Liza sat pensively on the back steps to cool off from fall yard chores. Her new neighbor Lumpy had fixed the John Deere one more time so she could "git her done" on the leaves. He was almost as handy as her brother Larry. Lumpy worked 3rd shift and Babygirl had been in school so they didn't see much of each other. Still, they were devoted to each other.
Lacey had been visiting Hillary in Kentucky for a couple of days and had called her Mom several times. "Mom....I want to move here. It's gorgeous!" Liza knew from being there that Surrey KY was a beautiful close to the lake spot and a bustling college town. "What's stopping you, said Liza?". "Go for it!".
"You get tore up last night Twinkie?" Liza asked Lumpy's cousin. Twinkie and Lumpy were cousins and soulmates in their dysfunctional rigid fundamentalist family. When she had flagged Lumpy down to fix the mower, they both got on the job, guy style. One workin' and one supervising. "Ayep", Twinkie said. "I got on the Evan and chocolate milk and it was all over but the pukin". He belched loudly and resumed his duties as lawnmower mechanic.
Lacey and Hillary arrived mid-afternoon in Alex's car. They had been friends forever and had been in the trenches together more times than they could count. Hillary came out the back door and hollered " Hey girl ......what are you doing?" Liza shucked her gloves and went running to see her girls. She had a whole week of vacation to do yard work and paint and remodel. Plus clean out the attic and basement.
"I'm having a ball out here" she exclaimed. Lacey beamed at her Mom because she knew how she loved that outdoor stuff and she hadn't seen her do it in forever. "I'm moving to Surrey.....and Lumpy's going too!" Liza was ready for this. It was as if she had been preparing herself slowly for the transition from full time Mom to just plain ole Mom with her own life.
"Go girl!". They visited a bit in the kitchen and then the girls went to Lumpy's house down the lane. Liza resumed her chores as a tear or two slipped out. Shortly after that, her Dad Willy drove up to feed the horses. Liza was sittin' on the potty and hollered out the window "Hey Daddy!" . " Hey Jane" he hollered back. She went on with her cleaning and arranging.
"Liza....OHHHH Liza". She heard him calling but didn't know where the voice was coming from. Willy never came into the house uninvited being very careful to respect her privacy, even though she and Lacey barged into his house whenever they felt like it." Liza followed the voice to the porch and sat on swing.
"I have a proposition for you" said Willy. Liza looked at him blankly, knowing that this moment had been coming with her landlord/Dad. "I will pay your rent the rest of the year so that you don't have THAT to worry about"........It's your Christmas present." She felt the tears well up and was overcome with emotion. "You'll get something else, but this is my gift. " She didn't know what to say and was sobbing too hard to get her voice. She had struggled relentlessly since the divorce to stay current on the bills, and had failed miserably. She felt inadequate, and at the same time very tired.
"Thank you Daddy....I'm so sorry." The tears spilled over her cheeks in a cathartic motion that was all about the hardship she'd endured as a single mom. She was a month behind on everything and even more on the rent.
Now Willy was one who believed in new beginnings and starting over. In his mind, this was a line in the sand for Liza to seize as an opportunity to catch her breath. "Lacey is moving......and Lumpy will go too, I imagine." Willy looked shocked. "And do what?", he asked. "Get a job and take care of herself. She's an adult...or she will be soon." She was crying to her Dad like a little girl. That was something she had always missed......being able to sit on Daddy's lap and lay it all out and get hugs. At least Lacey had gotten that from Noler.
He yapped all the way to back to his truck..uncomfortable with the emotions and being honest. Liza sat in the swing and cried until she felt the pain subside, and then she went into the house.