Author's Note:I don't own these characters, I'm merely borrowing. So don't sue! ;)Many thanks to Lauren for beta-reading this, and encouraging me to go forward w/ it. Also thanks to Ms. M for pointing out my error w/ Miles' son, and for writing an awesome series of fics which helped inspire me to write as well!
Well, after 18 years, I'm finally moving out to go to college. Mom pretends she's fine with it, but I've caught her late at night watching the video Frank made of my birth and crying. I guess that's how any mother would react when her only son leaves home. But I'm not really worried about her. She's lived alone most of her life, anyway.
As for me, I'm pretty excited to experience life on my own. It's not that I've led a sheltered life, but college is going to be a whole new world for me. I'm following in my mother's footsteps and going to Penn. She's already told me numerous times that she was responsible for their entire Women's Studies program. I'm not sure I can live up to her legacy, but I'm at least going to try! I haven't really decided what I want to do with my life yet, but I know whatever I do, it's going to be something that makes a difference in this world. After all, look at how much my mom's accomplished in her career!
I'll admit, though, Mom's not the only one reminiscing these days. I mean, you only get one childhood, right? I've had an interesting one, that's for sure. How many other people can say they were raised by their mother and her housepainter? Or that their birth made the front page of The New York Times? It's crazy to think that that whole Dan Quayle thing happened because of me. The man can't even spell "potato," yet he thinks he can judge a woman's decision to raise a child by herself!
It's true that I grew up without my biological father, but that doesn't mean I don't have a family. Sure, it may not fit Quayle's definition of the word, but who cares? And I certainly haven't been lacking male role models in my life. Of course, there's Eldin, but I've also got Frank, Jim, and Miles. They've been looking out for me since the day I was born. I think they're almost as emotional about me moving out as my mother is. Eldin's been lecturing me non-stop about what I should and shouldn't do while I'm at school. It's a little annoying, but I know he means well.
Unfortunately, the rest of the family has pretty much gone their separate ways in the last few years. But, as with any family, everyone keeps in touch constantly. Sometimes, it seems as if they've never even left, because we hear from them all so often. When FYI was cancelled in 2000, no one was really shocked. In fact, I heard that the entire secretarial pool at CBS celebrated for days after the annoucement was made! Everyone pretty much knew that magazine shows weren't as successful anymore, thanks to 24-hour cable news. And besides, I think Mom and all her co-workers were ready to move on, too.
Frank has moved to Florida to be near his parents and all his nieces and nephews. Although he wants to spend most of his time with his family, he hasn't left his career totally behind him. He occasionally does color commentary for local sports teams. Of course he and Mom are still as close as ever. They talk on the phone almost every week and he comes up here to visit at least once a year. While he's here, we usually go to a Redskins game, or to a movie, or whatever. He tries to give me advice about girls, too, but I don't really think he knows what he's talking about most of the time. I guess in some ways he's more like an older brother than a father figure!
Miles is still living in New York. A few years ago, he ran into his old girlfriend, Audrey while he was on a business trip. One thing led to another, and they got back together. In fact, they're now married. We all went to the wedding, even Corky. I think she understands now that she and Miles just weren't meant to be. Miles and Audrey have a son, Nathan (Nate), named after Miles' dad. Believe it or not, Miles is actually a great dad. He's still the head of CBS News, but he makes a point never to miss a school play or a soccer game. He says he understands now what my mother must have felt like when I was born. He's always e-mailing us the latest school picture, or calling to gush about some new accomplishment of his son's. The kid is only 8, but he's already taking after his Dad. He's a straight-A student, perfectionist, the whole bit. He even wears a suit and tie to school every day. Of course, he does go to a private school. But I get the feeling he'd wear a tie even if he went to public school! It's actually kind of scary to see Miles and his son together sometimes! Miles and Audrey are talking about adopting a daughter to complete their family. I only hope for her sake, Miles doesn't rub off on her, too!
As you might guess, Jim has retired from broadcasting. He and his wife, Doris, have moved to Nantucket, Massachusetts. Though they've experienced marital troubles in the past, they both say they've never been happier. I think Jim enjoys living at a much slower pace, rather than having the constant deadline pressure of a weekly TV show. But that doesn't mean he's stopped working altogether. He's turned his famous "World According to Dial" commentaries into a nationally syndicated newspaper column. Jim is also entertaining the idea of writing his autobiography someday. He makes frequent visits to DC to catch up with all his friends and former colleagues. This city is definitely where his heart is. I'll admit Jim is not the coolest person I know, and most of my generation probably doesn't even know who he is, but he's one of the people I admire most. I completely understand why Mom says she wouldn't be half the journalist she is today if not for Jim Dial.
Unlike the other FYIers, Corky is still working full-time. Now she has her own talk show, At Home with Corky Sherwood. It's pretty much a Martha Stewart-type of thing, crafts, cooking segments, etc. All the stuff you'd expect a former Miss America to do. But, of course, Corky's years at FYI have not gone to waste. She's been known to squeeze in some pretty tough interviews in between those craft ideas and decorating tips! It seems people tend to really open up while they help her make a pie. Since Corky's show is shot here in DC, Mom stops by every so often as a guest. Usually they chat, catch up, and banter back and forth a bit – the typical light celebrity interview. It's exactly the kind of thing my mother has always hated to do, but she makes an exception for Corky. Besides, Corky never fails to mention breast cancer research and urges her viewers to not only donate money, but to get mammograms. Those "light celebrity interviews" may have saved countless women's lives.
Yeah, the cancer really changed all of us. I think it brought everybody closer together. Through the years, there were always disagreements between Mom and the others, but when she got sick, that stopped. They truly became a family. Even Miles, with his busy schedule, managed to keep in touch with everyone to find out what was going on. Because I was so young, Mom tried not to let me know how serious it was, but I knew. When you only have one parent to begin with, the thought of losing them is very scary. But I don't think I ever honestly doubted that there would always be someone to take care of me. Frank and Corky made sure of that. The whole experience had a huge effect on my mother. It gave her a new perspective. She's really slowed down. I don't mean that she's less active, just that she appreciates things more. She has all but retired from television. Mostly, she just travels around the country on the lecture circuit, talking about her life. It's pretty amazing to hear her talk about all she's overcome and what she's managed to accomplish. I'm glad she's been able to do something positive with her experiences. That's definitely something I hope to do some day in whatever field I end up working.
I think Kay has probably had the most interesting life out of all our little family the last couple years. After FYI was cancelled, Kay stayed at CBS with Stan Lansing. She produced a string of short-lived game shows, then discovered her heart just wasn't in it anymore. I think Mom's illness affected more than she'd realized. Kay began to think there were a lot of things she'd like to see in her life, so she's been travelling the globe ever since. She calls or sends a postcard every few weeks to let us know where she is and what she's up to. I think the last we heard she was headed for Japan. Kay is always trying to get my mother to come and join her, but so far she's had no luck. I think it's because Mom hasn't been able to bring herself to leave me behind. She says she did that enough while she was working. I keep telling her it's OK, that I'm an adult and she can go live her life now, but she won't hear it. I really hope Kay will be able to convince her soon. I know how close Mom is to Kay, and I think it might be good for her.
Of course, I can't forget about Phil! Mom always said that if it weren't for him, she never would've stayed sober. Maybe that's why his death hit her so hard. You see, the Feds finally decided it was safe for him to leave the Witness Protection Program, and of course he returned to his beloved bar. But he was only back for about a year before he passed away. At first, everyone thought he was faking again, but Phyllis and Phil Jr. convinced us it was true. His real funeral was even bigger than the fake one. I think everyone in Washington was there! Politicians, journalists, you name it. People from all walks of life came out to mourn him. The bar was quickly declared a historic site, and has since been turned into a museum. We all miss Phil, but I'm sure he'd be really happy with the way things have turned out. His bar is an even bigger tourist destination now than it was when he was alive!
All of these people have affected my life in one way or another, but no one has had a bigger impact on me (other than my mother, of course) than the man who raised me – Eldin. He has stayed in DC ever since he returned from Spain in 1998. I think he still feels a bit guilty that he wasn't here when Mom got sick. I don't think he'll be leaving again anytime soon! He's not around as much as he was when I was little, but he lives nearby. If Mom ever needs something fixed or repainted, or even if she just wants to talk, he's always a phone call away. Even though I know there's absolutely nothing romantic between them, I really think what they have together is very sweet. They're sort of like an old married couple. That's pretty ironic when you consider that my mother's actual marriage only lasted 5 days!
Of course, if it weren't for that marriage, I probably would not be here. Believe it or not, I was 10 years old before I found out the full story of how it all happened. It's not that Mom never wanted me to know, it's just I never really felt like I was lacking for anything, so it didn't occur to me to ask until then. But as I got older, I began to realize that my family was not the norm. My mother was very straightforward about it, and it really didn't seem like that big of a deal, since most of the kids in my class had single parents anyway. Still, I felt I deserved to at least know something about who my father was. Mom wasn't too happy when I decided I wanted to write him a letter. I guess she was afraid I'd be disappointed if I never heard back from him. She explained that Jake was never very good at keeping in touch with people, especially since he spent most of his time in the jungles of South America. But I was determined, so I sent him a letter and told him all about myself. I think Mom was even more surprised than I was when I actually did get a reply. Granted, it was just a quick note to say he was glad I'd turned out so well, and he'd try to visit the next time he was in the States. I knew from what my mother had told me that there was a very good chance I'd never see him, but he kept his word. A few months later, he called to say he was coming for a visit. It was a very awkward meeting for all of us, but at least I was able to see him as a human being rather than just the guy in old some photographs in the attic. He took me out to lunch, and we had a long talk about why he hadn't contacted us before. Of course I was a bit disappointed that he wasn't interested in more of a father/son relationship, but I knew my mother and I had our lives, and he had his. But I've gotten some more letters and birthday cards from him since then. I know I'll probably never have the kind of relationship with Jake that most boys do with their fathers, but the fact is, he gave me life. I'll always be grateful for that.
Of course, many things have changed over the years. Presidents have come and gone, wars have been fought, children have been born. That's the way life is. But one thing that hasn't changed is how my mother and her friends feel about one another. I guess after going through all that they have together, you form a bond that lasts. And I'm just lucky enough to have grown up in the middle of it all. I wouldn't trade it for the world.