The grand re-opening of the Fester Woods Art Gallery was finally about to happen – tonight. Everyone was excited, but not as much as Donna Woods. Fester was her husband who had founded the art gallery, but he had sadly passed away due to cancer the previous year. Ever since then the gallery had been dormant, but tonight, that was about to change. Donna was in charge of everything – the food, the guests, the raffle tickets, just…everything came down to Donna’s decisions.
She was anxious. Two years ago, she never thought she would be in this position. She never thought that she would lose her husband – she didn’t even know he had cancer. He kept leaving during the day and Donna was scared that he was having an affair – but that would have been easier to deal with. At least if that was true, he’d still be alive today. Who knew that after all this time, Fester was going to chemotherapy and getting checked for all sorts of illnesses?
Donna sighed. Her dark purple dress fell just below her knees and she remembered the last time she had worn it. It was Fester’s 60th birthday, and Donna had gotten him coupons for his favourite restaurant. Sally’s Fish Co. Donna smiled, remembering all the good times she had with him.
But now she had to leave the house. It would be the first time going to the gallery without him. She never thought that this could have happened…. but it did. And now, she had to do it alone.
Walking into the gallery was like a revelation for Donna. She remembered the smell – cinnamon buns and fresh paint. Just like how the first opening was like 10 years ago. She decided to walk into the new art section, where the smell of fresh paint was most prominent. She took a deep breath and sighed. She almost started to cry, but the sound of another person crying interrupted her moment.
Walking over to the sound, Donna realized that it wasn’t just anyone crying – it was her daughter and her daughter’s husband. Donna ran over to them and gave her daughter a big hug.
“I can’t…” she sniffled. Donna tried to remain as calm as possible as she could, but she also wanted to burst into tears. Not only was Fester a wonderful husband, but also a great father to four children.
Emma was Donna’s first-born child. They had her when the couple was but 20 years old, and Emma had married Derrick – where they had two wonderful twin children.
“Where are the twins?” Donna asked her after Emma had pulled away from the hug.
“At the sitters,” Emma replied, wiping away her tears. Donna reached to give Derrick a hug as well, but both Emma and he just stood there with their mouths gaping. Slowly turning around, Donna almost dropped her tea. She couldn’t believe it. He was here? Showing his face? After all this time?
Almost no one could believe it, even the guests. Even they knew about the long-lost brother and son, Alex. Alex was a tall thin man with a short beard. He was only 20 years old, but time really took a toll on him. His eyes were drooped, and his shoulders slumped. He walked with a limp, making Emma, Derrick and Donna wondering what could have happened to him.
“Alex?” Donna whispered to herself.
“Hey, mom…” Alex replied.
“How dare you show your face!” Emma shouted and everyone gasped, including all the guests in the room.
“Sweetie, please…” Donna begged, but Emma interrupted.
“No, mom! Who does he think he is, waltzing in here like this? This was dad’s place! Dad’s art! He has no right to be here, not after what he did!”
Derrick tried to calm down his wife, but there was no use. Emma slapped her brother right across his already weather-beaten red face, but it didn’t do any good. Alex stood there as if he didn’t feel it at all.
“What do you want, sis?” He asked her.
“What do I want?” Emma retorted. “What do I want? What do you want, Alex? What have you come here for?”
“I heard about dad.”
“That was seven months ago, you’ve had plenty of time to show your face.”
Alex tilted his head downward in shame. No matter how many times he renounced his family and their money matters, Donna knew that he still needed a mother. He needed her.
“Derrick, try to calm Emma down. I’m going to take Alex upstairs.” Derrick nodded and Donna grabbed Alex’s arm. “Come on, son. I want to show you something.”
Upstairs was full of even more paintings. They weren’t just any paintings, though. It was Fester’s work. All of the paintings that Donna had saved throughout the years. Alex stared blankly at the walls. Donna held his hand and guided him towards her favourite piece of work – a black and white picture of a teenage Alex taking a photograph of a forest.
“Are those the forests from back home?” Alex asked. Donna nodded.
“Kitchener, British Columbia, 1995.”
The two of them stared at the picture for a very long time, not knowing when to look away. They were both too afraid to look at each other in the eyes. In two days, it would have been 5 years since they last saw each other like that.
And they did.
Donna hugged her son and cried. He had returned home at last, but at what cost? What would his return mean for the family?
Suddenly a small breeze came through the room and left the mother and son grasping at each other for more warmth. It had become very cold, and then Donna realized what it was.
No matter what, the Woods would always figure it out because they always did.
Because no matter what, Fester would always be looking down on them as their guardian angel.