Rebecca – July 1979
Rebecca’s second birth was much easier than her first. Reuben Edward arrived at midday on July 30th. He looks exactly like his father Rebecca mused, remembering sadly Dylan’s rejection of Tyrone. Rebecca bounced back from the birth and benefited immediately from the new crèche facilities she had installed at the Wimbledon Palmerstone. The baby inherited Ty’s old Moses basket and was carted around everywhere just as his brother had been. Ty, now very mobile, had to be supervised constantly so the new ‘Palmerstone Nannies’ had a baptism of fire looking after the boss’s children.
After giving birth to two children in quick succession Rebecca was in despair of her figure ever returning to normal. One of her customers similarly challenged told Rebecca about the aerobics classes that she was going to. Rebecca decided to try the classes once she had finished breast-feeding, meanwhile she would conscientiously complete the course of post-natal exercises that the midwife had suggested. By the time the weekend of Ty’s christening arrived she looked pretty much normal after running around the shops during the day and entertaining Ty and looking after the baby at night.
Charles and Penny were arriving on the Friday night and going directly to Pimlico. Rebecca was to go over to have dinner with them. Suzanne had been insistent that she should stay over with them all. Simon and Lucy were with their parents and it would be fun for the children to play together.
‘How on earth are you going to squeeze us in?’ Rebecca asked, trying to work out the logistics.
‘Ah, you’ll see’ Suzanne had responded mysteriously.
Rebecca arrived at the Pimlico house (as everyone continued to call it) at 7.30 to find the Donaldson contingent ensconced around the kitchen table chattering excitedly and sipping wine; their children playing happily together out on the patio. Joyful greetings were exchanged and gales of noisy laughter brought Jack from his study to join the party. The children were introduced to each other and soon either Simon of Lucy was towing around Ty; mostly in search of Ziggy and Zorro whose company was much in demand.
Suzanne had cleverly solved the space problem by making some alterations to her own quarters. She had refurbished her eyrie into a children’s room with two single beds, a cot and wardrobes and small desks for when Rebecca and her boys came to live. Rebecca was overcome with gratitude to her friend Suzanne when Penny showed her where her two would be sleeping.
‘Ty could sleep up here as well if you think he would like it’ remarked Penny, ‘we’d look after him if he wakes in the night. Not far to bring him to you if there’s a problem.’
‘Good idea’ responded Rebecca, ‘I think he’ll like it.’ Charles and Penny were sleeping in Annie’s room. Rebecca and the baby would be in Jack’s room. Jack was in the guest room downstairs and Suzanne was going to sleep on the sofa bed in Jack’s study.
‘A miracle of organisation’ announced Rebecca to Suzanne on their return to the kitchen, ‘Thanks Annie’ she continued with deep sincerity, hugging her friend, ‘the children’s room is fab, perfect for when we move in.’
Caitlin and Mario were expected the next day and would be staying at the Savoy, though Caitlin had decided to leave baby Charlotte with her stepmother and father.
Suzanne served up a massive Lasagne (well two) for supper accompanied by green salad, crusty bread and red wine. The conversation flowed as freely as the wine and everyone retired to bed in high spirits.
The next morning a ring on the doorbell announced the unexpected arrival of Caitlin beaming with delight. She hurled herself into the midst of a late breakfast hugging and kissing all with enthusiasm. To an almost one-year-old Tyrone his new godmother was a thing of delight; he chortled happily and tagged around after her for the rest of the weekend. Mario had not been able to come with her as he had been called down to Miami on urgent business explained Caitlin. He was buying another property down there. She appeared to be totally unconcerned that he wasn’t with her.
The girls spent the whole of Saturday sharing news and showing photos of their respective families. Suzanne had excelled herself yet again with plans for an afternoon picnic in Warwick gardens a stone’s throw from their house. The children could run around while the adults talked. The idea was a great success as it was a lovely sunny day and the nice soft turf meant that Ty could toddle about without fear of hurt. Simon and Lucy both liked to look after the younger child so they trotted to and fro eating crisps and jelly and peanut butter sandwiches and drinking pop; all the things they weren’t usually allowed.
The conversation flowed freely amongst them all. Caitlin offered Suzanne her apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris,
‘I haven’t used it for ages but it’s really light and airy, I’m sure you’d be happy there at least to begin with. It’s on the left bank but I think you can cross easily via Quai d’Orsay and it’s probably only about two miles from door to door.’
‘Thanks Caiti, I really appreciate that. I’m sure I’ll like it’, Suzanne thought that anything that Caitlin had lived in would be extremely tasteful and luxurious.
‘I lived there when I was a student at the Sorbonne’ Caitlin added, memories of Jean-Pierre and their passionate love affair flooding her memory. ‘I’ve brought the keys with me and I’ve called the caretaker and arranged for the place to be aired and ready.’
‘I really appreciate it, thanks again Caiti’ responded Suzanne warmly; ‘it couldn’t be a better start for me’.
Penny and Suzanne exchanged new contact details and promised to stay in touch. Penny knew she would really miss the regular meetings that she and Suzanne had enjoyed when she had been in Bedfordshire and Annie in London.
Lastly Rebecca had a chance to catch up with Caitlin.
‘Are you OK?’ she asked, sensitive to Caitlin’s moods, ‘I mean about Mario crying off? How are you coping with motherhood?’ They exchanged baby-birthing experiences and admitted to feeling inadequate at times. Caitlin demurred to tell Rebecca that an interfering Nanny was the worst she had to put up, with she guessed that her friend had a much more difficult time.
‘And Mario? Is everything good between you two?’ Rebecca pressed.
‘Everything’s fine’ Caitlin lied not wanting to disturb the harmony of their time together. ‘And you? How are you managing things without err, the father?’ She hesitated to mention Dylan’s name. Rebecca told Caitlin about the new Palmerstone crèche and champagne bar at the Wimbledon Shop, she had already seen the arrangements for Rebecca and the babies at Pimlico.
‘You are brilliant Becca! What a great solution to your problems and I bet it will be a good business move as well.’
The adults enjoyed another convivial evening once the children were fed and bathed and put to bed. All of them were aware that this time together was precious before the parting of the ways.
On the morning of the christening Charles and Jack elected to look after the children whilst the girls readied themselves. The service was scheduled for 3.00 followed by light refreshments at a local Wimbledon restaurant run by one of Rebecca’s customers. Her parents had cried off attending but Rebecca was expecting her brother Rob who was to be Tyrone’s godfather. She had had to promise faithfully to go home with the children for a long weekend to placate Mary.
Charles had agreed to conduct the service and all had been pre-arranged with the vicar. The service was small and intimate with Rebecca’s closest friends, which now included Carole, present. Tyrone behaved impeccably, he took an active interest in the service and allowed Charles to lift him up and have the cross made on his forehead without fuss, Charles explaining the while what he was about to do amongst the traditional words of the service.
That Charles was not now to be godfather as he was conducting the service was of no account to him or to Penny. She looked on emotionally as her husband performed the service beautifully for her great friend’s child. Caitlin, Suzanne and Rob lined up around the font and performed their duties with affection and pride. It was a happy event all but for the absence of the father.
The celebration afterwards was both happy and sad. All of the girls were acutely feeling the forthcoming moment of separation from each other. Their support network had now survived for 18 years. After this weekend Penny would be returning to Yorkshire, Suzanne would be travelling to start her new job in Paris and Caitlin would be travelling back to join her family in the States. Only Rebecca would remain in London. The girls parted with tearful farewells and promises of reunions to come.
Rebecca – July 1979