It was a rare Sunday morning that the Douglas family sat down together for breakfast, but here they were. For once Diane wasn’t on call at the hospital and Mizzy was up early, eager to go shopping with her friend, Jade. Bethany was buttering toast while her mother cooked eggs and bacon.
Bethany glanced up as Brian popped his head into the kitchen.
“What a treat! Cooked breakfast on a Sunday,” he said. “Just like the old days.”
“Would you like fried bread, too?” Diane asked.
“I’ll skip it, if you don’t mind I’d better start watching my cholesterol. I don’t want to end up like Dad with clogged arteries. Here, I’ll make us a pot of tea . . .”
He saw Bethany smile and Diane raise an eyebrow, and knew they’d be wondering what had got into him. Usually he buried himself behind the pages of his Sunday newspaper.
As they all settled down to eat, he looked around with satisfaction at the sight of the family all together round the table for once.
“Leave your magazine till later, will you, Mizzy, love?” Diane said. Mizzy had commandeered the colour supplement from the newspaper and was avidly devouring the fashion pages. She scowled a bit, but put it on the floor.
“So, is the band organising a coach to go to these brass band finals?” Brian casually asked Bethany.
“Er . . . yes,” she said, her eyes wide in amazement that he’d actually mentioned the band.
“And where are they being held?”
“The Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse,” she answered. “Sections One to Four are holding their finals there.”
“Then you’d better put our names down. That’ll be three tickets or maybe four if your grandad is going as well.”
“He wasn’t sure the last time I spoke to him,” she said. “He’d love to, but he’s worried about the long journey. He doesn’t want a repeat of what happened in Dobcross.”
“Well, tell him if he wants to come we’ll all be there to look after him,” Brian said with a nod.
“Really, Brian?” Diane and Bethany exchanged a quick glance.
“I’m not going to any boring band thing,” Mizzy grumbled.
“Fair enough,” Brian said, grinning. “You can always stay at home and do some housework for your mum.”
“Oh, in that case, I might as well go,” Mizzy said with a shrug.
“So you’ll remember to order four tickets?” Brian nudged Bethany. “We can’t miss a chance to see you play in the finals.”
“Oh, Dad, thanks!” She leaned over to give him a hearty kiss on the cheek. “It’ll be great to have you all there to see us play.”
Diane added a big hug.
“Thanks, love,” she said, her eyes bright with tears.
“I can’t wait to go and tell Grandad,” Bethany said, tucking into her bacon and egg with enthusiasm. “I’ll go round as soon as I’ve finished my breakfast.”
“He’ll be coming for Sunday lunch later,” Diane reminded her.
“Oh, I know, but I want to tell him this good news as soon as possible,” Bethany said, brimming with excitement. “It’ll make his day!”
Brian found himself wrapped in another warm hug before Bethany went to fetch her jacket.
“Really, Dad thanks. You don’t know what this means to me.”
As she ran down the path, she glanced back to wave, just in time to see Brian putting his arm round her mum and her mum resting her head on his shoulder.
“You’re amazing, you know that, love?” Diane said, laughing. “My dark horse, still able to surprise me after all these years.”
Brian’s heart surged with a joy he hadn’t felt for a long time. He should have put things right years ago. He knew he’d been foolish to hold on to a resentment and anger over something that couldn’t have been helped. Now he was reaping such sweet rewards for one small gesture.
He threw his arm round Diane’s waist and whirled her into a dance, singing at the top of his voice.
“Go, go, Addersley. You’re a great sensation, pride of all the nation!”
“Parents are weird,” Mizzy muttered with a shrug, sidling out of the kitchen and leaving them to it.
* * * *
“I thought you were coming round tomorrow,” Len said as he opened the door for Bethany.
“I am, but I’ve got to tell you this,” Bethany said, full of excitement. “Dad’s taking all the family to the final. Can you believe it? He wants to know if you’re coming, too, so we can book places on the coach. You will come, won’t you, Grandad? It would be great to know you were there supporting us. If we win this final we’ll be promoted to the Championship Section.”
“Too right, lass. I’ll be there. Well, I never.”
Len automatically glanced at the picture of his wife, Lilian, and smiled at this small miracle.
“Well, I never,” he said again. He didn’t know what had brought about his son’s change of heart after all this time, but he was truly thankful for it. He knew what it meant to Bethany and to himself, too.
Later when they went for lunch, he shook his son warmly by the hand and gave him an awkward hug.
“Your mam would be so proud of you, son,” he told him.
“I’ve done nothing much,” Brian said, looking a bit embarrassed.
“Only everything we could wish for. It means so much to us all,” Len said, blowing his nose. “Bethany will do you proud. Just wait and see.”