I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME
(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Transformed Heart Of A Woman)
AUNTIE YONNY: AGAINST MY WILL
Mr. Wellington began the reading of Miriam Barrett’s will as if he were officiating over a wedding. He had placed a large portrait of Miriam beside his desk surrounded by flowers.
Hal brought Steve and Jake into the office and they each sat on one side of him. The air in the room to those who did not wish to share it with one another was tense and stifling.
Miriam’s two sons Conner Barrett and Everett Barrett, Jr., grandchildren, and brothers, Richard Graves and William Graves, stared at Hal, loathsomely. Hal pictured a neon sign hanging over their heads flashing, “IF LOOKS COULD KILL.”
“We are gathered here today, family and friends, in the sight of witnesses to ceremoniously disclose the love and remembrance of Miriam D. Graves-Barrett. It is with great honor that I deliver the words of a great woman I extremely admired and respected. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.
I thank you all for gathering here today to pay respect to her last requests and wishes. Miriam Barrett was a woman of great passion and compassion…”
As Theodore Wellington went on and on about Miriam, Hal began to have questions about Miriam and Theodore’s personal relationship. He didn’t know if this was Theodore Wellington’s usual method of delivery in carrying out the reading of his client’s wills, but, he appeared to be a little bit too grieved and deeply enthralled with Miriam’s passions.
“…and so finally, we come to the reading of my dearest, uh…our dearest, deceased beloved’s last words. I will bypass the legal jargon to get to the crux of the matter.
To my sons Conner and Everett Jr. I bequeath their father’s two renewable energy businesses. You are to work together to run the algal biofuel, solar, and windmill corporations that your father built into successful multinational conglomerates. I pray that you forgive me for not being a stronger person to shield you and prevent the harm inflicted upon you by your callous and insensitive father. He became a cold-hearted, workaholic driven by money and power. Due to his influence and that of the Graves Family, you both have become like him, except for the fact that neither of you are in danger of becoming workaholics. I pray that you take a good look at yourselves. Your wives didn’t divorce you for no reason. Still, you are my children, and as a mother, I love you and pray for that which I know you can become if you humble yourselves.
I have left each of my grandchildren a considerable amount of money, in hope that you will stay out of their lives and allow them to develop into decent human beings.
To my brothers, Richard and William, I leave my love. Although, you failed to give me yours, I remember our childhood together before money and the Graves’ name became your god. As both of our parents left their children well off. I would not think you would be so greedy to want my money, too, to the point of wishing me harm. For so long, I have tried to find it in my heart to forgive you. Now, I can thank God that His love conquers all.
To Teddy, ummm, we don’t have to read that aloud.
To Hal Siegfried. You are a bright and caring young man. You will figure it out.
Mr. Wellington went on to read the amount of money left to each individual.
Richard and William Graves, then got up and walked out. The grandchildren were delighted and left planning what they would do first with their money. Conner Barrett and Everett Barrett Jr. lingered behind, then, Everett Jr. arose and handed Theodore Wellington a legal packet.
“We had this drawn up by our attorneys. We are contesting the will on the grounds stated within this legal document. We will see you in court.”
After they left, Theodore Wellington picked up his glasses and put them on, placing them down on the tip of his nose, he opened the packet and began to read, skipping down to the most important parts.
Reasons for contesting the will:
- testamentary capacity;
- lack of knowledge and approval;
- undue influence;
- rectification and construction claim
There was a personal statement from Conner Barrett and Everett Barrett Jr.
Mr. Wellington glanced up at Hal, who was waiting patiently, then, looked down his nose and read aloud:
“Our mother, Miriam Barrett, was incompetent and forced to leave the bulk of her estate to Hal Siegfried and not to her sons. Due to the incompetence and negligence of our mother’s attorney, Theodore Wellington, who allowed her to be influenced by Mr. Siegfried to change her will, we have been wronged and demand rectification.
Mr. Wellington was romantically involved with our mother, and able to persuade her to act on Mr. Siegfried’s behalf. We believe the two to have worked together to swindle our mother out of her estate. Mr. Wellington did not act in our mother’s best interests and was not qualified to draw up her will.
We know that our mother in her state of mind was not able to fully acknowledge and approve of what Mr. Wellington put in her will. Therefore, we conclude that the will was not properly constructed, thus, under these conditions, the will does not follow the state’s laws for valid wills.”
Theodore Wellington removed his spectacles, looked at Hal and said:
“Just as we expected.”
With Miriam and Tanya gone, Hal felt the weight of the world upon his shoulders. Everyone around him seemed to be falling apart, except for Steve, Jake and their military crew. Having fought numerous battles and lived through the devastation of war, they were probably used to seeing people close to them and around them come and go under distressing circumstances. Watching them and their fellow Marines working together was like watching a well-oiled machine. They had an inseparable bond and a silent code they lived and breathed by that kept them going, no matter what. Death and suffering had taken away their innocence, but, because of who they were, it had been replaced with something more effective and lasting. They treasured life and that which made it worth living, and even more, they treasured one another. Their friendship defined brotherhood and their actions proved it.
Hal knew that it was up to him to hold everything and everybody together. Steve, Jake, and the rest of the Marines were his backbone. He not only looked to them for safety and security, he looked to their example as leaders, protectors, and men.
Hal resisted the temptation to fall back into the comfort of leaning upon his father and wanting to crawl into his lap and be consoled. It was time for him to take care of his father while protecting and consoling him. To his surprise, his father had taken Tanya’s death hard also and gone into silent mourning for a woman he barely knew. Hal still wondered what his father and Auntie Tanya had discussed before his aunt’s passing on.
Darla had sunk into deep depression and had taken a few days off, although, she continued to work from home. Hal doubted if Darla ever stopped working. Work probably kept her going and kept her mind off of things in her life she couldn’t control, which reminded Hal that uncontrollable things were infinite in number.
He would pass Zenobia’s room and hear her crying at night. It was painful for him to listen to her cry night after night. He was always tempted to knock on the door, then, go in and comfort her, but, he thought it would be inappropriate.
Karen, the new assistant was doing the best she could to keep up with business matters and help with Tanya’s funeral arrangements. Hal tried not to pressure her, since she had been thrust into the chaos that threatened to consume everyone.
Seeing practically everyone else grieving and depressed was depressing for Hal. He walked past Tanya’s room and decided just to look in for a moment. He didn’t know why. Maybe he just needed to remember. Seeing the empty room was depressing. The entire atmosphere of the hospital was depressing, Hal thought, which made him think of leaving and taking everyone in the penthouse with him. He would ask Zenobia in the morning if his father could be discharged from the hospital and if she would continue as his live-in nurse.
He would tell Karen to contact the staff at Miriam’s mansion and have them prepare the rooms for their arrival, which would be as soon as possible. He would have his bodyguards living there, and Steve and Jake could stay there also, if they desired to do so. He had grown to love and feel responsible for these people and wanted to make them happy.
“Everyone needs a change of environment,” he said to himself. “or, we’ll all go crazy.”
On the way back down the hall, he passed Zenobia’s room again and she was sobbing. Hal’s heart wrenched and he felt helpless for not being able to stop her tears.
“She likes tea,” he thought. “I’ll go get her some tea.”
On his way to the dining hall, his phone rang. It was Rachel. Hal hesitated to answer, not being prepared if she asked any detailed questions. But, he couldn’t fight the urge to hear Rachel’s voice. In the midst of the sorrow and grief around him, he needed a bright spot in his life.
“Hi, Hal. I’m sorry to hear about Tanya Yanovich. Are you alright over there? How’s your father doing now?”
“Thanks, Rache. I’m okay and Dad is doing much better now. I’m thinking of leaving the hospital soon. With Au..with umm…you know, Tanya and Miriam gone it’s really depressing. Dad’s getting better, so there’s no use in staying here any longer.”
“Can I come up and see you, Hal?”
“Come up and see me? Where are you Rache?”
“I’m down in the lobby. I thought I’d take a risk and see if you would let me come up. I really want to see you, Hal.”
Hal, started to run towards his room and dropped his phone. Rachel was still on the line when he picked the phone up.”
“Uh…I’m sorry, Rache. I dropped my phone.”
“Did you hear what I said Hal? I’m down…”
“Yeah, I heard you, but, uh, I…”
“Can I come up, Hal?”
“Yes, Rache, do you want me to come down and get you?”
“No, Hal, I can come up by myself (giggle). You’ve got the whole top floor. It’s not like I can get lost. I’ll be right there, if you’ll call down to security and clear it with them.”
Hal called security from his bedside phone and gave his clearance code to the guard. Then, he started picking up clothes and things he normally left for the maid to do in the morning. He decided that he’d really gotten dependent upon her cleaning up after him and he needed to stop taking advantage of her. Rachel had a long ride up, so he had a minute or two.
Soon, he heard commotion down the hallway. He had forgotten to tell the night security guards that Rachel was coming up. After kicking a few things under the bed, he ran down the hall to apologize to Rachel and the security guards for neglecting to notify them of her arrival. Then, taking Rachel by the arm, he led her to his room.
“Are you okay, Rache?”
“Am I okay? You’re the one who’s jumpy and sweating. What’s going on?”
“Nothing, I just wasn’t expecting you…uh…that’s all.”
“I’m sorry, Hal, but, I just couldn’t stay away. You’re not mad at me, are you?”
“No, Rache. It would be hard for me to ever be mad at you or stay mad at you.”
“Aren’t you sweet. Do you have anything to eat? I haven’t had dinner yet and I just had a little lunch while I worked.”
“Yeah, the chef always leaves something for us in case we get hungry at night.”
“Woohoo, listen to you…the chef always leaves something…”
“I know, it sounds crazy to me sometimes, too. I still haven’t gotten use to everything.”
“You’ve got a LOT of explaining to do Hal Siegfried, but, feed me first.”
Hal took Rachel down to the dining hall and the two of them grabbed leftovers from the refrigerator. After, warming the food up and grabbing a couple of sodas, they went out onto the rooftop to eat. Rachel ate ravenously, enjoying every bite. Talking with her mouth full, she expressed how much she loved the food.
“Wow, Hal! I’m glad I didn’t eat much today. This is better than a five star restaurant and the view out here is fantastic! You can see the entire city!”
“Yeah, it’s pretty awesome, isn’t it, but, I’m ready to get out of here.”
“Where are you going? Which house have you chosen, Mr. Siegfried, since you’ve come a billionaire?”
The way Rachel teased him about it, Hal was embarrassed and ashamed.
“Rache, there’s a lot that I need to tell you, but, I can’t tell you right now. I need you to trust me, please. Will you do that? Just trust me for now.”
Feeling left out and hurt Rachel got up and went to the telescope at the corner of the roof to gaze up at the stars. Hal came up behind her and scooped her up into his arms, kissing her passionately. Rachel knew where this was leading and had promised herself that she wouldn’t let it happen. She didn’t want anything to come between her relationship with God. However, her flesh was feeling weak. She needed Hal and wanted Hal more than anything at that moment. Her desire struggled against her will to please God.
Hal carried her to the rooftop’s sunken pit, a luxuriously padded seating area surrounding a waterfall. There, the two became lost between love, lust, and the twinkling stars of the night.