Andy Smith was visibly shaking as she drove home after practically being accosted by the woman at the benefit. They’d finished the speeches and meal and were heading out on the dance floor when a garish looking woman came roaring toward her, arms outstretched, and tried to grab hold of her until she was physically stopped by security. She’d screeched that she had every right to be present and beside her long lost daughter and hadn’t stopped squealing until she was ousted from sight and the building.
She’d been so upset upon arriving home that although it was 10:30 at night, she’d picked up the phone and immediately called the family lawyer and long time friend of her parents, Jason Monroe. She’d quickly explained what had transpired and asked him something she thought she’d never hear herself ask, “Mr. Monroe, what do you know about this? I want to dismiss her words, but I can’t.” Images of the woman flooded her mind and the thing that stood out was that there was a familiarity about her she couldn’t explain. He suggested they meet in his office the following morning around ten so they could discuss the incident. Andy wanted to believe the meeting was to reassure her, that he was being a good friend, but her gut told her there was much more to the story and that he could fill in the blanks.
What she’d always thought to be true, wasn’t. Her known reality was true yet not. Her loving parents, Mary and Gregory Smythe, according to the lawyer, weren’t her biological parents. He’d explained they’d adopted her at birth and had kept that fact a closely guarded secret while handing over adoption papers for her to peruse.
He went on to explain that her birth mother had somehow learned of their passing and was attempting to gain entrance to her life (obviously not out of love, since she hadn’t made any previous attempts, but for what she thought she could get from her) perhaps seeking to play on her emotions, hoping to cash in on the family connection. At least that’s how the lawyer read the situation.
Andy felt suddenly bereft. Head planted on her palm as she sat on the bench located on the back deck, staring off across the beautifully manicured lawn to the vast trees bordering the property, she realized they’d remained silent, either because it hadn’t mattered, she was theirs in all the ways that mattered, or they were afraid of losing her.
The truth was, they were sometimes overly cautious and often guarded (she’d thought it was because of their wealth) in many ways she hadn’t understood at the time, but which now became clear. Perhaps they feared this day would come. The lawyer had held out a letter written in her mother’s beautiful handwriting and upon opening the sealed envelope, read as much. It had been their fervent hope she’d never need to know any different, that she’d been theirs from the moment they’d taken her in their arms but that if she was now aware, they both begged her forgiveness and prayed she’d be careful. She explained that if the lawyer had given her this letter, then she needed to protect herself and heed his advice regarding her birth parents.
Her smile contained a mixture of resignation, chagrin and acceptance. She recalled her childhood in all its clarity, not only because she’d never quite looked like either side of the family with her incredibly rich blond hair and blue eyes while they were all brunettes or sported black hair and brown eyes. It wasn’t a particularly subtle difference but she’d never thought to ask. She’d been loved unconditionally by everyone, from her parents to her aunts, uncles and grandparents. They hadn’t been overly strict, always treated her fairly, kindly and firmly but there had always been that underlying note of caution. There were ground rules they stood by and defended and for the most part, she’d happily obliged.
Andy was always that little bit wiser, more mature, able to see the writing on the wall before making a weighty decision, seeing all the possible outcomes before making a choice. It wasn’t fear of displeasing her parents or being ridiculed for whatever decision she made, they’d always stood beside her regardless. She’d never been one to run headlong into chaos. And yes, she had enjoyed her kind of adventures, which meant participating in a variety of activities from snowboarding to skydiving to skiing, but nothing life-threatening or life-altering in her mind.
She’d been completely happy and her parents needn’t have worried, for she had no interest in meeting her biological parents. They’d forfeited that right 25 years ago and she wasn’t interested now. Her life revolved around making a go of her parent’s dream, the business they’d worked hard to grow into something special and wonderful. And it was.
They had begun the plantation thirty-five years ago and it had grown and flourished and had become the standard by which other vineyards now operated. They treated their staff with honesty integrity and fairness. She intended to carry on in their footsteps in the exact same manner.
The following mornings routine was well under way. She greeted the foreman and asked for an update. She’d left everything in his capable hands for much of the past several weeks owing to the shindig she’d been asked to undertake and because it was for a worthy cause, she’d acquiesced but certainly not without some regret. There was nothing she loved more than being in the thick of things, whether it was walking through the vineyard, assessing the grapes, or in the winery itself. The smells the aromas, the nuances of another perfect vintage was always in the offing.
The phone in the manager’s office rang and when he rose to get it, she watched him frown. He hung up then said, “There’s been some sort of altercation at the gate. Some woman was trying to gain access after claiming she was your mother. A crass looking woman who wouldn’t stop screeching. Do you want me to call the police?”
“Yes. I’ve contacted a lawyer and I believe that’s the wisest course of action. He suggested taking a hard stance from the outset. ” At his questioning look she mentioned the gala and a woman who had done much the same thing there. “No worries, Mam, we’ll take care of it.” His face hardened and his tone changed when he picked up the phone and dialed the police station to explain the situation.
He dropped by the house to tell her that the police had sternly warned the woman off and that should she return, she’d be fined and or jailed, should she continue bothering you and was found anywhere near the property again.
Somehow, Andy didn’t think this was the last they’d be hearing from the woman who seemed determined to have her way. As for Andy, it was a transition she was interested in making. She’d loved her family and would always do so. No one or nothing could change that, and she wasn’t about to let a perfect stranger try.