"We have come here today
to remember before God, our brother Kenneth;
to give thanks for his life;
to commend him to God, our merciful redeemer and judge;
to commit his body to be cremated,
and to comfort one another in our grief."
It was a sad if packed church who had turned up to give thanks for the life of my Dad. He was the only man whom I had ever called Dad and he'd been an absolute rock in the lives of myself and my adopted sister, Carly. Not that he had ever suspected just how close Carly and I had become in the last year, nor just whose baby Carly was carrying. Mum knew, though I'd never discussed anything with her, however Carly has, as she was her confidant in so many ways. As far as I knew Mum also did not know she was not the only one I called Mum, though admittedly I only called Helen, the woman who had given birth to me, Mum when taking her over the edge when we made love.
Yes, I have an odd sex life, but it meets my needs and with Carly, at least we aren't blood related, so any child would probably be fine. As for Helen, well Carly doesn't mind my occasional liaisons with her. She doesn't get jealous as Helen meets a different set of needs for me to do with ties to my past, whereas, for me, Carly is my future. I did know my son, Kaelan, was looking forward to having a new brother or sister. He now called Carly Mum, which was probably just as well as calling her aunty would have raised a lot more than eyebrows.
Carly and I stood flanking Mum as the service wore down and the coffin was covered by some curtains as it slid back into what I presumed was the cremation chamber.
"He was so proud of you both," Mum whispered tearfully. "He was so looking forward to being a granddad again too."
"We know, Mum," said Carly. "We're going to miss him too."
"I don't know what I'll do without him," said Mum as she turned and hugged first Carly and then myself, with tears flowing freely down her cheeks. "It hardly seems like yesterday when we were at my fiftieth and danced the night away."
"If you need us, we'll be there," I said. "You know that, right Mum?"
"Yes Ian, I know," she replied as we left the crematorium to look at a massive array of flowers and to release a set of doves in memory of my Dad. We then set off for the wake where we all laughed and cried as various tales were told of the fine man whom I was proud to call Dad.
It was three months after this that Carly was due to give birth and Mum came to visit us. It was a bit crowded, but we managed, Mum saying nothing about our sleeping arrangements, just nodding with a gentle smile at the obviously shared bed. Kaelan was of course delighted, he loved his 'Nanna' who had raised him after the traumatic experience of my divorce.
Alice his mother was still out there somewhere, though she had made no attempt to get in contact. Her lover, who was also her pimp, was serving a ten year sentence for attempted arson and possession of several kilos of class A drugs, so any chance of custody was simply not going to happen. Besides I doubted she'd want to be in a courtroom facing my birth mother Helen again, considering the savage legal mauling Helen had dished out to the woman who'd betrayed her son.
We soon settled in for a cosy evening, Kaelan had gone to bed and we sat with drinks (Carly a non-alcoholic one) watching a DVD and just enjoying each other's company.
"I'm so glad you two have finally seen common sense and decided to ignore legalities and be with each other," Mum said at one stage.
"We still have to be careful around family and family friends," giggled Carly.
"Oh I know," said Mum. "Some suspect, but most that do are simply glad you got your man, Carly."
"Yes," said Carly. "Though I'm not sure how Dad would have taken it, had he found out."
"Fortunately we'll never know," said Mum. "But he would have come round eventually. He did love you both very much indeed."
"I'd like to think that he would too," I said.
At this point Carly gave a gasp and clutched her swollen belly.
"I think someone might just be knocking at the door," she said, taking a few deep breaths. Though erratic at first her contractions for such they were became steadier and stronger until with them at two minutes apart we set off to the local hospital with the local midwife and doctor awaiting us. It was a difficult and prolonged birth as our baby was breach, eventually a consultant decided that a caesarean was the best option and I held Carly's hand whist a screen to prevent our viewing was placed over her bulge and the doctors did their bit.
Half an hour later I held my daughter wonderingly in my arms as the doctors tidied things up and Carly was doped up to the eyeballs with various medications.
A quick picture on my camera phone from a friendly nurse soon had my lovely daughter's picture flying its way over the airwaves to friends, family and work colleagues and the congratulations flooded in. I of course had rung Mum at various stages and did so now, now that the immediate danger had passed. She was, of course, delighted and I told her I'd be home fairly soon as Carly needed rest, but we could all visit in the morning.
I also rang Helen, after making sure via text, that it was OK to call her to receive her congratulations on her new granddaughter, whom she was looking forward to meeting one day. She'd already met Kaelan several times, though naturally he didn't know who she was, but Helen accepted this as one of life's little problems to overcome.
Back home I was greeted by an ecstatic Mum, who had popped open a bottle of champagne she'd brought with her to celebrate life in all its new born glory.
We were soon pretty tipsy as one bottle led to another, but it seemed appropriate and it hadn't quite reached midnight yet.
"Have you told Helen yet?" asked Mum eventually.
"You know about Helen?" I asked shocked.
"Of course I do," Mum said. "You're awful at keeping secrets, Ian, and besides, Carly confided in me when she found out after your divorce."
"I wasn't sure at all how you would react," I said.
"I was a little shocked, I'll admit, but could see no harm in what you were doing. Besides, what she did for you over Alice more than makes up for the secrecy," Mum said.
"No harm, save only what would happen if anyone unsympathetic ever found out," I said. "The secret I thought only I knew about initially seems to be getting wider."
"I doubt anyone else would find out," said Mum. "I have no reason to tell anyone else, neither does Carly."
"I can't believe how you simply accept it," I said wonderingly.
"Love can be odd, but you and Carly are so happy now, she was terribly lovelorn when she realised you couldn't be together legally and she wanted you so much. As for Helen, well, I assume she has her reasons as do you and you're being discreet, plus it gave Carly an opportunity too," said Mum matter-of-factly.
"I'm glad it did, though I would not have made a move on Carly myself," I said.
"I know, Ian," said Mum. "It's not in your nature to force your decisions on family or friends. Makes you a lovely boy though, you have shown that with others you can get your own way if you want to."
"I think I got that from Dad," I sighed.
"Yes, he was a lot like you in so many ways," Mum said, with a small tear running down her cheek. "But not in others."
"Others?" I asked.
"Kenneth was a good man, a loving husband, but his sex drive was practically nil, and got worse as he got older," said Mum. "You don't have that problem as washing your underwear and sheets told me." She finished with a giggle, then an outright laugh at my blush.
"Yes, well... ," I replied.
"I always thought it was such a waste," said Mum, blushing slightly.
"Mum!" I gasped.
"Well, I wasn't getting any and you had it to spare," said Mum. "Hasn't changed either and you get sick of vibrators after a while, it's not the same, not the same at all."
I stared at Mum quite shocked, although Carly had alluded to her sex life in the past. I finally started to see her as a woman in a sexual way for the first time in my life. She was short, slightly overweight but not greatly so with a lovely bust, short greying hair and wore wire rimmed glasses over light blue eyes and a smile that could melt hearts. I also realised I was getting an erection too, from seeing Mum in this new light.
"Well, Helen taught me that when it comes to family nothing should be held back," I said tentatively.
Mum's eyes widened slightly.
"Are you hinting Ian?" she asked with a small hopeful smile.
"I'm wondering what Carly would say," I said.
"Carly and I are quite open about such matters," said Mum. "She hoped you would, if the right circumstances came along."
.... There is more of this story ...