REASON TO CELEBRATE
Ducky remembers his mother's hundredth birthday party and how she was not the only person who had reason to celebrate.
An established relationship story.
Written: September 2007. Word count: 1,055.
I remember Mother's hundredth birthday party as if it were yesterday, even though it was in fact five years ago, and sadly Mother is no longer with us.
We, the children, Jennifer, Helen and Charles, Tobias and Emily, Jethro and myself, were gathered in Mother's sitting room to celebrate the momentous occasion.
The afternoon had gone very well, and Mother had been delighted with the company and her presents, and of course the rather up market party food and drinks.
Abigail and Ziva were lighting the candles on the cake that Helen had made; we had decided upon ten, one each to represent each ten years of Mother's life, rather than a hundred as the prospect of Mother near to one hundred candles gave me the kind of shudders that even my beloved could not dispel.
Jethro, Tobias and Charles were uncorking bottles of champagne and handing out glasses, whilst the boys, Timothy, Anthony and Jimmy, appeared to be listening intently to something Mother was telling them.
Jennifer and Helen were arranging plates, cake forks and napkins and I, I was waiting for something to go wrong.
I know that is a sad thing to say, but when you live with a hundred year old who is suffering from dementia and apt to say the most embarrassing and inappropriate thing at any time, you do tend to be on your guard. I have still never forgotten the time she ordered poor Caitlin to ‘show me your knickers'.
Even though Mother had, by Mother's terms, been almost angelic for the afternoon, I was not at ease. In fact if anything I felt more worried than had she asked Ziva if she was sleeping with me, or ordered Jennifer to reveal her knickers.
Nonetheless, all seemed to be going well, and once the girls had lit the candles and placed the cake in front of Mother for her to blow them out, we all began to sing Happy Birthday to her. Mother dutifully blew out the ten candles, smiled benignly around the room and then informed us that Jethro had something he wished to announce.
I confess I was a tad surprised as my beloved had not mentioned anything to me, but for a moment I put it down to Mother being, well, Mother. Until Jethro looked at her, smiled in the way that only he can smile at a hundred year old woman and make her feel seventeen again, before turning to me.
To my even greater surprise he moved towards me, slipped his arm around my shoulders and pulled me into a half embrace. Then he bent his head slightly, his lips brushed my ear and I thought I heard him murmur ‘trust me, Duck'.
And then he made his announcement. "Mrs. Mallard and I have decided that it's silly me spending so much time driving between my house and here so, I'm going to move in here." And then before anyone could say anything or react, he added firmly, pulling me even closer to his body, "With Ducky." He left no one in any doubt as to exactly what he meant. And then, once more before anyone could speak, he turned me in his arm and said, more softly and with a touch of the insecurity that he only ever shows with me, "If that's okay with you, Duck?"
Before I had a chance to answer him, Abigail started to bounce noisily, in the way that only she can do, and everyone began to talk at once, calling out things like ‘about time too, boss' and ‘congratulations' and ‘so do I get to be best man this time, Jethro?'
Jethro had slipped his other arm around me and now held me in a loose embrace and was smiling down at me. I glanced around to see that everyone else was smiling and happy, their enthusiasm and acceptance completely genuine.
For a moment my gaze came to rest on Tobias and Emily and I became a little concerned. After all, it's one thing to announce our relationship to adults, but Tobias may not have liked his young daughter to know that her uncle Jethro and uncle Ducky were . . . But Tobias was smiling too and seemed completely relaxed as she put an arm around Emily's shoulders, and he simply nodded to me.
As I said that was five years ago. Mother lived for another eighteen months before dying peacefully in her sleep one evening. So now it is just Jethro, Mother's dogs and myself who occupy our Reston home. We are now both retired and the boat that Jethro is building, which is called Vanessa, will not only be finished, but it will also be launched.
The children visit us often and I know that Jethro shakes his head occasionally at just how far his Rule 12 has been broken. Not only was it broken by Jethro and myself, but also by Abigail and Timothy, as well as by Anthony and Ziva. Jimmy is the only member of the team not to have broken it, as his gentleman friend is not from the agency. Although I suppose one could say that there was a time when strictly speaking, Jimmy did in fact break it. I know that Jethro does not have a great deal of time for the Legal Department of NCIS, however, Agent Lee was still in effect a co-worker.
Tomorrow is my seventy-second birthday and Jethro has insisted on having a party. The guest list will be almost the same as it was for Mother's party. Jennifer, however, will not be present as she married her Senator, resigned from NCIS, and they now live on the other side of America. There will also be some additions: Thomas Jethro and Benjamin Donald McGee, Abigail and Timothy's twin boys, and Patrick, Jimmy's gentleman friend. We had also expected Charles to bring his young lady, however, it seems that their relationship ended rather suddenly. I am not sure as to why, either Helen does not know, or she isn't telling us.
I confess that I am rather looking forward to the event and wonder if it will be as memorable an occasion as Mother's birthday party was? Perhaps Ziva might even share her news with us all, assuming, of course, she has told Anthony.
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