, and Danica with me. Ann is the aunt who has mothered Danica and she looks very much like what Priscilla looked like nineteen years ago when I knew her. Anita is Danica’s grandmother.”
“Brother, you are confusing me. Bring everyone and I’ll see if you can sort it out for me.
“Okay. Patty, I’m looking forward to seeing all of you. Make sure, Matt, Sherry, and Junior are home.” Matt was my brother-in-law.
I was beginning to feel sorry for my father about having the store management all on his shoulders while I was with my new family. “Tend to them, Dan. I can see how happy you are being with them. Grace, I think is the one who is the happiest. She has a granddaughter to love right here at home. As far as the store, I don’t mind a bit.”
I knew my sister would have a Bar-B-Cue going when we got there. Sis had to know all about how I came to have a daughter. Mom filled her in with more detail than I intended to. There were even a couple of things that I didn’t know myself. Mom and Anita had spent a lot of time together at some time I wasn’t aware of. This had to be during the morning when Anita would hang out with Mom. Danica and Sherry bonded right off because Sherry was only a year younger than her cousin.
Junior just watched his beautiful read-haired cousin without saying anything. Junior would turn bright red if Danica spoke directly to him. I guess he thought this new cousin of his was special.
I went into the house with Matt to get a beer. “Christ, Dan how can you stand living in the same house with three beautiful women like that?”
“Matt, you think these are beautiful, you should have seen the mother of Danica. Danica is close and that is one of the reason I have come to love her so fully.”
“What about the sister, Ann? I’d say you have a chance for a do-over.”
“I guess not. She’s a little stand offish. I haven’t got her figured out yet.” Just then Patty shouted that the chicken was ready to come off the grill. We had a pleasant afternoon. Sherry wanted Danica to drive over and see her anytime. Danica promised she would. It was a very pleasant afternoon. Patty told me I had better grab Ann before she got away from me. I shrugged.