By E Walk
(Copyrighted by the author)
Edited by Radio Rancher
Chapter 4 - The In-laws
I woke up early and decided to go running, well jogging to be more precise, to clear my mind. This was going to be a busy day and I needed to make sure that the cobwebs were all cleared away. I was feeling sorry for myself and angry that I had not realized that Lisa was planning to leave us. I had no idea that she hated the five of us so much. It sure didn't do much for my ego. I made up my mind while I was jogging that I was going to make sure that the four boys had the best that I could do for them. I wasn't thinking about material things, but love and support.
When I got back to the house, Bill was pulling up, "Why didn't you tell me you were into running, I would have come and gone running with you."
I laughed, "Bill, I wasn't running, I was doing a slow jog and exercising my mind trying to think of everything that I needed to do and reminding myself that I needed to spend more quality time with the four boys."
Bill put his arm around me and all he said was, "Amen."
When we walked into the house, we could smell the odors coming from the kitchen. We walked into the kitchen and both Bill and I hugged Mrs. Archer. "Good morning Mom, I'm going to go take a shower and get ready to face the day. Bill, why don't go make sure the boys are up and getting ready?"
Mrs. Archer looked at us, "You have exactly twenty two minutes, so you'd better get a move on."
I quickly showered and got ready for the day. Since I wasn't planning to meet with clients, I just put on a sweater over a shirt and my khaki pants.
As I was getting ready to go down the stairs, Bill walked in, "Les, are you going to be okay with taking care of the rest of the arrangements by yourself today? I really need to spend the morning at the church, but call me if you need me." Bill hugged me and it felt so good.
We had no sooner started to eat, than the phone rang, I answered, "This is Les Phillips, how may I help you? ... Oh, good morning, Mrs. Jackson. ... Oh you saw Lisa's obituary in the morning paper. ... We're fine Mrs. Jackson. Father Bill's mother is going to be living with us. In fact she moved in yesterday. ... Thank you for calling."
I sat down and started to eat, "That was Mrs. Jackson from the church. She wanted to know if there was anything that she could do or that we needed."
Bill looked at me, "That sounded like something Claire would do. She is always helping people anyway she can."
The phone rang again, "This is Les Phillips. ... Oh hi, Mr. Kahler. What can I do for you? ... Yes, I think her hairdresser was a Marco something. I'll see if I can find his name and number. ... The grave has been dug. ... I'll go make arrangements for a spray of flowers for the casket this morning, since I requested no flowers. ... I'll stop by with the information after I get the boys off to school. See you then."
Mrs. Archer stood, "I'll take the boys to school. Now eat your breakfast. It is already cold."
I hugged the boys and wished them a good day as they went out the door
Bill stood, "I'll see you at George's office at 1:30."
Everyone had left and the stupid phone started to ring again. I might as well forget about eating. "Les Phillips speaking. ... Oh, hi, Mother Witmer. ... Yes, all the arrangements are made. ... Someone is living in the guest bedroom but, I'll sleep in family room in the basement, and you and Dad can use the master bedroom. ... Mrs. Archer is staying in the guest bedroom since she is going to be helping with the boys, especially while I'm working. ... Oh, Diane and Paul are planning to come as well as John and Paula. Are they bringing the children? ... Do I need to make motel reservations? ... Oh, they have already taken care of that. Okay, see you tomorrow afternoon, about four."
I just realized, I hadn't called my brother and sister and told them about Lisa's death. I did so and we now had two more families coming. Thank goodness none of the families would be bringing their children.
I had just gotten the kitchen cleaned when the phone rang again and I almost didn't answer it, but I did, "This is Les Phillips, how may I help you? ... Oh hi, Mrs. Carson. ... Ma'am, I think it would be better to not have a meal. The viewing and funeral are going to be difficult enough for the boys. A luncheon would just prolong the grieving process. They are too young to realize everything that has happened. ... Thank you for your kind offer."
Mrs. Archer returned, "Mom Archer, Lisa's parents will be staying with us for at least tomorrow night. They will be sleeping in my room and I'll sleep in the basement. I hate to ask this, but when the boys get home this afternoon, would you make sure that they have the clothes they will need for the viewing and the funeral? I just hope I haven't forgotten anything. We probably should sit down after dinner tonight to make sure I have everything covered. I am going to stop by the office after the meeting with Mr. Degan. Thanks for being here. You are a life saver."
I gathered the information I need and left for the mortuary after I hugged Mrs. Archer.
I completed the business at the mortuary and then went to the florist to order two small sprays of yellow roses. One that said, 'We will miss you Mother' and it was signed with the four boys' names. The second spray said, 'To my wife Lisa. May you rest in rest peace. Les.'
I drove by the cemetery and looked at the plot we had purchased when we were first married. A hole had been dug and there was a tarpaulin over it to keep the area dry in case of rain.
I stopped at the deli and had a sandwich before going to George Degan's office. When Bill, Ken and I were all in place, George joined us around the table. He started by looking at me. "Before we get down to the business at hand, Les, I must tell you that I have seen a lot of Don's programs, but Darrin sure made the show last night one of the best he has ever put on."
"Having said that, Les and Ken, I hate to say this, but someone must have been looking out for you. You were both about to lose a lot, if I read the information correctly. As it is, you stand to lose nothing but a wife and a lover. Les, I have contacted your insurance company as well as the insurance company of the other driver involved. I have obtained an accident report from the police, and it shows that the other driver was totally at fault. Again guys, just thank your lucky stars."
George wasn't done, "Les, because of Lisa's last will, everything that is recovered will come to you. But I suggest to you that some of the funds actually belong to Ken. What you do is between the two of you. One last thing, Les, I suggest that we get together at the first possible time to schedule an appointment for you to update your will to make sure that your four beautiful sons are cared for properly."
We realized that we had been dismissed and we started to go our separate ways. Ken stopped me, "Les, would you be offended if I attend the viewing and the memorial service."
I shook my head, "I have no problem with you being there Ken, as long as you don't make a scene in front of my sons."
Bill walked me to my car, "Les, are you going to be okay? You are acting like you are in a suspended state and just going through the routine."
I glared at Bill, "Father, I just want to throw you against the car and kiss you until you yell uncle, but I'll restrain my base instincts and just shake your hand. I love you, my friend."
Bill looked at me with his big brown puppy eyes, "You wouldn't hurt a man of the cloth, would you? Remember, you are mentioned in my diary as the 'Elephant Man'."
I laughed and hugged Bill, "Thanks Bill. I do love you. We'll just have to see what we can do, after this ordeal is over."
I went to the office and Linda was surprised to see me. When I walked in, I asked, "Doesn't anyone ever work around here? Linda, is there anything I need to take care of. If I go to the house, the phone will be ringing off the hook and I really don't want to think about what is happening right now. I need something to take my mind off of what has been happening."
Linda looked a little surprised, "Shouldn't you be taking care of the boys?"
"Heck, they don't need me; they have Grandmother Archer taking care of them. The boys already love her. She is Father Archer's Mother and she has moved in, so she has something to do."
Linda looked at me like I was some kind of flake, "I know Barbara. How in the world did you get her to move in so fast?"
"Linda, it's a long story. She is just what the doctor ordered. What am I going to be facing next week when I return. Is there anything I need to prepare ahead of time?"
Linda handed me the schedule that she had made. I looked at it and admonished, "I don't see any bathroom or lunch breaks scheduled here."
"That's what you get for missing an entire week of work. I will say this for your clients: they have all been very supportive. None of them have complained about the delays, so grin and bear it, Mister."
I hugged Linda, went into the office and looked at the messages. There was one that caught my eye. It was from someone named Greg Columbo. All the message said was "call me at your earliest convenience."
I called the number on the message, "This is Les Phillips, may I speak to Mr. Columbo? I have a message from him, asking that I call him."
A voice came on, "This is Columbo, how may I help you?"
"Mr. Columbo, this is Les Phillips, you asked that I call you."
"Thanks for calling, Mr. Phillips; I wanted to visit with you to see if you would have any issues with me attending the viewing or funeral, since I was having an affair with your wife. I really would like to meet you and see if you are the bastard that Lisa said you were."
I was sitting there shaking, "Mr. Columbo, I may be a jerk, but I am not a bastard. I have no problem if you attend the viewing or funeral, as long as you don't make a scene in front of my four sons."
Mr. Columbo replied, "Mr. Phillips, I have no intention of embarrassing you or your sons. I just want to meet the people that caused Lisa to hate you so much."
I was at a loss for words, "Mr. Columbo, I will be looking forward to visiting with you tomorrow."
That was a kick on the backside. I walked into the front office, "Linda, I'm leaving. Be sure to call me if something important happens. I am going to need some distractions from everything."
I was driving home, wondering what other surprises might surface. I had no more than walked in, than Mom Archer yelled, "Les, turn the spigot off. We have more food than we will ever eat."
I had no idea what she was talking about until I went into the kitchen. The counter was covered with all sorts of goodies and then she opened the refrigerator and freezer and they were indeed full. I looked at her, "Mom, what do we do with all of this food. You are right, there is no way we can eat it all."
"Let's wait until Bill gets here to see what he suggests. I have been making a list of what everyone brought. Most of the people brought cards and I marked what they brought on the envelopes. By the way, the boys desperately need some new clothes. Almost everything they have, other than their school clothes are too small for them. After dinner, I suggest that you and Bill take the boys and get them some proper dress clothes and shoes."
'Wait a minute, when am I going to have time to relax?' I guess it won't be very soon. Denny and Danny came skipping into the room, "Daddy, would it be okay if we went on our class field trip to the Children's Museum on Friday afternoon? If we go to school right after the memorial service, we can be there in time to go. We will need to have a sack lunch, and we are going to eat at the Central Park Mall. Dad, please say it is okay."
I looked at the twins, "I will need to evaluate your request to see if it is feasible."
Denny looked at me, "Daddy, what did you just say?"
"I said, I would need to think about it, and I did, so we will try to make sure you get to school on time."
The boys both hugged me. Danny stopped, "Daddy, you need to sign our permission slips, and we each need $3.50 to pay for the trip. Would it be okay if Grandma Archer went along as a chaperon?"
"Guys, you need to talk to Grandma Archer, to see if she would like to go as a chaperon. I am not her boss. Now, get me the slip that I need to sign and I will get the money."
Bill saved the day by arriving, and Mrs. Archer announced, "Dinner will be ready in 30 minutes once I decide which casserole we are going to eat. Les, answer the door if someone comes, I'm sure there will be more food arriving tonight, if today was any indication. We may all be sleeping downstairs with you."
Sure enough, we had four more people bring food before we could even sit down to eat. As we were eating, Bill suggested, "Why don't we take some of this food to the church and store it there until we can decide what to with it. Les, just make sure you keep all of the cards with notations so you can write proper thank you notes. The church office was extremely busy today answering questions about what the funeral arrangements were."
Mrs. Archer interrupted, "Don't forget, you need to take the four boys and get them some proper dress clothes. I'll man the fort here tonight while you all are gone."
Darrin looked at Mrs. Archer, "Grandmother, don't you mean you will female the fort while we males are gone?"
That was just the note that set us off on a laughing spree, which I think we all needed.
After dinner we loaded some of the food into the van with the boys' help, took it to the church and put it in the freezer that was free. We took the boys shopping at a nice store and as they were trying on clothes, Bill and I were watching. Bill leaned over to me and whispered, "It is easy to see that the boys got their sexual equipment genes from their Daddy."
I whispered back, "I guess that is what a man of the cloth does his training to detect. Now, would you stop it, or I may have to take your clothes off of you in front of the boys and check you out."
When we got back to the house, Mrs. Archer was beside herself, "Les, you need to tell someone to stop bringing food. Les, you and Bill need to take some more food to the church, or wherever. We don't want it to go bad; I'll get the boys ready for bed while you are gone. Surely no one else will be bringing food this late."
Bill and I filled the last spaces at the church with the things that could be frozen or refrigerated. On the way back to the house, Bill looked at me, "Les, I don't know who all of these things are from, but you must have a lot of connections. Surely all of this didn't come from the church."
"Bill, I don't know either, I guess we will need to look at the cards and notes." I answered as I patted him on the thigh.
Bill reacted quickly, "Les, this not the time for that."
"Bill, could you ever love me and my boys?"
Bill took a deep breath, "Les, I already do, and I would love to lay in bed with both of us naked, but we need to wait until the appropriate time. Your wife, so to speak, just died in a car accident. Please let things proceed naturally and let the four guys be the guiding force."
When we arrived at the house, Mother Archer declared, "I'm going to bed. The four young men are settled, although you might want to go kiss them goodnight. Tomorrow is going to be another trying day." She hugged both of us and disappeared up the stairs.
I started to look at the notes and cards and realized that I didn't know a lot of the people who had delivered food. Bill was at a loss as to who some of the people were too. Finally, Bill recommended, "Les, let's do this when we are fresh and after the funeral. It looks to me like you are going to be busy writing notes of appreciation."
Bill stood to leave and I hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. He pulled me close and hugged me tight and kissed me on the lips. "Les, I'll see you at breakfast. Now go get some sleep. You have two grueling days ahead of you. Keep up the good front for the boys."
Thursday was anything but normal. There were so many phone calls that I thought the phone was attached my ears. My in-laws arrive shortly after four and Mrs. Witmer started, "Les, we stopped by the funeral home on our way here. Why aren't there more flowers?"
"Mother Witmer, I specifically said in the obituary announcement that in lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial to Saint Mary's church or your favorite charity. Lisa is gone, and she can't appreciate the flowers. Who is going to receive any benefit from the flowers once the funeral is over?"
Mrs. Witmer wasn't done, "Why is Lisa covered with only her head showing? She looks like a mummy."
I was beginning to get angry, "Mrs. Witmer, Lisa's body was so badly mangled that the undertaker recommended that we have a closed casket. Father Bill from the church recommend otherwise, so that the boys and the family could have closure."
Mrs. Witmer pushed, "Okay, so what are the plans for tomorrow. Is there a luncheon to celebrate Lisa's life?"
I was getting frustrated, "Mrs. Witmer, funerals are not about celebrating someone's death, but rather to help the families accept that they have been left behind. I chose not to have a luncheon because my sons do not need to be reminded that their mother is gone. That is why we are having a very simple memorial service. In fact, my four sons asked not to have to go to the gravesite, and I acquiesced to their request. They have had to endure too much already."
"I am sorry if you don't approve of what I have done, but my family comes first and I need to take care of them, the best I can. I know my sons. You don't. So if you don't like what I have done, you can leave."
I guess I lost my cool.
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Well, that was a wonderful, although quite a busy, chapter, wasn't it? It looks to me as though Lisa was quite a busy woman. I wonder if she had any more lovers on the side?
She certainly had a busy time juggling between all her affairs, so to speak. I kinda see where she gets her attitude, considering the way her mother was acting. I wonder who all the people were who brought food. I know when MY Mom died; we had food arrive in huge quantities. We ended up giving people food to take home with them. Les seems to be overwhelmed. Luckily he has Bill and his mother to help him cope. I strongly suspect that Bill and Les will find a way to be together once all the hoopla settles down. At least I hope so.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
Well, well it looks like not only was Lisa playing both ends against the middle; But she was playing the middle against both end as well.
Les is extremely lucky he does have Bill and Mrs. Archer to help him through all the turmoil; I would have cracked already.
Both Ed and The Radio Rancher touched on a point that needs to be expanded upon. In small towns across America neighbors, friends, churchgoers, Lady Elks etc. bring food to the families who have had a terrible occurrence occur. I can't tell you how much that simple act can mean to families going through the pain of loosing a parent or other family member. My family lives in a small town in Oregon and when my Mom died in October and again when my Dad died this February the food poured in as in this story. It is such a warm feeling to know that cooking for that period of time is already taken care of. To go on taking care of the necessary things without having to worry about how to feed the arriving relatives made things go a lot smoother. So thanks to all of the wonderful people who still take their time to care for their friends and their families; it is gratefully appreciated.
The Story Lover