Junior deals with grandmother’s engagement

Story by Carlye Hudspeth

“Carlye, I need to talk to you for a minute.”

I shuffled into the kitchen and took a seat. I squeezed the rim of the chair tightly, anticipating an unpleasant evening. My mom rarely calls me into the kitchen, and when she does, it isn’t pretty.

I wasn’t quite sure of what I’d done wrong, but I had a few ideas. I quickly developed several excuses.

“Mom, I swear. That teacher hates me…”

“I couldn’t clean my room because of all the homework I had last night.”

“I could’ve sworn I put up the dishes…”

“Did you really ask me to fold the laundry? I must’ve been asleep.”

I thought that I was prepared for just about anything. I thought wrong.

“Cackie’s engaged.”

***

I’m 17, I’m in high school, and I’m female. With that being said, most of my ideas about how “love” and “relationships” should be, have derived from romantic comedies and sappy chick flicks. You’ve probably seen the kind of movies I’m talking about. The ones where a girl falls in love with a guy who falls in love with another girl, leaving the first girl confused and depressed, and just when things seem hopeless, she meets a guy, who at first is heartbroken because his ex-fiancé left him for his brother, causing him to hate the female species, until he meets the girl who is in love with a guy who is in love with another girl, and somewhere within the last 10 minutes of the two-hour movie, they realize that they had been in love with each other the whole time and run off and plan an elaborate wedding, even though they’ve only known each other for about two weeks. Happy ending. Though the plot of the film I just described is highly unlikely, I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve seen with roughly the same storyline. In most of them, the characters are both young and beautiful. I have yet to see a cliché romantic film whose main characters are in their 70s, and certainly not one starring my grandmother.

***

A few weeks after the conversation in the kitchen, my family and I drove to Arlington, TX to visit some of my relatives. I was not looking forward to seeing Cackie and Bill together.

“Carlye, I swear you’ll like him,” my mom said during the 4-hour car ride.

Yeah right. I hated Bill before I ever had the chance to meet him.

“He makes your grandmother really happy.”

Oh, so we’re not enough?

“Just keep an open mind. She’s been alone for about 14 years now..”

Then why change things? I thought things were perfectly fine before..

I’d seen Bill once or twice while attending my grandmother’s church, but never made a point of talking to him. How was I supposed to know he’d propose to my Cackie?

We pulled into a family friend’s driveway, one that had become familiar to me over the years.

“Okay, kids. Get your stuff outta the car,” my dad said as he opened his door.

I dragged my feet across the damp sidewalk.

I am NOT calling him grandpa.

In my eyes, Bill was stealing my grandmother. A little over 14 years ago, my grandfather, Ruel Hudspeth, passed away. I was only 2 at the time, so I don’t remember much about him.

My grandmother never dated after his passing. I’d grown up with her all to myself. But then he came. And after 7 months, he proposed. Not cool.

I neared the porch to a family friend’s house, following closely behind the rest of “the Hudspeth clan.” The house was filled with laughter and flowing conversations. In the far left corner, I heard my dad telling a story about his childhood for the millionth time. My relatives all laughed in unison, as if they hadn’t heard it before. I sat alone on the piano bench.

After about 5-or-so minutes, my aunt made an attempt to engage in a conversation with me.

“You have gotten to be so beautiful,” she said with a smile. “Boys must be pounding at your door.”

“Nope.”

“Well, I bet they’re just shy,” she said, attempting to make the conversation a little less awkward.

“Doubt it.” And with that, the conversation ended. I didn’t want to communicate with anyone. I wasn’t in the mood.

About two seats down from me sat Bill. He didn’t look as evil as I’d hoped. His grey hair was neatly slicked back. His eyes looked twice as large as they actually were, due to his thick glasses. He had a small stature. He looked sweet, like a grandpa. But I was always taught not to judge a book by its cover.

***

I spent the rest of the night stalking Cackie and Bill. I watched as he walked her to the dinner table and pulled out her chair, motioning for her to sit by him. I watched my grandmother’s face light up as he reached for her hand. I watched as he gave her a hug before she left, causing a smile to stretch across her creased face. I watched my grandmother be truly happy, happier than I’d ever seen her before. She deserved this.

It wasn’t scripted. It wasn’t fake. In other words, it wasn’t anything like the movies, because it had something even the most well-planned, well-acted films of all time can’t touch; it was real.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t see Cackie  as “my grandmother.” That night, I saw her as Cackie, the woman who had finally found a man that treated her the right way. One that gave her butterflies in her stomach when he passed by her in church. One that made her blush, as if she were a lovesick high schooler. One that she’d been waiting on for years. I came to the realization that age doesn’t necessarily play a part on whether or not a person was capable of loving. After all, age is nothing but  a number.