Generation Five: Matthew: Part I
As long as Matthew Standish could remember, he’d lived with his grandparents in Viper Canyon. He knew he’d had a mother and father obviously, but he could not remember them.
There had also been another...someone who cared for him and called himself Daddy, although Matt knew he hadn’t been. He remembered him just a little. He was an older man whose name was Ben.
Ben had loved Matt’s mother and, in fact, had been married to her. Matthew knew this, too.
He also knew Ben’s heart had completely been torn in two the day Matt’s mother left, and Ben had never been able to accept she was gone.
He had drowned himself in the family’s hot tub just a short time afterward. The funeral was one of Matt's first vivid memories.
After that, it was just Matt and his grandparents, and that was mostly the way Matt remembered his life, which suited him just fine. He loved his Nana and Pop, and he never wanted for anything, ever.
A few times, he asked his grandmother about his mother and father, and she had always just smiled and told him she’d tell him more when he was older. Eventually, he just stopped asking.
Why did he need to know, anyway? He was happy, his grandparents loved him and he loved them. He wasn’t the only kid he knew that was being raised by grandparents, either, so it wasn’t anything unusual.
He learned to accept things as they were, and decided some parts of his life and his past he’d never know the answers to.
Therefore, he was completely baffled when his grandmother pulled a letter out from her dresser drawer on the eve of his sixteenth birthday and gave it to him.
“It’s from your mother,” she told him. “She left it here with me, to give to you when you became of age. You’re close enough, I think... and you need to know what happened, Matthew.”
Matt took the slightly yellowed envelope from his grandmother. “Nana... what...?”
Alaina patted his arm. “Just read it, honey. You’ll understand.”
She left the room and Matt was alone with his letter. This was from his mother! He was almost afraid to open it. What if it had something in it that changed his whole life? Was he ready to know whatever it was his mother wanted to tell him?
Obviously, his grandmother thought so.
He quickly sat down on the edge of the bed and slit open the envelope.
My darling Matthew, my sweet baby boy...
I doubt if you will remember me, but I am your mother, Hope.
As I’m writing this, you are sleeping in your crib just a few feet away from me, and every time I look at you, I am filled with so much love I feel as though I may burst. Above all else, Matthew, above everything, I love you, and I want you to know that. You may not believe it, especially now, as a young man, when you have not ever known me, but it is the truth.
Your father, Ripp Grunt, and I fell in love when we were teenagers...probably not much older than you are now. We never stopped loving each other, but at that time I felt I wanted something from life that I thought your father could not give me, and I married Ben, who you may remember from your childhood, I don’t know.
It was a bad decision, Matthew. It wasn’t Ben’s fault; he was a good man, and a decent man. He loved me, and in a way, I loved him too. However, I was never able to forget the love your father and I shared, and I eventually became pregnant with you. After you were born, your father and I decided we could no longer be apart, and we left Viper Canyon. We intended to settle in your father’s birthplace of Strangetown, and we wanted to take you with us, our baby boy, but we couldn’t.
I don’t know if you have been informed of this yet, but you are the current designee of the substantial estate of my family. That is why you needed to remain with your grandparents, Matthew, and why you could not come with us. We both loved you so much! We hated to leave you behind, but as the heir you had to remain in the family home, there was no alternative. If we had taken you with us, my son, you would have lost everything, and we didn’t want that for you. Please understand that.
Your father and I would love to know our son again. However, we’ll leave that up to you. You’re old enough by now to make your own decisions.
Just please, Matthew. Please understand that what we did, we did for love.
Your mother, Hope.
Matthew read the letter several times.
Of course he wanted to see his mother; meet her for the first time, really, as far as he was concerned. His father, too. Yet he could not help but have some uncertainty about the whole idea. These people were strangers to him.
He supposed he should feel something... Anger? ... knowing they ran off together and left him behind, but he found he really didn’t have an opinion one way or the other. It really didn’t matter, did it? He’d been happy with his grandparents. He couldn’t imagine a better life. However, he supposed it wouldn’t hurt to meet his mother and father. Obviously, they wanted to see him. He imagined it was the least he could do.
He folded the letter and, placing it carefully in his pocket, left his grandparents’ bedroom.
His grandmother was sitting outside with his grandfather, curled together on the outdoor bench, her forehead almost touching his.
Matthew couldn’t help but smile. His grandparents were more in love than anyone he’d ever known, and as they grew older, their interest in each other hadn’t waned a bit. Matt was accustomed to their constant displays of affection; he wouldn’t have it any other way.
He walked outside and joined his grandparents, sitting in a lawn chair near the telescope that had belonged to his great-great grandfather.
It still worked; Matthew himself had been using it nearly every night since he became old enough to decide his own bedtime. His grandmother always told him he was a lot like her grandfather George, in more ways than one.
“Well, Matthew, honey?” his grandmother asked him as he sat. “Did you read your letter?”
“Yeah,” Matt said, sighing. “I don't know what to think, Nana. I really don’t understand why my mom didn’t marry my dad to begin with! She would have avoided all this, wouldn’t she? I mean, I remember her husband Ben committed suicide because she left and divorced him! I wonder if she even knows that?”
“I don’t think so,” Leo commented. “Had she known, I’m sure she would have come for the funeral, Matthew. She did care a lot for Ben.”
Matt snorted. “She had a way of showing it, didn’t she?”
“Matthew...” his grandmother warned softly. It was her if-you-can’t-say-something-nice-then-don’t-s
“Sorry, Nana.” Matt said, then sighed. “I know it’s not really my mother's fault Ben killed himself, but still... why didn’t she just marry my dad first?”
“She made a wrong choice, Matt,” Leo answered. “She realized that eventually, and tried to do what she could to make the greatest number of people happy. She didn’t want you to lose out on your rightful inheritance, and she and your father wanted to be together.”
Leo shrugged. “She left you here to fulfill the conditions of the estate, and she renounced her claim on it, cut all ties, and left town with your father. Whether or not she did the right thing by doing all that still remains to be seen, I suppose.”
He smiled at his grandson. “You have a major part in how this all plays out, Matthew.”
“How, Pop?” It all seemed to be over Matt’s head for the most part... things that had happened while he was still a baby and decisions made before he was born. He didn’t seem to have much to do with it at all, really...
“You can decide to either meet your parents with an open and receptive heart, believing your mother did, in fact, do what she felt was best, or with a heart full of resentment and anger. It’s up to you. Regardless of anything else, remember that you can decide the tone of the future relationship you will have with your mother and father. Good or bad, beneficial or harmful... you have that power.”
“But I don’t feel anger or resentment, Pop,” Matthew told his grandfather, and it was true. “If they had taken me with them, I wouldn’t have grown up here. I would have been living in Strangetown, and I might not even have known you and Nana! So how can I get angry about that?”
He looked away, embarrassed. “You are my family,” he muttered, “I’m a Standish, not a Grunt.”
Leo smiled thoughtfully at his grandson. How astute the boy could be at times. Your mother intended for you to be a Standish when she left you with us, Matthew, but that’s really only half of who you are.
“I’m sure you’ll find a way to become both one day,” Leo said softly, patting his grandson’s knee as he followed Alaina into the house.
To Be Continued...