Keeping Faith by Cindy Bradford (serial 58)
Patrick was the same pushover with Olivia that he had been with Rocky. If she cried, he picked her up, if she refused to open her mouth for spinach, he tried tapioca pudding. When she slept he stood over her crib, watching.
“Patrick, you are going to spoil her,” Carol warned.
“So?” he grinned mischievously.
When she took her first steps and fell, he almost cried, but when her first complete sentence was “I wove Da-Da,” he did. He was doting as a father could be.
“Do you think Olivia needs another dress?” he would ask whenever they were close to a children’s store.
“Patrick, she cannot possibly wear everything she has before she outgrows them!”
“Okay, I just wanted to be sure,” he said, looking disappointed.
He loved packing up lunch and heading out with the family on their boat every Saturday that the weather cooperated. Rocky, once Patrick’s sidekick, now never left Olivia’s side. “I wove de puppy,” she would say, as she rubbed her cheeks against his fur.
Many of their friends now had children also, so entertainment took on a different twist. Instead of dinner parties, they had picnics in the park with other families, took camping trips in Acadia National Park or bicycle rides around Hidden Harbor. Olivia especially liked her own special place on Patrick’s bike, and almost every summer and early fall afternoon while she was still small, he loaded her up and pedaled around the neighborhood. When she was three, Patrick announced that it was time for her to learn to ice skate.
“Don’t you think she’s a little young?” Carol asked, looking doubtful.
“I was younger than she is when I first skated.”
“Okay, I’ll watch, but you’ll have to be the one to teach her,” she said, unfazed, knowing that if Olivia fell a few times and cried, he would sweep her up in his arms and carry her around the rink. But she took to the ice like a pro. Soon father and daughter were a common sight as he held her tiny hand and they skated slowly.
“Next year we’ll take her skiing,” Patrick announced after being at the rink. “She has a great deal of coordination, good balance,” he bragged, taking off her scarf and coat and then his.
“How about my selecting something, like ballet?”
“Oh, she would be good at that as well. Wouldn’t she look cute in that little,” pausing, “What do you call it?”
“Yes. I can just see her at her first recital. Carol you must find her a class!”
Carol winked. “I already have. Jean and I have signed up both girls. I was going to surprise you.”
“Patrick, I went to the doctor today. He can find no reason why I am not getting pregnant again. He said to just keep trying.”
“That’s good news. I mean that you are okay. Well, I don’t have any quarrel with his suggestion either,” he winked. “Did he prescribe two times a day or three?”
“Patrick, you’re bad!”
“I just wanted you to know I was interested in what the doctor had to say,” he said, kissing her on the cheek as he followed her into the kitchen.
“Hmmm, something certainly smells good. What’s cooking?”
“New Brunswick stew.”
On a weekend in early spring, Marc and Fredrico drove up from Camden where they had been scouring the flea markets. Fredrico had called ahead to tell them, “We will not be there until around six or seven o’clock on Friday and we’re staying at the hotel so we would like for you to meet us at the restaurant for dinner.” Not waiting for a reply, he continued, “We’ll leave early the next morning to shop a little more along the return trip home. Be sure to bring Olivia. Marc has a surprise for her.”
“Come by the house first; we’ll have one glass of champagne before going to dinner. But be prepared; it won’t be the good stuff,” Patrick laughed.
They were forever sending gifts to Olivia in the mail, so Carol could not imagine what Fredrico could be referring to.
When they walked in Marc was carrying a box, wrapped in pink paper and ribbon, in one hand and bouquet of flowers in the other. “For our favorite women,” he said, handing the bouquet to Carol and then showing Olivia the box. “Your mommy will have to help you with this, Olivia.”
Fredrico handed Patrick an insulated sack. “For you, I could not think of wasting my lips on that other dreadful champagne!”
Grinning, Patrick carefully opened the sack. It was a chilled bottle of Dom Pérignon. “You guys are crazy,” he said, slapping Freddy on the back.
Carol sat on the floor next to Olivia and helped her open the box.
“Careful you two,” Marc cautioned. Carol gently took the wrapping off the first item she lifted from the box, as Olivia waited less than patiently, “My box, Mommy!”
“Just a minute, Olivia.”
Carol lifted out a tiny porcelain cup and saucer. “This is beautiful,” she said, noticing more. She reached in and brought out all the pieces to a small English tea set.
“It is the one we told you about,” Fredrico said. “You know, the one Marc’s mother brought him from London, twenty-five years ago.”
“Oh Marc, this is so special. We’ll put it on a shelf high in her room for now. This is a gift to cherish,” she exclaimed, as she stood to give him a hug and a kiss.
“Olivia, you and Mommy can have tea parties.”
Olivia clapped her hands together and went to kiss Marc just as her mother had.
“Well, are you going to open the bubbly or not?”
“Sorry Freddy, I got caught up in the tea set,” Patrick said.
“Thank God it is out of our place,” Fredrico remarked, as a toast.
“How were the flea markets?” Carol asked.
“Wonderful, we found some great iron lamps and an old hand carved boat,” Marc replied.
“The best find though was the carved wooden statuette of a woman who obviously must have adorned some boat at least fifty years ago. It is in perfect condition, meticulously detailed. It won’t last two days at Renaissance. Someone will grab it up,” Fredrico added.
“We were going all the way back to the city late tomorrow night, but we saw a sign that Rockport is having a fair and market tomorrow, so we must stop. If we don’t get home until Sunday late, we’ll be no worse for the wear,” said Marc.
“I wish you guys could have been here last weekend. It was Olivia’s ballet recital,” Patrick said with a broad, proud smile.
“I know she was the cutest one,” Fredrico said, his hands in the air.
“Well, sure,” answered Patrick.
“It was so fun watching all those little girls, no two doing the same step at the same time,” Carol added.
“The teacher had them grouped according to age, and Olivia was with the youngest group. One little girl just stopped and watched the other girls; another walked off the stage in the middle of the dance. We laughed so hard, I think we missed part of the recital,” Carol said, laughing again.
“We’ll be at the next one, if Olivia will call to invite us,” Marc offered.
“Oh, for certain. I want to see those sweet little feet dance like moonbeams,” Fredrico said animatedly.
Patrick looked at Carol grinning, “Fredrico, you are an artist with words.”
“I don’t run an art gallery for nothing,” he bantered, obviously pleased with the compliment.
After dinner as they said goodnight Patrick said, “Don’t wait so long to visit.”
“We are definitely coming back this year in August for the blueberries. Don’t let us forget. Goodnight Darling,” Fredrico said, giving his traditional kiss to Carol. “Tell Olivia we said bye-bye,” he whispered as Patrick carried the sleeping princess to the car.
Because Olivia showed early signs of artistic talent, Carol worked with her regularly. Even at four, her pictures were much more advanced than most children her age. At five, Carol began to let her experiment with oils.
“I know it’s messy, but she’s really quite good,” she told Patrick as she helped Olivia take off her little smock.
“Look Daddy, I did this for you.”
It was good, Patrick thought. He kissed her on the forehead and said, “When you start kindergarten, you are going to be the best artist in your class.”
“That is what Mommy said, too! Can I send this one to Nana and Poppy?” she asked, holding up a water scene.
“Sure, we’ll mail it tomorrow.”
“I want this one for Papa,” referring to Patrick’s dad.
“Maybe Susan can come over this week and you two can do some finger paints. Would you like that?”
“Yes, Yes, Yes!”
“I’ll call Jean later to see if she would like for Susan to spend the day here instead of day care.”
“Goodie, and will you make us sugar cookies and lemonade?”
“Yes, Olivia, I will.”