So, this is to be the last entry in my journal before I officially hand the reigns over to my son to carry on with this tradition. Thinking of this brings me to wonder why traditions are so important to me. Perhaps this idea appeals to me because I was adopted. Or maybe it’s my own vanity that makes me want to pass a journal through the generations to come. It could very well be both that keeps me steadfast in my determination that this should be how it is.
I’ve reread this account from the very beginning and I can see a definite difference in myself from the time I wrote the first entry until now. When I think of the young girl who reluctantly sat down in front of the computer to write for the first time, I’m amazed anything was recorded at all. I remember staring at the screen and wondering what I could write about when my life until then had been so ordinary and uneventful.
I was a lonely and awkward girl who knew nothing of this world or what it had in store for me. I was afraid of making friends and even more terrified of boys. I was, in many ways, afraid of life. I wanted to spend all my time at the beach reading. Things have changed! For one, I dodged a bullet by not marrying the first man I dated, was embroiled in a real life mystery, avoided a lot of catastrophes, and met the man of my dreams. I’ve raised four children with the love of my life. And now I have a granddaughter, too! On top of it all, I’ve also somehow maintained a strong relationship with my beautiful sister and nieces.
My life has been filled with longings, unfulfilled wishes, happiness, despair and trials. But most of all, it’s been filled to the brim with joy and more blessings than any one person usually sees.
Sadly, there are people who I miss desperately. Jilly, of course, is number one on that list. Pain still squeezes my heart when I think of her, but now I’m able to look through her scrapbook and reminisce about the wonderful times we had together. Liev’s parents are never far from my thoughts. They raised a wonderful son and loved all of us so. His mother Phyllis was especially dear to me as she helped me understand a really difficult time in my life. She brought with her a fresh perspective and personal experience. I can never repay her for her kindness.
I often contemplate my sister and how, even though we had some really hard times, we became true friends. To say I care deeply for Keniesha does not begin to cover the extent of love and admiration I have for her. Her daughters are just as brave and fierce as she is and I know it won’t be long before they make their own marks on the world.
My relationships have changed a great deal. Oh, I think Keniesha will always feel there is a reason to wag her finger at me, but now that I’m older, I’m more confident in myself and my decisions. I have to smile though, as I know in my heart, I would be nowhere without her.
Speaking of Keniesha… this reminds me yet again of Mango’s disappearance. I’ve come to believe that we will never see him again or know what happened to him. Realizing this leaves a hollow feeling in my stomach and a nagging in my mind. I feel badly that Keniesha will not have the answers she wants. She has never remarried but there is plenty of time for that if she chooses.
So, what is there left to write?
I’m teasing, Journal. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten to tell you about Leo’s homecoming…
Liev and I waited anxiously by the window for signs of Leo’s return home. My heart was bursting with a range of emotions until I could barely contain them. Mainly, I felt the kind of anticipation similar to what a child feels as Christmas draws closer. Mingling with that, I had sensations of anxiety. What if Leo hadn’t been doing as well as he and Keniesha had reported? What if he was doing well now but the pressure of figuring out how to relate to Blue on top of trying to figure out his future caused him to relapse back into depression?
I glanced at Liev who was pretending to read a book but gave himself away each time he glimpsed out the window. If I mentioned to him what I was thinking, he would say something like, “Don’t borrow trouble.” Which was completely unhelpful even though it was true.
Out of habit, I bit on my lower lip. All I wanted to do was take my boy in my arms and tell him how much I missed and loved him.
Suddenly, with a huge smile on his face, Liev scooped Blue up from the floor where she was quietly playing. I followed his gaze out the window and then ran for the door. We met Leo out front and for a moment we all just stood looking at each other.
He had grown so tall and if it wasn’t for that shock of red hair, I wouldn’t have recognized him at all. His hair, though! The tattoos! What had he done?
Instantly forgetting my scrutiny of him, we both moved at the same time into a hug. I wasn’t used to his height or the strength of his arms as they wrapped around me tightly.
“Oh, Leo, I’ve missed you terribly!” I half sobbed, my voice catching in my throat. It felt like years since I’d seen him.
“I’ve missed you, too, Mama,” he said, hugging me just as tightly back.
“I like your hair,” I managed.
He could see right through me. He flashed his father’s lopsided grin and laughed a little bit. “I’m still getting used to it, too.”
I’d barely gotten a hold of him before it was Liev’s turn. Watching them embrace, I was filled with pride that our boy was home, looking different but healthy, and that he was obviously filled with love for his family.
“It’s good to have you home, kid,” Liev said before he let go.
Then Leo turned toward Blue who I was now holding.
“Meet your daddy, Blue,” I said, bouncing her a little bit on my hip to try to make her smile.
She smiled a little but shyly buried her face against me, not looking at Leo.
Leo reached out and tentatively touched her little arm but she didn’t turn toward him.
“What can I do?” he worriedly asked.
I smiled at him reassuringly. “Don’t worry. She’ll come around. She’s endured a lot of changes lately and she’s just a bit on the shy side.”
We spoke then of Blue’s appointment with the pediatrician. She had checked out fine physically. Developmentally, she seemed behind in speech. The doctor suggested we keep an eye on this and work with her. I explained to Leo that this didn’t seem to be something to worry about yet and that she would probably catch up.
We all went inside where I began to offer Leo all of his favorite foods. As a mom, it was the best way I knew how to nurture him now that he was grown.
“Thanks, but I’m not hungry,” he said, refusing all manner of food, his expression one of concern.
“Blue will come around. You’ve only just met her.”
He seemed unconvinced. So, I suggested he sit with her on the floor, getting on her level, and playing with her. At first, Blue didn’t play. But when Leo dropped one of her beloved blocks into a hole in the peg toybox, she watched very carefully. Leo picked up another block and made a show of looking at it.
“Hmmmm…. it must not go here,” he murmured as he comically tried to fit the block into the wrong opening. He tried to put it in another opening, which was also incorrect and made a funny face.
Blue giggled and placed her hand next to the right hole.
“That one?” he asked. She laughed again. “Are you sure?”
When she giggled again, he finally did as instructed and the block went in.
“You’re so smart!” Leo exclaimed with a glint in his eyes.
Blue responded beautifully to the praise and Leo finished helping her with the rest of the blocks. As soon as the last block went in, Blue quickly dumped them out again.
As the day progressed, it was clear that these two were taken with each other. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that Leo would treat her well and be attentive.
After lunch, Leo decided he would put Blue down for her nap.
“We set one of the old cribs up in our room,” I told him as he was carrying the child upstairs.
He was gone for a really long time and I worried that maybe he was having difficulty getting her to lie down.
“Where are you going?” Liev asked as I stood up from the chair I’d been occupying in the living room.
“I was just going to see if Leo needs any help. He’s been up there forever.”
Liev shook his head with a small smile. “Memphis, they’re fine. Give him a chance. Sit down and take it easy. I’m sure he’ll be down any minute.”
Slowly, I sat back down.
“Are you going to be okay?” Liev asked after a moment.
Did he have to sound so amused? “Good gravy, Liev. Of course. I’m fine.”
His phone beeped and he slid the screen open to read the text that had come in. “Ah… man. I have to go to the office. One of my clients wants to discuss their case.”
Trying to hide my disappointment, I forced a smile. “I understand.” After having pushed so many cases aside to find Chrissy and Blue, I was just happy he still had any clients left at all.
A few minutes after Liev left, I heard Leo bounding down the stairs. Boy, did I miss that sound, but he definitely wasn’t used to having a napping little one around.
“Hey, where’s dad?” He asked as he sat next to me. He had the strangest smile… almost as if he was happy, yet stunned.
“He had to go to work. Is something going on?”
He took a deep breath. This must be big.
“Leo, just tell me!”
“Okay, okay,” he laughed.
For the next fifteen minutes, he told me about how my sister had taken him to the Sound Pollution Records branch office in the city to meet some guy that she and Mango had been friends with. Apparently, he was some big wig in the music business.
“I was really worried because Desmond Smiley never called me and he’s it, mom.”
“Surely there are other people, other record companies,” I reasoned.
He shook his head. “None as big as this. Besides, once you audition for something like this, there’s no second chance to get it right the next time. If they’ve seen you and didn’t like you, they’re not going to bother with you again.”
He was looking too much like the cat that ate the canary. “So, this Desmond Smiley called you then, I take it?”
“Yes! That’s why I was upstairs for so long.” I was about to ask what Mr. Smiley said, but I didn’t have to because Leo was too excited not to tell me. “He’s offering me a contract, mom! A contract! He seems to think I’m what they need right now.”
“Take a deep breath, Leo,” I instructed. “I know you’re excited, but let’s reason this out. What exactly is in this contract that he wants you to sign?”
I knew he didn’t want me to be reasonable right now; he wanted me to be as excited as he was. Regardless, asking this simple question launched him into a complicated recital of what he’d been told on the phone. He went on about sound recordings, royalties, live performances, exclusivity and advances, but what he was most delighted about was that he was going to be in a band and meeting his band mates very soon. Apparently, there were three studio musicians who were quite experienced even though two of the three were around the same age as Leo. Desmond Smiley wanted to team them up with Leo writing the songs and playing lead guitar.
Then, he dropped the biggest bomb on me. “If I do this, they’re insisting I move to Bridgeport.”
My heart sank and I bowed my head slightly, trying to absorb what he’d just said. Already, I couldn’t stand the thought of him moving to a city bigger than the one near us. What would become of him? When would Liev and I ever get to see him? Silently, I admonished myself because I knew these thoughts were selfish. But my biggest question was, how would Blue do in a place like that?
“I’m sorry. I am really happy for you. It sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity. But do you think moving to Bridgeport is what you should do?”
He shrugged a little bit. “I don’t know. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about this. I was hoping dad would be here, too.”
Me. Too. “What about Blue?”
“I figure I can bring her with me and we’ll be okay.”
“That’s very naive,” I said softly. “You’ve only known her for a few hours. You haven’t really taken care of her. And she’s already been moved around a lot.”
Surprisingly, this didn’t make him angry. By considering what I’d said without becoming mad, he was doing what a parent does; putting his child’s well being before his own. Maybe he had grown up after all.
“I have a lot to learn, I know,” he said. “But shouldn’t I learn by just doing it? I know it won’t be easy.”
“First,” I said, “we need a copy of the contract. I think it’s a good idea for Arthur Benedict to look it over. He doesn’t practice law anymore and usually doesn’t handle these kinds of contracts, but he might, at least, pick up on any red flags we should be aware of.”
He immediately nodded. “Yes, okay.”
“If this contract gets a green light from the him, then I think this is something you can’t possibly let pass by. I’m just not sure what this means for Blue, though.”
“I want her with me.” He was so sure of himself. I don’t think I was ever that confident when I was his age.
“I know you do and that’s understandable. I just think you should give that some thought, though. You have no idea what your life will be like there. You don’t know how busy you’ll be or where you’ll be living. You won’t be able to just take her with you to the studio.”
“Well, what would I do if I can’t bring her with me? It means I can’t do this.”
I bowed my head again. “You could leave her with us,” I said softly.
“Leave her here?” he asked. His expression was a mixture of shock and dismay.
“Yes,” I said, more firmly now. “Only until you’re settled and know what your life is going to be like.”
“I don’t know…. What about dad?”
“I think he’ll agree with me. And you don’t have to decide this right now. It will take some time to get the contract and have it read. Just mull it around until then.”
His eyes softened again and his mouth relaxed. “I’ll mull it over, mom, but I don’t know if I can just leave her.”
Honestly, I didn’t know what was going to happen. But at least he’d agreed to think about it.
We spent the rest of the day catching up on his time at Keniesha’s. It was so funny to hear about some of the things that had happened. What I knew, though, was that I would never be able to repay my sister for all of the things she’d done for me and my family.
Leo’s radiant smile was a testament to Keniesha and his cousins. They had done for him what I couldn’t and it felt really good to know that I had a family that would be there for each other like this.
No matter what decision Leo made regarding Bridgeport and Blue, I knew he’d make it work. He was smart and determined. And he was someone I could be proud of.
“Leo, I’ve never really talked to you about my writing.”
“You mean your journal.”
I nodded. “Yes. It’s something I want to pass on to you. I want you to keep an account of your life the way I did. And I want Blue to take it from you when she’s grown, if she’s able.”
To my surprise, he said, “Aunt Keniesha had me start a journal almost as soon as I got there.”
I held my stomach as I laughed. That sounded just like her! “That’s great!”
He nodded. “I didn’t think it would make a difference, but I really like doing it.”
I can’t even describe how pleasing it was to hear him say this. He would continue what I had started. Or should I say, what Keniesha had started?
Leonardo Prescott Capra was my heir. He would continue the traditions I had put in place for my family and for generations to come. Here before me, was my legacy.
Author’s Note: I wanted to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you for reading, liking and commenting during Generation 1! Without your support and feedback, this would have been a very dull affair! Memphis was such a joy to get to know and write about. She had some adventures, didn’t she? Don’t worry, though, even though Leo is taking over as the heir for Generation 2 (and I have a feeling his life is going to be something else!), Memphis won’t disappear completely. One thing I noticed in game was how much Memphis and Leo laughed when they were together. They enjoyed spending time with one another and it would be a shame if we didn’t get them in the same room again sometimes.
As I am taking a week off, Generation 2 will not begin until July 9. During that time, I will mostly be offline but I will check in when I can.
Thanks again and see you in Chapter 2.1!