George Cousins continues his story about Elaine and Ernest who readers met in his story “Our Daughter”. In this installment, “Cameo”, Elaine’s reunion with her daughter JoeAnn brings to light a gift from a mysterious cousin.
After for about an hour-and-a-half sitting in the garden thinking about the story Ernest had just told her, Elaine finally put herself together by drying the tears from her eyes with the handkerchief she had tucked away under her watchband. She stood up, made a sign of the cross, and went into the living room where Ernest was listening to their daughter’s record. On seeing her, he turned the CD down, turned towards her, and started talking, but she put her index finger to his lips as if to say shhh…shhh…I will do the talking now. She started to speak.
“Ernest, when you told me that our daughter had died, I was paralyzed. My whole body had no life, I was crushed. Ernest, I carried that chile for a long time. Every time she kicked, I thought that I was carrying a boy, the quarterback for the Giants, but I knew it was a girl. Then when you told me what you did, I was further crushed. Ernest, I am a mother and these are my instincts. After you told me she died, I cried and held my stomach, grieving for the dead baby. Then when you told me she was alive and the reason why you did it, it made no sense to me. But sitting out in the garden, I started to think how the life I had before we were married wouldn’t sit well with me sometimes. What you said about the kids teasing her about my lifestyle, then I finally say you were right to do what you did. Ernest, thank you for opening up my eyes for the long picure. Thank you, my darling.” (She hugged him, then they both went and sat down on the couch and finished listen
ing to the aria.)
Next morning, Ernest was shaving for work, then Elaine came into the bathroom to ask him when are they going to meet JoeAnn. Ernest told her he had spoken to his ex, Claudia, and they agreed to meet next Friday at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. The reason for picking that place is because it’s special, and worthy of a meeting to remember.
Elaine asked, what should she wear? Ernest said something simple.
The day of the meeting arrived. Ernest and Elaine arrived first. Then about 10 minutes later Claudia and JoeAnn came into the restaurant. Ernest saw them and motioned to them to come to where they were sitting.
Ernest said, “JoeAnn, Claudia, this is my wife, Elaine.”
Claudia said, “Ernest and Elaine, this is your daughter, JoeAnn Sinclair.” They all acknowledged each other.
JoeAnn then said, “Elaine, we have been staring at each other ever since I came in the door.”
Then Elaine said, “Sorry about that. I couldn’t imagine how we look like twins. That’s not the only thing I was looking at, though. What’s that cameo you’re wearing? You seem to have it on in all the photos on all your CD’s. I had a cameo like that one with a chip on the side just like that. I gave it to my housekeeper a long time ago. I liked, and it was amongst the jewelry in my jewelry box. Let me take a look at it further. It should have my birthday 3-23-43 inscripted on the back.” (JoeAnn took off the cameo and gave it to Elaine.) Elaine said, “My God, this is my cameo.”
Claudia then said, “JoeAnn, I thought you bought it at a flea market.”
JoeAnn said, “No, Claudia…when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I went with my girlfriends from the Conservatory to Rumplemeyer’s to have some ice cream, and when we were finished, on our way out an old lady stopped and asked me my name, and I told her. She said, I know your mother. So I asked her, so you know my mother, Claudia? She said, no. Then she gave me the cameo, and said to me, you should always wear it for luck. I caught up to my girlfriends, and told them what this old lady said. Then all of a sudden a gust of wind blew a $10 bill on my chest. One of my friends said, you see, your luck has started changing already.
Then Claudia said, “JoeAnn, you never told me this before.”
JoeAnn responded, “Because the old lady told me not to tell anybody, not even you.”
Elaine said, “Her name is Big Rose.”
Ernest said, “BIG ROSE…Rose Cousins. She died last year.”
Then JoeAnn said, “So that’s why I haven’t seen her. She always took me to Rumplemeyer’s to have ice cream. She wasn’t there last year.”