This very special summer day began like most Birmingham, Alabama, days: hot and humid. It was Sunday, August 6, 1993, and a beloved baby girl's baptism was to be celebrated today.
The magnificent dining room was set up for the occasion. Becky glanced at it, trembling and beaming with excitement. There were four vases of pink carnations adorning the silvery tablecloth that covered the massive oak table, set for thirty. Wakefield china, etched in silver and burgundy, complemented the Fostoria water and champagne goblets. Guests would be a bit crowded with the seven pieces of Goran for each. Becky hoped this would not detract from the perfection she was expected to provide for this baptismal reception.
The Brightons always required something unique from Becky. She had known that from the moment she became their foster daughter. She came to live with them when she was only five. Although she was precious to them, like Sarah who entered the Brighton family circle when Becky was thirteen, she knew she must do their bidding. It had become routine. She tried desperately to live up to their high standards. At first it was with the hope of being adopted by them; later she wanted to assure herself they would always love her.
She would have done anything they asked her to do, often anticipating their wishes before they were spoken.
Today's reception had to be special, like the dinner reception had been when the Brightons had announced Sarah's engagement to Peter Berg. Not only was Becky aware of her duty to the Brightons, Sarah and Peter, but she also knew this affair would make the social page. Pillars of the community like her foster parents were frequently given coverage in the Society section.
So here they were again, celebrating in the Brighton mansion. . .this time, the birth of the beautiful baby girl Monique. Everyone was proud of this newborn child, but no one as much as her parents, Sarah and Peter.
When Becky began planning this occasion she was again reminded of her good fortune to be a part of this family. She never knew her own parents and having lived in the orphanage long enough to have developed a strong desire to have someone to call Mother and Father, she was gratified to have Clare and Joseph. Her kinship to Sarah was like that of an older sister. When things happened to Sarah, they happened to her also. Months before Monique's birth, planning for this baptismal reception had begun. Becky involved herself wholeheartedly, immersed in the affairs of the Brighton family.
As Becky examined the room and the decorations she had so carefully placed, her mind wandered. She remembered the first time she had seen this elegant room, holding tightly to Mother Brighton's hand. She had told herself then that someday she would marry and there would be a splendid wedding reception for her and a handsome groom. There would be lots of people sitting around the huge table and they would all be staring at her in her perfect wedding dress and she would be clinging to her white roses with one hand and her man with the other. The cake, tall as the ceiling, would be there waiting for the bride and groom to cut the first piece; there would be merriment, laughter, happiness.
Alas, Becky snapped back to reality, that would never happen. She had dreamed all these years. Part of her dream came true when Sarah wore the white dress and held hands with the handsome Peter; they were the ones to cut the cake and dance around the room in ecstasy. Becky was through dreaming that she would ever be adopted. Too many years had passed. She was through believing she would ever marry and have children. It was too painful to see her friends and classmates become engaged, marry and have babies.
Becky had been lucky to have foster parents who loved her. She had bonded with them as she would have with her real parents. But she could only pretend they were real. And she had to keep this pain a secret. Mother Brighton would never know her fervent desire, nor that Becky's real reason for the frantic, flustered behavior of today was due to the lack of self-fulfillment. Becky was good at keeping secrets. She was a diplomat and an actress. Now that Mother Brighton was ill, she had to be especially careful. As far as Mother Brighton was concerned, Becky was as happy and secure as she always appeared. She was a success when it came to deception, even ruffled self-deception.
At last Becky seemed assured that the table and room decorations were as perfect as she could hope. She picked up a pink carnation and put it back into the vase deeper to match the other three in the same vase. It drooped slightly. She crossed her arms and stood back looking at the lush blossoms. They represented Clare, Joseph, Sarah and Becky, the four who had made up the family since Milko left. Only three were sturdy stems now, because Joseph had died and his death had played a prominent role in the planning for this reception.
Months ago Sarah informed Clare and Becky that a baby was on the way. They wanted Becky to plan for the reception that had finally become a reality today, leaving only the date open. Sarah had considered that maybe Monique would make an earlier than expected arrival. Becky remembered when Sarah reached the eighth month of pregnancy and was having difficulty getting around, she had almost decided to have a small reception. "We'll have it at our own house," Sarah had declared. But as quickly she decided against it. Her own dear Mother was gravely ill and would not like the two-hour drive, nor could all of the family friends make it if it were held out of town. Joseph's old friends would be unable to attend. Thus the plans reverted to the original idea and had remained that way, leaving Becky in charge.
Thoughts and memories raced in and out of Becky's mind in those few
moments. She glanced at her watch. In her excitement she had nearly forgotten
Godfrey. She trusted the menu they had discussed was now in the form of
real mouth-watering dishes for which Godfrey was famous. She knew from
the fragrant odors wafting from the kitchen that her trust in him was completely
warranted as she walked briskly in that direction.
Who is Mary
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