Epilogue: Rob

Rob could see that the time was coming when Trelawney would return to her sister's home. Catherine didn't mention it, but he knew that she was realizing it as well. He would actually be relieved when the girl went home. He loved her as if she was his own granddaughter, but he also felt that he had raised his children. And now that Phoebe and Hal had their lives under control, they really didn't need the daily support and intervention that they had once given them.

Rob loved living close to his family and in his new community. But he missed the privacy that he had when he could kick the younger generation out of the house and have time alone with his wife. He still had a few places in the world where he wanted to travel with her. He would like to do it while they were still young and healthy enough to truly appreciate and enjoy them. He also missed that freedom that they had had before they moved down here a year ago. But he had absolutely no regrets about the move.

For the past year, their lives had been guided by the needs of the poor girl. When she had needed them to move here to protect her from her fears, they had moved. When she needed a place to live close to her sister, they had opened their home to her. Now that she needed to live once again with her sister, they needed to let her go. However, her needs had given them great gifts. And there was no greater gift than family.

This was their permanent home now and they would live here for the rest of their lives. They would enjoy the proximity to their family but still have their own space. Until last year, they had never really known what it was like being grandparents before. It was nice not to have to deal with the hard stuff with the kids. He liked being in the role of advisor to both his children and grandchildren. They all seemed to appreciate his perspective and never resented his advice and analysis. But that was probably because unlike Catherine, he never tried to force confidences.

Fortunately, Phoebe didn't mind sharing all aspects of her life with her and frequently sought out her advice. Things could have been very awkward if Phoebe had been more like Helen who had seemed to view Catherine as a nuisance. Being parentless herself, it meant that she needed the loving advice that Catherine was eager to share. Having been brought up within a close-knit family, she had no qualms about "knitting" them in as meaningful members of the extended family.

His son only came to them when things were out of control and would never listen to reason when they tried to tactfully help him avoid whatever crisis resulted. But that was Hal. He always thought that he knew best until he realized that he didn't, usually the hard way. Rob had made it a rule a long time ago never to say, "I told you so," to his own sons and he held to it now.

It was a pity that Hal hadn't chosen to make that rule for himself. The tension had been building in the house for a month when, after seeing tests and papers come home from school with solid A's, Hal had uttered those most disastrous of words to his son. It had triggered a full-scale rebellion on Butch's part. Now the two of them seemed to be in some kind of an armed standoff with each other.

Phoebe thought that it had brewing for years, but he personally thought that the teacher was inadvertently adding to the final explosion. Like any young and enthusiastic teacher, he was eager to praise Butch and bolster his morale in a way that resulted in the academic turn around. Everyone likes to be the miracle worker or hero and there could be no doubt that that was what Mr. McGough was to the teachers and administrators who had been frustrated by Butch since kindergarten.

He suspected that McGough would be horrified by Butch's treatment of his father, but that was not his fault. His own opinion was that it might do some good for him to take Butch down to the nursing home to spend a little time with their old friend "Mr. Just Jim."

If anyone could straighten him out, it was the old World War I veteran, who would not mince words. Old Jim had a heart of gold under his tough exterior. After he took Butch apart, he would put him back together.

But no one had asked his opinion, so he decided to stay out of it. And it wasn't a matter of wanting to avoid conflict. In this case, he felt that it was very important for his son to learn how to work through these kinds of things with his kids on his own. Especially since he had the time now. However, he did have a brief conversation with Hal to try and sound out his feelings on the subject of Trelawney returning home.

Speaking in ellipses and hypotheticals, he put forth the idea that the time had come for the sisters to live together again. To his relief, Hal indicated that he knew that his wife would never be completely content until Trelawney was back home with them. He no longer viewed the sweet little girl as a trial. And the most important thing in his life was making his wife happy.

But more than wanting to make Phoebe happy, he had a genuine desire to help the little girl find more joy in life. Despite the brave efforts she made to conceal it, they all knew that sadness lurked below the surface of her seemingly happy existence. He had discussed this with his son and it was Hal who had offered the opinion that perhaps the only way to address it was to bring her home once and for all.

They all suspected that she would take the issue to David Figalilly when he came in for the christening in November. He intended to give it his full support and Hal would make it clear that she would not be taken in on sufferance. She would be welcomed with open arms.

Rob was pleased. When David came in a couple months, they could take care of the legal formalities. Until then, they could quietly lay the groundwork for the transition. Hal could work out the logistics at home and he could prepare Catherine for the move. It would give them all one more thing to be truly grateful for this Thanksgiving.

The End