The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 107: Goodbye

Alicia Hurst sat next to her father and mother, Clarence and Millicent (Millie) Watson, as they flew from Texas to Washington, DC, for her daughter’s funeral.   She had been shocked to hear the news her daughter, Kathy, had died in a car accident.   Greg had tried to comfort her; because she had been so upset.   Looking over at them, she was glad for her parents company; however, she worried about her parents’ reaction to seeing her son, Greg, at the funeral.   Greg had already made it clear he wanted nothing to do with her parents.   She didn’t blame him because of what her father had said to him.   For a period of time, Greg had even cut all communication with her, because she had defended her parents’ views to him.

Greg had called her on Christmas Day.   It had been over seven months, since she had heard from him.   He hadn’t said much other than to wish her “Merry Christmas.”   His recent phone call had been a complete surprise, and the news he had shared with her, rocked her world.   She had never imagined she would outlive her children!

She called the prison where her ex-husband was being held and asked, the warden to give him the news.   He had asked if she wanted to speak to him directly, and she had declined the offer.   She had no wish to speak to him; but felt he should know of Kathy’s passing.   He and Kathy had been very close; and it was Kathy who had visited her father in jail, as often as she could.  

Alicia felt pity for her ex-husband, Steve; but, only to a certain point.   He had attacked her, as well her son.   She could have forgiven him for hurting her; but, she could never forgive him for hurting her son.   When Greg had told her he was changing his name, and was being adopted by Glenn’s grandfather; she had been very disturbed and felt betrayed.   However, now she was changing her name, as well; she understood the relief of not being reminded of the horror that had happened in her life, every time she heard her ex-husband’s last name.   She was just as anxious as Greg to leave behind the name of Hurst.   She never wanted to be called Mrs. Hurst again!

Her mother sat in the middle seat and her father in the aisle seat.   She had chosen the window seat; knowing her father liked sitting on the aisle.   He turned to her and asked, “What time is the funeral tomorrow?”

“It’s at 2 PM,” she said.   The seat belt sign came on and the captain came over the intercom, announcing their descent into the Washington, DC, area.   She looked out the window, and saw the lights of the Washington suburbs below the plane.   She turned her head to look at her mother.   She asked, “Mom, are you okay?”

Millie responded, “Yes.”   But she looked very green.   Millie suffered from motion sickness, and had taken several pills to help control her nausea, before the plane had left the ground in Texas.

About 20 minutes later, the plane touched down on the tarmac, and Alicia felt the brakes engage, slowing the plane.   They had landed at National Airport.   The plane taxied to the gate and soon stopped.   Alicia and her parents joined the queue of anxious humans, attempting to make their escape from the bowels of the airplane.   She led her parents out of the boarding area and down the long hallway toward the exit and baggage claim.  

“Slow down Alicia.   Your mother can’t keep up with you,” her father said.

She turned around to see her father was right.   She had been so focused on getting to the baggage claim she hadn’t remembered to wait for them.   They caught up to her, and then proceeded, as a group, to the baggage claim.   She claimed their luggage, as it dropped onto the conveyer belt.   They picked up their rental car and she drove them to their hotel.   She had chosen the Americana Hotel.

 She parked under the hotel, then helped her parents out of the car.   They checked into their rooms.   Her parents opted for room service, since they were too tired to go out for something to eat.   As soon as she knew her parents were settled, she called Greg.  

Greg answered his cell phone, and said, “Hi, Mom.”

“Greg, is it okay for me to come over to the Stetsons?” she asked.

“Yes, as long as you don’t bring you parents with you,” Greg answered.   He had almost called them his grandparents; but had remembered, at the last second, his promise not to acknowledge a relationship existed between himself and her parents.   After they had made it clear they thought his father had been right to attack him for being a sinner; he walked out of their house, never to return. 

“They are too tired to go out,” she replied.  “They have ordered room service.   Is Joey with you?   I want to see my grandbabies.”

“Joey is staying with Tyler’s parents,” he responded.   “Don’t you think it’s a little late to see my nieces?   Joey would have put them to bed over an hour ago.”

“You’re right.   I forgot about the time change.   I was thinking it was just a little past 8 o’clock,” she said.

“Cory and I will be there early to pay our respects to Kathy; but I don’t intend to stay for the service.   If you wish to see us, we will be here at the Stetsons,” he said.

“Why won’t you stay for the service?” she asked.

“You know the answer to that question, mother,” he said, using a scolding tone of voice.

“I had hoped you could put aside your differences, at least for a little while,” she said.

“You thought wrong, mother.   Your parents made it abundantly clear where they stood, or have you forgotten your father’s angry declaration that I’m not part of their family because I’m gay,” he said, pausing to get his emotions under control.  He continued, “I still don’t understand how you could side with them, when you were attacked, as well, by the man you married.”

“Greg, he is still your father,” she said.

“No, he forfeited his right to the title, when he attempted to murder me and Cory,” Greg said.   “Has something happened to your mind, mother?   I don’t understand what you think has changed, since I left the hospital with casts on all of my limbs and a hole drilled into my head, to relieve the swelling of my brain from the blunt force trauma inflicted on it by your husband.   As soon as we showed up in Texas, you started acting like I was the enemy; and I was somehow at fault for your husband’s problems.   Have you become your parents’ puppet?   It’s like you relinquished all responsibility for yourself into their hands, mother.   Now do you understand why I left you, and didn’t contact you for months?   Can you connect the dots as to why I changed my name and agreed to be adopted into a family that accepts me for who I am?   You are just as guilty of attempted murder as my ex-father; because it appears you feel the same toward gays as he does.”  

Cory knew Greg was very angry; and he knew he needed to step in, before things got any worse.   He took the phone away from his husband, and said, “Mrs. Hurst, I’m sorry, but I think this conversation needs to be postponed.   Greg is too upset to talk with you any more tonight.   Good night.”   He ended the call.   He looked at Greg and said, “I’m going to call the funeral home and arrange for a separate time for us to pay our respects to your sister.   I will advise Joey and Tyler of our plans.”

Greg’s clenched fists and his stiffness showed he hadn’t calmed down.   Cory took his fists in his hands.   He massaged them with his fingers until Greg’s hands unclenched, and his fingers became entwined with Cory’s.    He looked into Cory’s face and said, “I’m sorry I lost my temper.”

“Next time, just hang up,” Cory said.   “You don’t have to talk to your mother, or anyone else.   I don’t like it when you lose your self-control and start saying things you shouldn’t.   We’ve talked about this before; and you agreed to exercise some degree of restraint.”  Greg hung his head and wouldn’t meet Cory’s eyes.   Cory put his hand under Greg’s chin and raised it, until he could gaze into Greg’s eyes.  “My dear husband, I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Greg said.

“You don’t have to hang your head, or be embarrassed to admit your mistakes,” Cory said.   “Remember, this is something we both agreed to work on.”  Greg nodded, but didn’t respond verbally.   “We both have a lot of anger and hurt to work through.   The closer we get to the one year anniversary of the day we were attacked, the worse it is for me.”  

Greg said, “I know.   We are both having nightmares about it again; and being here doesn’t help matters.”

“Mom was worried about having us visit, because of the chance things might worsen,” Cory said.   “It’s a good thing we are leaving for Toronto immediately after the funeral tomorrow.”

Greg said, “I think we should leave before the funeral.  I don’t want to see Mom, or her parents.”

Cory said, ‘I agree.   Like I said; I will call the funeral home tomorrow to see if it’s possible for us to go early to see Kathy.”   Cory glanced at his watch, then pulled out his cell phone.   He dialed Joey’s number.

Joey answered, “Hey Cory.   What’s going on?”

“We won’t be at the funeral, tomorrow.   Greg just got off the phone with his mother and things didn’t go well,” Cory said.

Joey looked over at Tyler.   Tyler knew something was wrong from the expression on his lover’s face.   He reached over and took Joey’s other hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze.   Joey smiled at Tyler.  He leaned over and gave him a quick kiss, before returning to his conversation with Cory.   “I’m sorry to hear that.   I had hoped things were settling down a bit.”

“I thought so, too; but, I don’t think it would be wise for us to be in the same room with Greg’s mother, or her parents,” Cory said.   “We will go over early to see Kathy.   We’ll leave directly from there for Toronto.”

“I’m sorry we won’t get to see you, before you leave,” Joey said.  “When did you guys decide to drive?   I thought you were going to fly to Toronto.”

“When we calculated how many hours it was going to take to fly, we decided we might as well drive.   If you would like, we can stop by Tyler’s house on our way over to the funeral home.   That way we can say ‘goodbye’ properly.   We will see you, tomorrow.”

Cory ended the call, and turned to Greg.   Tears were falling down his cheeks.   Cory wrapped his arms around his husband, and said, “It’s okay.”   Greg buried his face in Cory’s chest, as he clung to him, trembling violently.   “Greg, you need to calm down.”

“I can’t stop it, Cory,” Greg said, through clenched teeth. 

Cory began massaging Greg’s back and neck.   This kind of thing had only happened once since they got married.   He knew this was the beginning of a seizure.   Greg’s trembling increased and changed to shaking.   He suddenly went completely rigid in Cory’s arms.   The doctors had warned both of them about the possibility of ongoing seizures, given the nature of their injuries.   Fortunately, Cory hadn’t experienced any seizures.   Cory felt Greg go limp in his arms, and he knew the seizure had ended.

Cory pulled back to assess Greg’s condition.   Greg’s eyes were unfocused and his face completely white.   He said, “Greg, you need to lie down.”   Greg didn’t respond to Cory.   Cory was beginning to get worried.   This hadn’t happened last time.   “Greg, can you hear me?”   Greg still didn’t respond.   By this time, Cory was starting to panic.   Cory thought, “What can I do to bring Greg out of this?”   The only thing that came to his mind was giving Greg a kiss.   Greg’s libido always seemed be to very active.   Maybe that would bring him around.   Cory took Greg’s face between his hands and gave him a passionate kiss.

At first, there was no response from Greg’s lips.   It was like kissing a dead fish!   Then, Greg’s arms tightened around Cory’s waist; next Greg’s tongue entered Cory’s open mouth.   When they surfaced for air, Cory said, “You had me worried, Greg.  You weren’t coming out of it, like you did, last time.”

Greg looked confused.   “What do you mean?   I don’t remember anything going wrong.  You hugged me, then you kissed me.”

Greg’s statement worried Cory even more that something was happening to him; and they needed to get him in to see the doctor.   Cory said, “You had a seizure, Greg.   You started trembling, then shaking uncontrollably.   Then, suddenly, you went stiff in my arms.   I thought the seizure was over, when you went completely limp; but, when I spoke to you, you didn’t respond.   Your eyes were unfocused and you were unresponsive.   I decided the only way I could get you to respond to me was to kiss you.”

Greg grinned at his husband.   “It worked.”   He guided Cory’s hand to his crotch.   His cock was at full mast and hard as steel.

Cory said, “Seriously, Greg, we need to get you in to see the neurologist.   Something is going on and I’m worried about you.”

Greg’s face grew serious.   “Okay, I’ll go to the doctor, when we get back from Toronto.”

“And that’s another thing; you are NOT driving, until we know what’s going on,” Cory said, sternly.

Greg looked at Cory in surprise.   “What do you mean?”

“You heard me.   You are not driving.   You don’t know when you’ll have another seizure, Greg.   What if you have a seizure while you’re driving?   What then?   It’s too big of a risk for us to let you drive, until we know what is going on.”

Greg’s face fell and he looked so down, Cory felt bad for being the heavy.  “I’m sorry, Greg.   I want you to drive and enjoy Grandpa’s gift to you.   I wouldn’t stop you from doing what you want, if I didn’t think it was so important.   Please, don’t make this any harder than it already is, Greg.”   When Greg didn’t answer, Cory put his hand under Greg chin and turned his head so he could look into his eyes.   “Greg, if you think it’s safe to drive, I won’t stop you.   This is a decision we need to make together.   Can you assure me you won’t have another seizure while you’re driving?”

Greg shook his head.   “I didn’t even know I had a seizure.   I don’t remember it at all.   Why does this have to be happening to me?   I thought things were moving in a positive direction; and now it seems the world is collapsing around me.”

Cory said, “The world is not collapsing around you.   We have just had a minor setback; and I’m sure it will work itself out.”   He took Greg’s hands in his and continued, “Greg, look at me.”   He waited, until he had Greg’s undivided attention.   “We’re a team.   That means you and me, together.   You’re not alone; and what is happening to you is happening to me, also.   We’re married.   Remember?   We became as one person, when we took our wedding vows.   We will stand together, and we will overcome this challenge.”

Greg eyes were bright with tears and his voice was full of emotion.   “I love you, Cory.”

Cory leaned forward and kissed his husband.   Greg pulled him closer and wrapped his arms around him.  Cory massaged Greg’s package through the cloth of his jeans.   Feeling Greg growing beneath his hand, Cory pushed Greg down on their bed and straddled him.   “You, sir, are not going anywhere, until I take care of your needs.”  

Joey put his phone on the dresser he shared with Tyler.   He helped Tyler reorganize the clothing in the drawers.   He smiled as he remembered Tyler’s surprise when he discovered they wore the same size underwear.   He had teased Tyler about it, because their waist size was the same.   The only difference was the pant length.   Tyler’s legs were a couple of inches longer than his own.   Tyler saw Joey smiling, and asked, “What are you thinking about?”

Joey laughed and joined Tyler on their bed.   He stretched out and molded his body to Tyler’s.   He said, “I was thinking about how amazed you were to find out we wore the same size underwear.”

Tyler blushed.   “I admit I should have figured that out; since I knew your waist size was the same as mine.”

Joey ran his hand over Tyler’s bare chest, pausing to give each nipple a tweak.   Joey grinned, as he watched Tyler’s dick jump.   He was still amazed Tyler’s nipples seemed to have a direct connection to his beautiful cock.   What was even more enjoyable for Joey was to suck on Tyler’s nipples, until he was squirming and begging Joey to stop.  

Tyler saw the wicked gleam in Joey’s eyes, and said, “Don’t even start!”

Joey laughed.   It was a happy laugh; but, at the same time, it was one indicating Joey was up to mischief!   Hearing it caused a thrill to run down Tyler’s spine.   Tyler grabbed Joey’s hand and brought it to his lips.   He looked into his lover’s eyes, and said, “I love you.”

Joey said, “I love you, too.”   He paused for a moment, then, said, “I was just thinking we should go with Greg and Cory in the morning.   We can take the girls to say goodbye to their mother in private; without all of the distractions of having so many people around.   Do you think your parents would mind watching the girls during the funeral?” 

Tyler said, “I agree it would be better to go earlier.   I think we should invite Mom and Dad to join us.   That way, we could be together, as a family, sweetheart.   As for asking them to babysit the girls for us, I’m sure the answer will be ‘yes.’   You know how taken they are with the girls.”

Joey smiled.   “Yes, the girls have them both wrapped around their little fingers.”

“They have always wanted grandchildren, and they knew I wouldn’t be providing them with any; so it is a huge bonus for them I’m marrying a man who has children,” Tyler said.   He rubbed noses with Joey, and kissed him gently on the lips.

“Would you consider using a surrogate?” Joey asked.

Tyler said, “Only if you really want another child.”

Joey looked deeply into Tyler’s eyes.   “I want your child, Tyler.   I know you love our girls; but I want a son, your son.”

Tyler’s eyes sparkled with unshed tears.   He wanted children of his own and hadn’t known how to bring up the subject with Joey.   Joey had already won his heart long ago; but his willingness to have more children, his children, deepened the love Tyler had for him.  

Seeing Tyler’s reaction to his proposal, Joey said, “I’m willing to be a stay at home Dad, if you want more than one son.”

Tyler smiled.   “Somehow I don’t see you as the stay-at-home type of guy.   I think we will need to have a nanny and a housekeeper.”

Joey grinned.   “Okay, I admit it would be a stretch for me; but, I would do it for you.”

“I think we need to make sure we have super good jobs; so we can afford to pay for a little extra help,” Tyler said, laughing.

Joey said, “I already have a super good job; taking care of you.”   Before Tyler could respond, Joey captured his lips and proceeded to demonstrate how skilled he was at taking care of Tyler!

The next morning, Joey woke up before sunrise.   He slipped out of bed, without disturbing his lover.   He took care of his needs and returned to their room to find Tyler awake.   Tyler smiled as Joey pushed his boxers down and kicked them off.   He loved Joey’s well-muscled arms and chest.   Joey had maintained his body by working out often.   They were a versatile pair, since both liked to fuck and be fucked.   It amazed Tyler that they had hit if off so well; because they both had Type A personalities.   They had learned early on in their relationship they could work together as a team; neither one dominating the other.   They had meshed together like gears in a clock; each doing their best to make things work.  

Tyler’s memory went back to a comment his mother had made yesterday.

“I can’t believe how well you two fit together.   It’s almost like you’re two halves of the same person,” Louise said.

They had looked at each other and laughed.   Joey said, “We do most of the time; but, sometimes I run off the tracks, like what happened over the last couple of days.”

Tyler said, “I guess you could say that was our first real disagreement.”

Joey squeezed Tyler’s hand.   “I hope it’s our last, Babe.   I don’t want a repeat of that experience.”

Tyler said, “I’m sure we will have our moments; but, we will always make up and be stronger for it.”

Joey climbed in bed with Tyler and pulled him close.   Tyler snuggled against Joey’s body.   They soon were asleep in each other’s arms.

They were awakened by a tiny, wee voice.   “Daddy, I’m hungry.”  

Joey felt a tug on his arm.   He rolled over and saw Rachel standing next to the bed.   He said, “Okay, baby.   Let’s go get you something to eat.   Can you let Daddy get dressed first?”

Rachel nodded her head and said, “Eyes closed.”   She scrunched her eyes closed and stood waiting for him to get dressed.

He turned back to kiss his sleeping fiancé, then got out of bed and pulled on his clothes.   He said, “Okay, you can open your eyes now.”

Rachel opened her eyes and ran over to him.  He leaned down and scooped her into his arms.   She wrapped her arms around his neck and said, “I love you, Daddy.”

“I love you, too, Baby,” Joey replied.   He carried her downstairs and found Louise was already in the kitchen.

Louise smiled, and said, “Good morning.”

“Good morning, Mom,” Joey replied.

Rachel said, “Good morning, Nanna.”

He sat Rachel down in her booster seat and buckled her in.   Louise asked, “What kind of cereal do you want, Rachel?”   Louise held up two boxes of cereal for her to see.

Rachel pointed at one and said, “I want that one.”

Louise smiled, and said, “Okay, Fruit Loops it is.”   She poured some cereal into a bowl and added milk.   She placed the bowl and a spoon in front of the little girl.   “Will you say grace?”

Joey nodded his head and took each of them by the hand.   “We thank you, God, for this food.  Bless us today with your comforting grace, Amen.”

Louise said, “Thank you, Joey.   Do you want hot, or cold cereal?”

“Hot cereal, please,” Joey said.   She brought him a bowl of oatmeal.   She placed the milk on the table, along with brown sugar and a bowl of fresh blueberries.   He had just started to eat, when Tyler walked in and sat next to Joey.   “Good morning, Babe.”

“Good morning,” Tyler responded.   He leaned over and kissed him.

Louise smiled at the demonstration of affection, and placed a bowl of oatmeal in front of her son.   “Before you complain, I have eggs and bacon, as well.”

Tyler wrinkled his nose at the oatmeal; but he didn’t comment.   He reached for the sugar and blueberries, to begin doctoring it up to make it more palatable.   Rachel was watching her new Dad with interest and said, “Nanna, Dad doesn’t like oatmeal.”

Louise laughed.   “You’re right, Rachel.   Your Dad doesn’t like oatmeal; but he’s going to be a good boy and eat it anyway.”

Tyler grimaced, and said, “Yes, Mother.”   He stirred his oatmeal and started to eat it.

“See, Rachel, your Dad knows he should listen to his mother,” Louise said.   She turned to the stove to retrieve the eggs and bacon.  

Tyler stuck out his tongue, causing Rachel to laugh.   “Dad stuck out his tongue, Nanna.”

Louise smiled and said, “You just ignore your Dad.   He’s being silly.”

Rachel asked, “Are you being silly, Dad?”

“Yes, because I don’t like oatmeal,” Tyler said.   “Sticking out my tongue helps me so I can eat it.”

“I thought sticking out your tongue meant you wanted a kiss,” Joey said.

Tyler blushed and looked at Joey.   “It does when I stick my tongue out at you.”

Joey leaned over and kissed Tyler.   “There.   You’ve had your kiss.   Now eat your oatmeal.”   Joey grinned at Tyler, and put his hand on Tyler’s thigh.   He moved his hand up Tyler’s leg and began massaging his lover’s package.  

Tyler grabbed Joey’s hand.   He brought it to his lips and kissed it.   “Hold that thought.”

Louise said, “I’ll be right back.   I hear Sarah calling.”   She left the kitchen and soon returned with Sarah in her arms.   She placed the toddler in her high chair and buckled her in.   She placed a bowl of fruit loops on the tray, then added a saucer with sliced bananas on it.   She put some milk in a sippy cup and handed it to Sarah, who drank it greedily.

Joey looked over at his daughter and said, “Good morning, Sarah.”   He reached over and lightly caressed her cheek.  She didn’t stop drinking her milk; but she wrapped her hand around his finger.   Finishing her milk, she held out her cup to Louise and said, “More.”

Louise said, “More, please.”

Sarah repeated, “More, please, Nanna.”

Louise smiled and said, “Okay, Sarah.”

She refilled the cup and passed it back to Sarah.   She released Joey’s finger and started to eat the sliced bananas, in between sips of milk.

Harry walked into the kitchen and sat down at the head of the table.   “Good morning everyone,” he said.

They chorused “good morning.”   Louise passed the eggs and bacon to her husband.   Tyler said, “Mom and Dad, we would like you to go with us to the funeral home, today.   We plan to go early, before the service.”

Harry nodded his approvingly, and said, “I think that is a good idea.”

“Are you planning to take the girls with you to the service,” Louise asked.

Tyler said, “We’d like to leave them here with you; but, if you want to attend the service, we will take turns watching them in the foyer.”

Louise said, “I’d prefer not to attend the funeral.   I don’t like them, because they are so sad.”

Harry agreed, “I think we’ll stay home with the girls.   I’m glad you thought about taking them early to say goodbye to their mother, privately.”

“They won’t remember much; but, maybe they will remember saying goodbye to Kathy,” Joey said.   “Do you think we should bring them to the grave, so they can see where their mother will be buried?”

Louise said, “I think it would help them make the connection that their mother is no longer with us.”

Harry said, “We could meet you at the cemetery with the girls, after the funeral service.”

Tyler said, “Why don’t we do that?”

Joey agreed, “Okay, we’ll meet you at the cemetery.”   He gave Harry the address, and the location of the burial plot.

After breakfast, they bathed and dressed the girls.   They looked simply angelic, in their little pink dresses.   Tyler and Joey showered together and helped each other dress.   Tyler said, “You do clean up pretty well, Mr. Malone.”

“So do you, Mr. Damasiewicz,” Joey said, grinning from ear to ear.   They looked into the mirror at their reflections.   “I can’t believe I managed to catch such a hot stud.”   He turned around and kissed Tyler.

Tyler smiled and said, “I found an equally hot stud, when I met you.”

They went downstairs to find everyone was ready to go.   Greg and Cory pulled up, as they were putting the girls in their car seats.   Joey was surprised to see Cory driving.   Cory rolled down the window.   Joey bent down to talk to him.   He looked across at Greg and could see that he wasn’t happy; so he didn’t ask what was going on.   “We’ll follow you over to the funeral home.”

Cory said, “Okay.”   He rolled the window up and waited for them.   When the other two cars were lined up behind him, he pulled out.   They caravanned over to the funeral home.   As they entered the building, they were met by the funeral director, Mr. Boyd.   He shook their hands and said, “Please come this way.”   

They followed him into a beautifully appointed room, with couches and chairs scattered along one wall.   The casket had been placed on the opposite wall.   They walked over to the casket.   There was a beautiful spray of roses and carnations sitting on top of it.   He pulled the flower arrangement toward the bottom of the casket, before opening it.

Joey’s breath caught in his throat upon seeing his wife.   She looked so peaceful lying there.   The dress was perfect and she looked so beautiful.   The mortician had done his work very well.  

Tyler put his arm around Joey’s waist and asked, “Are you okay?”

Joey couldn’t speak.   The reality of Kathy’s death hadn’t hit him until that moment.   It was a good thing Tyler was holding him; because he was suddenly a little weak in the knees.   The tears began to roll down his cheeks.   He was going to miss her.   Rachel asked, “Why are you crying, Daddy?”

He bent down and picked her up.   “I’m crying because I’m sad.   Your Mommy died and went to heaven, Baby.”

She looked down into the casket.   “But Mommy is right there.”   She pointed at her mother.

“Yes, Baby, her body is there; but her spirit has left and gone to be with God,” Joey said.

“Why doesn’t Mommy come home with us?” Rachel asked.

“She died in the car accident, Baby,” Joey said.

“Why can’t she come home with us?” Rachel asked again.

“Her body will be buried in the ground,” Joey said.   He said, “Even though you can’t see her, Mommy will always be inside here.”   He pointed to her heart.

Rachel looked down at her chest and touched the spot over her heart.   “How can Mommy be inside me?”

“She can be there, because you will always remember her; just like she will always be inside me, too.”

Tyler took Sarah from his mother’s arms and moved closer to the casket, so Sarah could see her mother.   She held out her arms and said, “Mommy!”

Joey’s vision blurred, as he said, “Sarah, Mommy can’t hear you.   She’s gone to heaven.   Can you tell Mommy bye-bye?   She will be waiting in heaven for you, when you get there.”

Sarah looked at her father and reached out for him.   He handed Rachel to Louise and took Sarah in his arms.   She turned around in his arms, and reached out her arms toward her mother, a second time.   “Mommy!”

Her strident voice tore at Joey’s heart strings.   He said, “Sarah, Mommy has gone away.”

Sarah turned back to her father and buried her face in his shoulder.   He walked over to a couch and sat down.   He held Sarah close and said, “I’m sorry, Baby.   I miss Mommy, too.”

Tyler joined him on the couch, holding Rachel on his lap.   He put his arm around Joey’s shoulders and said, “It’s okay, Babe.”

Greg and Cory had stepped up to the casket.   Greg said, “Goodbye, Kathy.   I hope you are much happier where you are now.”

He wouldn’t miss her nastiness and viciousness; but he would miss knowing she was just a phone call away.   Not that he would have ever called her; but at least there had been a chance they would have been able to overcome their differences.   Now that would never happen.   Tears had come to his eyes and he turned to Cory, who put his arm around his husband.   They walked over and sat down on a couch next to Joey and Tyler.

Harry and Louise joined them.   Rachel climbed down from Tyler’s lap and walked over to Louise, who picked her up.   Rachel said, “Nanna, Daddy says Mommy isn’t coming home with us.”

“That’s right, dear,” Louise said.

“Will Nanna come home with us?” Rachel asked, looking up at Louise.

Louise said, “Yes, I will be coming home with you.   Is that okay?”

“Yes,” Rachel said.   She nodded her head and leaned back against Louise.

Joey looked across at his daughter, and tried to smile.   She looked so sad, with her big round eyes peering at him.   He passed Sarah over to Tyler and held out his arms to her.   Louise lifted her down and set her on her feet.   Rachel ran across to her father and he lifted her into his arms.   He hugged her close and kissed her cheek.   “I love you, Rachel.”

 “I love you, Daddy,” Rachel said.   She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek in return.   She looked over at Tyler and said, “I love Dad, too.”   She moved over to Tyler’s lap and put her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.

Tyler kissed her on the cheek and said, “I love you, Rachel.”   A tear escaped and ran down his cheek.  

Rachel touched his face and wiped the tear away with her little finger.   She looked Tyler in the eyes and asked, “Why are you crying, Dad?”

“I’m crying because I’m so happy,” he replied.

“If you’re happy, why are you crying?” she asked.

“When you told me you loved me, it made me very happy.   So I cried,” Tyler said, smiling at her.

She looked over at Joey, who was also crying.   “Are you happy, Daddy?”

“Yes, I’m happy you love Dad,” he said.

Rachel nodded her head.   She sat down on Tyler’s lap and hugged her sister.    “I love Sarah.”

Sarah turned her head away, when Rachel tried to kiss her cheek.   She started to protest, when Rachel hugged her.   Tyler said, “Rachel, Sarah doesn’t want to be hugged right now.”

Rachel released her sister and said, “Can we go home now?”

Tyler nodded his head.   “I think we can go home, now.”

They stood up and posed for photographs.   The funeral director took photos for them; so everyone could be in the photograph.   They left the funeral parlor and were standing in the foyer, when Joey overheard Greg arguing with Cory.

He walked over and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Cory turned to him and said, “Greg had a seizure, last night.   He’s mad, because I won’t let him drive, until we know what’s going on with the seizures.”

Joey looked at Greg in surprise.   “I didn’t know you had seizures.”

Greg glared at Cory and said, “I’ve only had two; one a few months ago, and the second one, last night.   Cory thinks I’ll have another one, while I’m driving and get us killed.”

Joey said, “Cory’s right, Greg.   However, I can also see your side of things, Greg.”

“What do you mean?” Cory asked, eyeing Joey with suspicion.

“Why don’t you let him drive short distances?   That way you can make sure he doesn’t get overtired.   If you see him starting to get too tired, or showing signs a seizure might be imminent; you can get him to pull over and let you drive,” Joey said.

Greg looked at his husband, hoping he would give a little.   Cory looked back at him and shrugged.   “Alright, you can drive for 30 minutes at a time, and you have to rest for two hours in between.”

Greg looked like he was going to protest; when Cory held up his hand.   “I’ll call Grandpa if you don’t listen to me.   You know he wanted us to fly to Toronto from here.”

Greg snapped his mouth shut, and gave Cory a look that would have caused most people to cringe.   Cory stared back at him and said, “Don’t force my hand, Greg.   I am just as stubborn as you; plus, you know I’m right.”

Greg gave a sigh of resignation and turned to Joey.   “Do you see how he browbeats me?”

“It’s only because he loves you, Greg.   Be grateful he won’t let you overdo it,” Joey said.   “In fact, I would recommend you not drive at all, today.   Most people who have seizures take a couple of days to recover from them.   I’m surprised you aren’t flat on your back in bed.”

Cory laughed.   “He was flat on his back in bed after it happened.”

Greg grinned and said, “Only because my husband was taking good care of me.”

Joey chuckled.   “I get the picture!”  His expression turned to one of concern.   “Be careful, Greg.   Don’t push yourself too much today.   I don’t want to lose you.”   His eyes were suddenly filled with tears.

Greg saw Joey’s tears begin to fall, and pulled his brother-in-law into a bear hug.   “I promise I’ll be careful, Joey.”

Greg released him and Joey wiped the tears from his face with the back of his hand.  “I’m sorry, Greg.   I’m just really out of control, today,”

Greg said, “I know the feeling.   It’s been a hard week for all of us.   Tell Mom I will talk to her later.”

Cory said, emphatically, “No, you won’t, Greg.   Until we know what’s causing your seizures, I don’t want you talking to her.   I think she got you so upset, when you talked to her last night, it brought on the seizure.”

Joey asked, “What did she say?”

Greg related to Joey what had been said.   After hearing it, Cory said, “You definitely won’t be talking to her, if I have anything to do with it.”

Joey agreed.   “It’s too bad she has adopted the same attitude towards gays as your grandparents.   I thought she was okay with us being gay.”

Greg said, “It’s almost like she has blocked out what happened, and is trying to go backwards in time.   I can’t go there, because time doesn’t flow backward.”

“Her true feelings are showing up; and I think we need to acknowledge what they are, and move on,” Cory said.   “We made the right choice to cut all contact with her, when we left Texas last summer; and I think that is still the right thing to do.”

Greg nodded his head.   “I’m sorry, Cory.   I just thought we could have a civil relationship with her; but, I see now it won’t work.”

“You’re still too fragile, Greg.   I won’t let you drive yourself into the nut house over this.   You have to let her go.   You have been adopted by Grandpa and Grandma Scarborough, who love you, and respect you for the person you are.   They aren’t trying to change you, or force you to be something you’re not.”

Joey said, “Listen to your husband, Greg.   He knows what is best for you.”

Greg nodded his head and said, “Okay; but I still get to drive.”   He grinned at Cory who shook his head.

Cory smiled and said, “Okay, Mister, we need to go.”

Rachel walked over to Greg and Cory, and lifted her arms up.   Greg picked her up and said, “Goodbye Rachel.   Uncle Cory and I are going to Toronto, for a wedding.”

Rachel said, “I love you.”

Greg smiled and kissed her cheek.   “You’re my little love bug.”

She giggled and said, “Yes.   I like lots of loves.”

He passed her to Cory, who hugged her and kissed her cheek.   “You be a good girl for your Dads.”

“Okay, I’ll give them loves,” Rachel said, as she reached for her Daddy.

Joey took her from Cory, and she put her arms around his neck and said, “I love you, Daddy.”

Tyler put his arm around Joey’s waist.   He asked, “Do I get to love your Daddy, too?”

Rachel said, “Yes.”   She put her fingers on Joey lips and said, “You can kiss him here.”

Tyler followed her direction and kissed Joey lightly on the lips.   As he pulled back, Rachel wrapped her arms around his neck.   He took her in his arms.   She looked him in the eyes and said, “I love you, Dad.”   She kissed his cheek.

“I love you, too, Rachel.   I love Sarah, too,” Tyler said.

Cory grinned and said, “I think Rachel knows how to handle the men in her life already!”

Tyler laughed.   “That she does, and she also knows how to get Nanna and Grandpa to do what she wants.”

Greg smiled and said, “We’ll call you when we arrive in Toronto; so you’ll know we got there safely.”

“Okay,” Joey said.   “Keep in touch, Greg.”

“I will,” Greg said.   He held out his hand to Cory and indicated he wanted the car keys.

Cory put the keys in his hand but didn’t let go.   He looked into Greg eyes and said, “30 minutes.   No arguments.”

Greg sighed.   “Alright, 30 minutes; but stops for gas don’t count.”

Cory laughed.   “Okay, let’s go.”   Cory pulled Greg into his embrace and kissed him.   They walked hand in hand to the parking lot.   Joey and Tyler stepped outside and waved to them, as they drove past on their way out of the parking lot.

They returned to the foyer, where Tyler’s parents were waiting with the girls.   “Are we ready to go home?” Tyler asked.

Rachel said, “Nanna said she’s ready.”

Louise smiled.   “Rachel’s right.   I’m ready.”

They returned to their vehicles and caravanned back to Tyler’s house.   They congregated in the kitchen, where Louise was making lunch.   She looked at Rachel and asked, “Are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches okay?”

Rachel nodded her head and said, “No crusts, please.”   Louise smiled and handed Rachel her plate with the sandwich.   The crusts had been removed as requested.   Rachel said, “Thank you, Nanna.”

Rachel sat with her hands in her lap and waited patiently while everyone got their sandwiches.   She looked at Harry, who asked, “What’s wrong, Rachel?”

“We need to say Grace,” Rachel said.

Harry smiled at her.   “Yes, we need to say Grace.   I’ll say it.”

They reached out and took each other by the hand and listened, as Harry prayed for them.  

An hour later, Joey and Tyler hugged and kissed the girls and left them with Louise and Harry.  They walked out to Joey’s car.   Joey started the car, but didn’t put it in gear.   He turned to Tyler and said, “I want to bounce something off of you, before we get to the funeral home.”

Tyler looked at Joey and said, “Okay, I’m listening.”

“My mother-in-law’s parents are evangelical fanatics.   I don’t want them anywhere near us, or the children.   I also want to avoid a confrontation with them,” Joey said.

Tyler said, “I’m with you so far.   What did you have in mind?”

“I want to be open and honest with you and with everyone else about the fact we’re engaged to be married,” Joey said.

“But you’re afraid they will cause a scene at the funeral, if you tell them,” Tyler said.  Joey nodded his head.   “I’m willing to stay home with the children, if you think it will avoid causing problems.”

Joey shook his head.   “No, I want you to be with me.   I need you, Tyler.”

Tyler took Joey’s hand in his.   “I think we can do this together.   I will try to avoid being as affectionate with you in public as I have been.”

Joey shook his head.   “I don’t want that.   I think we can behave normally.   I just wanted to talk it over with you.  I don’t want to upset you by behaving differently toward you when they’re around.   If I start acting goofy, please remind me to be true to myself, and resist trying to fit into somebody else’s reality.   And I’m not going to announce our engagement to them; but if they ask, I’ll tell them we are getting married.”

Tyler said, “Okay, I’m on board with that.”

Joey leaned over and kissed Tyler.   “Thank you for being patient with me.”

He put the car in gear and drove to the funeral home.   They pulled into the parking lot, and found a parking spot near the door.   They entered the building and were met by Mr. Boyd.

“Please go into the chapel,” he said, pointing the way.

They entered the chapel and made their way to the front, where Pastor Wilson and his husband were standing.   Joey smiled and shook their hands.   “Thank you for coming.”

Pastor Wilson said, “Thank you for asking me to conduct the service.”

Joey turned to Tyler, “Pastor Wilson this is my fiancé, Tyler Damasiewicz.”

Pastor Wilson smiled.   “Glad to meet you, Tyler.   This is my husband, David Wilson.”

David shook Tyler’s hand and said, “You have chosen a wonderful man, Tyler.   We have watched him with his girls.   He has so much patience and love.   I’m sure you know that, already.”

Tyler smiled and said, “Yes, I think I made a good catch, when I found Joey.”

Pastor Wilson said, “I have a short sermon prepared, and I took the liberty of inviting our church choir to supply a musical number.   Is Ave Maria okay?”

Joey said, “Yes.   We aren’t Catholic; but I’ve always loved hearing it.   Kathy would have liked it.”   Joey turned to see his mother-in-law enter the chapel followed by an elderly couple.   He recognized Kathy’s grandparents, even though he had met them only once, at his wedding.   He turned to Tyler and said, “I’ll be right back.”

Tyler smiled, “Go ahead.   I’ll stay here with Pastor Wilson.”   Joey walked toward his in-laws.   Tyler turned to Pastor Wilson.   “Mrs. Hurst’s parents are evangelicals, and we are hoping to avoid a bad scene.”

Pastor Wilson said, “I can’t understand the bigotry of my fellow Christians.   There is enough wrong with this world, without adding more pain and suffering by persecuting gays.”

Joey approached his mother-in-law and gave her a hug.   Alicia said, “I’m so sorry, Joey.”

Joey had tears in his eyes.   “It happened so suddenly.”

Alicia nodded her head.   “I still can’t believe Kathy’s gone.”

Joey turned to Alicia’s parents.   “Thank you for coming.”

Clarence said, “We’re here to support you and Alicia.”

Millie said, “If you need us, please let us know.”

He said, “Thank you.”

Alicia asked, “Where are the girls?”

“I left them with friends.   I brought them here this morning to say their goodbyes,” Joey said.   “I didn’t want to upset them anymore than they are already.   They will meet us at the cemetery, so they can see where their mother will be buried.”

Alicia nodded her head in understanding.   “I think you were wise to do that.”   She looked around, searching for her son.   “I don’t see Greg here.”

“He had a seizure last night; so he won’t be here.   He came with me and the girls this morning,” Joey said.

Before Alicia could ask more questions, Mr. Boyd came up to them.   “Please come this way.”

They followed him into a room just off of the chapel, where the casket was open for the family to see Kathy.   Seeing her daughter, Alicia was overcome with grief.   Joey helped her to a chair next to the casket.  

Millie said, “Alicia, Kathy looks so peaceful.”

Alicia managed to collect herself enough to respond.   “She looks so beautiful.”

Joey said, “I miss her.   I’m going to miss our arguments.”

Alicia smiled, “Yes, Kathy liked to argue.   She always had to be right.”

They shared their memories of Kathy with each other, and with the Watsons.   They laughed and they cried.   Mr. Boyd approached them and said, “It’s time for the service to begin.”  He closed the casket and said, “Mr. Malone, if you would push the casket from behind, I will guide it from the front.”

They moved the casket into the chapel.   Everyone took their seats, and Pastor Wilson stood to welcome them.   The service was short; but very appropriate.   There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  

After it was over, Mr. Boyd stood and said, “Would the pall bearers come forward?”

Tyler and Joey stood up and approached the casket.   Mr. Boyd directed them to each end of the casket.   “Please wait, until the casket has been loaded into the hearse.   For those following us over to the cemetery, please follow the hearse.   We have flags for you to put on your cars, and remember to turn your headlights on.”

Tyler and Joey helped the funeral director and his assistant load the casket into the hearse.   They followed the hearse over to the cemetery.   When they arrived at the burial site, Joey and Tyler helped move the casket from the hearse to the burial plot.   Harry and Louise joined the small gathering at the graveside, carrying the girls in their arms.

Rachel stretched out her arms to her Daddy.   Joey took her in his arms.   Louise passed Sarah over to Tyler.   Joey said, “Girls, it’s time to listen.”   He pointed to Pastor Wilson.   “The pastor is going to pray for Mommy.” 

When everyone had gathered around, Pastor Wilson dedicated the grave.   Joey handed a white rose to each of the girls.   He and Tyler walked over to the casket.   “Put the rose on the casket for Mommy,” Joey instructed them.   He bent over with Rachel in his arms, so she could reach the casket.   She let the rose fall onto the lid of the casket.   “It’s time to say ‘Goodbye’ to Mommy.   She will stay here, when we leave.”

Rachel waved her little hand and said, “Bye-Bye.”  

Tyler followed Joey’s lead and moved close to the casket with Sarah.   She let go of the rose, and it fell next to the one Rachel had placed there.   Joey repeated his instruction to Sarah.   “Tell Mommy ‘Goodbye,’ Baby.”  Sarah didn’t respond.   Instead, she turned her face away from the cold wind that was blowing, and buried it in Tyler’s coat.

Then, Alicia put her rose on the casket.   Alicia said, “Goodbye, Kathy, dearest.   We will miss you.   I love you.”

Millie followed suit and said, “Rest in peace, baby girl.   Grandma will miss you.”

Alicia and her parents approached Joey and Tyler.   She smiled at Rachel.   “How’s my little girl?”

Rachel responded by hiding her face in Joey’s shoulder.   Joey apologized, “I’m sorry.   She doesn’t remember you.”

Alicia’s face showed her disappointment.   “It’s been a long time, since I last saw her.”   She turned to Sarah.   “How is my little Sarah doing?”

Sarah made some gurgling sounds and waved her arms.   Joey smiled and said, “I don’t know what she said; but I’m sure she’s happy to see you.”

Alicia smiled, “She does seem to be happy.”

Millie said, “I’m glad the girls weren’t hurt in the car accident.   It would have been an even greater tragedy had they been killed, as well.”

Joey tried to fight back the tears blurring his vision.   He managed to say, “Yes, we were fortunate the girls were unhurt.”

Millie said, “I’m sorry to remind you of your loss, Joey.   You do have these two wonderful daughters to keep you company.”

Joey smiled.   “Yes, they are wonderful.”

Ray and Darla Stetson came over to Alicia and gave her a hug.   Darla said, “You are welcome to come over to the house, after you’re done here.   We would love to have you.”

Alicia said, “I would love to see you.”   She turned to her parents.  

Before she could ask if they wanted to go with her, Clarence said, “You can take us back to the hotel.   We will see you when you’re finished visiting with your friends.”

Alicia nodded her head.  “Okay, I will see you in a couple of hours.”

Darla said, “Drive safely, and we’ll see you in a little while.”  Alicia and her parents left them, and returned to their rental car.   When they were safely out of earshot, Ray and Darla turned to Joey and Tyler.   Darla said, “You can bring the girls to the house to visit with Alicia.   Her parents aren’t coming, so you won’t have to worry about them.”

Joey said, “Thank God for small favors!  I thought for sure Kathy’s grandparents would want to spend time with us.”   He hugged Darla.

She smiled and said, “Plan to stay for supper.   I miss having you living with us.”

Joey nodded his head.   “Okay.   I’m sorry.   I just wanted Tyler’s parents to get to know us, before we’re married.”

Darla said, “We understand, Joey.   I’m just saying we miss you and expect you to come and visit us often.”

Joey said, “I promise we’ll stop by, as often as we can.”   He and Tyler walked back to Harry’s car.   They buckled the girls into their car seats.   “Nanna and Grandpa will take you home.   Dad and I will follow you in our car.   Okay?”

Rachel said, “Okay, Daddy.”

Joey and Tyler walked over to Joey’s car and climbed in.   Once inside, Joey said, “Thank you for helping pull this off without incident.”

Tyler smiled and said, “Not a problem.”   He reached over and squeezed Joey’s leg.   “I will always be here for you.”

They followed Tyler’s parents back to their home.   They helped take the girls inside.   Louise said, “Girls, it’s time for a snack, then it’s nap time.”   She produced a sippy cup with milk in it for Sarah, who guzzled it like she had been in the middle of the desert for days!   She gave a cup of milk to Rachel.   Then, she passed out chocolate chip cookies.   She saw Tyler’s look of disappointment and laughed.   “Do you want cookies and milk, too?”

Tyler grinned and said, “Yes, please.”

Louise looked at Joey and asked, “What about you?”

Joey nodded his head.   “Yes, please.”

She poured glasses of milk for the adults and put a plate of cookies in the middle of the table.   When they were finished, she said, “Okay girls.   Let’s go upstairs to bed.”

After her seatbelt was released, Rachel slid down off of her booster seat, and reached her hand up to take Louise’s hand.   Joey lifted Sarah out of her high chair and followed Louise and Rachel upstairs.   They tucked them into bed and Joey kissed each of them on the forehead.   “We’ll see you after nap time.”

They returned to the kitchen.   Louise said, “Why don’t you two go upstairs and take a nap yourselves.   I’ll wake you up in time to drive over to the Stetsons.”

They looked at each other and smiled.   “Thanks, Mom,” Tyler said.   They climbed the stairs together.   As soon as Tyler closed their bedroom door behind them, he pulled Joey into his arms.   “I want your body, and I want it now!”

Joey grinned and said, “I thought you would never ask.”

They helped each other out of their clothes, then moved in unison to their bed.

Greg drove a little over 30 minutes before Cory said, “Okay, buddy.   Pull off at the next exit and we’ll get gas and change drivers.”

Greg said, “Alright.”  He pulled into a Shell Station and they filled up.  Greg reluctantly handed Cory the keys.   “You are being so stubborn about this.”

Cory smiled and said, “But you love me, anyway!”

Greg grinned and said, “Yes, I do and it’s good thing; otherwise, I would still be fighting mad about not getting to drive.”

Cory laughed.   “Just think of it as an early Valentine’s Day gift to your husband!”

“Does this mean I don’t have to buy you flowers and chocolates?” Greg asked, giving Cory a sly look.

Cory glanced at Greg, as he put the car in gear and pulled out of the service station.   “I want you completely naked and covered in whipped cream.   I expect you to have a chocolate rose between your teeth which you will share with me, after I lick the whipped cream off of your body.”  Hearing Cory’s wish for Valentine’s Day made Greg extremely horny, as he visualized it.   Cory continued, “And I want your cock and balls covered in chocolate syrup.”

Greg said, “And let me guess.   You want a cherry on top!”

Cory laughed, “No, I hate those little red cherries.   I think chocolate covered strawberries buried in the whipped cream would be a nice touch, one on each nipple.”

They continued to paint verbal images of their plans for a very special Valentine’s Day, as they drove north toward Toronto!

Prev To be continued . . .