See Part 1 for all pertinent disclaimers.
"Momma!" Sandra heartily embraced her mother,
spinning her around, causing her to squeal with glee.
"Woah! Mon dieu. Put me down before you strain
yourself." Andre' Broussard pulled back from her over exuberant daughter's arms
to get a closer look at the face she loved for the past 33 years and hadn't
seen in the last three months. Allowing her eyes to appraise all of her child
without restraint, pleased that all the parts were where they should be, she
pulled her eldest child to her bosom for another heart felt hug.
"Now, get in this house. The neighbors don't
need to know our business." Andre' pulled her daughter through the screen door
of her modest six room shotgun home off Bienville, walking distance to Mercy
Hospital where she still worked nights as an LPN. She was comfortable with her
life. Having the same job and living in the same home for over 30 years gave
her a feeling of stability and security. The house was paid for. So, working
as many double shifts as possible, she'd been able to save enough to pay for
her daughter's tuition and books so she could attend nursing school and have
a chance to improve her life. Even though the RN's and LPN's in New Orleans
did much of the same work, RN's made twice the salary. Andre' never had the
chance to go back to nursing school to acquire an RN, with raising two kids
by herself. When Antoine Broussard died there was just enough life insurance
to pay off their little home. She was determined her only daughter would have
it easier. Sandy had made a lot of mistakes in her young life, but Andre' was
certain her future now looked promising. After all, she was only 33, beautiful,
sincere, honest and smart. Of course, Andre' was by no means prejudiced.
"I hope you brought your appetite with you.
I've made all of your favorites to enjoy this weekend. Tonight we're having
crawfish etouffe' and I have a pot of red beans soaking for lunch tomorrow."
"Mom, you didn't have to go to all that trouble.
I just want to spend some quality time with you and catch up. We could have
gone down to Mandina's to eat." A very grateful child walked through the house
she was reared in talking and taking in the feel of home, as she made her way
to her old bedroom to unpack.
"Sandra Camille Broussard, I haven't laid eyes
on my only daughter in three whole months. This is a celebration and I will
not be denied the joy of spoiling you." The older woman pulled her daughter
back into her arms and gave her a quick powerful hug. "I've missed ma fille."
"I've missed you, too, Mom. I've missed you
so much." Sandra felt the knot grow in her throat as the tears brimmed in her
"Hey, hey, hey, what's this? Tears? Pourquoi,
ma cheri?" Andre' maneuvered her daughter over to sit on the bed. She let her
child cry in her arms as she rubbed her back and kissed a dark head. "Has something
happened with your school work?"
Sandra just shook her head, 'No'.
"So your grades are still good and you are keeping
up with your clinicals with your boss' help?"
Sandra nodded her head, 'Yes'.
"Are you sick?"
The dark head shook, 'No'.
are doing well in school and you are not ill..... Are you in love?" Andre' pulled
back to look into red, swollen eyes and grinned.
Sandra nodded her head 'Yes' and burst into tears.
"Oh, mon Dieu. He is married!?!" Andre' continued to rock her child back and forth in her arms, offering comfort as her mind raced through the multitude of possible heartbreaks her daughter might have experienced.
Sandra shook her head, 'No'.
"Then what is it, cheri? What could possibly be so horrible?"
"It's not horrible, Mom." Sandra sniffled, trying to compose herself so she could talk sensibly to her mother. "Not really."
"Exactly, what does 'not really' mean?" Andre' pulled back so she could look into the gentle blue eyes once more.
"I'm just so confused. I've never felt like this before. I've never wanted anything so desperately as I want her, Momma." Sandra looked deep into her Mother's eyes to gauge her reaction. Seeing no judgment there, she continued. "Does loving another woman make me a bad person? She's so good to me. She makes me feel special, like I'm the most important person in the world, that my life has value. I've never felt like this before."
"Oh, mais no, ma cheri, love is never wrong. Only what we do with that love. You are a very special woman. I've watched you overcome obstacles that would have destroyed a lesser person. Through it all you came out with your ability to love and trust intact. I am very proud of you and I want to hear all about this young woman who has won your heart. Is she a nursing student, too?"
Sandra grabbed a box of tissues off her night stand and wiped her face and took a deep breath. "No.....Her name is Josie Ladner. She is the woman I work for." Sandra took a deep breath and quickly tried to relay as much positive information about her friend as she could before her mother had a chance to respond. "She is a wonderful, warm woman, who has been kind and generous to me. She makes me laugh and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when she looks at me."
The smile on her daughter's beautiful face halted Andre's immediate objections to the much older woman. "Sandra, she is quite a bit older than you, is she not?"
"She is not that old, just 44."
"And, she is quite ill. That is why you are living in her apartment, to take care of her, yes?"
"Yes. But she has her good days and bad days. She doesn't let her illness stop her from enjoying life. I've never known anyone who appreciated the value of each moment like she does. Besides, she is not an invalid, Mom. She just can't drive at times and needs to take a lot of medicines. I really don't do that much for her."
"Ok. Since you obviously are smitten, I insist on meeting this wonderful woman of yours as soon as possible. I want to know that you are being loved as you deserve. What do you know about this woman. Has she been married? Does she have children? Where does a retired nurse get the money to live with a companion? What are her intentions toward you. You have not had any experience with such things. In fact, you haven't seen anyone romantically since you've been sober. Speaking of which, are you keeping up with your meetings?"
Sandra's head was spinning with all the questions. She was beginning to feel on the defensive. "There's no time for that, Mom. I can't fit anymore into my day. It's just too much. Please, I can't do anymore than I am." Sandra began to cry again, slightly unnerving her mother.
"Sandra, you need your meetings to handle the stress. After we eat, let's go to the open AA meeting at church. It will do you good. Afterwards, we can go have coffee and beignet's with your friends. How does that sound?" Sandra had her head on her mother's shoulder, wondering how she ever got so lucky to have the best mom in the world.
"Great, Mom, that sounds perfect. Thanks."
"De rien, ma cheri. Now, how's about some good ole Cajun cooking, huh?" Andre' smiled into her daughter's face as she wiped away her tears.
"Oh, God....., Mom, I gotta get out of these pants before I bust the buttons. Why'd you let me eat two orders of beignets? I haven't eaten that much in a coon's age."
"Quelle histoire! Doesn't your lady friend feed you?" Andre' laughed at her daughter's dramatics.
"She is diabetic, Mom. She doesn't eat french pastries. But she does love a good cup of coffee."
"Then she can't be all bad, can she." Andre' laughed again, knowing her daughter's fondness for New Orleans' favorite beverage.
"Go on and get ready for bed while I put a pot on, then you will sit down and tell your momma all about this Josie. Yes?"
Sandra let out a 'long suffering' sigh earning a dirty look from her mother. "I know, I know 'Quelle histoire'." Sandra successfully avoided her mother's swipe at her behind as she ran to the safety of her bedroom.
"Hiya. How's my favorite coon-ass?" Josie slipped into her friend's arms and gave her a hearty squeeze.
"I know. I don't recognize me either. I don't want just fun and games with her, Kath. I want to give her pleasure like she's never known before. I want to protect her and nurture her and help her be all she can dream of becoming in this life. I really want to share that with her."Kathy just sat dumfounded and bemused and excited for her friend, all at the same time. "That is wonderful news, ma cheri. I'm so happy for you. It's about damned time God sent you a soul mate to share your life with. Unfortunately....., I guess that means we won't be having sex this weekend."
"So that's about all there is to tell, Mom. She's divorced too, no kids, lives off her investments and does have experience with other women. And, no, we haven't" Sandra looked up at her mother. "Um..... you know, done it....., yet. We're taking it slow." The tall beauty could feel her ears burning as her face flushed beet red."Before this goes any farther, I want to meet her. Call her and see if we can come up for a visit tomorrow."
"This is it." Kathy looked at her friend appraisingly. "You sure about this? I can take you to see your Mother. You don't have to do this. Sandra will understand, cher."
"No.....Thanks. I need
to do it for her. I want this to work out for us. If I have to pass her mother's
inspection, then so be it." Josie opened the car door, then leaned back and
kissed her friend on the cheek. "Thanks for everything, my very dear friend."
Josie stood on the front porch of the small
cottage working up the courage to ring the door bell that would announce her
presence. "Awe, shit! Come on Josie, you can do this. Just think of Sandy and
those blue eyes. Ok, girl, here we go." Josie reached out and rang the bell,
then leaned back and prepared herself to be appraised.
Almost instantly, Sandra swung open the front door and snuck onto the porch, sweeping her love into her arms. "God, it's good to see you. Thanks so much for doing this for me. It means an awful lot." The tall beauty leaned down to kiss the tempting lips. In her love's strong arms, Josie forgot all about being worried and scared and when she felt a soft tongue begging entrance into her warm mouth, she invited it with soaring passion.
After settling Josie's things in Sandra's bedroom, the women gathered around the kitchen table enjoying a café au lait and talking about Sandra's studies and her apartment and her job. But then Andre' switched the subject to Josie.
"Tell me about yourself,
Josie." Andre' sat back in her chair trying to look unthreatening.
'I can do this.' The spunky little blond told herself. Then, taking a deep swallow from her cup, she dove in. "Well, there's not much to tell, really. I am a nurse, currently retired. I'm divorced, no kids. I've never been arrested, nor has any member of my family. Parents are divorced. I have a guaranteed income from investments. I'm not rich by any means, but I live comfortably. What else? Let's see, I'm a natural blond. My grandparents move to New Orleans from Sicily to escape the poverty. My grandfather worked as a farm laborer during the day and sent himself through night school for 14 years. He got a degree in law and did quite well. He's my hero. He had it very hard, but he never complained. He felt privileged to have the opportunity at the American dream. It was very real to him and his generation. Let's see, in spite of my Sicilian background, I have no connections to organized crime. I love living in the country. I enjoy reading, especially mysteries, and I love writing them. I have a degree in English. I also love music, the study of medicine," The determined little blond looked the older woman straight in the eye as she leaned forward, exuding as much sincerity as she could through her sea green eyes, she continued. "And your daughter. Not necessarily in that order." She grinned, reaching over to cover her love's hand with her own.
"Mrs. Broussard, I know that you are concerned for Sandy. If I were in your place, I'd be worried too and I'd probably be doing exactly the same as you. So, let's not beat around the bush.....I am a lesbian. I have been with other women..... Sandy and I haven't been together. Our love isn't based JUST on sex. Don't misunderstand, I am very attracted to your daughter. However, this is all new to her and I don't want her overwhelmed. I am not some worldly woman. I haven't had loads of sexual liaisons. I just have more experience than she does. But even if we never consummated our love sexually, I'd want to be with her. She makes me feel such joy and wholeness that words can't express." Josie had to stop for a moment and take a breath. She didn't fight the tears that had slipped from her eyes. "I look forward to the day, knowing she'll be there. Her happiness has become my reason for getting up in the morning. I thank God for her each and every night. I will try my damndest to never hurt her. I know that is unrealistic. Love hurts. It's a part of the package. But I promise you never to knowingly hurt her." Josie looked into Sandra's moist blue eyes and with all the affection in her said. "I love her."
Andre' Broussard knew she had met her match. But still had an issue or two to cover before relinquishing her only daughter over to this Sicilian spit fire. "You do realize that when my daughter is your age, you will be mine. I am eleven years your senior. That may not seem insurmountable now, but it's a large gap."
Josie and Sandra looked at each other. "We realize that. It has not been an issue at all." Josie responded.
"Then there is the issue of your failing health. Perhaps you just want a live in care taker. You know my daughter is an honorable woman and once committed to you, will never leave you. It won't matter how frail you become. Is it fair for you to ask her to spend the rest of her youth caring for an invalid?" Sandra's mother said as gently and sincerely as she could.
"THAT IS ENOUGH! I won't have you saying such things to Josie. She does not deserve to be treated this way." Sandra jumped to her feet and stood behind her love with her hands on the smaller woman's shoulders.
"It's alright, Sandy." Josie reached her hands up to cover her partner's. "Please....., your mother is just looking out for your best interest." Josie turned her attention back to her inquisitor. "Mrs. Broussard, I can do a lot for myself. When I am in remission I lead a nearly normal existence. When the CFS is active I require a driver, someone to give me my meds accurately, so I don't accidentally harm myself, and to monitor my blood glucose. Sandy does all that for me. And, she does it well. She knows that's not going to change. In the future, we could move another RN student into the apartment. Just like I did with Sandra."
"No, you won't. I take care of you, boss. Nobody but me. I love caring for you. It gives me great joy. It truly does." Sandra leaned down and kissed the golden head of the woman she loved. "Mother, I love you like the stars in the skies, but this is my decision and I have found my happiness and I'm never letting her go. So, please accept us and love us..... Trust us to love each other."
Andre' Broussard was so impressed with her daughter,
she could barely contain her pride. 'I think I did alright after all with this
one. She has become quite the woman. Please Lord, help them. They'll need it.'
"Sandra, Josie, you two have a long and rocky road ahead of you. There will be many trials and many joys. I will always be here to help you. I will worry. This is a mother's prerogative. But, I will accept this love of yours. Josie you are always welcome in my home as I hope I will always be welcomed into your's." Andre' Broussard stood up and pulled the relieved little blond from her chair and crushed her to her bosom. "You must call my Andy. If I am to be your mother-in-law, I will not have you calling me Mrs. Broussard. However, I am much too young to have you call me mom."
To Be Continued in part 4 of The Apartment