The Sidelined Wife(6)

By: Jennifer Peel

Chapter Three

It didn’t take long for the let’s-make-this-uncomfortable-for-Samantha show to begin once we sat down to eat at the table that was probably groaning from the weight of the food.

It all started with the seating arrangements. The Decker family table, which was specially made for our clan, sat in the dining room that had been added on to accommodate our numbers and the abnormally large table. The table could seat sixteen, though we were now only eleven, down from thirteen. The space to the right of me had been empty for months, and the chair across from me and next to Avery would forever remain empty, a tribute and reminder of the sweet nine-year-old angel with bouncing blond curls that used to sit there. Our sweet Hannah, daughter of Avery and James, was taken from us too early when she was hit by a car while she rode her bike to the park two years ago. I could still see the vacancy in Avery’s eyes and the grief that lingered in James’s countenance.

I wondered if my own reflection looked like Avery’s and James’s. For months now I felt as if a death occurred, my own, my family’s. I wasn’t sure what or who I was anymore.

Dad blessed our Sunday meal. He asked the angels to watch over Hannah, like he did every week, and keep her until we could all meet again. So each of our meals started with tears. With the way this one was going, it might end up with them too.

The rectangular table always had Ma and Dad at each end, my family and Peter and Delanie on one side, with James’s family and Mimsy on the other. Not sure why, but Reed ended up where Neil used to sit. I thought he would have sat by Peter; after all, they had been friends since boyhood.

Reed started the commotion with an innocent comment when I passed the potato salad to him.

“So how have you been, Samantha?”

“She’s divorced,” Mimsy answered for me while rubbing her rosary beads and crossing herself. She didn’t stop there. She dipped her hands in her water glass and tried to flick some at me across the table while praying to Saint Anthony to help me find my way again.

“Mimsy, that’s not even holy water,” I complained, even though it was Cody that got hit in the face with the water.

Mimsy blew me a kiss before handing over her glass to Peter. “Can you bless this?” She also threw some cash at each great-grandson at the table.

Oh, help us.

Peter tugged on the collar of his polo shirt. “Mimsy, you know I’m not a priest anymore.”

That set Ma off. It was never good to remind Ma that Peter left the priesthood for Delanie. In reality it wasn’t for her; he was following his own heart. I always warned Ma that I wasn’t sure entering the seminary was the right path for him. Peter loved God, but I always knew Peter would want to be a husband and a father. Meeting Delanie only made him see where his true desires lay.

Ma started making comments under her breath about Delanie’s diamond stud nose ring and the vine tattoo down her arm that I found beautiful. Ma was old school and believed tattoos only desecrated your body. And did I mention Delanie wasn’t sure she believed in God? None of the rest of us held that against her, but Ma couldn’t understand how her sweet baby boy ended up with a heathen. Never one to let Ma intimidate her or make her feel less, Delanie grabbed Peter by the shirt and pulled him to her. I would label their kiss as the kind that probably would have been better saved for private. Peter sure seemed to enjoy it, running his hands through Delanie’s hair. Cody and my nephews hooted and hollered like the teenagers they were.

Ma couldn’t take it. She slammed her potato salad bowl so hard on the table that some egg and pickle landed on James. James took it in stride and laughed while wiping off his shirt. That got Peter and Delanie to pull apart, albeit with a too loud suctioning sound.

It was just another night at the Deckers.

I faced an entertained Reed, who couldn’t have looked any happier. “To answer your question, that basically summed up how I am.”

Reed’s laughter filled the crowded room. His jovial tones had a few others joining in. Thankfully, Deckers loved to eat, and before long, people were shoving their faces full of the feast in front of us. Besides, the men had a game to watch, so there was no time for idle chitchat, which was fine by me.