In which we say good-bye
Martha and Toledo joined Claire and Emma for Easter dinner, and Claire gladly turned all responsibilities for the meal over to the other three. There was ham and asparagus, potatoes au gratin, grapefruit and avocado salad, and a divine lemon cake that put an exclamation point on the whole thing.
While Toledo and Emma did the dishes, Martha rubbed Claire’s feet. There wasn’t much left to say that day – the line to shake hands after the sermon lasted an hour, and more conversations took place during coffee hour. Claire expected a reporter might call the next day, and alerted Trystene. But for the moment, Claire was tired and full and getting her feet rubbed. Life was good.
“Can you stand one more bit of good news today?”
“Honey, as long as you’re rubbing my feet, you can say anything you want.”
“Tom and I are getting married.”
“If I weren’t so damn tired I would jump up and kiss you! Oh, Martha – I am so happy for you! Congratulations! Are you sure this time?”
“Yes. We haven’t ironed out all the details but in light of everything that’s happened, it seems a negation of all that is good not to be with each other.”
“We will celebrate soon, I promise, but I have a memorial service to plan.”
“Sad. Relieved. Making lists and getting through them. Being Gladys.”
“I’m glad she has her girls, and I’m glad she has you and Em.”
The following Saturday the church was filled, again, to witness to the resurrection, again; to witness by giving thanks for the life of William Meriwhether Hill. It was a fine service, with nary a mistake in the bulletin, and people cried and people laughed and people were reminded that they had been blessed in knowing Bill.
Claire let Emma stay home from school the day before so that she and Alice could bake up a storm for the reception after the service. Lemon cake, toffee brownies, and peanut butter and salted caramel brownies adorned the table, and in the center of them all, in the biggest bowl the church had, a bounty of Ruffles.
“Not a Prune Drop in sight – Bill would be so pleased,” Gladys said. Claire chuckled and nodded.
“Claire, I wonder if you’ve met my nephew, Jamie.”
“James Maxwell,” said a man with gorgeous blue eyes and thinning hair, extending his hand. “You’re not what I expected the leader of a spy ring to look like.”
Claire smiled. Jamie smiled. And Gladys smiled and winked at the sky.
An unexpected sun shower graced them that day, and light streamed through the stained glass as Bill Carr picked up the bulletins. He was still the sexton, and had received a newfound respect from the folks at church. He smiled as he read the words on the back of the bulletin:
Make me an instrument of thy peace, Lord:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
May it be so, Bill thought. May it be so.