Remembrance aka: William and Elizabeth
(Slice of Covidity - December 2020)
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - December 17, 2020
Written: January 23, February 5, March 15-16,18,22,26, April 17, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, but when Sara arrives with a prized object, the Jackson-O'Neills set aside the problems of the pandemic to remember a very special couple: Jack's parents.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): "Christmas Druthers" and "Christmas is Here"
Slice of Covidity - Remembrance aka: William and Elizabeth
Though it was hardly springtime, the Jackson-O'Neill children were busy doing a thorough clean of their home. After all, there wasn't much else for them to do with the COVID-19 virus out there and still threatening innocent people. Hopes were high as Colorado received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine with doses of the Moderna vaccine expected to arrive before the end of the month.
The kids were scattered throughout the home, mostly in the living, recreation, hospitality, and kitchen areas. Daniel was on the phone upstairs, speaking with a J-O Enterprises client, while Jack was moving some of the larger furniture pieces to help the children do their cleaning.
With 2020 coming to a close, the Jackson-O'Neills were in self-imposed quarantine. This stemmed from Aislinn's desire to be reunited with her grandparents on Christmas Day. As a result, the entire family was in strict isolation so they could be assured of not transmitting the virus to the Hammonds. Thus, extra protective protocols were in place for even the most basic of occurrences.
The doorbell rang, prompting Jack to stop moving the sofa in the living room and go to the door. Frankly, there wasn't a lot of doorbell traffic this year because of the deadly virus. However, following the protocols, he looked out and noticed no one was on the porch. He did see someone standing on the front lawn. The sight prompted him to smile and he immediately opened the door.
"Funny Face," Jack greeted his ex-wife warmly. "Dang, you look good."
"So do you, Jack," Sara responded from the middle of the yard. Her mask was lowered under her chin so she could talk more freely. "I miss all of you very much."
"Triple that from us. How ya doin'?"
"Good," Sara responded. "Jack, with COVID and all, a lot of my college sorority sisters are reaching out to, well, deal with their boredom."
"I hear that."
"Well, I decided I wanted to pull out an old scrapbook I did back in the day. It took forever, but I finally found it in a box in the attic." Sara sighed, "I found something else, too."
Jack saw the blonde's head motion downward. When he looked down on the porch, he saw a large album wrapped in plastic. He stepped down onto the porch and picked up the package.
"It's yours, Jack. I have a hunch the brood will love it."
"Mom and Dad," Jack whispered.
"Yes." Sara lamented, "Liz wanted Charlie to have it, if you remember, so he'd see how you grew up and the love the pictures contained." She bowed her head for a moment and concluded, "It's for the brood now."
"Thank you, Sara."
"You're welcome. Listen, I need to go. Mark gets stir crazy if I leave him with the girls too long."
"I'm glad you came."
"Me, too," Sara replied. "Give my love to Daniel and the kids."
"I'll do that."
Sara headed for her car and heard Jack call out, "Stay safe."
The woman nodded and called out, "You, too."
For a moment, Jack simply watched the attractive blonde drive away. There was still genuine love there, for both of them. Had Charlie not died, Jack and Sara would probably still be happily married, but their son did pass, and that enabled both of them to find their true soulmates. Real love never dies, though, so from time to time, at moments such as this, a small pang of that love would surface, a 'what if' that never needed a response.
Jack returned to the living room and chuckled at the youngest Munchkin.
"What's so funny?" Aislinn queried from her spot by the bookshelf where she was kneeling and leaning forward to do her cleaning.
"You," the father responded. "You look like Cinderella!"
"Shoot me! It's the truth," Jack maintained.
Aislinn was wearing a long-sleeve powder blue blouse with an old pair of jeans. She had white sneakers on, but the item that triggered the Cinderella comment was the red scarf with white dots on it that was wrapped around the girl's head.
"What's that, Dad?" Aislinn asked as she stood up.
"Ah, it's an old photo album and scrapbook my mother made and gave to Sara and I when Charlie was born."
The teenager gasped excitedly and inquired, "Of Grandpa and Grandma?"
Aislinn ran to the kitchen and shouted, "We have an album of Grandpa and Grandma O'Neill. Come on, everybody!"
The word spread quickly with Little Danny hearing it from the stairs where he was polishing the wood railing. Quickly, he jumped up and went to the den, where Daniel was making some notes, but was finished with his phone call. Not wasting a second, the middle Munchkin told his daddy what he'd just heard and both hurried downstairs.
On automatic pilot, Jack sat down in his comfy chair in the living room and silently began to flip through the pages. Memories flooded back to him of the parents he loved and missed so much in his daily life.
"I can't see," Jenny whined, her view blocked by her taller brother, Jonny.
"Dad, we want to see," Aislinn requested.
"Show us the pictures and tell us about them," Lulu urged.
"Yeah, you hardly ever talk about Grandpa and Grandma O'Neill," Chenoa lamented.
"We want to know about them, Dad. Tell us. Please," Aislinn pleaded.
"I guess I keep most of that close to the vest, not because there's anything bad, but I love my folks. You guys know how I am. I live more in the moment than in yesterday."
"Will you let us look with you through the album?" Brianna asked.
"And tell us all kinds of quirky, fun things about them?" Aislinn inquired, full of hope the album would finally get her long-sought-after answers to what her grandparents were like as people.
"Uh, excuse me," Daniel interrupted. "I think everyone wants to see, so maybe we could use the game table in the rec room."
"Great idea," Jack agreed.
"Oh, hey, I'll call Jen," Chenoa stated.
"I'll call Jeff," Jonny added a second later.
Fifteen minutes later, the entire family was either seated at the game table or standing around it. Since the center of the table could turn, the album was easily placed on it and slowly spun so everyone could see what was on the page.
"Hey, who's that?"
The black and white image depicted two young girls, both wearing simple sack-like dresses and both with the same short cropped black hair with big bangs down the front.
"That's my mother, Elizabeth, and her twin sister, Eloise," Jack answered.
"Twin sister?" Jonny asked.
"Mom didn't talk about her much. I didn't even know she existed until I was a teenager. Eloise contracted some disease in her twenties that took her life."
"That's sad," Little Danny spoke in a near whisper.
"You never knew her then," Jeff sighed.
"No. She was gone long before Billy and I were born," Jack stated. "Like I said, Mom kept her pain inside and she felt a lot of pain from Eloise's death."
"They were twins," Jenny stated as if there was nothing more to be said on the subject, and there wasn't, so the conversation moved onward.
"See that building to the left? That old thing is where my mom lived as a child. Her folks were both nurses, but they were poor as could be. Her mother sewed all their clothes, sometimes out of flour sacks."
"Maybe that is what those dresses are made from," Chenoa commented.
"It could be. Mom was a child of the depression and she hated that. Be clear, because she always was with us, she loved her parents to the nth of time, and she adored all of her relatives, and she was on good terms with the entire town, small as it was, but what Mom hated was the depression and having nothing but flour sacks turned into clothing and toys made out of boxes or wood carvings."
"Wood carvings?" Daniel questioned.
"Yeah, Grandpa was a whittler. He'd pull out that old knife and turn a piece of wood into almost anything, including toys for Mom and Eloise." Jack thought for a moment and added, "Her experience growing up greatly influenced her child-rearing behaviors, much to Dad's chagrin."
"What do you mean?" Jennifer asked curiously.
"Oh, let's see. Since she didn't have much growing up, she wanted her kids to have everything. Billy wanted a harmonica because a friend of his had one, so he got one, too. She made sure neither of us truly ever wanted for anything. Things had to be equal, too. If Billy got fifteen presents, so did I. It wasn't just the number of gifts, but the value. If you add up the cost of my gifts and compared it to how much Billy's gifts costs, you'd get darn close to the same dollar amount."
"Wow," Jennifer responded in surprise.
"What's more, at Christmastime, waking up was miraculous. There were boxes and boxes of gifts."
"We're like that," JD pointed out.
"Yes, gifts spread out among all of you and your cousins and aunts and uncles, etc., etc., etc., but these were mostly for Billy and me. Then the stockings would be full, too. It took the two of us all morning to unwrap everything."
"How'd you end up not being materialistic?" Daniel wondered, almost surprised when he realized he'd said that out loud.
"Dad and Grandpa."
"That is a small house," David noted upon seeing another picture of the family home.
"They had a tiny living room, a kitchen, a larger bedroom, and two other very small bedrooms with this itty bitty hallway that connected all of them," Jack recalled. "Somehow, a piano found a place inside that house."
"They loved music?" Aislinn asked with joy.
"Very much." Jack went forward several pages and suggested, "Take a look at that."
Seated on the bench in front of the black piano, was Elizabeth, Jack's mother. She was all dressed up in a black, sparkling gown that appropriately went down well below her knees. Black high-heel shoes were on her feet. The sleeveless dress had two dainty straps on each arm, one over the shoulder that kept the dress in place and one that dropped down onto the arm. One hand was on the piano keys and the other rested at her side. The woman wore a bright, full smile on her face as she posed for the photo.
"Oh, wow, Grandma was beautiful," Chenoa complimented.
"That dress is gorgeous," Jennifer added.
"She was working then and able to pay for some nice things," Jack reported. "She never owned a store-bought dress until she was a teenager."
"Could she play the piano?" Ricky asked.
"Yep, but she didn't play as much after getting married," Jack said. "Look at her. That woman was the life of every party she ever went to, the belle of every ball, sought after by all the young men."
"She had a lot of boyfriends, huh?" Jenny surmised.
"My understanding is they were lined up at the door. She had fun ... <he stared pointedly at the children around the table> good, clean, safe fun with a lot of them. She just never committed to any of them, but they kept trying."
"Wow. Grandma must have really had fun," Aislinn mused. She saw her older father's glare. "I mean, like you said, Dad: good, clean fun."
Jack laughed and moved forward the discussion by saying, "She loved to sing more than she loved to play the piano and most of the time, what they sang were religious or spiritual tunes. Look at the book on the piano."
"Geez, that's tiny," Jonny observed.
"That's a church hymnal and that's pretty much what all of the music books they had in the house were."
"How can you even see the notes to play them?" Jeff marveled in question.
"I wonder if Grandma was on a date when that picture was taken?" Brianna put forth.
"Probably," Jack returned. "Little known fact. Mom didn't intend to get married. She was pretty darn happy being that socialite you see in that picture. She loved working and figured she'd be a career gal forever."
"Do you know where she worked?"
"At a lumber yard, in the office. She got along with the men and the women and thought that would be her life."
"Dad," Jack chuckled. "He went on a little trip across America after the war and met Mom. Boy, did she change her tune in a hurry. She still worked, at a bank after they married, but now she had a ring on her finger."
"No more good, clean fun," Jonny joked.
"I wouldn't say that," Jennifer said with a tiny grin.
"Let's not go there, Jennifer," Jack advised, causing everyone to chuckle.
The photo album's pages were turned backward and forward, depending on who was in control of it at the moment.
"Hey, what's this thing?" David questioned.
The turntable returned the album so that the silver-haired man was the primary viewer. When he saw the picture, he chuckled.
"That's a Fotomat."
"A what?" Ricky questioned as he leaned forward and took note of the small building. "It's not even as big as a bedroom."
"More like a hallway," Jenny interjected.
"Kids, you may not this, but once upon a time before computers, digital cameras, and Adobe Photoshop, there were tangible cameras with film. You took pictures and then you had to develop them, and it wasn't instantaneous, either."
"No, they weren't," Daniel spoke. "I remember them, too. Their ... gimmick was that they would develop your film overnight. Back then, that was, uh, pretty incredible."
"Big stuff," Jack affirmed. "I think we were on a road trip when Mom took this. She loved taking pictures."
"I guess Fotomats disappeared," Jonny stated.
"Mostly," Daniel confirmed. "But you know that tiny coffee shop in the parking lot where we shop for groceries?" He waited for the kids to nod. "Well, a lot of places like that were originally Fotomats."
"Daddy's right. Look out for those tiny coffee places or locksmiths ..."
"Oh, how about that little building near the strip mall that sells donuts?" Jonny offered.
"There's a good chance all of those were Fotomats, though I imagine some were eventually torn down," Jack opined.
"Stuckey's?" Brianna questioned, having flipped the pages a few times.
"Same road trip," Jack responded. "They're still out there, last I heard, but back then, Stuckey's was the place to stop for gas and food. They had terrific pecans."
"Is that Uncle Billy?" Little Danny asked, thinking it was, but not totally sure.
"Sure is," Jack confirmed. "It was a big deal for a young man to fill the tank up for his old man."
"He's sure happy," Jennifer noted.
"But what a ham," Jonny chuckled. "He's putting the gas in with one hand and showing off his muscles in his other arm."
"Pride, Jonny, my lad: pride," Jack teased.
"Here's another restaurant," Aislinn pointed out.
"Same trip. I don't remember the name of the place," Jack admitted.
"She's a burger person," Jonny said with a grin as he stared at his grandmother about to bite into a hamburger.
"That? You call *that* a burger?" Jack jested. "Listen, my mother was the queen of the burgers. You know those triple burgers from Jack?" he questioned, raising his eyebrows playfully. "Mom made these hamburgers at home that were thick, juicy things, and on them, she put the works: tomatoes, pickles, onions, cheese, and the usual condiments, of course. I mean these things were gigantic, but somehow, she'd open her mouth and eat them, bite by bite. I couldn't do that. Billy tried, and he couldn't do it. Dad told us he use to give it a shot when they were first married, but no more. He didn't layer his as thick and sometimes he cut it in two, but Mom? Whew! Piece of cake for her."
The kids chuckled, somehow all able to visualize their grandmother eating a giant burger. There was something in her eyes and the look on her face as she was about to engulf the food in the photo that convinced them their dad wasn't exaggerating.
"Ah! Here's a tidbit you might get a kick out of," Jack told his family. "On their wedding night, Mom insisted on writing thank you notes to all their family and friends before, well, doing anything else."
"You've got to be kidding," Jeff said, shocked that anyone would do that.
"It was proper etiquette, Mom said," Jack responded. "There they were, at a beautiful seaside resort in California, and Mom's sending thank you's to the world. They did ... do ... you know ... later. At least, that's what Dad claimed."
"Well, they had to do it sometime, or neither you nor Uncle Billy would be here," Brianna teased, earning laughter all around her.
Turning a page, JD noticed a strapping young man where a typical short-sleeved white tee shirt and tan pants. A cigarette was in his hand and his short brown hair was a bit unkempt. He was very handsome, especially with the slight waviness in his hair and his deep brown eyes.
"Is this Grandpa?" the youngest brood member asked.
"Yeah, that's Dad."
"He smoked," Aislinn observed.
"Yeah, but he did something a lot of people found difficult. He was a regular smoker for most of his young adult life, but when the Surgeon General's report came out saying smoking was bad for you, he stopped cold turkey."
"You're kidding," Brianna stated. "In the old days, I knew people who tried to stop, but never could."
"Dad put on a little weight, but he got that under control. Mom was really proud of him. She never liked him smoking."
"Where was this taken?" a curious Little Danny questioned.
"That was at Yosemite," Jack answered. "If I remember correctly, you'll find more pictures of Dad there if you keep turning the pages."
"Did he live in California?" a surprised Ricky inquired.
"No, Son, but for several years during the summer he'd get a job at Yosemite, doing whatever they needed done. He loved the fresh air and it was a little change of pace from the east coast weather."
"So, what were Grandpa's quirky things?" Aislinn prompted. ~I love knowing these little things. It brings life to them. Facts are great, but I want to get to know their personalities: those little things that make us all unique.~
"Let's see," Jack responded thoughtfully. "He loved sports: football, basketball, hockey, baseball. In college, he rarely missed a game and as time passed, he moved on to enjoy the pro teams. He was always watching sporting events on television and following the sports news."
"It's no wonder you love hockey," Brianna opined with a smile.
"Jack, look at his eyes," Daniel urged. "You got your eyes from your dad."
"Yeah. We're the brown-eyed wonders," the silver-haired man joked. "Okay, here's news for you. Dad was a very sensitive guy, unafraid to cry. He was never a macho man, but he was a gentleman through and through. Grandpa approved of his good manners, but didn't like the crying part. Um. Dad wasn't afraid to give us a spanking if we misbehaved."
"Like when you cut off that little girl's ponytail?" Jonny prompted, grinning since he already knew the answer.
"Right," Jack groaned.
"What else did Grandpa like to do?" Lulu probed.
"He liked to build things. He wasn't an expert, but he'd get the job done." Jack let out a loud laugh. "I just remembered something that drove Mom nuts. Dad was a good cook. He was a great chauffeur. He did a good job keeping the house and yard maintained, but there was just one little typical male thing that Dad did, or didn't do, that was a bone of contention for as long as I can remember."
"What?" scattered voices rang out eagerly.
"He hated directions, or more aptly, reading directions. He'd glance at a recipe, but do his own thing: add this or that, maybe a pinch, maybe more; guess at cooking times. It was crazy, but somehow, the dish always tasted good. Somehow, he always had the furniture put together. Somehow, though it may have taken twice as long than it would have had in looked at the map, he always got us where we needed to be. Nope, Dad didn't like directions."
Everyone chuckled as they kept reviewing the pages of the album.
"The funny thing is that Dad never shied away from helping his neighbors. Even if he didn't have a clue how to repair the broken plumbing, he finagled his way through it until he had it fixed. Back then, the wives were mostly left at home to tend to these problems, so they loved it when Dad helped out."
"That must be where you get it from," Daniel opined.
"What are these?" Jennifer asked about a group of six green colored stamps and another set of four blue-ish stamps.
"Money," Jack answered cryptically.
"Those were S&H green stamps and these ones were Blue Chip stamps. At different retailers when you made a purchase, you'd get a load of these stamps."
"Oh, I remember," Aislinn gasped. "Guys, remember that episode of 'The Brady Bunch' from the first season, when the girls wanted to use stamps for one thing and the boys for something else?"
The children nodded or expressed affirmative responses.
"Mom and Dad loved the stamps; always made sure they got them, even on gas purchases. If a business gave out either one of these, they were more likely to get their business."
"Do you remember things they bought with the stamps?" Jennifer required.
"Not really, except that we did get a second television, a small one, with them in the late sixties or early seventies. I think Mom acquired a mixer and Dad some tools, but I couldn't tell you what exactly."
"Why don't we have these stamps anymore?" Chenoa asked. "I'd collect them."
"I'm not totally sure," Jack admitted. "There was a recession or two and the value of the stamps lessened. Low quality products or high quality ones that required more stamps than before. It just died out."
"I'm surprised they haven't made a comeback," Jeff put forward. "Everyone has reward programs out there nowadays."
The conversation continued. Jack revealed that his dad loved history and could talk about almost any historical event and the men and women involved. He minored in journalism in college and loved to write. In fact, he wrote a lot of opinion pieces that were published.
"He was outspoken, too," Jack informed the family. "He was known by his political reps and often called his congressman and senator to express his pleasure or displeasure on various things."
"Grandpa was a writer," Little Danny noted, his response a bit delayed as his mind processed the interesting fact.
"Oh, yes," Jack affirmed. "He loved to write down his experiences."
"Like a journal?" Jenny asked.
"Call it what you want, but Dad could write about mowing the lawn and make it sound alluring." Jack seemed to perk up. "Oh, geez, this was funny. One day Billy and I were just messing around in the garage and we found a box full of letters, love letters from Mom to Dad. She was mortified that he'd saved them."
"You mean they were from their dating days?" Aislinn inquired.
"Yep. Poor Mom. I think she burned them. We never saw that box or those letters again."
"Did you read them?" Jennifer probed with widened eyes.
"A gentleman never tells, Jennifer," Jack answered without answering the query.
"A store receipt?" Chenoa asked when she noticed a small grocery store receipt.
"Look at the total amount," Jack told the white dove.
"But look at all we bought," Jack said. "Dad would give me or Billy a buck and take us to the store to get milk and bread. We were free to spend the rest on ourselves, so we'd buy some candy, a few comic books, maybe an ice cream bar, and we always came out of the store with change to stick in the piggy bank. Try doing that today."
"That isn't even something my mind can deal with," Jeff lamented about the low cost of items back when his dad was a youth.
"Okay, a couple more things and the rest will have to wait."
"Ah, Dad," a chorus of objections expressed.
"Spring cleaning, remember," Jack chided slightly. "One thing I've never forgotten. My folks did their best to give us what we wanted, but life was hard. They lived paycheck to paycheck. I remember Mom taking a half-pound of ground round and making four burgers out of it. Somehow, it filled us up. Maybe it was the added veggies, but it was amazing how she made that work. Now, Mom preferred to stay home with us when we were young, but she did sometimes go to work, usually for a bank or an insurance company. When she quit for the final time, they threw her a party and gave her a collection of post-it notes that she'd written to different co-workers over the years. Mom was known as the post-it note lady because she loved to write notes or instructions on them."
Jack paused, remembering a few other things he wanted to share, at least briefly with his children.
"Mom was a member of different clubs and whenever there was a party or club meeting at someone's home, Dad would drive her to the location a couple of times before the night of the event, so she'd know where she was going. She wasn't as confident of finding her way around, so this really helped her. Sometimes, she even did test runs herself prior to the event. Also, another thing I've never forgotten. When Mom was working or when she did have some place to go early in the morning or at night, it never failed that Dad would go outside first and get rid of any snow on the car and warm it up for her." He grinned. "Kids, back in the day, cars had to be warmed up. This start and go business didn't exist."
"Wow," Ricky sighed in surprise.
"One more thing and that's it," Jack stated strongly. "Mom and Dad were both a bit ahead of the times. They completely shared the household chores from the moment they were married. Ah, Mom could cook, but didn't like to, so Dad did a lot of the cooking with Mom acting as his sous chef. He'd sit at the kitchen table, mixing and whatever, and she'd get him anything he asked for. Mom dusted and cleaned the bathroom. Dad vacuumed and did the yard work. Mom wasn't much for the outside chores, but she loved camping and exploring."
"She just didn't like cleaning out the weeds," Jenny joked.
"Not a weed and bug person," Jack acknowledged. "Okay, close her up."
"Dad, can we keep the album here on the table for awhile, so we can all look through it at our own pace?" Aislinn requested.
"Sure, and if you want to have another William and Elizabeth session, we can. Write down those questions," Jack laughed.
"This was awesome, Dad." Aislinn gave her dad a hug and a kiss. "Thank you for sharing your parents with us."
"You're welcome, Princess."
Slowly, the kids returned to cleaning chores, leaving Jack slowly turning the pages of the album himself as Daniel watched.
"The brood really loved the things you told them, Jack," Daniel stated.
"You know, Danny, it felt good. I know I haven't talked about Dad and Mom much. The pain of their not being here and seeing all of this: you, the kids, the zoo. They would have been so happy."
"Jack, would they? Your parents are an older generation. Do you know how they'd feel ... about us?"
Smiling confidently, Jack closed the album and leaned back. He thought for a moment and then gave his response.
"It would have been harder for Mom because of the religious upbringing she had, but Dad wouldn't have blinked an eye. He always said people should live their lives. If they made a mistake, they needed to fix it or live with it. If their choice was right, good for them. Either way, other people's choices were theirs to make. He wasn't the judge or the jury. That's how Dad believed. He was very tolerant of differing points of view. Nope, he never would have objected, and I don't think Mom would once she got over the shock. She'd be happy I was happy and that would be the only thing that mattered to her. They'd love you, Danny. They do love you. So do I, by the way."
"And I love you, Jack, forever and always."
The soulmates shared a couple of kisses, something Aislinn observed and couldn't resist in acknowledging by her standard sing-song: "Dad and Daddy kissing in the rec room. Dad and Daddy kissing all day long."
Chuckling, the parents stood and continued with their day as their children worked hard at their tasks. It was a good day amid the nightmare of COVID. William and Elizabeth O'Neill were now more visible, more concrete, and more alive to the brood than ever. That made their lives fuller and more enriched. For the Jackson-O'Neills, life in Colorado Springs was full of love and a rich family heritage.
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