Meet The Farrells
Perspective 1: Grace's parents die before she goes to work for Oliver
As Grace looked in the mirror as she was getting ready for her wedding she sincerely wished her mother and father could be with her today. She knew that they would be so happy for her and adore Oliver and Annie. If only they hadn't left her to be alone. She wished she had siblings that could be in the wedding but her parents did not have her till later in their lives and had no children after her. A part of her heart was empty. It was a void which could never be filled no matter how close she and Helen Pugh were.
She remembered being seven years old and having dreams about her wedding and playing dress up using old curtains as wedding gowns. Her mother watched her with a gleam in her eyes. "Mama, don't I make such a beautiful bride?"
"Yes, Gracie, you do." Rachel Farrell said.
Grace always used her mother and her father Patrick as a model for what true love was like and hoped she would find it someday. She remembered one day when she was twelve and asking her mother to tell her the story of how her and her father met. She always enjoyed hearing that story and thought that it was very romantic.
"Do you think I'll ever find true love like that?" Grace asked her mother.
Rachel hugged her daughter. "True love takes time and patience my dear. You still have many years ahead of you. The right man will come along for you eventually. I have faith."
Grace kept this in the back of her mind as she grew into a young adult. She dated a few boys in high school but quickly realized that she would never find Mr. Right.
When Grace was twenty and a sophomore at Yale disaster struck her family. Her father was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. When her mother called her to tell her the news she was completely shocked. Her roommate Marion looked at her as she was talking her on the phone and noticed that she was upset. "Grace, what happened?" she asked. "My dad has cancer." Grace whispered. "Are you going to be okay?" she asked. "I hope so." Grace said.
Her mother picked her up from school for Thanksgiving break. She looked like she had aged 10 years since she had last seen her.
She was almost afraid to ask her mother how her father was feeling. Rachel looked at her and sensed her nervousness. She looked at her sadly.
"Things are not looking good Gracie. The doctors say your father has about 3-6 months to live."
Grace tried to swallow the lump in her throat but realized that she couldn't. Tears welled in her eyes.
Rachel realized her daughter was upset and turned off the ignition. "Do you want to leave now or wait a few minutes?"
Grace looked at her mother... her best friend who she could tell anything to. "Can we go to the coffee shop and get some hot chocolate?"
"Of course darling. I've barley slept for the past week. I could use a little pick me up, let's go."
They walked up the street to the coffee shop and sat at a table by the window.
Her mother took her hand in hers and squeezed it gently. "How have you been holding up Gracie?"
"As good as I can under these circumstances. I just hope my grades don't suffer this semester."
Rachel smiled. Her daughter had always been a star student getting straight As. She could only imagine what kind of emotional toll the news of her father's cancer had taken on her.
"I'm sure your grades will be fine sweetheart. Did you want to take next semester off?"
Grace had never considered taking a semester off. "That would put me behind and I wouldn't graduate on time."
"You could always take classes in the summer."
"That's true. I would have to talk to my academic advisor about that."
"Honey, I'm sure that your professors will understand that you have a family emergency. I don't think I can take care of your father on my own. I have to work during the day you know."
Grace nodded. "Do you think we should try to see if we can catch my academic advisor before we leave? I don't think he's left yet."
"You can always talk to him on Monday when you get back for classes. This vacation is short one."
The tears that Grace had been holding in suddenly began to fall in cascades down her cheeks.
Her mother got up from her seat and pulled her into her arms, rubbing her back and whispered in her ear "I love you my sweet angel."
Grace suddenly felt seven years old again. "I love you too Mama."
Rachel left a tip for the waitress on the table and the two women left the coffee shop. They found a bench by the river and sat down. The tears were still falling from Grace's eyes. Her mother pulled a handkerchief from her purse and dabbed at Grace's eyes with one hand and stroked the stray hairs from her forehead with the other one laying a soft kiss on it. Grace had never been so devastated but was glad her mother was here to comfort her. None of her friends could really understand what she was going through as much as they tried to console her.
As they drove away from campus Grace decided she would take the spring semester off and stay home to take care of her father. It was the toughest choice that she ever had to make but family came first. She would take the four classes she had planned to take in the spring over the summer so she would not be behind on credits. Her mother looked completely exhausted and Grace knew that she had to be there to support her as well as her father. Her family was falling apart at the seams and it was tearing her heart in two.
Grace turned 21 on December 15th but didn't feel too much like celebrating the momentous occasion. She was too focused on her exams and the task she would be taking on once she got home for the holidays, taking care of her father. She had signed up to take classes in the summer but that could change at any time depending on her emotional state.
Patrick Farrell passed away on February 27th,1913. Rachel decided to have him cremated… she didn't want to deal with seeing her parents or her in-laws. She just wanted to be with her only daughter.
Grace hated seeing her mother so sad and tried to think of ways to make her broken heart heal but her heart was equally as broken. She missed her father terribly. One night she heard her mother crying in bed. She softly entered the room and climbed into bed next to her. She felt her mother's arms wrap around her. Grace rubbed her mother's back comfortingly not knowing what else to do or say. "Grace Elizabeth, I love you very much. Never forget that my dearest." Her mother whispered.
"I love you too Mama. I miss Daddy terribly. I know you miss him too." Grace kissed her mother's check and felt her embrace around her tighten. She fell asleep in her mother's arms for the first time since she was a young child.
Grace's summer classes began in mid-May and lasted until the end of June. She met with her academic advisor expressing that there may be a chance she may not return in the fall. "As you know my father passed away and I really need to be with my mother right now. I feel like I need to be with her."
Her academic advisor handed her a piece of paper with a phone number on it. "Here's my home number Grace. Please feel free to give me a call and we can discuss your next semester's schedule."
"Thank you sir."
The older man pulled her into a warm embrace. "I'm so sorry about your father Grace."
"Thank you sir." She left the office and went to go meet her mother in the parking lot.
As the summer progressed Grace and her mother spent a lot of time together.
"Mama, are you going to be okay when I go back to school or should I take another semester off?"
"Grace , honey I don't want you to fall too behind on credits. You should go back to Yale for junior year. I'll come to Connecticut every weekend to visit you."
Grace regarded her mother and noticed she looked very pale. "Are you sure? You don't look like you're well."
"I have been feeling a bit lightheaded lately actually but it's nothing. I'm sure it's just low blood sugar."
Grace gave her mother as squeeze. "Okay, Mama. I'll call my academic advisor and tell him I want to sign up for fall classes."
Grace started her junior year and as promised her mother came to visit her every weekend. She always came down on Saturday. One Saturday however her mother didn't come and Grace found this odd. She always looked forward to the Saturday visits. She lived in an apartment off campus with her roommate Marion and another friend Gail. One day the phone rang in the apartment. "Grace, it's for you. It sounds like it's one of your relatives... she said it's urgent. "Marion said
Grace's heart lurched forward. "Hello."
"Grace dear it's your aunt Anne."
"Hi Aunt Anne. My mom hasn't come down to visit me in a few weeks. Do you know what's wrong?"
There was silence.
Grace's aunt cleared her throat. "Grace, your mom is very ill. She hasn't been eating very well and had an episode where she passed out. Was she like this at all over the summer?"
Grace raced back in her mind to all the time she had spent with her mom over the summer " Well one time when we went to the beach I remembered she looked very pale. She said it was just low blood sugar."
There was silence again.
"Aunt Anne, please tell me what's wrong with my mother."
"Grace sweetheart, your mom said that to you to it take your mind off of the illness she has. We don't know exactly she has or how it came about but her health has been rapidly declining."
Grace's heart dropped in her chest. "So she's dying?"
"Yes, she's been sick for about four months. She was so devastated by your father's death that she obviously didn't want to let her own illness bother her..or more or less affect you."
Grace couldn't believe her mother had been so selfish. She would have been able to help her through her illness as much as she could whatever it was.
Grace was trying to plan her next words carefully.
"Grace honey, I think you should come home and be with your mother."
"I really would like to. If she's dying I want to spend time with her before she passes away."
She could see her aunt smiling through the phone line. "Of course you do. I can come pick you up after your last class on Friday afternoon if you want."
"Okay. Do you know where my apartment is?"
"I think I should be able to find it. See you on Friday sweetie pie."
"Okay Aunt Anne, thank you for calling. See you on Friday."
Grace hung up the phone, totally shocked.
Marion, who had been there for her when her father passed away and supported her through that difficult time noticed her roommate was upset. "What's wrong honey?" she asked her roommate.
Grace's eyes spilled over. "My mother is really sick. I think she's going to die."
Her roommate pulled her into her arms. "Oh Grace, I know you've had it so rough with your dad dying and how close you and your mom are. I'm so sorry."
"The thing that makes me the mad is that my mom never let on that she was sick. I could have helped her get better."
"Do you even know what kind of illness she has?"
Grace shook her head. "My aunt said no one knows what the disease is or how she got sick but apparently she's been sick since June when I finished my summer classes."
Marion's embrace strengthened around her roommate. "I love you Grace." she whispered
"I love you too Marion. You're such a good friend to me. I don't know what I would do without you."
"So are you going home to spend time with your mother?"
"Yes, my aunt is picking me up on Friday after my last class."
Grace went through the motions of the week but she couldn't focus. She was thinking about her mother and how it could be quite possible that she could lose her any day now.
Friday after her last class her aunt picked her up.
"Sweetheart, how are you doing? Her mother's younger sister asked her.
Grace knew she couldn't lie. "Not very good."
Her aunt pulled her into her arms and rubbed her back.
"I'm so sorry my sweet niece. I know this news is such a shock to you."
"Is she doing any better?"
Her aunt shook her head. "No, we're going straight to the hospital."
Once they got to the hospital Grace ran down the hallway ahead of her aunt to her mother's room.
Her mother was hooked up to a heart monitor She looked very frail.
"Mom, it's me Grace."
Her mother's eyes opened. "Gracie." she whispered feebly.
"Mom, why didn't you tell me you were sick? I could have helped you get better."
Her mother looked at the bedspread. "I knew you were sad about Daddy. I didn't want you to think you going to lose me too."
"I love you Mama, please don't leave me alone." Grace was starting to cry again.
"You won't be alone honey. You have your aunts uncles and grandparents."
"You're the most important to me though. Think how close we are."
Her mother smiled. "I know but after I am gone I will always be with you. Daddy will always be with you too."
Grace could tell at that moment that her mother was most likely going to die very soon. She couldn't bear picturing her life without her in it. She couldn't let her mother see her cry and tried to keep herself composed the best she could. She leaned over and brushed her hair out her eyes like her mother had always done for her and kissed her forehead.
"I love you Mama."
Grace saw her mom smile… the last smile she'd ever see from her most likely. "I love you too Gracie, my sweet angel."
Grace couldn't stand seeing her mother like this any longer. She got up and left the room falling immediately into her aunt's embrace tears flowing freely down her cheeks."Shh Grace, don't cry sweetheart it will be alright." Her aunt consoled.
Grace knew eventually that it would be.. just not right now. Her mother was dying behind the door that was left ajar.
"Can we please leave now?" she asked
Her aunt nodded. "Of course we can." Her mother would pass away later that evening October 30th, 1912. Grace lived with her aunt while she finished off college, graduated on time something she feared she wouldn't be able to do with the set back of her father passing away and went to work for Oliver Warbucks soon after her 25th birthday.
Grace was crying as she remembered the last time she saw her mother. She hated being so sad on a day when she knew she should be feeling the exact opposite. She couldn't help missing her parents though. She really wished they could be here with her.
Grace was so lost in her thoughts that she did not hear Helen Pugh enter the room. The older woman saw the tears in Grace's eyes.
"Thinking of your mother?" she whispered.
Grace nodded and was suddenly pulled to her feet as Helen embraced her.
"Come here sweetheart."
Helen and Grace walked over to the bed and sat down. Helen rubbed her hands up and down Grace's back comfortingly.
"Grace, I know you miss your mother terribly especially today but you should be happy. Today you're marrying Oliver."
"She would be so happy to see me in love with the man I've been waiting for my whole life." Grace said.
Helen stroked the loose hairs away from her face and laid a gentle kiss on her forehead. "Your parents would be so proud of you my precious, of this I am certain."
Grace cried for about 20 minutes as Helen rocked her back and forth.
"Grace, I understand you miss your mother and I can't replace her but I'd like to help you get ready for your wedding if you wouldn't mind."
Grace looked up at her, smiling through her tears.
"You would do that for me?"
Helen returned the smile. "Absolutely my dear. We've been like mother and daughter since you started working here six years ago. Have we not?"
Grace's smile grew wider. "Yes, of course!"
"Then come now, let's dry those tears and get you ready. The ceremony starts in 25 minutes."
The two women stood up and embraced.
"I love you Helen." Grace whispered.
Helen kissed Grace on the top of the head. "I love you too Grace Elizabeth Farrell, my beautiful darling."
Notes and Disclaimer: I have read two stories with varying viewpoints on Grace's family life. I auditioned for Grace but did not get the part. I figured this story would be fun to write because I always like to know what the backstory is for characters in the musicals that I like. Oliver talks briefly about his life in both the films but we seem to know very little about Grace's background. In the two stories I have read Forever and Always and A New Life we get a brief glimpse into Grace's family life.. this comes from two perspectives one with Grace's parents dying when she is 21 and one with Grace having a mother and two sisters but her father passing away. Hope you enjoy this. I own no rights to characters from Annie. Grace's family members are my own creation. In the first chapter Grace's parents are named Rachel and Patrick. In chapter 2 Grace's mother is named Rose and her sisters are named Catherine and Anna. This has to be the longest story I think I've ever written, once I got started I just couldn't stop. Chapter 2 should be posted fairly soon. Thanks for reading. I should also clarify that Grace's age is not really clear in the musical. In this story she is 31.