The Thanksgiving holiday rolled around before I knew it, and I woke up that morning determined I must mix and mingle with Vivienne and her guests to make sure she was all right. I soon learned that she and Jerome had not been able to get on the same page and were once again spending the holiday apart although in the same town. But Vivienne seemed to have adjusted as she was fairly cheerful while cooking her turkey. It would be her first Thanksgiving holiday without me, visible that is, although she must have suspected that I was there in spirit.
Her lemon tree was loaded with lemons. Her dog's eyes followed her every move as usual when she was home. He was getting old. I was afraid she would miss him when he died more than she did me, she was so attached to him. Her son Earl was playing scrabble on his I-pod. I hoped he was thinking of me as he practiced as I had tried to get all my grandsons interested in scrabble so I would have somebody to play with but he was the only one who had taken any interest in it. We had a few games before I passed on, too few in my estimation, but scrabble did not excite the children compared to video games. It just wasn't violent enough. But I had taken to playing it all the time in my old age in order to rest my eyes from computer work.
I was worried about whether Jerome had gotten too depressed during the holidays, and decided I had better go check on him, too. Rafe had gone out of town to have Thanksgiving with his girlfriend's parents. Rafe had always deferred to girlfriends and wives when it came to holidays. I was used to that, so sometimes a year might go by before I laid eyes on Rafe even though we lived in the same town. He only called on special occasions like my birthday and maybe Christmas. Sometimes I never even heard from him at Christmas, but that was when he would be breaking up with a wife or girlfriend and was extra depressed.
I roamed around Vivienne's a little while, making sure she was now in a good mood with the end of the Thanksgiving festivities in sight. Cooking a turkey was extra stressful for her as she followed recipes and tried to make everything come out cooked at the same time. I saw that her mother-in-law somehow turned off the fancy oven after she put in the rolls. It was a while before Vivienne noticed, so when everything was ready to serve the rolls weren't done which stressed Vivienne, but she was very good and did not snap at her mother-in-law. I knew better than even get near her kitchen when I was alive for fear I would mess things up.
Finally the rolls got done properly when they were half way through the meal. Vivienne's older son, Jefe, was home from college. He was a dear boy, who had such a lovely temperament it was hard for him to cause trouble at all. He always found jobs and earned money to help with his expenses. He was determined to run up as little student debt as possible. His girlfriend was simply lovely. She was a college girl, too.
I could see Jerome talking on the phone when I got to his place. He looked animated and happy which was a big relief. I had hoped he would not take his estrangement from Vivienne too hard my first year missing from the scene, but maybe he reasoned that since I wasn't there, maybe they ought to celebrate holidays apart, since they had always clashed on something or other while trying to celebrate together.
I did not know quite why myself. Maybe Vivienne and Jerome were too much a like or too different. Take your pick. I happened to look out at Rafe's pool and saw a man sitting at a table by the pool. I wondered idly who it was and then was shocked to see with a second look that it was Paul, Jerome's and Rafe's father from the spirit world!
The first thing I thought of was whether Jerome's dog had seen him, too. I wondered how I could find out since she was lying beside Jerome so she could touch him now and then and make sure he was okay as he talked on the phone. If he got upset it was her job to lick his hand and comfort him from whatever blow he had received over the phone.
I decided while he was still talking I would just go on out and say hello to Paul.
"I wondered when I was going to see you," I said as I went through the door. Paul looked up and smiled. He seemed fairly glad to see me. Or at least he wasn't hostile.
"I thought I would drop by and see how Jerome was making it through the holiday. They have always been hard for him," he said.
"It looks like he is going to be all right now," I said cautiously. "How are you, Paul? They are still looking for your bones. I wish you could tell them where they are so they could give up this six year search."
"Don't worry," said Paul, "When the seven years is up, they are going to have to notify the government. The gravy train will stop. My bank account will drop to zero."
"Good thing there is a cut off point when there is a missing body," I said. "Although Jerome does not expect to see any of the money that should have accumulated but has probably been spent."
"That's what you get when you have kids with two wives," said Paul. "I have told Maylene she should love her brothers, but she couldn't seem to do it, and she is afraid of Jerome when he loses his temper."
"My daughter by my second husband and Jerome clash, too. You see Jerome spent Thanksgiving alone because Vivienne did not want him to arrive late. That's not how she does things."
"I knew he was alone," said Paul. "I tried to stay alive as long as I could, but I took a wrong turn and never could find my way home again."
This seemed to be his idea of a joke, so I said nothing, as I did not think it was all that funny.
Just then Jerome opened the door and came out and his dog Jilly immediately spotted me and barked! She might have been barking at Paul, too, as I am sure he was just as visible to her seeing eyes as I was.
"Mom? Are you here?" said Jerome, peering around. "Have you come back to check on Sonny? I am all right."
I felt uncomfortable with him not sensing his dad was there, too, although I had gotten tired of him feeling so haunted by his dad when he was doing that show about him all over the country. But his dad had been gone longer than I had, I was sure, and he seemed used to being ignored. He didn't act like it bothered him.
"His dog has taken to seeing me," I said. "That's how Jerome knows I am here. I am sure he can see you, too."
Paul looked interested at that bit of information. "Is that right? Trust Jerome to find a dog who can see spirits, considering who his mother is."
Jilly laid down by Jerome and put her nose on his foot. She seemed resigned to spirits surrounding Jerome and made no further protests.
"Mom," said Jerome, "I know you are here because of Jilly's bark. I know her barks. She just as well have said, your mom is here, Jerome. I have felt Dad around all day. He doesn't want me to be lonely on Thanksgiving either."
Paul perked up. I thought he was even tearing up, he seemed so moved by the fact that Jerome had sensed his presence.
"I hope you and Dad stay friends in the hereafter just as you were here," said Jerome. "I would appreciate it if you would try to find out where he lay down and died, so we can get this long ordeal over with."
Paul laughed, but shook his head. "How in the hell does he think you can tell him, if me and all my relatives have not been able to get across to him where my remains are? It's not easy for a spirit to tell those left behind something they need to know. He will just have to move on. How long can you keep looking for bones anyway?"
Paul sounded exasperated enough that I did not think it would be wise for me to try to find out anything today. I was just going to settle for seeing him. I told Paul that I was going to leave to go check on some more relatives maybe.
Paul didn't say anything. He just sat there, so I figured he would stick around Rafe's place now, maybe even for a few days. That way he could see Rafe, too, when he came back. I was sure Rafe had to go back to work on Monday.
I went out through the fence and down the road, wondering what other great adventure was going to befall me now in the hereafter.