An Amazing book. A wonderful Story. A mother and a daughter. A family curse. Two love stories. And, of course…
a Basket of Pink.
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From the book.
“How in the world do I manage to get myself into these things?” Olivia said aloud while climbing the old creaky wooden stairs to her grandparent’s attic.
This house has been vacant, locked up, and boarded up, for let’s see, as close as I can figure about sixty years or so. Give or take a year or two. And now here I am, Olivia Romano, the vice president and chief designer for one of the largest fashion creation and distribution companies in the state of New York. Me, I never wash or press my own attire let alone go rummaging through dirt and dust, mold and mildew. I hire people to do all those petty, disgusting or annoying day to day duties.
She knew she had been privileged not having to do those kinds of things for most of her life. Let alone go digging around in some old dirty, dusty attic.
But a promise is a promise, thought Olivia. One thing I have always prided myself with is I keep my promises. Now, to make sure that I keep this one I am going to have to do this one chore myself.
Mother, the classiest woman I have ever known.
She was in a rehabilitation center where she was recovering from a stroke. It just doesn’t seem fair this awesomely strong woman should be in such a state that she must rely on others for the basic needs of daily living.
She had made Olivia promise to go to her grandparent’s house and hunt through all the old musky treasures that were stored in the attic and find the “Shawl” that belonged to her grandmother.
My mother has never asked me for a thing, but she is now asking me to help her keep the promise she made to my grandmother so many years ago. The promise being that in the case of her demise, mom is to be buried in her bridal shawl.
If only I knew what it looked like, I would be able to have one copied and forget about groping around in this old creaky dirty house.
The thought of getting back to New York seemed really good to her right now.
She climbed the wooden stairs one by one so cautiously. It seemed ridiculous acting as if she was afraid of who or what may know she was here. Especially since with every step the dried out boards of the stairs seemed to snap and crackle. Sounding as if they were stressing under the whole one hundred and fifteen pounds of her weight. Reaching the top step she turned the glass door knob, with only a slight push the attic door creaked open. Thankful for the bit of light sneaking in from a really small circular window she was able to see a single bulb in the center of the room. Yanking the fairly long string that dangled from it created a small burst of yellow glow. “Good it still works,” Olivia heard herself say out loud. The room sounded hollow and empty. But empty it wasn’t. Strode from one end of the attic to the other were odds and ends of old furniture, lampshades, and all kinds of knickknacks. Card board boxes stacked on top of other cardboard boxes. Some three and four boxes high.
Why on earth do people feel they have to keep everything they come in contact with is beyond me! Where do I even begin to look for such an item? I know it must be important to her. Especially since she had made her mother the promise to be buried in it. I can’t believe I didn’t think to ask why her mother wasn’t buried with this shawl if it meant that much to her.
Standing back looking at all the boxes the feeling of being overwhelmed began pressing down on her. Realizing the vastness of this task she had willfully undertaken, Olivia began to feel dreadfulness. Thinking to herself, I haven’t a clue which one to look in first. Everything I touch is so dusty and dirty. Between sneezing and coughing I feel I need to wash my hands every time I touch anything here.
“Oh God, how long have these things been up here?”
Taking the third box down from a stack of four, she grasped the lid to open it resulting in a broken nail on her left ring finger.
“Oh crap! Why does this have to happen to me?”
I just bought this three carat diamond solitaire ring and now it looks stupid on this finger with a short stubby nail.
“This is the reason I DO NOT do domestic work!”
Time to take a break, Olivia snapped as if she was actually talking to someone.
Remembering the cooler with ice and some bottled water she had brought with her, she made the trip back out to her car in a fraction of the time it had taken her to get inside the house and up to the attic.
Picking up the cold bottle of water made her realize how hot and sweaty she had become going through those boxes. The only ventilation was the fact that the door to the attic room remained open while she was inside. Touching the cold bottle to the sides of her face and forehead felt so good. The coolness was actually calming.
She had not yet realized how frazzled her nerves had become. Or was she just exhausted from the road trip. Had she just driven three and a half hours from New York to Newport? Thankful she had stopped along the way at a road side stand and picked up some fresh fruit and vegetables. Not so much as trying to eat healthy as trying to keep that one hundred and fifteen pounds fitting into the designer clothes she not only created, but sported as well.
Olivia turned the bottle of water up and while taking a long drink noticed the sky had grown grey and was starting to look as if there would be rain. With the wind picking up it would be moving in any minute. I better put the top up on the car, thinking to herself. Lord knows I love this car.” saying it almost in a whisper to herself. In the city it was always too crowded to drive. Making it a necessity to elect the Taxi as the transportation of choice.
To come to Newport was just the perfect excuse needed to drive her Mercedes sports coupe. Ahhh such a wonderful machine, thinking to herself as she slid behind the wheel in the proper female manner. Sitting on seat first and then turning legs in as you bring your feet to the floorboard. Perfect poise as she had practiced so many times while at the Springdale Boarding and Finishing School for Girls.
Unclipping the locks to the convertible top and pressing the button, the motor lifted the top and moved it over the car. It fell into place just as the first drop of rain hit the windshield.
“Gee, talk about perfect timing!” Grabbing the bag of fruits and vegetables and the small cooler from the passenger seat Olivia made haste for the old oversized porch. The house in which just hours ago she had just loathed to be entering. Funny how seeking shelter in a hurry can change the way a place is perceived.
It was beginning to get dark and with the rain falling so hard and the winds so strong Olivia knew she would most likely have to stay at the house tonight instead of the beautiful B & B where she had made reservation for one. It was just as well.
It had been a long time since she had gone anywhere other than to market for the company. So staying in anything other than the luxury suites where she spent her time alone or working would be a kind of invasion of her space, an intrusion into her personal bubble. Anyway most of the time B&B’s are filled with couples. The thought of her being surrounded with couples seemed to create an uneasy feeling inside her. She didn’t mingle much outside of work and her social life was just about nothing.
Going out to dinner with the opposite sex on a business appointment was about as close to a date as she’s had since graduating from college. Between work and her work related travels, she just didn’t seem to have time for those kinds of a relationships.
Besides it just seemed like a total waste of her time. Sitting around talking about nothing. To Olivia just the thought of sitting unproductively in a movie for an hour and a half was pointless and seemed like something only idiots would waste their time on. She filled her days with work. The evenings were just extensions of her long days.
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