Chapter 86 Goodbye Island
I look around the small house that has been our home over the last several years. It’s a strange feeling to know that in the morning, we will pack up our things and head back to civilization, to Lucky Palms. The children have never known anything other than the island. I can’t wait to see the rest of my family, to have a hot bath with just the turn of a knob, to talk on a telephone, to watch television, why then do I feel sad?
What could have been something that completely devastated me, has turned out to be the best thing ever. What if I had never gotten on that plane or if the plane simply made it to Monte Vista? I would never have met Ross, never have these beautiful children. We have turned this island into our home. I’m sad to leave. That’s not strange, right? I take a final look around and walk into the bedroom that Ross and I share, he’s sorting through clothes, “We can buy all new clothes once we get home, Ross. These clothes are almost worn out.”, I say as I sit on the edge of the bed.
He stands in front of me and shrugs his shoulders, “I know, but it seems wasteful to just throw the stuff away. I guess after all these years of salvaging everything and using things until they fall apart will take a while to stop doing. “, he says.
We lie on the bed and we just stare at the ceiling. “I can’t believe after all this time, we are going home.”, I say quietly. He squeezes me close, “I know. Your parents seem really great. I mean, your mom, she never gave up. It took guts for them to pack up and just come look for you. It’s just too bad it took so long.”, he says. I think for a while, “I think the timing is perfect. I mean, if we had been rescued sooner, would we will still have all our children? If we had went home sooner, we may not have had the twins. I never thought I would want 5 children, I would have seen the doctor and gotten that taken care of. I think the timing is perfect, I wouldn’t change anything, Ross. Our life hasn’t been easy, but it has been great here.”, I say with tears in my eyes.
He kisses me gently, “You’re right, as usual, Merri. I love you.” I look up as I hear little footsteps sneaking into our bedroom, Maggie and Jay both smile shyly. “We are scared, Momma, to leave our house. What if we don’t like the new place? Grandma seems nice, but I want to stay here to play with our friends and what about Sassy?”, Maggie asks as she and Jay walk over to the bed.
“Maggie, things will be fine, even better than you can imagine once we get to Lucky Palms. You will love it, you will have Aunts and Uncles, and cousins to play with. We will come back to visit our friends here eventually. Just think, you and Jay can go to real school! You will have so many friends, you won’t know who to play with first. Sassy will stay here, Isaac and Misty will take care of her for us. She wouldn’t like the big city since she is so used to the island.”, I try to explain.
“What if I don’t like the big city? I’m used to the island too. Jay is used to it too, so is Leigha.”, she says. I hug Maggie close, “You will love it sweetheart. We will all be together, so we will be fine.” We all snuggle together and finally fall asleep.
I wake up early the next morning, even before either of the twins wake up for their bottle.
I walk outside and look around one last time. I know once the kids wake up, I won’t have another chance to enjoy this quiet. I sit on the bench on the front porch that Ross built.
I can hear the birds chirping, all the animals are slowly waking up also. I see Sassy, our dog, walking in front of the house and I crouch down in front of her and hug her tight. She has been a good dog and I’ll miss her. I don’t think it’s fair to take her away from her home though.
She will be in good hands with Isaac, I tell myself. Maybe once we get settled we can come back for her. I stand up again and brush a stray tear off my cheek, looking back at the house, I hear a little cry from one of the twins. I listen closer and can tell it’s Alora. I grab her a bottle before walking into the bedroom to feed her. Harrison and Leigha will be up soon too, I fed Alora and change her diaper.
I snuggle her quickly before rushing to get a bottle for Harrison, he’s starting to wake up as I finish with Alora. Leigha stands up in her crib and starts babbling about something very important, I’m sure. I talk to her while feeding Harrison.Ross comes stumbling in the kids room and he scoops Leigha up from her crib.
She is a morning person and wakes up ready to play. He puts her in the high chair in the kitchen and fixes her breakfast. Soon, the big kids are up and clamoring for attention and breakfast.
Settling Harrison back in the crib, I fix the kids some fruit salad. They sit at the table and talk about the adventure we are going on today.
Ross and I are cleaning up the kitchen when Mom and Dad knock on the door. Misty is coming later to take all the food that we have leftover and pick up the dog. We all grab a kid and our bags and head to the beach to board the boat. Chris, Ariel and their children will be on the other rescue boat that arrived late last night. We quickly realize that the boat doesn’t have any cribs, so all the men run back to the house to bring along ours. They set them up in the kid’s bedroom, it’s a tight squeeze, but we are used to that. We settle the babies in the cribs as Maggie and Jay rush over where there are some games and a chess table set up. They have never seen games like these before, electricity is something new to them. Jay runs to the Whack a mole game and his face lights up, he and Maggie play and laugh.
I’ll never get them away from the game room. Leigha isn’t quite ready for a nap, so we take her back up stairs with us. We walk out onto the deck of the boat and watch as the island slowly gets further away. Ross puts his arm around me and kisses my forehead. Leigha waves her little hand at our friends on the beach as they wave goodbye to us.
I walk around the houseboat and take in everything I see. Ross and I take our small bag to the room we will share. I flip a switch and a lamp on the table comes on, I flip it off and then on again.
Ross laughs at me, but the simple act reminds me of all that we’ve missed. I lay on the bed and sigh at how comfortable it is, a real mattress instead of one stuffed with grass. There is a desk with a computer in one corner and a dresser with mirror on the other wall.
I open the drawer and see some new clothes, in several sizes, both men’s and women’s. My Mother thinks of everything. I pull out some clothes and decide to clean up and change. I walk out of the room and find the bathroom, it’s small, like a closet, but has all the amenities in it. The hot running water feels so good, I use real soap and shampoo and come out smelling like rose petals.
I slip into the new clothes and look at myself in the mirror. I brush the tangles from my hair. I hear Ross sigh as he takes his turn in the shower. I smile to myself and wonder if I’ll ever get used to all this again. I know that I’ll never take it for granted again.
I look at Leigha playing with her bear on the floor and scoop her up. I take her upstairs and give her a bath in the sink. I’ll have to get Maggie and Jay in the shower soon, but for now they are having so much fun playing I hate to interrupt them. Leigha and I go upstairs and look for everyone else. Mom and Dad are up top, Dad steering the boat and Mom soaking up the sun in a deck chair.
She sits up and hold her arms out for the Leigha as we climb the ladder. I set Leigha down and she toddled over to her. I sit in the other deck chair and lay back. It will take about a week to get to Monte Vista, we will then take a plane back home. Then we have to decide what we are gonna do. We will look for a house, try to find jobs, get the kids signed up for school, try to get back to a normal life. It will take some adjusting.
That evening, Mom and I start to cook dinner. I’m not used to cooking on a regular stove, Ross and Isaac had made us an old-fashioned wood stove. It worked, but was a lot of work.
Turning on the dial on the stove to heat it up, we work on baking some steaks. We haven’t had steak since being on the island, it smells heavenly. We all gather around the table for dinner.
We hold hands and Mom speaks up, “I just want to give thanks for being reunited with my daughter, Merri. I’m so thankful she is alive, healthy, and happy. I also want to give thanks for Ross, who helped her survive all these years and for my beautiful grandchildren. I had hoped I would find Merri, but I never imagined I’d find a whole new family. You are the bravest, strongest person I’ve ever known and I love you. I love all of you.”, she says with tears in her eyes.