It was a dark and windy night. Thunder shook the windowpane, and powerful gusts of wind pounded on the roof. Tom placed his opened book on the desk, removed his glasses, and rubbed his irritated and tired eyes. It was the second book he read, but it was hard to keep up as he couldn’t comprehend a word. Tom gazed out the window, wondering where his daughter might be. He felt his mind had split thinking of many things at the same time. Tom waited the whole night worrying and waiting for the phone to ring. He slumped back in his chair, yawned, and rubbed his eyes again with the palm of his hands. Several minutes later, he was once again pacing and waited for his daughter to come home.
As he allowed his feelings to emerge, he had flashbacks of his early childhood. His parents were small farm owners growing crops and selling them to local markets. They worked day and night just to put food on the table. He was only ten when he worked on their farm raising cows and pigs to help his family.
Tom was smart and a dreamer. He used his talent to tap on the resources he needs to help him: educational opportunities, scholarships and grants. He even worked various odd jobs, including waiting tables and washing cars, as he worked his way through school. It wasn’t the only tenacity that helped him become successful—he never let circumstances impede achieving his American dream. With courage, hard work and determination, Tom became one of the most successful and wealthiest businessmen in the country.
And then he met his future wife, Martha, one of the most prominent women in the advertising business, at a cocktail party in Hawaii. After a short time of dating, they got married and had twins. They did an excellent job raising their sons: Jason and TJ, whom they sent to a private school in Beverly Hills, California. And no matter how busy Tom was building his business empire, he always finds time for his kids. He was present in their school activities and always praising their talents and abilities.
Tom remembered the day when his wife announced she was pregnant with their third child. It was the morning of the twin’s graduation from middle school. Martha wasn’t feeling well, so Tom took her to the doctor. He dropped her off in front of the clinic and drove around to the back of the building and parked. He walked into the room and the receptionist, a short dark-haired woman with glasses, greeted him with a smile. She told him his wife should be out soon. Tom nodded as he looked at his watch. It was only eight-thirty; still plenty of time to get ready for the twin’s convocation at 2 o’clock. Trying to kill time, he picked up a magazine and flipped through the pages without reading one line.
As the minutes crawled past, the door opened. An older man, with scrappy looking gray hair and drooping eyebrows, came out filling out a report.
“Mr. Grandeville!” the doctor exclaimed when he recognized Tom. “How have you been?” he asked, smiling.
It surprised Tom at the bright smile the doctor gave him.
“Dr. Resnick, is everything all right? How is my wife?” he asked, concerned.
“Mr. Grandeville, your wife is fine. Don’t worry,” said the doctor, a big smile broke out across his face.
There’s that smile again, Tom muttered.
Martha came out of the room. Tom noticed there was a glow to her cheeks and a sparkle in her eyes. She was vibrating with life as ever, but there was something different this time. Her behavior intrigued him. Was he exaggerating? He couldn’t be sure. Although it was odd; he brushed off the idea and thought Martha was only showing true happiness since it was a special day for them. How often do you experience a double victory, when in a few hours, both of their children will graduate with honors?
At the graduation ceremony, Tom noticed his wife seems distracted and could not sit still as if she were on pins the way she kept moving around in her seat. She appeared obsessing with time as she kept looking at her watch. Martha was acting suspiciously. Tom suspected something was amiss when his wife sent him and the twins on an errand across town after the ceremony ended. He couldn’t decide how he felt, giving her a doubtful look and flinched, frowning as he looked at her again. Before he or the twins could ask or say anything, Martha jumped into a waiting taxi on the curb and waved at them as they sped away. Tom and the twins were still standing where she had left them, a puzzled look on their faces.
Tom became annoyed and suspicious, but he didn’t want his children to know how he felt. He rubbed his chin and chuckled.
“Your mom is planning an elaborate party for you two. It’s obvious she’s trying to get rid of us.”
“What’s with the secrecy? It’s not like we don’t know about our party,” said Jason, scratching his head in bewilderment.
“Well, um, you know your mother. She loves planning things out, and she can be secretive.” Tom faked a laugh.
“Why not tell us instead of sending us away? She never even let us take the time to change our clothes. We’re still wearing our cap and gown for goodness’ sake.”
“Boys, it’s important to your mother. Otherwise, she won’t ask us to do this. Let’s leave it at that, okay?” said Tom, putting on a fake smile. The truth of the matter was that something worried him. Something serious was happening to his wife, but he didn’t know what to do. He planned to talk to her after the party, but for now, he had to put on a happy face in front of the twins.
“Okay, Dad, but how long we’re supposed to be out of the house?” TJ asked.
“Your mother will not go through this trouble just for us to return right away. Let’s go to the store. You can help me buy a new fishing rod.”
Father and sons spent a long time at the mall and ended up buying things they didn’t need. Hours later, they were back on the road, heading toward home. The number of cars parked in the driveway surprised them. It was full.
“Wow! Did Mom invite the whole neighborhood?” asked the twins laughing.
They entered the house and offered warm hugs and greetings from their guests. Tom looked around and wondered what in God’s name made his wife decorate with such bright colors that were not proper for their children’s graduation party.
What the heck? What was she thinking? He muttered. He was slow to catch on and tried to decipher the big clue Martha spread around the house.
“Pink and Blue motif; my goodness!” he said, exasperation close enough to hear.
Meanwhile, the twins stood dumbfounded at the sight before them. They thought their mother had lost her usual knack for creativity. Jason, not paying attention to where he was going, tripped over his own feet and fell flat on his face. The guests, who were busy drinking champagne and chatting, mouthed their fears at once; a look of surprise shot across their face.
“What happened, Jason? Are you all right?” the guests asked as they grabbed his outstretched hands to pull him into a standing position.
Jason was in too much confusion. He didn’t expect to humiliate himself in front of everybody at his party. Charming as he was, Jason stood up and flashed everyone a huge smile; his expression forced a reluctant smile to his lips.
“I’m fine. Nothing to worry,” Jason said, as he brushed dirt and dust off his clothes. He looked around and scratched his head in disbelief.
Her mother created a glowing party atmosphere. There were origami rainbow cubes and multi-colored crepe paper streamers floating from the ceiling. There was a pink and a blue balloon backdrop with matching tablecloths and coordinating napkins and plates on the table. The highlight was a giant strawberry vanilla cake with pink and blue frosting with ‘Will we celebrate in pink, or will it be in blue,’ writing on it.
“Mom, what’s going on?” the twins asked, embarrassed. Pink was not their favorite color.
“Yeah, Martha, what in God’s name is going on?” Tom remonstrated. “What has gotten into you?”
Laughing and smiling, Martha, in her peach floral dress, looked radiant. She was glowing as she took center stage, and Tom’s suspicion turned into a surprise when his wife spoke.
“Thank you for joining us tonight for this wonderful occasion. We should share joy like this with friends and family when we are celebrating not one occasion, but two. Guess what? I’m pregnant!”
A great cheer echoed through the house, and the rumble of voices filled every corner of the room as they congratulated Martha. They raised their glasses in a toast, and the wine flowed maybe a little too freely. It was such a perfect event, and everyone had a fantastic time. It was the best night they ever had!
Tom snapped back to the present when he felt his wife’s arms around him. Martha had come into the study room without him even hearing her.
“Tom!” Martha beamed, staring straight at him.
“I’m sorry, dear, did you say something?” he asked, trying to regain his composure.
“Go to sleep, Tom. Don’t worry. I still have knitting to finish. Go ahead. I’ll wait for our daughter,” Martha said, smiling as she sat in her favorite chair by the window.
Tom looked at his beautiful wife’s face for a moment before nodding.
“Yes, dear,” he crooned, as he leaned over and kissed his wife’s cheek before saying goodnight and going upstairs to rest.
Martha was sitting in the comfortable chair knitting when she felt uneasy as she heard a low rumble of thunder. She looked out the window, but all she could see was lightning flashing constantly. She was thinking how inconsiderate of her daughter for not calling them. Rain pelted the window from the storm. Martha waited all night long, worrying and watching out the window for her daughter to come home.
As the minutes passed by, she allowed her feelings to emerge. Now it was her turn to have a flashback of the day she found out she was pregnant with her daughter. It was the happiest day of her life. It was the morning of the twin’s graduation. She went to see her family doctor as she had been feeling under the weather. They did the blood work several days earlier. When her test came back, and her doctor told her she was six weeks pregnant, she could not believe it. She didn’t know what to think. She and Tom wanted to have another child, but it never happened.
And now, it’s here. Martha asked Dr. Resnick not to tell her husband about her pregnancy. She wanted to surprise her family and the perfect place and time to announce it was at the twins’ party. She promised to make it a memorable party for everyone.
Martha was nervous and could not sit still in her seat during the graduation ceremony. She kept excusing herself to go to the bathroom, but, in actuality, she was making phone calls planning and arranging the party. As soon as the ceremony ended, Martha sent Tom and the boys on an errand to keep them out of the house for several hours. She hopped into a waiting taxi she had called earlier, and Martha kept waving at her husband and children until the cab drove out of sight.
The party planner and her crews worked hard to put up the decorations, setting up a food table, and party favors at different stations. Martha didn’t believe she could pull it off with such short notice, but it’s amazing what you can carry out when money was never an issue.
The guests arrived. With a sharp intake of breath, they recovered from the first shock and took in the unexpected sight of the strange decorations around the house. Tom and the twins were in disbelief as they walked into the room. Martha expected that.
When she announced her pregnancy, Jason and TJ were the first to react. They let out a deafening scream. Everyone was clapping, cheering, and congratulating them while Tom stunned into silence. He took a minute to realize what it meant. Tom was beaming with joy until he could not contain his happiness and screamed at the top of his lungs, “Yahoo!”
Martha sighed as she snapped back to the present.
What have I done?
She admitted she spoiled her daughter and had pampered her since she was born. Every time she whimpers or cries, she and Tom were always there to calm her. When their schedule became hectic, they hired an excellent nanny to take care of little Vanessa. But their daughter became worse when she learned to walk, leaving destruction wherever she went. Poor Nanny Maureen had to follow her around all day long. She lasted only a year with the Grandevilles before she resigned to work for another wealthy family.
When Vanessa turned four, she became a monster and had gotten away with horrible things for too long. She played rough and knocked over a few priceless vases around the house. Her parents had to use two nannies to keep up with her. Martha indulged her every wish to avoid her inevitable tantrums. If Vanessa wanted something, she had to have it. Martha blamed herself. Instead of letting her daughter’s experience disappointment, she cleared the path for Vanessa to make her life comfortable.
Something interrupted her thoughts when she heard a car pull into the driveway. Martha rose from the chair, walked to the window, and looked out. Peeking through the blinds, she exhaled a breath of relief when she saw her daughter’s Mercedes-Benz come to a stop. Moments later, Vanessa emerged carrying a few Gucci shopping bags.
“Hi, mom! What a day I had with my friends. I’ll see you in the morning,” said Vanessa as she went upstairs to her room, leaving her poor mother shaking her head with disappointment in raising an immature and selfish daughter.