Time passed as my girls got their degrees. Harold and I were getting older. Pretty soon it would be time for me to retire like I had been threatening to do for years.
My sister was harder to convince of my decision. “Anne, I still want to cook, but I want to concentrate on the bakery. The restaurants here are doing well. There are several people, including Filipe, who would make terrific replacements for me.”
“But I always thought we’d do this together,” Anne said regretfully. “I love the resort and thought you did, too.”
“I do!” I said, “but I can’t keep doing this forever. It’s time for me to step down. I want to set my own hours and do what I really love…make deserts!”
“What about Harold?” Anne asked me.
“He’s going to retire, too,” I said. “We’re both tired. Ever since he had that knee surgery, he’s been working at a desk. He hates it. So it’s about time we both call it quits. He’s going to help me at the bakery. He’ll be the handyman of sorts.”
“I hate this, Rache,” Anne said, “but I know you have to do it. We’ll miss you around here.”
“I’ll miss everyone here, too. You were right to convince me to move here. It was a good thing for our whole family.”
I wasn’t the only one moving on in my life. Both of my girls were doing the same. Omar and Rhea had been going together since high school prom. They had done well at the university and both were now working at the courthouse in Isla.
Juno started dating Phillip Han. She was working at the school as a substitute. He had gotten a degree in medicine and was working on becoming a doctor.
I expected Rhea to be the first of my children to get married, but I hadn’t counted on Phillip Han’s persistence and drive.
“I know how hard it will be with me in residency,” he told Harold when he asked permission to marry Juno. “I’ll be really busy, but I really want to be with Juno. I love her and I know we can get through it together.”
“Have you thought about your wedding?” I asked Juno. “Do you want my help with planning or anything?”
“Thanks Mom,” Juno said, smiling. “I know exactly what I want. I want it to be out at the park. Very simple. Nothing fancy.”
“That sounds good, Sis,” Ares said. He was helping Juno workout so that she could lose weight before the wedding.
“I do want a bachelorette party, though!” Juno enthused. “With strippers! and all the champagne I can drink!”
Ares gave Juno a little punch on the arm. “Ew! Strippers! I’m out!” He got up from the couch and went in search of a snack. That boy could eat anything and never gain weight!
We had the bachelorette party on the beach. There was a large bonfire and most of the girls decided to go swimming.
Anne and I arranged the whole party. It was strange ordering male dancers to come to a party for one of my daughters, but I knew that it was something Juno wanted, so I did. I did, however, tell them not to strip completely. They came dressed as firemen except they wore tiny little shorts instead of fire gear.
“We’re here today to congratulate my daughter, Juno Fields, on her upcoming marriage,” I said, encouraging all of our guests to raise a glass to Juno. She had wanted lots of champagne, so that’s what we gave her. By the time the party was over, all of the champagne was gone…most of it had been consumed, but I know that Rhea and some of Juno’s other friends got into a champagne fight.
I was a little worried that Juno might get too drunk right before her wedding, but I shouldn’t have stressed over it. Juno had a great time, but aside from a little hangover, she was fine the next morning.
Juno’s park wedding was really simple. Only family came. Juno was just lovely as a bride.
“We’re so happy for you both,” Harold said when the ceremony was over and the party started. “I can’t believe one of our girls is married!”
“Me either,” I said. I tried to hide it, but I was fighting tears. “I can’t believe I’m losing one of my babies!”
“Oh Mom!” Juno said, hugging me. “It’s not like I’ll be that far away! I’m not going anywhere!”
It was true. Juno and Phillip were staying in Isla Paradiso. In fact, they had bought a small beach house just a few blocks from ours. I didn’t know why I was getting so emotional.
After Juno’s wedding, life continued on more normally. I was enjoying my retirement as a chef, but I was still cooking, so I was happy. The bakery was very prosperous. I was earning a reputation for making the best pies in all of Isla Paradiso. I’d even expanded a bit and started making fresh breads and fire-oven pizzas.
Harold was also enjoying retirement. He was playing a lot of chess. Every evening when Rhea came home from work, the two of them would be out on the patio engaging in a friendly battle.
In the evenings Harold and I liked to relax in our hot tub. We’d installed it after his knee surgery. It was good for both of us. After making pies all day, I needed to soak my aching feet and back.
Sometimes I worried about Harold’s health. He still worked out every day, but he wasn’t as spry as he used to be. He relied on his cane most of the time and I often came home and found him napping.
Meanwhile, Omar and Rhea had finally decided to get married after dating for so many years.
“He asked me by the pond,” Rhea told us the news. “We were fishing and then suddenly he says he as something for me. Isn’t that romantic?”
“He didn’t come and ask me for permission,” Harold groused. “Phillip asked me first.”
“Oh Dad! That’s so old fashioned. Omar is more modern than that!”
“Harrumph!” Harold snorted.
“I’m really happy for you,” I said and poked Harold. “What sort of wedding do you want to have?”
I should have known that Rhea would want a big wedding. Like Juno, she wanted it to be outdoors, but instead of the park during the day time, she insisted on our back yard at sunset.
“You can rent everything, and we can invite everyone!” She exclaimed. “It will be just perfect!”
I was just happy that Rhea allowed me to make her wedding cake. We could have catered it, but I really wanted to do it.
“No one makes better cakes than you, Mom,” she said when I offered to do it. “Of course I want you to make mine! I want a huge cake. At least three tiers, and all in ivory and silver!”
Poor Ares. In the midst of all of the wedding plans between both of his sisters, he grew up. Harold and I felt bad that he got ignored. Ares, however, was a good kid.
I would have liked it better if he’d started dating Emilee, but it was Martina he asked to the prom…or maybe she asked him. I’m not sure. By the time prom ended, though, Ares was the girl’s boyfriend.
I knew she was his girlfriend, but he always seemed to invite her over with other kids, so I didn’t think it was too serious. I hoped that he would forget about her after graduation. Maybe she wouldn’t go to the same college as he did and they’d grow apart.
After his birthday, I had high hopes that Ares would go to college. When he took the college aptitude test he pretty much got a full-ride to do whatever he wanted at the University.
“I don’t know what I want to do, Mom,” he complained. “There are too many choices.”
“Well nothing says you have to pick now. You can just go and see what you like.”
Ares agreed that it was true, but in the end he decided to put off college for a year.
“I got a great job as a lifeguard,” Ares told us. “I’m going to do that until I figure out what I want to study.”
“Just so you don’t end up doing that all your life, Son,” Harold said. “You don’t want to end up as some sort of beach bum.”
“He won’t be a bum, Harold!” I defended Ares’ decision. “He just needs some time. After a year, he’ll go to college. Just like the girls.”
I can’t say I was disappointed that Ares didn’t go to college right away. Secretly, I was glad he chose to stay home. With both Juno and Rhea out of the house, it was nice to still have Ares with us. I know I’d miss him when he was gone.
Also, no matter what Harold said, he was getting too old to keep up with our old house. I knew that if anything major happened, Ares would be there to help Harold take care of it.
Ares, not Harold, was the one to fix out dishwasher the last time it broke. Harold suggested we just buy a new dishwasher. Ares insisted he could fix it.
“I got this dad,” Ares said. “You taught me everything you know.”
“Sometimes things just stay broke,” Harold said, harrumphing at Ares who had broken out Harold’s tools and set to work.
I knew that Harold would have been down there with Ares wrenching away at the stupid machine, but he had such a hard time bending now. It would be a wonder if he could even get back up again!
The only downside to having an adult child still living at home was that we could no longer forbid him from bringing his girlfriend home after a date. It wasn’t like he (or she) had a curfew! Much to my disgust, Martina Collins spent a lot of time at our house.
It wasn’t until I woke up one morning and saw the girl scantily clad sitting at my dining room table that I finally put my foot down.
I caught Ares having a pretty heated discussion with Martina later that day. He was pacing the hall when I came out of our office to head to the kitchen. Instead of just moving past him, I waited until he ended the call so that I could speak with him.
“That was Martina?” I asked, to confirm what I suspected.
“Yes. She thought she saw me on the beach earlier today.” Ares sighed.
“Wasn’t today your day off?” I asked.
“Yes. I told Martina that, but she thought it was me, and apparently the other guy was macking on some girl and Martina thought it was me. She got in their faces and screamed at them before she realized her mistake.”
“Oh. Well, I’m sorry about that. It was Martina that I wanted to talk to you about, though.”
Ares sighed again. “What now?”
“Ares, do you even really like this girl?”
“She’s my girlfriend, mom.”
“I know but…never mind.” I took a deep breath. I really didn’t want to have this conversation with my son. It made me uncomfortable and sweaty. This is why Harold had been the one to have ‘the talk’ with Ares when he was a teen.
“Look Ares. About Martina. I don’t think it’s a good idea that she stay the night here. I know you guys are adults, but I’m just not comfortable with you sleeping with her under my roof. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t want you doing that here.”
Ares blushed. “Sorry mom. She wasn’t supposed to…I mean, she wasn’t going to stay…”
“It’s ok,” I said. “I just wanted you to know how I felt.”
I walked past my son and patted him on the shoulder. We were both red faced, but I felt better that I had told him.
It wasn’t like I didn’t want grand children. I did. I wanted at least five! But Ares wasn’t married, and I hated the idea of him marrying Martina Collins. If Ares never gave me grandchildren, that would be ok.
I already had a granddaughter, Juno and Philip’s Ami. And the other night Rhea came by to announce that she was expecting a baby soon, too!
Pretty soon, Harold and I would have a ton of baby pictures in our wallets to show off to anyone who would listen!