"Hi sweetie. It's so great to hear your voice. I have to tell you, I had a heck of a time finding a new phone number for anyone there. So ... how are you all doing?", Linda gushed while trying to keep from sounding breathless and trying to hide the fear and longing that she really felt.
Stacy hesitated and decided to play it safe, "Ummm ... I'm sorry, who is this?"
"For crying out loud, Stacy. This is your mother! I'm ... I'm sorry I haven't called before now but, jeeze, I would expect that you would at least be able to recognize the voice of the mother that loved and raised you for 17 plus years.", Linda said, now very crestfallen.
Stacy smiled a bit. She really had been pretty sure that it was her Mom calling but things being what they are she had decided to be extra careful. Being careful also had the added benefit of giving her absentee Mom an emotional "slap aside the head" without being out-right nasty.
"Oh, hi Mom. You caught me by surprise and I was just being ... you know, careful. I didn't want to start getting chummy with some stalker." Stacy paused again and decided to take issue with her Mom's "loved and raised you for 17 plus years" remark. She was keeping her temper well under wraps but wasn't above being "politely catty".
"Mom, I don't think you can count the last three years under the headings of 'raising' or 'loving'. I was almost 14 when you abandoned us and this is the first we have heard from you in over three years. I'm 17 now and haven't felt your motherly love in quite some time."
Linda sighed heavily, "I'm sorry, Stacy. Things were just so, so complicated back then I just felt I had to leave ... But, enough of that! I really called to see how you are doing and maybe talk to your sister and brother if they are around. I plan to be a lot more available to you now that things have settled down. I hope we can reconnect and you can take a little advantage of being the child of a well-to-do mother now that Frank and I are married. I have so much I can do for you, Rachael and Josh. Our life is so much better than what it was when I was with your father. Don't get me wrong, your father is a good person but he just can't provide the niceties of life like Frank has lavished on me. I'm very spoiled now and I love it!"
"So now I want to show you kids a REAL life. The way life should be lived. At the same time, I can make up for the years of scraping by we all endured given your father's meager income and yes, maybe make up for my leaving rather abruptly."
Stacy was seething by this point. She loved her Dad, Ed Mercer, dearly. She also respected the responsibility and heartache he endured when Linda left forcing him into the role of a single parent trying to raise two early teen and preteen daughters and a wild 20 year old son. She was also very proud of how he had turned their lives around since her Mom's departure. Linda had cleaned out the bank accounts before she left so finances had been suddenly much worse than they had ever been in Stacy's memory. At the young age of 14 Stacy took on the role of homemaker as much as she could to help her family survive. Together they had survived, but it was a struggle for over eight months. Then things got better when her Dad made some drastic changes and now life was great!
It would have been easy for Stacy to simply lash out at the perpetrator of much of the pain that defined her fourteenth year of life. That famous temper of hers was ready, waiting in the background like a tiger on a light leash just waiting for slack and the chance to strike.
Stacy suddenly felt a rush of utter calm and knew the course of action she needed to take and it was brilliant!! If she lashed out, her mother would undoubtedly hang up and Stacy might never see or hear from her again. This would do no good for anyone and she really did want to have a relationship with her mother regardless of the stupid things she had done. Stacy basked in the calm feeling sweeping over her as she decided how to proceed. She would make her point, rub her mother's nose in the slime of her mistakes and still come away with the chance of a continued relationship for her, her siblings and her mother. Stacy smiled broadly and thought, "Stacy, girl, you may have just figured out a huge life lesson."
"Mom! You absolutely will not believe how hot I am. Hang on, I'm going to take a picture with my phone camera and send it to you. Don't hang up!"
Stacy stood in front of the full length mirror in her bedroom with ample light shining through the window. It was around 4:00PM in mid June so the sun came in strong through her west facing window. She smiled brightly, turning a bit sideways to show her coiffed strawberry blond hair piled on her head in an elegant style. She was wearing a full-length lavender evening gown that was elegant but hugged her very feminine frame showing her evolution into full womanhood. The gown was set off by long white gloves that hugged her arms to just above her elbows.
She clicked two pictures, chose the better of the two and quickly sent the picture off to her mother's cell phone. "Did you get it? What do you think?"
There was a long pause, as Linda viewed and digested the impact that three years in a blooming young woman's life can make. "Oh, my God. Oh, Stacy. You are beautiful. I'm ... you ... I'm speechless.", Linda said this in a sort of whisper, choking back the lump in her throat that was trying to strangle her. "Oh, Stacy I have missed so much, you have grown so ... Oh, shit what have I done."
Stacy ignored her mother's reflection and pressed on, "You think that's something, wait 'til you see Rachael!"
Stacy glided across the hall to her sister's room, pushed open the door where her now 14 year old sister was getting last minute touches to a very elegant hairdo of her long, thick honey brown hair. Rachael's hair was also piled on her head with several ringlets that formed a coiled frame to her face. Her big gray-blue doe eyes and soft features made everyone stop and stare. Her face was strikingly beautiful. She also was wearing an evening dress that was softly elegant but did a much better job of concealing her charms than the dress worn by her older, more mature sister.
"Hey, Rach. Strike a pose. Mom's on the phone and I'm sending a picture of you to her." Rachael was being assisted by a woman in her mid thirties also in an evening gown that was made to impress. The woman possessed a regal beauty that turned heads regularly wherever she went. The woman started to remove herself from the picture frame when Stacy intervened, "No, Janice stay right where you are. I want you in the picture too."
Rachael was still a bit stunned but finally rolled her eyes and yelled with her hands cupped around her mouth towards the phone, "Hi, Mom! I can't talk now but lets connect some time later."
Stacy clicked a few pictures, picked the best shot and sent it on it's way.
After a pause, Stacy put the phone to her ear and said, "Bet you don't recognize Rachael do you? I mean Mom, Rachael's even got boobs!"
Rachael got red faced and screamed, "Stacy, you dork! Shut up!", but there was a shy smile on her face as the two other females in the room giggled at her embarrassment.
Stacy turned her attention to the phone again, "So wada ya think, Mom?"
Linda was at a loss for words, "I'm stunned, sweetie ... Just stunned. You two have grown up so much and you are both so beautiful. I'm so proud. I wish I was there with you."
Linda kept pulling the phone away from her ear to look at the pictures of her children whom she now missed more than anything. Her heart ached with regret and longing. Then the details of the pictures began to filter through her tear filled eyes. "Why are you two all dressed up? You can't both be going to prom are you?"
Stacy had effectively hooked her Mom and was now ready to really start the nose rubbing. "No, Mom. It's even cooler than that. You remember the annual party that you always went nuts about and you and Dad never got invited to? You know. The Sedgewick-McTaggert Welcome to Summer Formal."
Linda responded immediately, "Of course, I remember. It was always the social event of the year. Damn, I would have given my eye teeth to go to that formal. Only the most powerful, beautiful people in the whole state were invited. I wanted so much to be able to get all dressed up in a formal gown and rub elbows with the social elite. I would have so loved that.", Linda sighed and then quickly broke out of her imaginary vision. "Oh, my God, did you and Rachael get a job acting as hostesses or wait-staff for that party? Wow, that is amazing! I'm so proud of you two. To think my daughters are actually going to get to be there among the beautiful people. I'm jealous!", Linda gushed breathlessly.
"No, Mom we are not part of the wait-staff. We are invited guests. As a matter of fact, we get to sit at the head table because Daddy is the guest of honor! It's a surprise for him, but Daddy is also going to get roasted! Isn't that like just too cool! I even get to be one of the roasters! I am soooo nervous but also so excited."
Linda was dumbfounded,"What? You're kidding right? You have to be kidding. Why would a lowly Cost Containment Clerk get invited to the Welcome to Summer Formal much less be the guest of honor? That just doesn't happen in real life. You're lying to me aren't you?"
.... There is more of this story ...