Chapter 16: Preparations FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 1961, NURSES' BOQ, NAS PENSACOLA "Where's your address book, Beth?" Kelly asked as the three of them gathered around the little card table they had set up in Beth's room. "Start with the family first, Kelly," Janet advised as Beth turned away to get her address book. "Did Al give you a list of people he wanted to invite, Beth?" Beth retrieved the sheets of paper from her date book and handed them to Kelly. She went back to looking for her address book. "Is that all? None of these people seem to be family. At least, none of these people are Calaviccis," Kelly commented, after she had scanned the sheets. Beth, with her back to them, said, "Al was orphaned when he was young. He lost contact with his relatives." They were silent for a moment. Beth did not look at them. "Oh." Janet said, finally. Beth gave Kelly her address book and she immediately flipped to the T's. "There's only one Townsend." "That would be my grandmother." Kelly looked up from the address book, and Janet looked up from the notes she was making. "What's your mother's maiden name?" Kelly asked. Beth took a deep breath. "Townsend." Kelly and Janet exchanged glances. They seem to understand what she was implying. Beth felt relieved. There would be no need to go into great detail, and neither woman seemed to have a single clue as to ask any questions tactfully. For the moment, anyway. "I take it," Janet said, finally, "that you will not be given away?" "That was my intention." Kelly shifted awkwardly. "I always thought the reason you never mentioned your parents, was that you weren't on speaking terms with them. For weeks now, I've been dying to ask about them." Beth sigh. Well, it looked as if she did have to explain a few things after all. "My mother died when I was young." "So," Kelly said, dropping the subject and getting back to business. "Is there anyone in your address book you don't want to invite?" SATURDAY, APRIL 8, 1961, EVERMORE CASTLE, ELKRIDGE, MARYLAND Adam browsed through the mail on his desk, separating them into neat piles: bills, personal, Victoria's, JP's, social invitations, junk, and anything address to him with the return address of The Department of the Navy. He considered this last pile, ‘business'. The unfamiliar handwriting on the envelope postmarked ‘Pensacola' caught his eye. Adam already knew what it contained, since Al had informed him in December, but he was surprised to see it anyway. *Is it that close already?* he thought, carefully opening the invitation with his antique letter opener. He stared at the invitation, reading the words. Though he knew for several months now, Adam still felt the heartache of a father losing his daughter to another man in marriage. * My daughter is getting married, and I can't tell anyone.* *Can't*, he realized, wasn't really accurate. *Afraid*, was the better word. *At least she's marrying someone I have no objections to,* Adam thought. Regardless of his history, Adam had a great deal of respect for Al and held him in high regard. *Though, I couldn't object, if I did. Considering,* he thought wryly. It dawned on him that he would finally get to meet Betty's mother. *I wonder what she would say if I told her?* Several possible scenarios went through his mind, none of them pleasant. He wouldn't dream of ruining Beth's day by making such an announcement. Picking up JP's stack, Adam rose from his desk with the wedding invitation in hand, and went looking for his father and wife. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Doris McGinty hummed cheerfully as she watched the mailman come up the front walk. She met him on the porch, chatted for several minutes, and then reentered her home. She leafed through the mail as she went to the dining room, where she normally left the mail for her husband and daughter. The last envelope was postmarked from Pensacola. Curious, Doris opened it. She nearly fainted when she saw it's contents. "Maureen!" She heard her daughter yell down, "Coming!" "What's wrong?" Maureen asked when she joined Doris in the dining room. Doris took a seat at the table. "Look what came in today's mail." Maureen took the invitation. Doris watched her daughter turn pale. "I don't believe this," she murmured. "This has to be some sort of joke." "It's no joke, Maureen." "Al would never marry such a plain Jane like her," Maureen said, almost indignant. "Besides, they just met." Doris finally had enough of her daughter's attitude and childish behavior. "Oh do grow up, Maureen," she snapped. "He's in love with her. To him, she's the most beautiful woman he's ever laid eyes on." Maureen reacted as if she had been slapped. "But. . . I love him." "You had your chance, Maureen," she said firmly. "You couldn't except the fact he need to get out of Chicago, so he moved on without you." "But he and I . . . that is to say, we . . ." "Slept together? You didn't think I knew? I knew what the two of you were up to. I trusted him to be careful when it came to that. I also knew he *had* given marriage to you some serious thought. He would have, if you hadn't thrown a fit over Annapolis and the Navy." Maureen's face was red with anger and hurt. "What about me? What about what I wanted?" "Compromise, Maureen. Marriages are compromises. You wouldn't compromise. Haven't you listened to a word I said?" Doris shook her head. "I regret that I hadn't given this speech to you years ago, Maureen. It's time for you to stop acting like a spoiled child and start behaving like a reasonable adult. Al's getting married, Maureen, and you just have to accept it." Her daughter turned and fled up the stairs. Doris sighed. It pained her to hurt Maureen like that but she had no other choice. Doris bent down and picked up the invitation that Maureen had dropped. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Maureen slammed her bedroom door behind her, just as the tears started down her checks. She threw herself across her bed and started sobbing into her pillow. Her mother's words had cut her like a knife. And the worst part was, her mother was right. Maureen had to face the reality that she had thrown away her chance to marry Al. No matter how much she tried to twist and turn the events, *she* had been stubborn; *she* hadn't listened to reason, *she* wouldn't compromise. Her tears were the tears of regret. She cursed herself for her stupidity and her selfishness. She vowed silently never to make the same mistake again, and cried herself to sleep. SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 1961, DIANA'S BRIDAL SHOP, PENSACOLA "Well, that should do it," the seamstress said, putting the finishing touches on Beth's gown. Beth turned and looked at her reflection. The lacy outer shell was short sleeve, with a low cut back, for comfort in the Florida heat. It tapered into a chapel length train. The satin underdress was strapless. "It's gorgeous, Beth," Janet said, a hint of jealousy in her voice. The seamstress indicated the display of sample headdresses. "You have to make up your mind, dear, about your headdress." Janet and Kelly talked her out of calla lilies, pleading with her that the church and reception would be flooded with her favorite flower. She settled on blush pink roses for her headdress. Beth disappeared into the changing room. She looked at her reflection in the mirror and began to think about her mother. She had been thinking about her a lot lately. Each time, she would start to cry. Her mother should have been the one helping her with the wedding arrangements, not Janet and Kelly. Beth blinked back the tears. She didn't want her friends to worry about her. "Beth, what's on for next Saturday?" Kelly asked, when Beth when she rejoined them. "Janet and I would like to take you to lunch, for your birthday." "Well, let's see. If Mrs. Mitchell can't get Helen over to the bridal shop after school Monday, I'll have to take her myself on Saturday." Helen was the daughter of Al's commanding officer, Commander Dennis Mitchell. Helen was going to be her flower girl. "Have any particular restaurant in mind?" "Gino's?" Kelly chuckled. "I would never have guessed." SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 1961, THE LAYTON'S RESIDENCE, NAS PENSACOLA "You can never have too many toasters, Beth," Commander Layton told her after all the guests had left. Her friends had mislead Beth into thinking that they had intended to take her to lunch for her birthday. If Beth hadn't had so much on her mind, she would have seen right through them and realized that it was just a cover to get her to her bridal shower. She didn't even suspect them when they told her that the had to stop off and see Layton first. Now the four of them were in Layton's sitting room surrounded by gifts. All around them, boxes were stacked on tables, chairs, and the floor. There were kitchen appliances of ever type and size, countless cooking utensils, pots and pans galore, towels, linens, crystal and china. And, of course, the obligatory negligees. Layton kicked off her shoes and put her feet up on the coffee table. Janet and Kelly were taking inventory and annotating who gave what. "Have you closed on the house yet?" Layton asked. Beth sighed, weary. "It's almost ready. I can't wait. I plan to start with the minor upgrades and painting as soon as the ink is dry on the contract." "Need help?" Kelly asked. "Do I ever!" She paused, thoughtful. "But you've done so much already." Kelly shrugged. "I have no life, Beth. I have to do something on the weekends." "Me too," Janet added. Beth smiled at them. "Thank you. You don't know how much this means to me." Kelly grinned. "Think of it as a birthday present, since neither of us got you anything for your birthday."