Chapter Thirty Three
“Michael, I’m hungry and you forgot to give me my breakfast,” said Kimmey. “Can we go get something to eat now?”
“What do you say Mom, Dad, Angelia, let’s go get this young’un some food. I bet everyone could use some coffee and vittles. Why don’t you take her to the cafeteria and feed her while I check on Mary and send the others your way. I’ll see you in about thirty minutes.”
Michael knocked then entered Mary’s room. “How’s our little Mamma doing?” he asked her.
“She’s tired, hungry and happy,” said Mary, smiling at him.
“Caroline, ladies,” he said, “Mom and dad are in the cafeteria with Angelia and Kimmey, if you’d like to join them. I’m going to tend to Mary then meet up with them as soon as Wanda-Ann returns with their supper and I’m finish here.”
Billy, asleep in Caroline’s arms, stirred restlessly, sighed then went back to sleep, as they said their goodnights and headed for the cafeteria.
“Well, let’s see, do you want an egg and mushroom omelet or vegetable beef soup. A ham or turkey sandwich. A whipped Jell-O parfait, or a fruit cup and cookies,” asked Michael.
They’d pulled several tables together and were discussing new babies, Caroline’s reunion with Mary and her great Grandchildren, among other things, when Michael arrived.
“We were just discussing renovating Gilfords Hall from top to bottom including every Mezzanine and attic in the place! The only thing I won’t touch are the rooms in Cole’s dungeon, for some reason that place has always given me the creeps!”
“I’d like to get someone out there bright and early in the morning to look the place over and draw up some plans. What do you think, Henry, is it too late to call tonight, or should I wait until tomorrow? I want the west wing completely renovated by the time Mary and the children come home,” said Caroline.
“I very much doubt you’ll get anyone out to your place tomorrow,” said Michael with a big grin.
“Oh, and why not?” asked his mother.
Michael looked at his father who was also grinning, “Hum, come to think of it, I have to agree with Michael. I doubt very much you could talk anyone in to working tomorrow.”
“Besides, before they left earlier today, Ben and Karr invited all of us out to their place for dinner around one thirty tomorrow.”
“I may even allow Mary to go with us, if she’s feeling up to it,” said Michael. “I’ve already given Wanda-Ann the day off.”
“Why would they invite us to dinner?” asked Caroline.
“Why for Thanksgiving!” said Henry.
“Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving’s tomorrow?” asked Caroline in surprise.
“Why, it is, isn’t it! How could we completely forget Thanksgiving day?” Asked Angelia.
“What’s Thanksgiving?” asked Kimmey, “I’ve never heard of Thanksgiving before.”
“Thanksgiving is a very special day, a holiday, that people celebrate once a year by giving thanks for all their blessings,” said Caroline.
“You mean like you being our Grandmamma, Billy finding the angel’s house, and my Michael and my teacher.”
“By golly, I think you’ve got it,” said Michael.
It was after ten before they left the hospital. Henry and Myrtle having decided to sleep in their own beds, offered the guest rooms to Rose-Marie and Jackie.
Michael had decided to sleep in his office suite again, just in case Mary needed him for anything.
The security guard, having just clocked out had assured Michael that he’d be only too happy to drop Angelia, Caroline and the children off, on his way home. Henry and Myrtle would ride with Rose-Marie and Jackie. They had left shortly after agreeing to meet at Angelia’s, at about noon the next day and go to the Crowley’s together.”
Before going back to Mary’s room, Michael headed for the intensive care unit to check on Harriet.
“How's she doing?” Michael asked, as the nurse handed him her chart. “Are there any changes in her condition?”
“No, Doctor, there’s been absolutely no change at all. Poor thing, she’s still in a coma. Doctor Allen noted in her chart, that there was very little hope of her recovering,” said the nurse sympathetically.
“Have her parents been in to see her?” Michael asked curiously.
“No, in fact, when Nurse Clark, called them, they’d said,"
“Not our problem. She’s always been a trouble maker. She’s reaped what she’s sown, and got what she deserved.”
"Then they demanded that we never call them again about someone that was already dead!”
“I figured they’d pull something like that,” said Michael. “Personally, if I was Harriet and had her parents, I’d rather be dead too!”
“Really! Well, you never know about people, do you? Poor Harriet!” The nurse said shaking her head.
Making sure Harriet was comfortable, he left word to page him if her condition changed, then went to his office and to bed.
Thanksgiving Day dawned clear, bright and cool, with just a hint of frost in the air to make it a perfect day for celebrating.
Henry and Myrtle had awakened at a little past five, and were setting at their kitchen table having an early breakfast and coffee, as they discussed the news they’d received the night before, via Kimmey.
Overjoyed that their Martha was alive, Henry had promised Myrtle come Friday he’d start an all-out investigation. He’d contact every police department, welfare and children’s services agency within five hundred miles of Gilfords Falls, including hospitals, churches and newspapers, promising not to quit looking until they were all safely home!
Angelia had just poured herself a cup of coffee when Caroline joined her at the table. “You’re up early,” said Angelia, pouring her a cup.
“I couldn’t sleep,” said Caroline. “Then I smelled the coffee and had to get a cup, how about you?”
“I couldn’t sleep either. I kept hearing Kimmey saying we call her Mommy Mara-Lou. She has a boy named Cage, and maybe Michael can help her when her baby comes, like he helped our Mommy.”
“The children were constantly talking about this mommy or that mommy, and their friends Joey and Jo-lee. I even remember Kimmey saying something about hiding Cage from the bad man. Yet, never once did I put it all together.”
“It seems that Zachariah, monster that he was, had married all our children and in our case, grandchildren. That means all of Zachariah’s children, including our great grandchildren, Henry and Myrtle’s grandchildren, Ben’s sisters’ children and Hershel’s little Clara’s children, are all brothers and sisters!
“What a mess of confusion that’s going to be, when we find, and bring them all home,” said Caroline.
The pager brought him fully awake, Doctor Patterson, you’re needed in intensive care. Doctor Patterson, please come to the intensive care unit immediately, Doctor Patterson.
Michael quickly splashed cold water onto his face and combed his hair. Within minutes, he was in the intensive care unit staring down at Harriet, who was miracle of miracles awake and asking for him.
“Hi Doc,” she said through cracked and blistered lips. “Why can’t I feel anything, Doc? Is it because I’m drugged to the hilt or am I burned to a crisp? She asked in an attempt at humor. “If I’m dead and this is hell, please tell me Doc!”
“Don’t tire yourself trying to talk, Harriet, save your strength so you can get well. I’m going to give you something to make you sleep,” said Michael, injecting a powerful coma inducing medication into her IV line.
“Good morning, little Momma,” said Michael, poking his head around the door. “I see you’ve had your breakfast. Do you feel up to a trip to the nursery?” he asked grinning mischievously.
“Oh yes,” said Mary.
“You wish is my command,” he said picking her up to sit her in the wheelchair he’d brought with him.
“Put me down Michael!” she said, laughing up at him.
“The temptation was just too great. He could no longer stop himself as he leaned over and kissed her. You’re not married. Not anymore. He whispered as Mary returned his kiss with a passion she didn’t know she could feel.
“I love you Mary!” Said Michael. “I have loved you from the moment I first set eyes on you. You and the children have filled a place in my heart that was empty, then a miracle happened and you came into my life filling it with joy and laughter. I want you and the children to be part of my life and I want to be a part of yours! Say you’ll marry me, my love,” he said slipping a beautiful engagement ring with twining hearts, onto her finger.
Unbeknownst to Mary, he'd seen her looking at that very same ring, on their last trip to Beasley. He’d bought it with the hopes that someday she’d proudly wear it. He’d kept the ring with him, in case an opportunity such as this ever arose. After all, he’d been in love with her since he was eleven, and as far as he was concerned, he’d waited far too long!
“Oh Michael, yes, yes, yes, I love you too, the children love you and I’m positive the babies will love you. Yes, oh yes! I will marry you! I’ll proudly be your wife, Michael! yes! Oh yes!”
“Whew,” said Michael, “I was worried you’d turn me down. I was afraid that Zachariah’s treatment of you and the children would sour you on the whole idea of marriage. I would have had a heck of a time explaining why, Michael Lee Patterson was listed as the children’s father on the birth certificates and Billy and Kimmey are Patterson’s on the hospital records, instead of Snippet, you need to pick an immediate wedding date, like tomorrow.”
“Slow down Michael,” said Mary, grinning so broadly she thought her face would split in half, “you’re making me dizzy. I don’t think I’ve ever been so very happy in my whole life, she said, as she threw her arms around his neck and gave him a kiss, that left them both breathless!”
“They spent about an hour in the nursery. The babies weighing in at a little over four and a half pounds apiece were hungry and once gowned and masked Michael allowed Mary to hold and feed each baby for about ten minutes.
“Look Michael! They each have a name band around their little ankles. See Michael, it says Michael Lee Gilfords, Patterson? “I thought I’d said, Michael Cole.”
“Aah, I guess I forgot to mention changing his name just a teeny little bit,” said Michael, sheepishly. “If you mind too awfully much I’ll change the Lee back to Cole."
“Don’t you dare, mister,” said Mary playfully shaking her fist at him. “I wanted to name this little one after you, but didn’t know how you'd feel about it. Oh Michael! Thank you for loving us so much that you would want to give us your name!” she said.
“Are you getting tired?” Michael asked, changing the subject and scanning her face for any signs of fatigue.
“No, in fact I’m ready to go home and start planning for our wedding.” she said, smiling at him.
“Oh no you don’t, you’re staying right here and resting, at least for a few more days. But if you’re feeling up to it, we’ve been invited to the Crowley’s for Thanksgiving dinner. I want you to promise you’ll use a wheelchair and tell me the minute you feel tired, faint, or have any discomfort. After all, you just gave birth, to not one, but four babies,” he said. “I want you to rest and take care of yourself, so you can take care of us.”
“The Crowley’s were gracious hosts. Mary, and the younger Crowley’s immediately hit it off. The Crowley’s, thrilled at Mary’s return had felt an immediate renewing of hope that the others would eventually be found.
Mary’s engagement, was greeted with cheers, whistles, hearty congratulations, and offers of help planning the wedding, making her blush and hide her face in Michaels broad shoulder.
The time had flown and it was almost five before they arrived back at the hospital. Michael, having settled Mary in her room, immediately went to check on Harriet. He sighed with relief when he found her condition slightly improved, he gave her another shot, then informing the nurse he’d be at Angelia’s, he left the hospital.
Everyone was sitting around the kitchen table excitedly discussing Mary’s engagement and how she’d proudly shown off her engagement ring, after declaring that Michael had put it on her finger that very morning. They were all thrilled for them, but no one seemed the least bit surprised at the news. In fact, they’d all declared that the only two people that didn’t know he’d eventually pop the question, were Michael and Mary.
“What’s engaged, Grandmamma?” asked Kimmey.
“That means Michael has asked your Mommy to marry him and your Mommy has said she would.”
“Will that make Michael, Mommy’s husband, like the bad man was?” Kimmey asked.
“That’s right,” said Caroline.
“Mommy said the bad man was my daddy, but he died,” Kimmey said, puzzling over what her great Grandmamma had just told her. “If our bad daddy died, does that mean I don’t have a daddy anymore?” she asked. Looking questioningly up at her great Grandmamma she saw Michael standing in the doorway.
Suddenly she knew! Jumping down from her Grandmammas lap she ran to Michael. Jumping up and down with excitement, she asked,” When my Mommy marries you, will you be our new daddy?”
“Do you want me to be your new daddy?” he asked her.
“Oh yes,” said Kimmey.
“Want you be my daddy too,” said Billy.
“Then Daddy it is, said Michael, picking up both children and giving them a big bear hug.
“I love you Daddy!” said Kimmey, snuggling close to Michael.
“I love my Daddy too!” said Billy as he too, snuggled a little closer to Michael.