I signed my first autograph this morning!
The experience of what I saw as a great milestone on my road to stardom had made me much less melancholy than I might otherwise have been on my eldest son’s twenty-first birthday. I was now considered a local phenomenon, and was being invited more frequently to perform at venues around town. Tonight, however, I was taking the evening off work, so I could be at home to witness my son’s transformation into an adult.
As I passed through the living room, I noticed Bianca and Cody engrossed in a racing game they were playing on the television. “Pause the game, kids,” I called. “It’s time for Aidan to blow out his candles!”
“One second, Mum,” Bianca responded, not taking her eyes off the screen.
“Now, please.” I went ahead into the kitchen to get the cake out of the fridge and set out the candles. Bianca and Cody followed a few minutes later, and the whole family – including Bridie, who happened to be home for one evening – gathered around to sing and cheer Aidan on as he blew out the candles and made a wish. As he grew, I thought he looked more handsome than ever, and I couldn’t have felt more proud to be his mother.
It was not long after Aidan’s birthday that Ian and I started to really develop grey hairs ourselves. I watched my husband as he got older, his hairline receded and wrinkles became more pronounced. Some may not have thought him much to look at, but to me he was still the same charming man I had fallen in love with all those years ago.
My hair had also started to turn grey, but I made it a habit to consistently keep it dyed to its original colour. I hoped that it would give me more success in the music industry if I still looked as young as possible. My kids all thought it was ridiculous, but what did they know? Maybe they would understand better when they got to my age!
Now that they were both legal adults, I had noticed that things between Aidan and Violet had been getting more serious lately. They had been together for five years now, with rarely a quarrel or bad patch to speak of between them. I was little surprised, therefore, when I spotted Aidan sneaking out of the house one afternoon wearing a suit and looking more nervous than I had ever seen him. I smiled to myself, knowing for sure what was going on when I heard Bianca whisper a “Good luck!” as he passed her. I definitely knew my children better than they gave me credit for.
Today was the day. I had never felt more nervous in my life, and I was glad that Bianca had helped me get everything ready the night before so that all I had to do today was take a shower and go out to meet Violet.
I drove to the place myself, not wanting to risk the unpredictability of public transport on such an important day. The location where I had asked her to meet was the most beautiful park in the city, surmounted by a huge glass dome and filled with flowers and butterflies of every vibrant colour imaginable. We had never been there together before, but I felt sure that Violet would love it.
I arrived a whole half hour early, and sat on a bench to wait for her while I tried to calm my nerves. I fingered the velvet box in my pocket anxiously. Was it too soon? What if she said no? Would I be able to handle the rejection? Would our relationship be able to handle it? I mentally slapped myself. Pull yourself together, man. There was no way I would let that happen; I couldn’t bear to let her out of my life. If there was one thing I was sure of, it was that I was completely in love with this girl. I had never felt so sure… or so afraid.
I heard footsteps and jerked my head towards the park entrance. There she was – had she always been this beautiful? – and here she was, in my arms. I smiled as I held her, and my anxiety seemed to melt away. No matter what happened, I would not let anything come between us.
“I have something for you,” I murmured as we drew apart, and watched her lovely eyes light up as I pulled out the bunch of red roses I had brought with me and held them up for her to see.
“They’re beautiful, Aidan!” she gasped.
“You’re beautiful,” I countered with a smile as I drew her into my arms again.
My smiles did not fool Violet. She knew me too well – I should have known she would guess that something was off.
“Aidan? Is everything okay?” she asked, her pretty face falling in concern.
I smiled again, more genuinely this time, and stroked her cheek reassuringly.
“Everything is fine,” I assured her. “More than fine, in fact. I have another surprise for you…” I bent down on one knee in front of her, and pulled the tiny velvet box from my back pocket with shaking hands.
“My sweetest Violet,” I began, doing my best to look her in the eyes, but it was like staring into a bright light, “I have loved you from the moment I first met you. Your sweetness, gentleness and warmth have enriched my life as long as we have been together. I want to be with you like this forever. Will you do me the honour of marrying me?”
I paused, and the world stood still as I waited for her answer. I finally managed to look her in the eyes, and saw that they had filled with tears – of joy, I desperately hoped. She looked like she was too overcome to speak. She opened her mouth, and I held my breath, waiting.
“Yes!” she managed to gasp, “Yes, Aidan, of course I’ll marry you!”
I smiled, a real smile, and felt that my heart was going to burst from the joyful emotions coursing through me. I slipped the engagement ring carefully onto her finger and watched her adoringly as she held it at arm’s length, admiring it from every angle.
I stood up and reached out to her, and she threw herself into my arms. I had never felt so happy in my life as I did holding Violet in my arms, stroking her, loving her. The woman who meant everything to me. My fiancée.
While Aidan was out with Violet, the rest of the family who were clueless as to what was happening (with the exception of myself and Bianca) went about their daily struggles and triumphs. Cody followed his brother in ageing up, cutting his hair shorter and taking on a more distinctive “bad boy” look now that he was a teen. On the inside, though, he was still the quiet achiever he had always been.
Of my four children, Cody and Bridie definitely had the worst relationship. Both were a little more hot-tempered than their siblings, and with their vastly different values and interests the two got into petty arguments with each other several times daily. After a while, the rest of the family learned to just ignore them and let them work things out on their own, for fear of being caught in the middle of a heated conflict.
As the school year drew to a close, I received several letters from the school (one for each of the twins and myself) to remind us that the high school prom was just around the corner. Bridie had already secured a date from among her wide circle of friends, but Bianca had planned to go alone until I convinced her to take Cody as her date instead, so that he could get to know some of the people at the high school. Being the good sister she was, she agreed.
I bought new outfits for all three of the kids to wear to the prom, although Cody took a lot of convincing to get past his nervousness at going to the high school for the first time before the new school term had even begun.
Since Bridgeport was a celebrity city, it was popular for the high school kids to hire celebrity limousines to take them to the prom. Bridie had already arranged for a limo to pick up herself and her friends, and I managed to convince her to let her siblings go with them since there was plenty of space left over. At 7pm, the limo arrived outside our house to pick up the teens and I retreated inside, resolved to enjoy a rare quiet evening alone before they returned home five hours later.
Bianca told me when they got back, laughing, how she and Cody had been awarded “cutest couple” at the prom. They each brought home a lightweight metal crown as their prize, which I proudly displayed on the dresser in the boys’ room, insisting in spite of their protests that they would thank me later for keeping them as a memento of the evening. Mothers always know best, right?