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Monday, 7 July 2014

Novella Sally Forth Part Five

The year between the happy time at the lake of loons, as Matt called it, and the past year’s reunion healed the bitter memory of the last reunion Sally ever attended.

In August of that year, everyone met outside Minneapolis, in a hotel on Lake….and a week was planned including entertainment at the local clubs. John had reservations and Mary wanted to go to the casinos. As usual, the parents had planned their fun without considering the children. So, as usual, Sally planned day and night activities for all five, including two movie nights, fun and non-violent games on their tablets, and outdoor activities during the days. Matt could not come, as he had a business trip which could not be changed. Massie complained about him the entire time. “I mean, he knew months ahead to keep these days free. He never sees us anymore.”

Sally tried to explain that Matt was not in charge of his schedule for conferences and such, but Massie did not listen. Sal just left the room when the irrational barrage of words started.

Matt did phone Sally, however. “Are you holding up, Sal?”

Sally was so glad to hear his voice. “I cannot do this anymore, Matt. But, they will hate me.”

Matt replied, “I know. I know. Sorry I can’t be there.”

Sally said goodbye and got the kids together to play badminton. She organized beach volleyball and two hikes. Swimming filled in the other times.

Duke came out and stood by the lake. “Sally, are you still dating that psychologist? You have said nothing about him this time?”

Sally got out of the water. She did not want to pursue this conversation. But, she had to tell the truth. “We broke up, but I do not want to talk about it. OK?”

Duke answered, “Well, that is your business, of course, but your mother will be disappointed. She and I want to see you settled. We do not like your single life, as it is so unpredictable.”

Sally almost burst out in anger, but the presence of the children stopped her. So, Mom would be disappointed. So, they cannot control her if she is single. What about “my” feelings? And, they want to see me settled, not happy, but settled. Sally went back to play water volley ball with the small troop.

Later, at the bar-b-que, Massie came up to Sally. “You should have told us. I had such high hopes for you. Isn’t Hans a millionaire?”

Sally felt anger churning up her stomach. “Mom, don’t you think this is my business and if I do not want to talk about it, you should respect that?”

Massie looked hurt. “You were always too independent. That is probably why Hans left you.”

Duke said, “Your irresponsibility will kill your mother one of these days.”

Sally blew up. “You do not know anything about what happened. You do not want to know. You just want to blame me again and again. I am not going to talk about it.”

Sally left and walked along the side of the lake. Hans was not here to console or defend her. Hans was a thousand miles away, entering the Norbertines in California. No one really cared about the truth, the beauty of life, or the sacrifices of true love. She did not want to cheapen her love and his love by discussing it. Her parents would make comments about Hans wasting his talents, or throwing away his life, or, the fact that they would not have more grandchildren. They would say that Sally made a poor choice and should have known better, and so on.

Only Matt knew the truth and the rest of the congregation at the TLM in Houston.

The remnant understood. They rejoiced, as did Sally in her heart. If she told her parents, they would find some fault in her, or some supposed error in Hans. She could not bear that. She could not bear to see pearls thrown before swine. She knew her thoughts were harsh and bordering on unforgiveness, but she would forgive. She always did. This was her strength, her gift. She could forgive again and again. Hans had told her that was her saving grace-a heart of mercy even if she lacked understanding.

That week ended with Sean coming down with a strange virus. James blamed John for not cooking chicken properly in the heat. Bobbie was sure that Sean got food poisoning from the fish not being kept in cold storage long enough. Sally became so tired of the bickering. She could hear Matt’s voice saying, “They drain me. They take away my energy.”

Sally had tons of energy, thank God. She was not only organizing the children daily, but keeping up a schedule of meditation. She knew what she needed for peace and order in her soul. But, she had decided that to spend another week in the summer with her family, even for the benefit of the children, was not what she needed or wanted. It was time to make the break.

Now, a year after the last reunion, and in late August, Sally was turned down for tenure. The University had cut back on tenured professors for the first time, creating new rules and watching a shrinking budget. Sally was strangely relieved. Now, she had no ties to her position. She was free to do something else. What that was, she did not know. But, God had His Perfect will in place and she trusted Him in this and in all things. Wisconsin would not be her permanent home, she now knew.

Sally was also grateful that she had not discussed the process with her parents. She could not bear the litany of negativity which would follow the news, like a long shadow as she walked across the room of the Big House.

Some things were better not discussed, just as some cherry twigs should not be thrown into the fire of her fireplace, as they would cause too much smoke.

Sally walked across campus to the library. She had to return several books she had kept too long in her office. But, on the way, she decided to stop at the little ecumenical chapel and sit a while. She felt tired and strange, as if she was coming down with something. She was so tired, too tired for her age. She would have to get a blood test.

To be continued…