America’s Watching

It was six years after the show and five years after the divorce. Life went on.

Lynn had just put her baby down for a nap when the front door bell rang. She quietly walked through the house hoping that whoever is at the door is not so impatient as to ring the bell again and wake up Steven Walter Densmore. He was a little over a year old, but he captured her heart the first time she laid eyes on him, though right now Lynn really needed him to take a nap.

She smiles as she thinks of her husband Ross and the way they met three years ago at school. Though neither were raised in Maine, they both fell in love with the area and decided to stay there after graduation. They were married a few weeks out of college and nearly a year later their son entered their lives.

Life has not just gone on for her, it’s been pretty darn good recently, but that wasn’t always the case and once in a while has visions of her mother’s humiliating appearance on a nationally televised reality show.

Even after six years she and her mother only talk about once a month and for only about ten minutes at the most. Thus far she’s managed to keep their conversations extremely generic though she believes her mother is itchin’ to say more. Lynn knows someday she’ll probably have to hear her out, but would like to put it off for as long as possible.

She does get to the door before the bell sounds again and is astonished to see a woman standing with an expression of nervous anticipation laced with more than a bit of doubt and hopefulness.

“Mother?”

Lynn asked this almost not believing her eyes, but her thought was, “Damn…ready or not that someday I’ve been dreading is here!”

Sherry looked a bit thinner than Lynn remembered, but over all appeared healthy and well.

Not expecting her mother to just show up and unsure of what to do next, she instinctively took a step back and said, “Won’t you come in?”

Sherry did just that and was soon following her daughter into the living room.

“Can I get you some coffee or tea or…”

“Coffee would be fine if it’s not too much trouble.”

Lynn went into the kitchen to prepare a couple of cups while also using the time to collect her thoughts. Right now those thoughts were bouncing around her head like a super ball in a phone booth. She had no idea how to approach the impending conversation and knew if she ever had to “wing” anything, now was the time.

As Lynn was returning to the living room her mother said, “You and Ross have a very nice house dear. It’s not what I pictured though. It’s larger than I thought it would be.”

“Thank you. Ross put a lot of work into it.” Lynn then sat on the opposite end of the couch than her mother.

“I hope I’m not imposing on you too much sweetheart, but I really wanted to see my grandson.”

“He’s napping right now, but maybe we can take a peek later.”

Lynn placed her cup on the table for a moment then asked, “Did you bring your daughter on the trip?

“No…she’s back home with grandma. I wasn’t sure you wanted to…you know…see her.”

Lynn simply nodded.

Sherry then added, “Maybe I’ll bring her next time, if you’ll let me have a next time.”

Lynn frowned, “Let’s play it by ear. I’m not all that thrilled with this visit let alone anything in the future.”

She could see her mother was disappointed and quickly added, “I guess I really should meet my kid sister though.” Then Lynn thought and added, “And I do mean kid sister!”

Sherry smiled cautiously not wanting to do or say the wrong thing. Lynn’s response was actually more than she expected.

“It’s just that I wasn’t sure you would want to see her. I mean…well, you know…”

“It’s okay mother. We’ll see how it goes today and go from there. She’s five now, right?”

Sherry sniffled a bit and said, “I’d like that. I really would and yes, she’s five. Despite everything that’s happened sweetheart, I would love for you to meet your sister.”

“Mother, I just want you to know that I don’t have anything against Lisa, it’s just…”

“Oh honey, I understand, believe me I do.”

Sherry flashed a sad smile, but a smile just the same.

Lynn thought, “My mother’s child is four years older than mine. Nope…this isn’t going to be too awkward. Lucky for us the entire country already knows our family history. Yep…lucky for us.”

Lynn knew what was coming and her stomach was turning at the thought of it. She still wasn’t sure what she was going to say if her mother brought up the subject of her father, but she knew that’s why she was here. That and to see her grandson.

Sherry took a deep breath and asked, “How is your father dear?”

And there it was, thought Lynn. Time to address the big ass elephant in the room.

She replied a bit louder than she intended, “He’s fine mother, we’re all fine. Is that what you wanted to hear? You came all the way to Maine to hear me tell you my father’s fine. By the way, that was a nice segue, very subtle”

After a long silence Sherry asked, “Lynn, please sweetheart…I need to talk to you about this. If you don’t have any love in your heart for me I understand, but need to talk to you about this. Dr. Royce wanted me to do this long ago but I told her I wasn’t ready then. A part of me knew that you weren’t ready either.”

Lynn looked away from her mother and stared at the wall.

“What makes you think I’m ready now?”

Sniffling Sherry replied, “I’m just hoping that you are. I know things will never be the same between us…but I just can’t go on calling my baby to talk about the weather. I need you in my life Lynn.”

Lynn looked back at her mother and it seemed that she was sincere if nothing else.

“I want to tell you everything I know. Can’t we just have a normal conversation for once? I promise I won’t hold anything back even though you may not like some of the answers. Please honey?”

Lynn was less than thrilled with how her day was working out so far, but decided to make an effort at a normal conversation with her mother. However, if she was going to do this, she wanted to at least ease into their first conversation since she graduated high school.

After a long awkward silence Lynn spoke, “So the last time we talked you said that Nancy Royce was retiring”

She knew the question sounded ridiculous as soon as she asked. Out of all the things she could talk about she led with this. It really was almost as bad as talking about the weather, but she had to start somewhere. The best analogy she could make was that it was like entering a pool slowly to give yourself some time to get used to the water temperature. Her first question amounted to putting her big toe into the upcoming conversation.

“Yes…she has retired. You know that I haven’t seen her professionally in a couple of years, but we did stay in touch.”

Sherry realized her daughter was tossing her some softball questions and was appreciative.

Lynn then asked, “I thought you said she wasn’t that old.”

“She has a medical condition. She’s going to be alright, but her family doctor suggested she retire since her job is so stressful.” Sherry smiled nervously and added, “Guess I didn’t help her cause much, did I?”

Lynn frowned, “Guessing not.”

Sherry then said, “It was probably from watching all of those clips from the show with me.”

“She made you watch clips from the show?”

“Yes she did. Then we’d discussed my actions.”

Lynn surprised herself with her own compassion by replying, “That couldn’t have been easy.”

Sherry nodded and said, “Aside from signing the divorce papers, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. All I could think of was…that while I was doing those unspeakable things, you and your father were home watching it on television.”

She quickly reached for her purse and took out a tissue and dabbed her eyes with it.”

“It just wasn’t dad and me, mother.”

“I know that dear, it was the rest of our family and all our friends.”

“And the rest of the country.” “Lynn jumped in.

Sherry sniffled, “Yeah…that was embarrassing alright, but it was nothing compared to what I did to you and your father. Your father especially. My God Lynn, I’m so sorry I don’t even know where to begin.”

Lynn looked surprise, “That’s the first time I’ve heard you apologize.”

“I’ve tried. Oh how I’ve tried. That was one of the reasons I tried to hold up the divorce. I just wanted to tell your father in a face to face meeting just how sorry I was. Not that I deserved that chance of course, but…” her voice trailed off.

“Sorry or not, how could you have done this to us?”

Sherry closed her eyes and began, “Let me start at the beginning. Would that be alright?”

“You’ve got the floor.”

Sherry took a deep breath and began, “You were five and had just gone back to school when I decided to keep busy by going back to work and put my college degree to good use. There was a man in my office that was really good looking and enjoyed doing things that I only dreamed of. He traveled to exotic places and ate at the finest restaurants and hob-nobbed with the elite. I was impressed and before I knew it I was flirting with him.”

“So you threw away everything for his so called Mr. Right?”

“That’s just it Sweetheart, he wasn’t even the one I had the affair with. He was just the guy that got my motor running is all. Against my better judgement I began fantasizing about having an affair. It’s ironic when I look back on it now and realize he wasn’t even interested in me and actually turned out to be a faithful husband like your dad.”

“Then who did you have the affair with.”

“Well… I began to travel with my job. Not much, just a couple of times a year. It was at a conference in Dallas that I met this guy from our Boston office.”

She paused for a moment, “I’m sorry Lynn. This is very difficult for me to talk about, especially to my daughter.”

To Lynn’s credit, she gave her mother the time she needed to pull herself together.

She regained her composure and continued, “His name was Charles Conklin. But Dr. Royce said it could have been most anybody at that point. She believes I was already looking to have an affair and she was absolutely right.”

“Any way, he invited me down to the bar one night and a few drinks later we were up in his room dancing to a song he was humming.”

Lynn rolled her eyes, “Sure didn’t take much to sweep you off your feet, did it?”

“Oh Lynn…I still can’t believe I did it and the next thing I knew I was waking up the next morning in his hotel room with a hangover and the worst case of guilt I ever thought possible. I tell you, if your father had seen me the next day he would have known immediately what I had done and divorced me then. Would have deserved it too.”

“The next day at the conference Charles was the perfect gentleman, or so I thought. Can you believe that it was Dr. Royce who convinced me that this guy never had any real feelings for me? Damn it Lynn, a grown woman like me couldn’t see it until almost two decades later.”

Pausing for a moment she went on, “So the next day he sweet talked me enough to go to dinner with him and I don’t have to tell you what happened then.”

“You wound up in his room.”

“Yep. I wound up in his room. Only this time it felt a bit different. When I woke up in the morning the guilt was still there, only not nearly as strong. The guilt was being replaced by excitement. Excitement from sleeping with a man other than your father.”

“Are you trying to say you didn’t know it was wrong?”

“Of course I knew it was wrong, but it was the excitement of having an affair and that your father would never know about it. We spent a couple of more nights together before heading home. Then the guilt returned.”

“How do you explain meeting with him again at other conferences?”

“I can’t Lynn, that’s just it. In between those conference I’d be fine and somehow managed to block out the cheating. But a couple of weeks before each conference he would call or email me at work and remind me of the fun we had in Dallas or another conference. Of course I would casually forget about the guilt and potential for ruining my marriage.”

“I shouldn’t be telling you this, but…well…it wasn’t about the sex. Your father is a kind and gentle man in every way and what I did had nothing to do with him. It was all about the thrill of doing something I shouldn’t be doing?”

“Did dad ever meet him, you know, at a company party or something?”

“No. Never.”

“Why did you stop seeing him? You did stop seeing him didn’t you, mother?”

“He was fired for certain indiscretions with female employees in the home office. One was with CEO’s wife.”

“Not the best career move was it?”

“No it wasn’t, dear. Yet here I was thinking I was somebody special to him and he was chasing every skirt he saw. I heard through the grapevine that he had been killed in an automobile accident. That must have been ten years ago or more. By that time our rendezvous’ had been over for quite some time.”

“Which one of you decided to stop.”

“Believe it or not it was me. Guilt actually crept its way back in and I decided to turn my attention back to my family.”

The room grew quiet for a few moments until Lynn asked, “Then why an affair with our neighbor Mr. Barnes?”

Sherry sighed, “This was a different situation. Your father had been working a lot of overtime and when he wasn’t working he was going to your softball games and other activities of yours.”

“So this is all my fault?”

“Oh God no, honey. This has nothing to do with you or your father. It’s just that for years your father was spending a lot time with me and even though he is not the most exciting guy in the world, I was content and used to his company. At least that’s what I told myself. But when he started spending more time away from me I once again became that selfish person I truly am.”

“I started going out with the girls from work once in a while and your father never said a word. Why? He trusted me. And what do I do? I go out and betray that trust in an unspeakable manner.”

Sherry stopped for a moment to blow her nose and then continued.

“Only this time it wasn’t an affair with Mr. Barnes. It was only the one time. We met at the bar while I was out with the girls and he was everything your father wasn’t. He loved to dance, was incredibly outgoing and the life of the party.”

“Certainly sounds like the kind of man a happily married woman should throw her family under the bus for.” Lynn’s tone was filled with sarcasm.

Sherry shook her head, “At the time I was spending a lot of time comparing your father’s perceived faults to other men’s perceived strengths. It was a fight no man could win. Hell, the faults I came up with weren’t really faults at all. I thought at times he was not attentive enough or not sensitive to my needs. Dr. Royce showed me that they were just weak minded excuses to cheat and nothing more.”

“Just like the first affair, my motor was running and the one time I slept with Mr. Barnes wasn’t enough to get it out of my system. Let’s just say Mr. Barnes didn’t do it for me. In fact, Dr. Royce suggested by this time it was like my libido was on steroids and it was also at this time when I was contacted by the show.”

“Being chosen to be on that show was the ultimate case of be careful what you wish for. I was so primed to have an affair I even rubbed it in your faces before I left by hinting that I might start flirting with other men or possibly even more. Dr. Royce suggested that I was so full of myself at that point that my arrogance knew no bounds.”

“You were full or something, mother, but I’m not so sure it was yourself.”

Sherry smiled.

“You’ve got your father’s sense of humor. I like that.”

Sherry paused again and then continued, “I won’t go into the details of what happened. You saw for yourself that I crossed the line many times over of what is expected of a married woman. Hell…from the beginning my fantasies totally took over my warped mind to the point that I was no longer playing the game that I so wanted to be on. Before I knew it, I was in too deep.”

Lynn shot back, “Jesus mother, one guy was bad enough, but what about the night with that other asshole, Harley?”

Sherry shook her head and began, “Not that this is going to make it sound any better, but I thought it was Jake. By the time I found out it wasn’t…well…I was too far gone if you know what I mean. I’m sorry to have to admit this to you, but I couldn’t stop at that point.”

Sherry sighed, “But the thing that hurt most of all was the night of the live broadcast from our house. I was absolutely crushed when the cameras were turned on and I saw the empty room and couch. They explained it that they were having technical difficulties, but I knew then they were just covering up for the fact that my family abandoned me. Those were my first thoughts. Can you believe that? I thought my family abandoned me, not the other way around.”

Lynn just looked at her mother as a single tear ran down Sherry’s cheek.

“It wasn’t until nearly a week later that I began looking at things quite differently. Maybe you could call it an epiphany, I don’t really know, but I began to look at the situation for what it was. Believe me I was horrified by my actions when I did.”

Sherry then broke down and cried harder than she thought she ever could. Lynn wasn’t sure how to react. She still harbored many ill feelings towards her, but this woman was after all her mother and her breaking down certainly wasn’t some kind of an act.

Once she regained her composure enough to speak she continued, “The night I started to come to my senses, I went back to my bedroom on the show and realized just how foolish I acted. I should have come home then to try to salvage what was left of my marriage, but there probably wasn’t much left of it, was there?”

Lynn answered honestly, “Uh…no”.

“Didn’t think so. So I stayed hoping to win the money. I figured your father would divorce me and I would need some money to start my life over. Then when I was voted off I figured I would go to the “Peer House” to collect my pittance. Hell, I knew my life was over and $5,000 was better than nothing.”

Lynn was livid.

“Damn it mother, you still had the nerve to sleep with that asshole when you left the house.”

Sherry shook her head and said, “I know that’s the way it looked on TV, but that’s not what actually happened. I watched the tape in the doctor’s office and know what you mean. Jake told the entire nation that we had spent the night together at the “Peer House”, but that was a lie.”

“Why didn’t you deny it then?”

“I was too ashamed of myself to offer any kind of an argument. So I just hung my head and said nothing. I just wanted to get out of there and go home, but home was not going to be anything like it was before I left.”

“Lynn, when I walked across that stage that last night and heard booing, I knew that everyone saw what really happened. I was devastated.”

She sighed and added, “You know what Lynn? You know how you think of something random at the strangest moments?”

Lynn said nothing.

“Well…as Jake…” she cringed at saying his name, “…put his arms around my shoulders to comfort as they were going to break, I thought about the morning I left the house and didn’t even kiss your father goodbye.”

Lynn shook her head and shot back, “Would have been nice if you realized that at the time. Kinda’ late now don’t cha’ think?”

Sherry could only nod. She had no answer.

Lynn broke the brief silence with, “I have another question mother. You told me when you landed and no one was at the airport greet you, you got angry. Same goes at the house. I mean really, what the hell did you expect?”

Looking her daughter in the eye she answered, “I was afraid. Afraid of my family leaving me and afraid that I would be on my own the rest of my life. Dr. Royce believed I was angry with myself and looking to blame others.”

“Mother? There is another question I just have to ask.”

Sherry nodded for her daughter to continue.

“How in the hell did you not know America was watching when the show was called ‘America’s Watching’? I mean…how it that even possible?”

Sherry shook her head and said, “Because I believed everything I was told. I was stupid Lynn. Plain and simple…I was stupid.”

She paused and took a deep breath and continued, “What Jake said made sense at the time. Of course I was so caught up in my God damn fantasy that I didn’t realize it. When he said that they would never show anything that we were doing it sounded believable. Even when it came to the cable show he said they wouldn’t show a married woman having an affair on national TV. I’d never seen it before so it was believable. It wasn’t until afterwards I realized the only reason they never showed anyone doing those things was because I was the first to do anything that fucking stupid.”

She closed her eyes and a pained expression came over her.

“When I watched those tapes with Dr. Royce I realized just how wrong I was. I understood then how out of touch I was. She told me that I was a born narcissist. Basically I’m the type of person that puts my needs ahead of all others and only looks out for my own self-gratification.”

“The doctor figured that out, did she?”

Sherry smiled for a moment, “But it was all on me Lynn, make no mistake that this entire mess was of my own making. Please don’t think that anything I said here is an excuse. It’s not. I knew better than to do what I did, but I was selfish and greedy thinking could have it all.”

Lynn had something that needed to be said. Something she’d been wanting to say for so long.

“You hurt dad so much, mother. The first few years were absolutely horrible. He was depressed almost all of the time and would never even leave his apartment. I was in school and he told me he’d disown me if I went down to Florida to help him. He had no one, mother. You had a choice in doing what you did, but he didn’t. Worse yet he had to watch every second of you being seduced by not one, but two assholes. Not to mention what dad called “pillow talk”. You remember, admitting to other affairs while the entire fucking country found out with him.”

Lynn was breathing hard now as she continued, “It was no picnic for me either, having to watch my mother making out with some guy; sometimes with friends in my room. But for dad…you were the wife he loved. You were his life. Do you know how badly you have to hurt someone before they turn their back on someone they truly love? Do you? Tell me, did you ever love him?”

Then she stopped, not knowing what else to say at the moment.

Sherry’s answer shocked Lynn.

“I don’t know. I don’t know if I was ever in love your father.”

Lynn gasped.

“Dr. Royce said she had told your father that maybe I only liked the idea of being married to him and looking back I guess that’s possible. I mean, I loved your father, but maybe I was never in love with your father, at least not in the degree he loved me. I’m certainly not proud of it, but it is certainly possible. I mean, how else can I explain all of the stupid things I’ve done to him?”

“Can you believe that? I had a man as good as your father and I didn’t appreciate him enough to be his faithful wife. Funny thing is that part of the reason I cheated was because I thought your father was dull and boring…and now I would give anything to have him back in my life. That too is the narcissist in me coming out. Even though I may not truly love him, I want him back anyway because it’s all about me. It’s always all about me.”

“As for your father being dull and boring, it’s just his way and that would be enough for most women. As for him not being around as much as I wanted him to be, there was a good reason for that. He was working hard to give his family a good life and being a great dad for his daughter. But I was too self-centered to see it that way.”

“Oh Lynn, you wouldn’t believe how many times I considered showing up on your father’s doorstep like I did yours today just to tell him face to face how sorry I am.”

Lynn’s jaw dropped, “You took a chance with me mother, but don’t think for a minute that a meeting with dad would be anything other than a disaster.”

Sherry looked down to her lap as Lynn continued, “Look mother, he would never do anything to physically hurt you. It’s just not in him. But I’m looking out for him. He’s scarred more than you can ever imagine and even though he’s trying to move on with his life, it’s hasn’t been easy for him. You showing up to chat isn’t going to go over all that well, believe me.”

Sherry nodded knowing her daughter was right.

Lynn then asked with more than a hint of trepidation, “Did you ever love me?”

Sherry had not expected her question, but true to her word she answered honestly, “Yes…but as with your dad, probably not as much as I should have. Don’t forget I’m narcissistic. Doctor Royce pointed out that I always put my needs ahead of anyone else’s. I no doubt did the same with you.”

Lynn cocked her head and Sherry could tell she was confused.

“Want an example? You saw the show in its entirety, right?”

Lynn nodded.

“Then you’re already aware of the best example of my narcissism. The night of your prom. The night I bowed out and let you father go alone to chaperone and all because I wanted to experience the excitement of sleeping with a neighbor. I did similar things in the past too, not to cheat, but I still put my needs before you or your fathers. And to think, either of you would drop everything if I asked you to do something for me.”

Silence.

Lynn eventually asked, “Not sure if I really want to know the answer to this, but have you dated at all? I mean aside from what we all saw on national television!”

Sherry rolled her eyes and said, “I’ve been out on a few dates here and there, but they all think I’m easy so my nights usually end early.” She then quickly added, “Gee…wonder where someone would get the idea I’m easy?”

Lynn smiled thinking her mother had missed her calling and should have been a mind reader.

Lynn change direction a bit and said, “Heard “America’s Watching” had some problems. I mean the show.”

Sherry laughed a bit, but it was far from jolly.

“Turns out the producers wife, Zack Blevins wife, was cheating on him with a network executive and took him to the cleaners in a divorce. The network dropped him and from what I hear his career sank like the Titanic. He’s still in the business, but I heard he was an associate producer of a morning show somewhere in the mid-west.”

Lynn nodded, “I saw the show was canceled a couple of years later.”

“Yeah. The fans of the show weren’t about to accept what happened between a married woman and a couple of single guys. Most were actually appalled. Not being able to turn away from something like that and condoning it turned out to be two totally different things.” She then added, “Before this all happened I would have been appalled too. That’s not too hypocritical is it?”

“Oh no, not at all…mother.”

It was killing Sherry that her daughter hadn’t called her mom since before she left the house that fateful morning although she understood why. Yet at this point she welcomed any kind of a relationship with Lynn, so the prim and proper mother title it would have to be.

“You know, I never saw myself bad person while all of this was going on, but I guess it’s pretty hard to make that argument now, huh? And don’t bother answering, it’s a rhetorical question.”

Lynn wouldn’t have had an answer anyway.

Silence again filled the room.

Finally Lynn said, “Look mother, I don’t hate you, at least I don’t think I do, but I do hate the things you did. I mean…I would have never in a million years thought you were capable of such treachery. Then we find out that there have been others.”

Lynn gathered her thoughts for a moment before adding, “And how many more were there? You claimed on the show there were two others before then, but how many were there really?”

Sherry answered immediately, “There were only the two sweetheart, I swear, but my swearing to it probably doesn’t mean a whole lot any more, does it?”

“Honestly…no. But for some crazy reason I do believe you.”

Sherry then asked in a concerned tone that her daughter wouldn’t have believed existed in her mother just an hour ago, “How is he really dear?”

Lynn took a deep breath and said, “Dad is seeing someone.”

“Is she anything like me?”

Lynn expression changed into one of surprise and contempt and said, “Jesus H. Christ, I hope not!”

Sherry felt like crawling into a hole and staying there. But she tried to recover after she realized what she asked, “Oh my God, I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant does she look anything like me?”

“No. She’s nothing like you. She’s actually very nice.”

Sherry simply nodded at the less than subtle jab.

Lynn asked, “You didn’t think there was a chance between the two of you, did you?”

“No dear, I didn’t and I can honestly say I’m happy for him and wish him the best. I knew he would meet someone eventually.”

She just sniffled and Lynn could see that hearing her father met someone took a lot out of her mother. She wasn’t sure why since she had him all to herself not so long ago and threw him away.

Eventually Sherry said, “Look Lynn, I know I’ll never get your father back, but I need to feel some love from part of my family. I crave it”

Lynn could see her mother’s fragile body vibrating as she tried to stave off tears.

“I know I don’t deserve to be loved and God knows I don’t have the right to ask for it, but I need it just the same. I don’t expect to be forgiven. That train left the station a long time ago. As for everything being forgotten…not gonna happen, I know that. But I need to feel love. Just a little love.”

Sherry paused and looked down to her lap while her daughter just looked at the woman she used to love so much as she bared her soul.

“I’m not evil, I know it seems like I am and if that’s what you and your father think, you both have every right in the world to do so. I was stupid. I was arrogant, self-centered and selfish on a level that is totally unforgivable, but I still need a part of my family with me.”

Sherry paused for a moment before continuing, “Grandma and Grandpa have been there to help with the baby, but they and your aunt have pretty much kept their distance with me. Six years and things are as strained between us as ever.”

“As for everyone else…it’s been beyond difficult. I know I brought this on myself, I truly do, but it’s difficult to walk into a restaurant or the mall and have people recognize you and point and stare or worse yet, direct a vulgar insult my way and get up and leave. I won’t even begin to tell you how many death threats I’ve had.”

Lynn watched her mother’s face contort with many different emotions at once, but grief and fear seemed to be leading the way. Grief over losing her daughter once and fear that she would turn her back on her completely.

“I know you’re going to want your father around for holidays and such. I completely understood when you invited him to you graduation and wedding and not me. But please Lynn, can you find it in your heart to have some kind of a relationship with me? I need you!”

Despite all that happened, Lynn was taking pity on her mother, but she wasn’t about to kiss and make up anytime soon. Her pain ran too deep.

Lynn then relented, “We could give it a try, but we’ll have to take it slow. Truth is I’m still pissed off. Not as much as dad of course, but pissed off just the same.”

Sherry just nodded. Lynn could see the fear in her mother’s eyes that she might be totally rejected. At that moment she feared for her mother’s well being.

Lynn looked at her watch and then back to her mother and sighed, “I have to feed Stevie. Would you like to stick around and meet him?”

Sherry broke down, but managed to somehow say, “I’d like that very much.”

When they stood up Sherry asked, “The next time you see your father could you please tell him I said hi?”

“Sure…mom.”

Sherry cried tears of joy after hearing Lynn call her mom.

She had gone through six years of hell, all deserved; with this being the only bright spot since leaving the show. She was going to see her grandson for the first time and heard her daughter call her mom once again. Things might not work out in the long run and her life was never going to be as it was before, but at least it was something.

As they walked through the house Lynn then asked, “So are you still in the same apartment?”

“Yes. It’s just right for the two of us. You know your father was more than gracious with giving me the house and the bank accounts.”

Lynn rolled her eyes and said, “Be serious mother. Dad’s a great guy and all, but he’s not a saint. The only reason he gave up on just about everything he worked so hard for was because you hurt him so badly he actually thought it was worth giving up everything just to get away from you. Let me tell you something, that’s a world of hurt, don’t you think?”

Sherry nodded not knowing what to say. She knew the reason why Walt gave up everything so easily, but to hear it from her daughter stung.

Lynn picked up her baby and handed it to Sherry who held on for dear life. She could feel little Stevie’s unconditional love for her grandmother and she could only hope he would still feel the same way when he gets older and hears the story of his grandmother’s sins.

******

Walt hears the door bell and makes his way across the air conditioned living room to the oppressive Florida heat and humidity that awaits on the other side of the front door.

As the door swings inward he sees her standing before him looking just as beautiful as ever. Her smile was almost wider than her face while her knees practically buckled in anticipation. Before Walt could say a word she flung her arms around him as they both held on for dear life; neither wanting to be the first to break the embrace.

Finally they separate and Walt puts his hands on her shoulders to keep her at arm’s length and says, “I almost forgot just how beautiful you are.”

She rolled her eyes and said, “Come on dad, you just saw me at Christmas”

“I know punkin’, but that was almost seven months ago. I’m just so glad you can spend a couple of weeks here. Where’s your better half and my favorite grandson?”

“He’s getting Stevie in his stroller. I just couldn’t wait to see you.”

She then looked into his eyes thinking how good it was to see him smile again and said, “By the way, I talked to mother and she says hi.”

He paused then said, “Well…tell her I said hi back.”

“Really?” Lynn asked while raising an eyebrow.

“Sure. Why not?”

His response surprised her. She had passed the same message on before only to hear him say okay or have him turn away without a word.

Lynn smiled slyly and asked, “So are you trying to say time heal all wounds?”

He brought his head up and replied, “Uh…no. Now if you keep talking about it I’ll take back my elaborate return greeting.”

He paused for a moment seemingly lost in his thoughts.

“Let’s just change the subject sweetie”. Then he smiled some and added, “By the way, Karen is going to eat with us tonight. Hope that’s alright. I mean I don’t want to make dinner too uncomfortable. But you’ve said that you like Karen so I didn’t think there would be a problem…”

Walt just stood there with a goofy smile and Lynn turned her head a bit and asked, “Why are you so happy?” Then she squealed and said, “Oh my God, you asked Karen to marry you, didn’t you?”

“How the hell did you get that out of me saying Karen was coming over for dinner?

She hugged him again and squeezed harder than ever, “Because of your big doofus grin. Besides it’s a woman thing. You wouldn’t understand it. So when did you ask her? Did she say yes? When’s the wedding? Did you pick out a ring yet?”

“Slow down will you. For now just save the date for the last weekend in September.”

“Oh dad…I’m so happy for you. What made you decide to go for it?”

Still smiling he replied, “She wore me down. Karen’s very convincing you know?”

Then he added, “I don’t have the right to be this happy punkin’.”

As she held on tight she said, “It’s been five years since the divorce, daddy. Let it go, just let it go. You have every right to feel this happy. Besides, I hear the second times a charm…”

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