Keep It In The Family – Episode 39

Joyce had organised a Sunday lunch just like the old days. After months of heartache and tension, the house was buzzing with carefree laughter and chatter for the first time in ages, it seemed. Finally the family’s fortunes had changed.She sat gazing round the table, thanking her lucky stars for each and every one of them.Alan and Rosie were joshing each other like a couple of kids, and she had to remind herself that they had been married for nearly 16 years. It was good to see the frown had gone from Rosie’s forehead at last; she had feared it was etched there for all time. But now Rosie was absolutely glowing with happiness; with a college acceptance under her belt she was relishing the prospect of the hard work ahead.“So how was dinner with Rob last night?” she was asking Alice, seated on the other side of Alan, and Alice gave a happy sigh.“Wonderful. I don’t want to count my chickens, but I really think it’s going to work out right.”Joyce smiled with satisfaction. Alice and Rosie had been such close friends for so long that Alice was like another daughter to Joyce, and to see her so happy now . . . well, it did her heart good.Alan was sitting between the girls with that long-suffering amused expression he habitually wore when those two got together, and as he caught Joyce’s eye he gave her a cheerful wink.She’d had a chat with him in the kitchen earlier.“I was relieved to hear your news, Alan, but didn’t I say that they’d be fools to let you go? They knew you were worth hanging on to. And a promotion? That’s just terrific. How are you settling in?” she’d asked.He glanced up from polishing the wine glasses.“I don’t think all the management stuff will ever come naturally to me, but I think I have the support of the guys in my team, which helps.”“I’m sure they respect you, too,” she put in, “with all your experience. And you’re good with people, Alan, and that’ll stand you in better stead than all the training in the world.“Ryan and Jodie seem on good form,” she said with a laugh as the two youngsters darted through the kitchen, Jodie in pursuit of Ryan who had been following her all over the house with his camcorder.“They are. They’re great kids,” Alan agreed. “Ryan’s really knuckled down to his studies and his grades are improving again, and Jodie . . . well, Jodie’s as single-minded about becoming a motor mechanic as ever. Do you know, she’s got herself a part-time job at our local garage just sweeping up and running errands until she finishes school, but then she’s hoping they’ll take her on as an apprentice. She’s got her head screwed on right,” he added admiringly.“She gets that from you and her mother,” Joyce had commented.“Come on, let’s take these glasses through and catch up with the gossip.”Freya, to Joyce’s left, nudged her.“You’re miles away. Is everything all right?”“Couldn’t be better!” Joyce exclaimed. “I’m just thinking that we’ve turned the corner, this wonderful family of mine.” She turned her intense blue eyes on Freya and clasped her hand. “And that includes you, my dear. You’re good for Adam. He listens to you, and you do talk some very good sense.”Freya smiled modestly and Joyce went on.“He’s settled down so much since you two came home, and it’s because he’s happy you make him happy. I only hope all that we’ve been through this last while hasn’t cramped your style too much. You’re such a free spirit.”


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