Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 12
“Anna, have you heard from Orane?” My eyes darted around the kitchen trying to locate Maydine.
“Sister Maydine, I called him but no response.”
Maydine entered the kitchen from the living room. “It’s almost time to go and Harriett is still waiting for him.”
The mountainous terrain to visit Mama was more suited for sport utility vehicles so Orane decided to park his car at Harriett’s home. Carpooling was the order of the day.
“Let me try again. I hope he’s not asleep,” I replied.
The house phone rang just as I was reaching for my cell phone. I hastened to answer it.
“Good morning, Orane Conway!”
“Good morning, Babes. I just woke up.”
“Oops! Didn’t your alarm go off?”
“Babes, I’m going to rest. I’ll catch up with you when you return.”
My jaw dropped. He did not just say that. My mind screamed in several different languages.
“Babes, are you there?”
“Yes,” I responded through clenched teeth.
As though sensing my thoughts, he asked, “Do I still have time to get ready?”
“I believe so,” I replied in a flat tone.
“Okay. I’ll call Doc and let her know that I’m running late.”
“Have you forgotten that you will be meeting my mother today?”
“Babes don’t be upset. I’ll see you in a bit.”
“Okay. Bye.” I felt so annoyed. What was he thinking?
Twenty minutes later, we left home in Maydine’s gray Toyota Rav4 to meet Harriett and her family and Orane. The lush greenery and pleasant sunny day did little to allay my annoyance with Orane. I was still steaming. We were greeted with welcoming smiles and cheerful good mornings when we pulled up at the meeting spot, the residence of Uncle Joseph, Mr. Mohan’s cousin.
“Hello,” Orane greeted me with a soft stroke on my back.
My body stiffened in response and my slight glare warned him to stop. “Hello!” I said coolly.
Orane removed his sunglasses and flashed a charming smile. “Is it chilly or what?”
I shoved my hands into the pockets of my jeans and tipped my chin up defensively. “It’s chilly.”
He poked my side. “Babes, are you still upset?”
There was no holding back my annoyance. “I cannot believe that you were thinking of not coming.”
“I am sorry Babes. I know this is important to us.”
I did not respond.
“Babes!” He wrapped one arm around my shoulder. “I don’t like it when you’re angry with me.”
I shrugged my shoulder. “I’m not angry with you.”
“Yes you are.” He tickled my side. “You are a beautiful angry bird.”
Angry bird? I fought back giggles and instead pulled away from him. “Stop it! You know I’m ticklish.”
“How can I make it up to you?”
“I am more annoyed than upset.”
“There you are, communicating.” He tugged at my sleeve but I was unrelenting. “Babes, love keeps no record of wrong.”
I smiled at his last ditch effort. “So, you’re going to throw the whole bible at me?”
“I know you’ll respond to it. So talk to me.”
“I’m annoyed because I really wanted you to meet my mom. It’s important. You know she travels frequently. Plus, I don’t know when I’ll be back in Jamaica.”
“I know it’s important to meet your mother. I want to, I need to. It’s just that I was feeling extremely tired.”
I sighed softly. Don’t be too hard on him, I cautioned myself. “I know that you’re tired. We have been running around since I got here.”
He gave me a slow smile, his eyes boring into mine. “Babes, my intention is to make you happy not sad.”
“Okay.” I managed a half smile. “My intention is to make you happy.”
“Are you stealing my lyrics again?”
I grinned at him. “I’m preparing for oneness. What’s yours is mine.” I threw my hands around his waist and hugged him tightly, breathing in his familiar cologne.
“I love you!” he murmured, kissing my forehead.
“I love you too,” I whispered.
“Let see how much.” He poked a finger in my side and I pulled out of our embrace, laughing loudly with delight.
“Let’s roll people,” Mr. Mohan yelled and we all moved towards the sport utility vehicles.
“Travel with us.” I pulled Orane by the hand. “We have space in our vehicle.”
His face lit up with joy. “Great!”
Two hours later, we drove through the Main Street of Litskel, waving to passersby. Spontaneous shouts of greetings occurred between us and Mama’s neighbors as we journeyed through the streets leading to her home. Our family grew up in Litskel, a small quiet town in the center of the island where everyone knew everyone. People lived in Litskel for generations, primarily because of the strong sense of community.
Warm hellos, friendly smiles and hugs, greeted us the moment we arrived at Mama’s home. The beautiful sprawling off-white three-story house with a wooden roof had great views of the breathtaking landscape from all sides.
Curious glances were launched at Orane, the latest addition to the family, but he took it all in stride. Some family members and friends were excited and delighted about our relationship, while others were offended and even disappointed that they were not brought in the picture earlier. Nevertheless, in their words, I needed to “settle down” so that kept everyone happy.
Mama was in the living room, elegantly dressed in a royal blue cap sleeve sheath dress and matching sandal, when she met Orane. It was love at first sight. Mama held his hands then put him at arm’s length.
“Let me look at you!” she exclaimed then hugged him.
Orane was equally exuberant. “Mrs. Jones, it’s a pleasure to meet you, the mother to my beautiful Annalisa.”
Joy filled my heart as I watched the exchange between them. Half an hour later, Orane and I were admiring the beautiful landscape in the backyard, when my four brothers approached us. They looked like giants in the land, a mighty army and instinctively I wanted to protect Orane.
“My brothers,” I murmured to Orane.
He chuckled softly, gazing at me. “Don’t worry. I can handle this.”
I introduced Orane to them and I could literally see them searching Orane’s very being in a valiant attempt to protect me. While they were mostly pleasant, I could tell my brothers were wondering about this man who had quietly captured my heart.
“Welcome to the family!” Junior said.
“Thank you!” Orane responded as they shook hands.
Junior was born two years after me but like the rest of the family, he constantly referred to me as baby sister and took pleasure in giving me counsel.
“Welcome to the family my brother,” Codel said as he shook Orane’s hand. He was the second to last person born in our family.
“Thanks,” Orane responded smiling.
Wayne, the youngest member of the family eyeballed me before saying, “It’s great to see Annalisa finally settling down. I never knew this day would come.” He laughed finding himself funny. “I was just about to ask her to put my name on her bank accounts.”
I stifled a screech. No, he didn’t!
I glanced around hoping to find Maydine or Harriett. Anyone!
Wayne laughed out loudly as I gaped at him.
“I bet you would love that,” I said, slapping him over the head. Where is help when you need it most?
Wayne hugged me playfully. “Come on baby sister, you know I have to mess with you. Take care of her Orane.”
Orane nodded his agreement. He clearly understood the “situation”.
“Orane, you are getting a great lady, the cream of the crop,” Tahaime, my oldest brother chimed in. “She deserves everything good in life so please take care of her.”
Orane hugged my
For a moment Tahaime looked sad as if he needed reassurance. “Sis, you will be alright,” Tahaime said gently.
“Oh yes. I’ll be alright.” I gave him a high five.
“Lunch is ready,” someone yelled.
The delicious scent of soul food met us as we entered the dining room. Orane and I took our food and sat in the gazebo in the backyard where we could continue to observe the layout of the landscape.
“Good thing I wore my armor today.” Orane shuddered playfully.
“I’m sorry Honey.” I nudged him. “I didn’t realize that I am such a prized possession.”
“I understand,” he said gently.
“You’re my prized possession.”
“Thanks Babes. I know you’ll protect me from the big bad wolves.”
Orane’s imitation of little red riding hood had me in stitches. “You are funny!”
“What’s funny is me biting your chicken leg while you were laughing.”
“No you didn’t.” I eyed him suspiciously then inspected my fried chicken leg.
“This is good food,” he said, chewing his food.
I took a bite of the chicken leg and groaned in delight. “Yes, really good!”
“I see this is how it’s going to be,” Orane said in a dry voice.
“Yeah. Oooh delicious! I’ve already gained ten pounds.”
“I didn’t notice. Show me where you’re hiding all that stuff.” Mischief was written all over his face.
I winked at him. “I bet you would like to know.’
Half an hour later…
“Seriously Babes, that was good. We’re going to need seconds.”
“Sounds like you’re going to need thirds and fourths.”
Orane winced. “Unkind. That’s a brutal attack on me.”
I was unrelenting. “I will still love you, even if you become a fat man.”
His eyes widened then saddened as he dropped his head to the side. “Please stop hurting me,” he pleaded, going for the Best Actor Academy Award.
“Oh stop.” My grin turned to uncontrollable laughter as his eyes drooped like a wounded animal. He reminded me of Puss in Boots, the fictional cat in the Shrek film series. I was laughing so hard, that I doubled over. “I did say I would still love you.”
Orane rolled his eyes. “Whatever!”
“Oh Beau, you should have seen your expression. It was priceless!”
“Right!” he retorted dryly.
“What can I do to make up for my bad behavior?”
Orane inhaled then exhaled deeply. “I don’t know…if I can forgive you.” He had mastered the wounded look. “Maybe you can start the healing process by getting me seconds.” His head dropped to the side again. “I don’t know.” He sighed loudly.
“Look at you! You deserve an academy award.”
His low laughter followed me as I left to get seconds.
“Hey cousins, good to see you!” I greeted Suzie and Josephine on my way to the dining area.
“Right back at you girl! I see you are handling business,” Josephine said, and they laughed loudly and high-fived each other.
“Oh behave you two! Naughty, naughty,” I playfully cautioned them.
“You wild thang!” Suzie hollered and they laughed even more.
Chuckling, I waved them away. “Just naughty!”
No one was in the kitchen but I could hear conversation and laughter coming from one of the adjoining rooms. I fixed two plates with small portions of food and placed cling wrap over them. I caught sight of a sweet potato pudding and cut two slices. Ohhh, this is good. I savored the taste of a small piece of the pudding. I need to take a piece…Did someone just say my name? I paused for a moment to hear the conversation in the adjoining room.
“…yes, Annalisa should be in her thirties, maybe thirty five or so.”
“She went to school with me so she’s in her thirties,” someone remarked.
“Do you think it’s her age why she rushing to get married?” another person asked.
My pulse began to race and I propped myself up against the cupboard for support.
“I don’t think so,” someone responded. “People get married at any age these days.”
“I hope she’s not pregnant because she’s in the church,” another voiced chimed in.
I swallowed hard and my entire body stiffened at their insinuations.
“Annalisa pregnant! No way. Clearly, you don’t know her.” I recognized the voice of Vena, my cousin.
“Yeah right! So what’s the rush?”
“Rush. Annalisa is not the type to rush anything,” Vena stated calmly. “She must be very sure that Orane is the one.”
“The little I know about Miss Annalisa is that she prays about everything,” someone remarked.
“They are grown folks. How long does it take to realize that you have found your soul mate?” Vena challenged.
“Since I don’t have one, I wouldn’t know,” someone responded and laughter erupted in the room. “Let me leave Annalisa alone,” the same voice continued. “She must know. All I know, if I found Mr. Right, I would waste no time.”
“I bet you wouldn’t,” someone yelled.
Much laughter followed the remark before the conversation shifted to another subject.
Their comments tore at something inside me. I pulled myself to full height as I took up the plates of food. I felt so offended. Blood rushed through my veins and I could feel the pressure building behind my eyes.
Calm down. You’re getting angry.
Angry! Annoyed! Whatever!
Who are they to insinuate things about me or question my judgment?
I wanted to go in and tell them a thing or two. For a moment a heated battled raged in my mind, a tug of war between good and evil. That day, I was so glad that I had put on the whole armor of God. Using the word of God, I shut down all the negative external forces. There was nothing to explain. Even if I did explain, I doubted that they would have understood.
I smiled at the foolishness of it all.
Everything in me screamed, begging me to exit the same way I entered the kitchen but curiosity got the better of me. I smiled as I entered the adjoining room. “Hey everybody!”
The babble died immediately and then a chorus of “hellos” greeted me along with a few troubled looks and hypocritical smiles from my distant cousins and few other persons whom I did not recognize.
“Got seconds for us,” I informed them.
“Go on girl. Do your thing,” someone shouted and the others murmured, “Yes, yes.”
“Anna, we need to chat,” Vena yelled.
“Give me a buzz,” I responded as I headed through the door. “I am staying at Sister Maydine.”
“Sure will!” Vena replied.
As I made my way back to the gazebo, I recalled the idiom, ‘Eavesdroppers never hear any good of themselves’. A slight smile made its way onto my face. Perhaps, who knows!
Within minutes, I handed Orane his plate.
“Thank you my baby.” He tipped my chin up and lightly kissed my lips. “You are a life saver.”
I smiled at him. Life saver! That’s a first!
As we ate, I momentarily reflected on what I had heard. A brief debate started in my mind, a part of me wanted to mention my jaw dropping moment to Orane. But, I decided not to. What purpose would it have served? How would that have added to my life or his? I smiled and encouraged myself in the Lord. Whose report did I believe? I believed the report of the Lord. My spirit soared. Thank you, Lord. You are watching over me and nothing happens without Your providence.
Orane gently patted my knees. “Babes, are you okay?”
I smiled and looked him straight in the eye. “You know I am.” A gentle smile curled the corners of his mouth as he rested his head on mine.
Hours later, during our goodbyes, Orane asked Mama for my hand in marriage. She gave him her blessings but no
On our way home, I snickered foolishly as Orane used his hands to form a large circle over my womb.
“Oh stop.” I playfully pushed his hands away.
“The baby talk caught you off guard,” he whispered. “Your reaction was hysterical. I had to help you lift your jaw off the ground.”
“You’re talking about my reaction. You should have seen yourself!” I grinned at him. “Your eyes stretched to their limit as if you had seen a ghost.”
Orane laughed as I imitated his reaction, then insisted, “I was calm, cool and collected. You looked like a deer caught in the headlights.”
“Whatever,” I responded, pursing my lips.
“Psst! Come closer mommy!” he teased, poking my side.
I shook my head and pouted, mumbling, “No. No.”
“Shhhh!” His voice fell into a whisper and he gently pulled me into his arms. “You will be a hot mama.”
“Excellent prediction!” I chucked, nestling closer to him.
CHAPTER 18: PARTING AGAIN
My spirit registered, “Peace be still” as I caught sight of River-dale Pentecostal church from the parking lot. Gospel music filled the air! Orane had picked me up at Maydine’s home and I accompanied him to church and was so glad I did. I was feeling a bit sad as my time with him was rapidly coming to an end.
After greeting a few persons in the foyer, Orane and I entered the sanctuary. The sunlight spilling through the glass windows at the front of the church filled the altar with kaleidoscopic brilliance. Seated near the front rows, in full view of this splendor and radiance, I had to acknowledge the awe-inspiring presence of God. “Almighty God, you are great and mighty. You are worthy of all praise, honor and glory,” I murmured.
My eyes wandered down the aisles, skimming over the persons already seated in the padded pews and finally rested on Orane. He looked great in a navy double breasted suit. I smiled as I reflected on the omniscience of God. He was at work even on the minute details of my life. God is awesome! He made sure that I became involved in an apostolic ministry knowing that my husband would have a Pentecostal background.