Chester shrugged, spreading his hands. “Sometimes. I used to eat like anyone else. I even had ham once in awhile. When Sarena’s mother got sick, I made some promises to God. He gave me a few more years before she died. Those were precious years, my dear. I am honoring Him with my renewed faith. So a little awkwardness, some sacrifice, it’s nothing.”
Angie put her hand on his, squeezing his fingers. “I admire you. To have such conviction. I guess it’s something we can lose sight of.”
“I’m thinking of converting,” Ma said. Out of the clear blue, the woman who would not give up Catholicism for my father, was talking about converting?
I know my mouth fell open. I could feel the food drop out of my mouth. “Wha—?” I couldn’t even get a full word, let alone a thought out.
“Really, Marjorie?” This from Sarena. “That’s so great!”
“Ma, really? When did you decide this?”
“Not so long ago,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about it and, well, it seemed the right thing.”
“You never did this when Dad was alive. Why now?”
“Your father, God rest him, never asked. Chester asked me to consider it. I did. And I’ve decided. That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about. It’s one of the reasons for the trip.”
“I see. So you spring this on me at lunch?” I had to laugh. “You could of told me on the phone.”
She smiled, her eyes tearing. “You had to meet your new father first,” she said. “I couldn’t tell you that on the phone. You wouldn’t of believed why I was doing it. You’d of made fun.”
“Never, Ma.” But I had to admit, if I hadn’t met the man, I might have doubted her conviction. “Well, maybe. . . .”
“So, this means you two will be brother and sister?” Steve kicked me under the table.
“Shit!” I immediately regretted my outburst. “Sorry. . . . Man, Steve, that’s not to tease over.”
“I think that’s a subject to discuss at another time,” Chester interposed.
“Or not at all,” I added.
Not funny—at all. Chester steered the conversation away from the subject of marriage, faith and relationships, for which I was very grateful. Sarena watched me through the whole meal, eyes full of concern. When we had finished the meal, she took me aside as the others said farewell.
“That’s really got you upset, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, kind of.”
“We’re not blood kin, how is that a big deal?”
“It’s not, but think of the potential here.”
“Potential for what?”
“Misunderstandings. Comments, teasing. . . . God, my brother could get a million hours of tease potential from last night alone!”
“You’re worried about a brother who lives in New York City.” She brushed me cheek with her cool fingers. “He’s a thousand miles away, give or take. . . .”
“He’s obnoxious,” I started to say.
“Maybe he’ll be happy for us. For all four of us. My dad obviously loves your mother and she loves him. And dammit, Mike! I’m falling in love with you. So can we just accept it for what it is and not question what we have?”
“You’re right,” I said, kissing her softly. “You’re absolutely right.”
“Come on, you two!” Steve called. “The bus is leaving!”
“I’ll see you later,” Sarena said. “I’m going to help your mother start dinner.”
“Got some preparation to do. Clearing and cleaning. . . . It’s okay. I did it before when Dad went kosher. You know, we’ll have two sets of dishes, we could do it too.”
“We?” I looked stunned. When had we become We? Not that I minded, I was thrilled!
“Aren’t we a We?” She asked in kind of an offended tone.
“I hope so,” I said. “Otherwise I’m gonna have to learn to dance alone and that totally sucks. Cause there’s no one I want to dance with but you.”
She knew I wasn’t talking about dancing and that was probably the coolest part of the entire conversation. Steve honked the horn.
© Dellani Oakes 2014