Wednesday 10 December 2014

Spotlight: Love, Albert by Lynda Simmons[+giveaway]


Sometimes all love needs is a road trip, a rubber chicken and a touch of magic

Vicky Ferguson loves her husband Reid, always has, always will. But with two kids to think about, it’s time for the free-wheeling, sports car loving pilot to put his feet on the ground and lay down some roots. Reid can’t imagine life without Vicky but neither can he see himself pushing a lawn mower or driving a mini-van. They’re on track to a divorce neither one wants until a last request from beloved Uncle Albert puts them on the road together one last time. 

If this is your first time reading this serial story from Lynda Simmons, you can catch up with all the segments here:
Ain’t Love Grand
(With Jeff Sanderson)

“What time is it?” my wife asks.
                “Breakfast time,” I tell her and take her arm. “Shall we go into the dining room?”
                But still Bernice resists and I look over at Edna’s side of the room.  The curtain around the bed is drawn. The doctor is in there along with a nurse, Edna’s daughter, Janice and her ex, Marty.  Their two kids are slouched in the chairs in the corner, staring at the floor, saying nothing while a man I don’t recognize paces in the hall. Janice’s boyfriend perhaps, and good for her.  People aren’t meant to be alone.
“If you have any more questions,” the doctor is saying. “Come to my office.  And again, I’m very sorry for your loss.”
Edna passed away last night.  I don’t know the cause. She always looked healthy enough to me, sitting by the front door, shouting every time the doctor went by.  It’s odd to think of that spot being empty now.
“I’m so sorry about your mom,” the nurse is saying. “Please let me know if you need assistance in gathering up her things.”
The doctor steps out from behind the curtain and I look away, acutely aware that I shouldn’t be witness to any of this. 
“Morning, Jeff,” he says as he walks to the door.
“Isn’t it a lovely day,” Bernice sings, her smile bright and vacant. “Your room is all ready.”
Edna’s grandchildren look over. “I’m sorry,” I say and try to coax my wife to follow the doctor. But the Bingo Lady, Joyce, has arrived, distracting Bernice once again.
“Come in, come in,” she says. “Do you have a reservation, dear?”
“I do,” the Bingo Lady says. “And don’t you look lovely this morning. “ She smiles at me. “Bingo at ten in the common room.”
“She’ll be there,” I say, watching her step aside so the doctor can pass.
“Who died and made you king,” someone hollers. 
The doctor jerks around, then heads off in the opposite direction, moving quickly but followed by that voice all the same. “I know who you are.”
 The words might have belonged to Edna but that voice is strictly Grace, the woman in the next room. A friend of Edna’s from way back, as I understand it. 
She walks briskly past the door, chasing the doctor.  “I know what you’re doing,” she yells.
Does Grace understand that Edna is gone? Is this some sort of tribute?
I know only too well that lucid moments can be magical, giving those of us on the outside a glimpse of the person we knew, the one we loved.  I hope that’s what this is for Grace, a moment of clarity for a dear friend. But even if it’s simple mimicry it makes me smile. And wonder if the good doctor really is up to something. 
“Such terrible news,” the bingo lady is saying. She’s behind the curtain now too.  “Your mother was a joy to know. A real gem at the bingo table.”
“I didn’t realize she played,” Janice says, her voice cracking.
“You mustn’t be hard on yourself,” Bingo Lady says, her tone soothing, just this side of patronizing. I’ve never cared for her myself, but I respect the work she does, coming in five days a week to hold bingo games that no one here can really play. She’s a retired therapist of some sort and brings along her own specially designed bingo cards and enough dabbers for all.  The program has grown so popular she doesn’t finish until nearly noon now.
Bernice seems to enjoy the games, so I try that to get her going. “You need to have breakfast so that you can play bingo later,” I say, and she starts walking. 
Who knows if the promise of bingo did the trick, or if she simply lost interest in whatever is going on behind the curtain. Either way, I don’t care. I just need to get to the dining room before 8:00.
I take my wife’s arm and we stroll along the hall.  “Morning Jeff, morning Bernice,” a passing nurse says.
 Bernice calls out, “your room is ready,” and I smile and we keep going.
After two years, I’m a familiar figure here at Willow Tree. Arriving every morning at 7:30, making sure Bernice eats breakfast, goes to the activities and doesn’t give the nurse a hard time on bath day. I stay until after lunch when she takes a nap and then head off to take care of my own health. After all this time, I know how important that is for both of us.
I hear the clink of silver, smell the aromas of bacon, toast and eggs before we reach the dining room.  Some residents arrive in wheelchairs, others on walkers, but the majority, like Bernice get there under their own steam. Willow Tree encourages exercise and the staff does their best to keep everyone physically strong as long as possible, which I appreciate.  The mental deterioration is hard enough to accept.
Turning into the dining room, I see our usual table for six in the corner.  Greta is already there, getting help from a nurse, as well as Robert who still copes fairly well on his own and Anna who is feeding her husband Rick. Anna and the nurse wish us a good morning as Bernice and I approach. My wife’s apple juice is waiting and a plate of eggs and toast arrives before we’re settled.
Anna passes me a napkin. “I think you’ll need this,” she says.
 I nod and unwrap it slowly. A silver door key winks at me.
“For later,” she says, and I can’t help but smile.


 “Which brings us to the issue at hand,” the lawyer said and opened a file. “I have here the last will and testament of Albert Ferguson. Handwritten but perfectly legal.” He leaned down and picked up Albert’s old leather suitcase. It was the only thing the old man ever carried – the true master of travelling light. Lyle set the case on the desk, undid the straps and slid back the zipper. Reached inside and came up with a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, complete with bulbous pink nose, bushy eyebrows, and a formidable mustache.

Reid sat forward. “Not the glasses,” he said, a smile already tugging at his lips.

Lyle nodded solemnly and put them on, carefully adjusting the nose over his own before picking up the paper again. The lawyer’s delivery was perfectly straight, if a bit nasal. “I, Albert John Ferguson, being of sound mind and body— ”

Reid glanced over at Vicky. She was staring at the lawyer, eyes wide, lips pinched tightly together, holding back her laughter.

“Do hereby bequeath all my worldly goods to my favorite nephew and niece, Reid Allan Ferguson and Victoria Ann Ferguson, to be used as they see fit. This includes one hand buzzer, one whoopee cushion, one pair of Groucho glasses.” He reached into the suitcase again. “One rubber chicken –”

“I’ll take that.” Vicky’s face turned pink when the lawyer paused and looked at her over the nose of the glasses. “For the kids,” she added, and turned to Reid. “Unless you want it.”

“Not at all.” He pointed to the suitcase. “But I’ve got dibs on the fl y-in-the-ice-cube.”

“One fly-in-the-ice-cube,” Lyle continued, and set it in front of Reid. “One can of worms—”

“Snakes,” Reid cut in. “They’re snakes.”

The lawyer slid the can toward him and Reid popped the lid. Three long colorful snakes sprang from the tin and flew over the desk, squeaking as they bounced against the walls. “They were always his favorite.” Reid smiled at Vicky. “Do you mind if I take them?”

She held up the whoopee cushion. “Not as long as I can have this,” she said, and Reid understood why Albert had loved her, too.

“You can go through the rest on your own later,” Lyle said, taking off the glasses and setting them aside. “But in return for his worldly goods, Albert has a favor to ask.”

Reid raised his head. “A favor?”

“More of a decree really.” Lyle cleared his throat and resumed reading from the will. “In return for my worldly goods, Reid and Vicky must promise to take my remains to Seaport, Oregon. ”

The chicken’s head bobbed as she sat up straighter. “But I thought he’d already been buried.”

“Not quite.” Lyle lifted a plain white shoebox out of the suitcase and set it on the desk in front of them. “He’s been waiting for you.”

Reid stared at the box. “That’s Albert?”

“Ashes to ashes.” The lawyer picked up the box. “I know it’s not much to look at, but it’s practical, sturdy, and holds up to five pounds of loved one, no problem.” He looked from Reid to Vicky. “The point is Albert didn’t want a fancy urn because he wasn’t planning to spend much time in it anyway.”

Reid shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

Lyle smiled. “Your Uncle Albert wants to fly one last time.”


Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat - a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she's not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she's found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

Amazon Author Page:

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  1. It sounds like a relaxing romance for holiday read. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Goddess Fish Promos10 December 2014 at 14:51

    Thanks for hosting!

  3. Thanks for hosting! Cheers,

  4. Entertaining selections today! I'm Trix on the Rafflecopter...

  5. Glad you're enjoying it, Trix! Cheers.

  6. Oooooh. Is there hanky panky going on at the home? Love it, Lynda.

  7. Ah ha! a little afternoon delight? Or are you going to trick us? Great fun!

  8. Thanks for joining the tour! Cheers.

  9. Oh, it is! Cheers.

  10. Fascinating flash fiction!!!! Looking forward to tomorrow's excerpt!

  11. Thanks Sue! Much appreciated. Cheers

  12. lovely, lovely stuff. Can't wait for tomorrow!

  13. And the plot thickens! Cheers

  14. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  15. Great spotlight! Sounds romantic. ;)

  16. I liked reading the book excerpt, Thank you!

  17. Who knew there were so many secrets at Willow Tree? Loving the flash fiction!

  18. "We're so sorry, Uncle Albert." Remember that song. Albert is one dead character whom we learn to love.

  19. I liked the excerpt