Liz called to Anna from the kitchen overlooking the family room while she was arranging the cheeses, pate, and crackers on trays.
“Anna, we are having another guest for dinner today. Can you set another place, please? Crystal, or I guess she has gone back to Rebecca now—from my SIS group is joining us.” She glanced out at the table from the kitchen.
“Why don’t you put her at the end of the table with Ginny? She knows her from the seekers group. And we have Karl to Ginny’s right, correct?”
Anna had walked over to the table to look at the name cards in the holders.
“Right. So now we will have five on each side of the table and two at each end for a total of 14 places.”
“That sounds right, Liz said. We have the eight of us with Audrey and Andy, Pastor Bernie, Harry and his dad Avi, Karl and Ginny, and Crys, I mean, Rebecca.”
She looked over to Liam watching a golf tournament on TV in the family room with Andy and Brian.
“Liam, would you grab another chair from the music room?” Keeping his eyes glued to the television, Liam edged out of the family room wordlessly toward the music room.
Anna called after him, “And get another wine glass for Rebecca from the shelf while you’re there.”
“I’ll do that,” Andy popped up out of his chair.
Audrey had walked into the kitchen with Anna. “Audrey, would you mind running up to the linen closet for another napkin,” Liz asked. “And while you’re up there, please ask Sean and Kevin to come down. Kevin can feed Keller and take him out before our guests arrive.”
“Sure, Mrs. O.” Audrey went upstairs to follow up on her assignments.
Anna added another plate to those stacked on the buffet, and opened the wood box that housed the O’Connells’ wedding silver. She pulled out a place setting for Rebecca and arranged the flatware on the table.
Liz had hoped that Abbey would be able to join them, but she was under house arrest, and probably would not have been comfortable in a house with mostly strangers, so Liz didn’t push the issue.
The long walnut table was covered with a white linen cloth. A vintage linen cloth with a double border of pink and one of yellow sprinkled with pink and purple flowers was tossed rakishly at an angle over the white cloth.
A centerpiece of matching low rectangular and curved white ceramic flower holders filled with pink azaleas, arranged in an oval, was placed in the center of the table. The azaleas were freshly snipped from a bush in the O’Connell garden. A crystal candlestick with three tall white tapers had been placed in the middle of the floral arrangement.
Anna had written the menu in her best calligraphy script on a white card placed on a small silver table easel:
Champagne, pate, and assorted cheeses and crackers
Esther’s Honey Baked Ham
Katie’s Chopped Broccoli Salad with Romaine
Grandma Emily’s Scalloped Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese
Lamb cake (yellow cake with white frosting and coconut)
Jean-Luc Cotes du Rhone wine from the Rhone Valley
Coffee and Tea
Liz glanced at the clock. “While you’re here, Anna, would you take the cake out of the garage refrigerator? I want to serve it at room temperature.” Liz had baked the cake on Friday in the lamb mold that had been her mother’s, and had decorated it with Anna on Saturday.
Anna had tinted half the bag of shredded coconut green and placed it in on the large white oval platter before setting the lamb cake on the bed of “grass.” Liz had frosted the lamb with a fluffy white buttercream frosting, and covered it with white coconut. The final touch was scattering the pastel foil covered chocolate eggs around the lamb over the “grass.” It was just how her mother had presented the lamb cake on Easter.
She called to Brian, “When did you last baste the ham, hon? Will it be ready to take out in about thirty minutes?”
“I’ll do it again now, and yes, it will be fine in 30 minutes. I have a foil tent over it so it won’t dry out.” He picked up the remote and paused the tournament.
“Tiger is just about to putt on the 16th for an eagle.”
He came into the kitchen wearing his apron and opened the upper oven door.
“When are you putting the asparagus in to roast?”
“Just when our guests arrive. They’re rather thick, so they’ll take 30 minutes. They can roast while we’re having our champagne and hors d’oeuvres.”
The doorbell rang. “Perfect timing,” Liz said, removing her apron. “Liam, would you light the candles on the table and on the mantle, please?”
Brian headed toward the door, while Liz trailed behind after turning off the television and hitting the button on her smartphone to start Handel’s Messiah performed by the King’s College Choir at Cambridge.
Bernie, Karl, and Ginny had carpooled and were the first to arrive. Harry and his father were walking up the sidewalk, with Rebecca not far behind. The O’Connells welcomed them all into their home.
Harry’s father brought a bottle of champagne.
Bernie, Karl and Ginny brought calla lilies from Bernie’s garden. Liz handed them to Anna and asked her to put them in a vase with water.
Rebecca brought a See’s assortment of Easter chocolates.
It was a chilly afternoon. Liam and Andy had been instructed to take their guests’ wraps and purses into the guest room, which they dutifully collected and carted off to the guest room.
Liz introduced Avi and Harry to the family and to the other guests. Everyone else was acquainted. Rebecca hadn’t seen the kids for a few years and remarked at how they had grown. Brian poured the drinks, while Liz steered the group to the hors d’oeuvres on the buffet.
After the conversation started flowing, Liz and Brian bustled in and out of the kitchen re-filling glasses of champagne and Martinelli’s, checking on the food, and setting it out in serving dishes on the buffet.
Brian had opened two bottles of their favorite French Cotes du Rhone wine earlier in the afternoon, and put one bottle in the each of the silver wine coasters placed at the ends of the long table. Anna and Audrey filled the water glasses, and placed two bottles of Martinelli’s on the table.
Sean rang the dinner bell at 4:45, and Brian invited the group to gather in a circle and hold hands in the family room. He bowed his head and offered an Easter prayer:
“Risen Christ, you have touched each of us with the healing power of your love by your sacrifice on the cross. Today we celebrate the gift of your love for us. We give thanks for each friend and family member present today and ask you to guide us all in the coming weeks and months to follow in the paths you have set before us. Amen”
The group echoed “Amen” and smiled at each other. Liz invited Bernie, Ginny, and Rebecca to pick up a plate and begin the buffet and the men followed. The children fell in behind the adults. Sean told one of his knock-knock jokes, and the children talked and joked while waiting their turn in the buffet line.
When all were seated, Bernie raised her wine glass and offered a toast, “I thank God that I am with you all today to celebrate our Risen Lord, and I thank the O’Connells for opening their home to us and serving us this delicious food.”
All had raised their glasses of wine or Martinelli’s and said, “Here, here,” or “Yes, thank you!”
As they started to eat, Ginny and Bernie asked all of the kids about what they’re doing in school and about their other interests. Everyone was interested in Andy’s baseball prowess, after hearing about it from Audrey.
Harry and Avi participated enthusiastically when the conversation turned to golf. Tiger’s putt on the 16th was the main topic of discussion. Harry had seen it on his smart phone just before they climbed the stairs to the O’Connell home. He made the putt.
Kevin reported on his homeschooling experience. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” he said. “Keller keeps me company, and Dad, Marta, or Mom are with me to help most of the time. And I like Mr. Morris.”
“I do miss my friends and sports,” he added wistfully.
When the conversation turned to the renovation of the Carnegie library, Rebecca reported that Charlotte had called her the day before and had told her that the SIS group had won the naming contest for the new complex.
“Yes, we did!” replied Liz, excitedly. “The Grand Opening ceremony is on Mother’s Day and we will be recognized at the ceremony. The name of the complex of shops and restaurants is “The Old Library Nooks”—or ‘Nooks’ for short. Actually, I have heard that some of the shops are going to have ‘nooks’ in their name. I think there’s going to be a Book Nook, a Stitches Nook, and perhaps others. “
“Well, Mother’s Day will be extra special this year,” declared Bernie. “I will definitely plan to be there for the Opening.”
“Us too,” Ginny said, “And Mother’s Day will be a special day for Harry and Avi as well. They will be joining Hope Chapel on that day when we receive new members.”
Harry blushed and acknowledged all who offered their congratulations and good wishes. He said shyly that he wanted to take this step on Mother’s Day to honor his mother, who had died five years earlier.
Bernie said, “It’s nice that you are honoring your mother, Harry. From what you’ve told me about her devotion to her Catholic faith, I’m sure she would be very happy to see you renewing your baptism.”
To everyone gathered, she explained, “Harry’s birth name is Harout, which means resurrection. It is wonderful to be welcoming them back into the family of God.”
She turned to Avi. “What does your name mean, Avi? I assume that it is a common Armenian name, yes?”
Avi answered, “Yes, Avi is a nickname for Avetis.”
He paused. “It means ‘messenger for good news.’”
“Excellent!” exclaimed Bernie. “Your rejoining the family of God is wonderfully good news. You are indeed a messenger of good news.”
Wanting to bring the children back into the conversation, Bernie paused as she looked around to them and asked them if they knew what their names meant.
Anna replied first, “I was named after Mom’s grandma, and I think Anna is a form of Hannah meaning ‘grace,’ right, Mom?”
“Yes,” Liz replied.
“And my name is an Irish form of William and means, ‘boss,’” Liam said proudly.
Brian laughed. “Sort of. The idea is more of a protector, a guardian. Speaking of Irish names, Kevin do you remember what your name means?
“Oh yeah. ‘Handsome,’” Kevin answered, preening.
“What does my name mean?” asked Sean.
Brian replied, “Sean is the Irish version of John. It means ‘gift from God.’ But I have to say, that you were all gifts from God, right, sweetie?” Brian looked at Liz who had grown quiet.
Liz nodded. “Indeed. For a while we didn’t think we would be able to have children, but then God gave us four! What a blessing!”
Liz turned to Andy and Audrey. “Do you know what your names mean?” she asked.
“I know that my mom named me after Audrey Hepburn,” answered Audrey.
“What a beautiful and classy actress she was” Ginny said. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s was my favorite movie when I was growing up.”
Rebecca had pulled her cell phone from her pocket and was typing. After a moment, she said, “Audrey means ‘noble strength.’”
Liz said kindly, “I think that your name describes you to a T, Audrey.”
Karl turned to Andy. “Do you know what your name means, son?”
“No, but” answered Andy motioning to Rebecca, “I think that she’s going to tell me.”
Rebecca had already begun to google Andy’s name.
“Yes,” Rebecca said, “Andrew means ‘manly’ or ‘warrior’.”
“I like that, “said Andy,”
They had just finished dinner when Liz heard the whoosh sound of the coffee machine at work. She got up and signaled Anna, Kevin, and Liam to join her in the kitchen. She pointed to the coffee machine and motioned to the cups and saucers on the kitchen table.
“The decaf is brewing and I’m putting the tea kettle on. Kevin, you can take orders for decaf or herbal tea, while Anna puts the crème in the silver creamer and brings the tray to the table. I’ll cut the cake.” Liam knew his assignment and began clearing the dishes from the table; Andy and Audrey joined him to help. Anna helped Audrey put the buffet leftovers into storage containers after she brought the silver tea set to the table, while the boys cleared the table.
Each of the adults at the table thanked the kids as they cleared the plates and brought them in the kitchen.
Liz pulled the cake cutter from the drawer and began to cut slices of the lamb cake.
Not to be left out, Sean had followed them into the kitchen. “What can I do?” he asked.
“You can serve the cake, sweetie,” Liz replied, handing him one of the plates of cut cake. “Serve the ladies, first,” she reminded him.
When everyone had finished their cake, Anna and Audrey stood. “We’ll clear the rest of the dishes and go upstairs and watch a movie. Come on, Liam.”
Liam looked puzzled.
Anna winked at him and said, “Remember that new Star Wars movie that we wanted to watch? We can stream it upstairs in my room.”
Liam said, confused, “There’s not a new Star . . .” but, seeing the glare in Anna’s eyes, he said, “Oh yeah. That movie. Come on guys let’s help clear the rest of the dishes so we can go watch the movie.”
All six of the kids picked up the dessert dishes and brought them to the kitchen.
After the kids left the table, Liz continued the conversation.
“You were named after St. Bernadette, weren’t you?” Liz asked Bernie.
“What does Bernadette mean?”
“Yes, you’re right,” Bernie replied. “I was named after St. Bernadette. The name itself means ‘brave bear,’ but I was named Bernadette because of who the saint was. My maternal great grandmother was born and raised in Lourdes, France, and Bernadette became a very popular name in France–, especially in Lourdes, after Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary several times in 1858.”
“Have you been to Lourdes?” asked Avi.
“No, I have not,” Bernie replied. “But it’s on my bucket list,” she added.
Deflecting the attention from herself, Bernie turned to Rebecca. “Do you know what Rebecca means?” she asked.
“No, I guess I never really thought about it,” Rebecca said. “I assumed that my mom named me after Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm—because she had the whole collection of all of Shirley Temple movies.”
“Well, maybe that’s why you were named Rebecca,” Bernie said. “But the name means ‘servant of God.’ It is also associated with beauty in the Bible, because the Rebecca of the Old Testament was reported to be a great beauty.”
Brian asked Karl, “Do you know what your name means?” he asked.
“I think it’s a form of Charles that means ‘strong man’ or ‘manly,’” he replied. “Kind of like Andrew, I guess.”
“And what about your name, Ginny?” Bernie asked.
“As you know, my given name is Virginia,” she replied. “It means pure or virgin.”
Bernie looked at Liz. “Elizabeth is a classic Biblical name that means ‘God’s promise.’ And I know what Brian means, she said. It’s an Irish name that means noble or honorable.”
“Wow!” said Rebecca. “So many different origins of our names–some from the Bible, several from Ireland, and others from France and Armenia.”
Karl added thoughtfully, “Our names originated in many countries and go back centuries. It’s good to remember our roots from time to time.”
The adults continued their conversation around the table while the kids were gathered again in Anna’s room, sitting cross-legged in a circle with Keller in the middle. Keller had followed them upstairs and as usual, made sure that he was in the center.
One by one, the kids reported on the assignments they had been given to set up a tee time for Brian at Dallas National.
Their guests were gathering their wraps, and bags, thanking the O’Connells and saying goodbye when the phone rang.
Brian said, “I’ll get it.” His heart sank when he saw the caller identification: LAPD.
“Hello,” he answered with dread.
“Yes, they’re here with us now. I was just about to bring them home.”
“Oh no . . . yes, of course they can stay with us. Where are you taking her? I will call her attorney.”
Brian hung up the phone, and immediately called Lou.
When he finished the call to Lou, he walked to the door as the last of their guests were leaving. The kids had come back downstairs and Audrey had put on her sweater and picked up her purse to go home. Brian waited for the last guest to leave before speaking to the Martin twins.
“Audrey and Andy, you’re going to need to stay with us for a while,” he said.
They all looked at Brian with blank expressions.
“Your mom isn’t going to be at home for a while. I called her attorney. He said that he will arrange with LAPD for her to be taken back to the hospital for treatment.”
“What happened?” asked Audrey.
“Apparently, she ordered some champagne from a market in Culver City, and she drank at least a bottle, which triggered the alcohol detection bracelet she was wearing. Officer Rodriguez called and asked if you kids could stay with us.
“Of course they can,” Liz said, putting an arm around each of them.
“Yes, I told the officer that they are welcome to stay with us as long as necessary.”
He added, kindly, “Your mom broke the terms of her bail, so she will probably be detained until the trial now. I’m sorry.”
To be continued . . .