“I just don’t get it,” Hannah said, eyeing the many stacks of newspapers in Harry’s basement. “You have way more stuff than I do, and Abbi is acting like I have a hoarding problem. She’d have a field day over here!”
Harry shrugged. “I’ve thought about cleaning them out, but none of my kids will bother with them. I’m too old to go at it myself, and I figured, what’s the harm?”
“It’s a fire hazard, Harry. You really ought to consider getting rid of some of these. I know I’m not one to talk about keeping things, but it makes me uncomfortable seeing all these papers down here and you living alone.”
“But some of them have stories in them I like, important historical events, old ads that are neat to look at.”
Hannah smiled ruefully. “You sound like me making up excuses. When Abbi asked why I had a couple hundred plastic bags, I told her that you never know when you might need a bag to carry something in.” Chuckling, Hannah said, “She doesn’t know this, but after she left on Sunday, I went back out to the trash and brought half of the stuff back in. Can you believe she threw out old Christmas cards? She told me she holds onto hers for a year, uses them to write out that year’s cards, and then throws them away. Can you imagine?”
“Maybe she saw the way you are and decided to do just the opposite?”
Hannah shook her head as they ascended the stairs.
“That seems to be a pattern in my family. I keep wondering where I went wrong with Glen…”
“Don’t beat yourself up, sis. I could ask myself the same thing about my daughter. Gloria never married and seemed so against it. Her mother and she argued all the time about it. It’s not just sons that upset us, not that I had expectations that Gloria needed a man in her life. Her mother thought differently, though. I know a thing or two about upsetting my parents.”
“Does that bother you, even after all this time?” Hannah asked as they took seats on the sofa.
“It’s always with me,” Harry said softly, meeting his sister’s eyes. “When Gloria showed herself as independent and head-strong, part of me admired her for standing up for herself, but I was reminded of… Kat. There were a couple of occasions when Gloria was in her twenties and she was dating a different guy every week when I was this close to grabbing a drink. Kathy stopped me every time. Now, I’m about to be a great-grandfather, and that’s the easiest role I think I’ve ever played.”
“So, is Heidi expecting, then?”
“Yes, my oldest granddaughter is pregnant. I teased her that she was making me feel old.”
“You’re pushing eighty. You are old.” Hannah smirked at him.
“You’re right behind me, sis. To be honest, I’m happy to see eighty.”
Hannah thought briefly about Erik and sobered. “I wanted to ask you something.”
“All this talk about families, we’ve spoken about our roles as parents, but as my brother, I want you to answer me honestly. Was I an annoying younger sister?”
Harry couldn’t help but laugh. “Oh, were you ever! But seriously, Hannah, you were there for me at times when most would’ve left. Why?”
“I hear Abbi talking about her kids and how they fight, and I think about my own kids and how they just don’t see eye-to-eye as adults. I feel like a hypocrite at times, Harry, when I remember how I failed you as a sister. I don’t care that it was years ago. You tell me otherwise, but I sometimes wonder if I’ve failed in other ways as well.”
Harry frowned. “Is this mostly about Glen?”
“He’ll come around. I did.”
“Eddy’s father never did. I told you his story.”
“But Glen’s circumstances are different. I think he really is trying to do right for his family. When you’re a son, Hannah, there are expectations to be ‘a man.’ I guess that means proving yourself, not showing weaknesses… stupid stuff at the end of the day. I’m not one who’s all that wise, Hannah. I just know that if someone’s meant to be in your life, they will be at the end of the day. You’re very strong, but somehow thought you were failing others. I’d say if anyone I know has earned the right to speak her mind, it’s you. I didn’t want to hear the truth all those years ago, but you weren’t afraid to get in my face when I needed a good emotional slap. If your son has any sense, then he’ll be there. I’m certain he loves you.”
“I hope you’re right. Thanks, Harry.” Hannah squeezed his hand.
“That’s what I’m here for. I have all the time in the world, Hannah.”
“Like for cleaning out those newspapers?”
“We’re back to that again, are we?”
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