I woke in a room that was bathed in moonlight and looked around feeling confused. Where was I? Then I realized I was in my old room at Granny’s cottage. The last two weeks I had been having the same dream that seemed so real. Each time I watched Granny, as a young girl, walk around a rose garden with her Grandmother. When I looked at the clock it was after midnight and knew Matilda, Granny’s companion, would be sound asleep. I slipped out of bed and put on my light cotton robe and shuffled to the doorway guided by the moonlight. It would be impossible to get back to sleep for a while.
I stepped around bags and boxes that cluttered the living room as I went to the kitchen. Did the old photos, that Matilda and I looked through, trigger this dream or not? The dream had started after we buried Granny. The garden I saw in my dreams was like the one in the photos. I put the kettle on before picking up Granny’s diary.
If you are now reading this you will know that I have departed from this life. This diary was given to me by my Grandmother McKay but I never used it. She always encouraged me to write down my thoughts but I couldn’t see why? What was the point of writing things down when you could talk about them? Recently I have felt the urge to write out things I want to talk about but can’t.
You would have liked your Great, Great Grandmother because she was a jolly person. She loved her garden and roses. They were her pride and joy. But alas I don’t have her knack and only one climbing rose has survived over the years. There are too many trees growing which provide shade but not the right environment for roses. I have won prizes for my ferns, bleeding hearts and columbines but roses always die at my hands.
I set the diary down when the kettle started to whistle. I went back to my room with my steaming cup of hot chocolate and Granny’s diary. Granny and I had been close but she had never mentioned the rose, at all. I wonder why? I am Gloria McKay named after my Great, Great Grandmother McKay. How I miss Granny who was my mama, Granny and best friend depending on the need each day. Everything in the house reminds me of her. The tattered album lay open on the desk, tucked under the eaves, with the picture of the rose garden taunting me. I curled up on the window seat with my hot mug in one hand and Granny’s diary in the other.
Grandfather brought Grandmother a new rose bush the afternoon of my sixth birthday. It had pale pink blossoms and was covered with buds. Grandmother had smiled and said that the rose was for me because I was the light in her life. They planted it that day and within a few weeks it was climbing up the brick wall. I spent most of my childhood here with my grandparents while my parents traveled around the world. I hardly knew then because on one of those trips they died in an accident. That was the year Grandfather bought the rose as a memorial to my parents but Grandmother said it was for me. I was all they had left of their son, my father.
I put the diary down. Why that must be the rose that flourishes there still? The morning sun always shines the brightest in that corner. Granny had always said it was a special rose and she loved it so. So Granny never knew her parents and that was one of the special bonds we shared. I never knew my parents either. Mama was young when she joined the angels.
In my dream Great, Great Grandmother and Granny walked hand in hand towards the rose that glistened in the early morning dew and the garden looked magical in the early light. In my dream they were laughing as they walked along hand in hand. Granny always had a smile for everyone. Why was I having this dream? Matilda said she remembered my Great, Great Grandmother.
She was a sweet lady who always helped those around her without much thought to her own discomforts. My eyes filled with tears and I cupped the warm mug in my hands for a minute before picking up the diary. I flipped through it skipping many years and came upon another entry that surprised me.
I remember the day your mama, Francesco, came to me almost in tears. You see her boyfriend, your father, wasn’t going to have anything to do with her or you. Francesco cried for hours that night leaning on my shoulder but I declared my support for her and you. When time came for you to be born we were thrilled and loved the little bundle of joy that we held dearly.
I came back to the present with a jolt. My mama. Granny had never said much about her. What had happened? Was Granny trying to tell me, finally? All I had been told was that mama had died young but nothing else.
I continued to read as I sipped my hot chocolate. Everything went well for the first couple of years but then unfortunately my beloved Francesca became very ill and no amount of nursing on my part or medicine brought her back to me. As she was passing from this world I promised her that I would always love and look after you no matter what. The climbing rose in the corner was always her favorite. It was almost as if my mama’s spirit lived in Francesca. i have tenderly looked after that rose bush all these years and it is the only one that thrives under my care. You have always been a bright beam of light in my life and I love you with all my heart. I wish you had known your mama but that wasn’t meant to be. You have found this diary so you must have found your mama’s things that I put away for you. Please forgive an old woman’t tendency to hang on to articles and keep them to herself.
I finished my hot chocolate and put down the diary. What was the connection to those dreams and Granny’s diary? The diary hidden under the eave in the garret with a box of momentous that contained photo albums. Why had they been left there? Had that memory been too painful for her to deal with at the time? As I looked out the window I noticed the rose bush in full bloom. Ir was early this year.
My darling remember that your Mama loved you with all her heart. You are like her in many ways. You are also a lot like your father. All will be revealed about who he is. His family lives in the village and have never acknowledged you nor will they. In disclosing his name I don’t want you to get your hopes up about getting any recognition from him or his family. Yes, he still lives and you have seen him every day of your life. He lives in a mansion on the hill above Oak Park.
What was Granny getting at? Was my biological father nearby all these years? Did he even know that I existed? I picked up the diary again.
If you are wondering if he knows about you? The answer is yes. He always walks on the other side of the street when he sees us. There has never been any support emotionally or financially. Believe it my dear you don’t need the anguish he would cause you if you try to approach him. Of course that is up to you but his mother made it plain as day that the family wouldn’t have anything to do with an out of wedlock child. If you think about it I think you know who I am talking about. He is from one of the most prominent families in town.
I set the diary down for a minute as I pondered the things that were written inside. Why had Granny never mentioned any of this? Was it too painful? Matilda must have know but has never said anything either. Why was it always hidden? I picked up the diary to continue reading.
I know that I have been beating around the bush about who your father is. The Conner family was one of the founding families in Golder and there isn’t a day goes by that they don’t rub it in.
I paused in my reading. Those snobs. I am related to them. Oh Gross!!! Hannah Connor had been in my class and was such a snob. I had never been invited to any of her parties. This used to hurt when I was little but now I just wanted to be left alone. They were all full of sympathy at the funeral and luncheon afterwards that they insisted on hosting. Matilda and I would have preferred a quiet little luncheon here among Granny’s close friends. I picked up the diary and continued to read.
My dear your father is Jonathan Connor and he married Amelia Howard daughter of his father’s partner Frank Howard. Both families think they own the whole village and don’t let anyone forget it.
I looked up with tears in my eyes. Oh, Granny didn’t you think I could have dealt with this information. It would have been so much easier to handle all of this if I had heard everything from you in person. I cannot stand those people and would never in a million years have ever thought I was related to the biggest snobs around. I turned back to the diary to finish reading.
I am sorry my dear that you have to hear this in this manner but I could never bring myself to bring up the subject. Francesca never wanted you to know who your father was. She was dead set against you finding out. His name isn’t on your birth certificate. As you know it says father unknown. It isn’t listed anywhere that he is your father.So you see no one would ever believe you anyway. I hope you always remember how loved you have been both by me and Matilda, who adores you.
I closed the diary before going back to bed and slept a deep dreamless sleep. The sun was streaming in the window when I woke the next morning. I slipped into jeans and sweatshirt and went into the kitchen where Matilda was making double, chocolate banana muffins which were my favorite. I poured a cup of coffee as I looked out the window at the climbing rose in the far corner and smiled.
“Good morning. Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Everything’s fine. Thank you for showing me where Granny’s diary and Mama’s things were.”
“You read it then.”
“I did and I understand.”
“That’s good.” Matilda put a warm muffin on a plate. “No dreams.”
“No dreams.” I reached over and gave Matilda a bear hug before going outside with my coffee and muffin knowing that dream wouldn’t haunt me anymore.