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John Russo (73 years), Regina (71 years), Zeke Traver (42 years), Morgan Russo-Traver (41 years), Lewis (19 years), Vivienne (11 years), Cicely (11 years), Thomas (10 months)
She was ornery, and the heart disease diagnoses had not calmed her bristly personality. But now and then, John would find that she was softer, more willing to dance to his old records, and reminisce on the life they’d led.
He wondered if she regretted only have Morgan; they had both been occupied with their careers that there didn’t seem to be time for another pregnancy or the energy for their strict ways. But now that they were in their twilight years, he thought that a second child might have been nice for Morgan, when both of them were gone.
Regina felt content with only one, and felt that their daughter was strong and surrounded by her own family that she had created. She would never truly be alone, and the idea of loving another child unknown to her was not something she could imagine, let alone miss.
They had never been popular out in Millwood, they were old souls for their generation, and would have fit in better when things were more proper. Picking up the trash was a nightly routine for John, he’d long ago dropped the mission on finding the perp.
During the day, Regina was back to her cantankerous ways. Morgan constantly griped about her effort in physical therapy, much the same way a child might nag a parent for smoking. Regina had not retired from her Chief of Staff position to be haggled by her daughter. It was a war of wills, and John didn’t see a victory in hand for ether of the contenders.
Morgan was only trying to help, John could understand that from his own parents’ when their health began to falter, but he mostly empathized with his wife. It was not an easy task to age, to be on the verge of nursing homes, and losing the ability to drive and make decisions. They were still adults, but on the road to infancy.
Morgan came over nearly every afternoon, often while Zeke was finishing his work day. It had become such a routine that Vivienne and Cicely had claimed the dining table to catch up on school gossip. Vivienne always had the stories to tell, while Cicely waited for something she could add to the mix.
When the adults started raising their voices, the girls would get anxious even if it was normal in their family. Vivienne had learned that she held the powers of a great distraction, and utilized it whenever things were getting especially bad.
Hearing Vivienne play the piano was one of Regina’s greatest delights. Regina had been certain that Vivienne would have a great talent; she had declared it to be back when she was only a toddler sitting on Morgan’s lap.
Being a pianist did not come easily for Vivienne, but she knew how much it meant to her Grandma. She had struggled through lessons at school, and under her Grandma’s tutelage when they visited, that now she was better than adequate.
The entire family would pause their bickering, and stand around to enjoy the music. Vivienne enjoyed the attention, and the ability to bring peace to her family. Her Grandma constantly bragged that she had learned to play better than Morgan, and that made her especially proud. No one had ever said that she did anything better than her Mom.
It never failed that the music would dwindle, and something would be mentioned and likely taken the wrong way. It always started over, and the twins wondered if all families were full of such discord. Her Dad wasn’t being rude when he offered to lend a hand on yardwork. But her Grandpa had taken it as a great insult, as if it had been implied that his yard was in shambles.
Morgan’s parents had never been overly excited about the possibility of grandchildren, but once the twins had arrived, they had jumped on the grandparent bandwagon. Her parents had been attentive with the girls, and even a little goofy with them in a way that Morgan had never experienced. She was grateful to her daughters, that they could open her parents up, and while there were disagreements, there were many less now than before their arrival.
They were both quite upset over their Grandma’s recent health scare and diagnosis. They tried to hide their fears from their grandparents, but sometimes the emotion was too strong to stuff away for home.
Even Zeke tried to be more caring towards Regina for Morgan’s sake, but neither of them could hide their cringes as they went through the motions. She didn’t detest her son-in-law, she just knew that her daughter could have done better than a divorced Graphic Designer. But she was smitten with her granddaughters, and there had been a considerable defrosting towards him after their birth.
When Morgan didn’t have to work the next day, or if her Dad was struggling with the daily tasks of the house, Morgan would stay over. Her Mom had taken to sleeping on the sofa, to be closer to the bathroom in the night, and Morgan insisted on renting a bed from the hospital to set up in the small computer area off the hallway. Regina wouldn’t hear of such blatant vulnerability.
No one felt comfortable leaving her on the sofa alone, with John or Morgan on the second floor, so they suffered through sitting up positions, and woke frequently to try and find comfort.
She passed one of those nights, during Thanksgiving break, likely from sudden cardiac arrest. She had been obstinate in her physical therapy, hating to be told what was best for her by someone who held a lowlier position than she had previously held.
After the funeral, Morgan insisted that her Dad move in with her. He couldn’t live out in Millwood all alone, with no real friends, and a giant two story home. He felt like a burden, and it wasn’t until Cicely spoke with him that he consented.
It moved in a blur from there, he called to set up a realtor for the home, and an auction to sell his life’s belongings besides a few things for himself and some for the girls.
Organizing the house into things to sell was especially hard on Morgan, she had been raised in the house, ran the halls and been shushed for her exuberance. Snuck out her upstairs window to meet Hazel at the end of the drive, and celebrated many moments with her family in the home. It was heartbreaking to imagine the home belonging to someone else, given new life with memories that didn’t involve her family.
Zeke set to work on the lawn, him and Morgan were given bereavement time off work, and they worked diligently to get the house in order. John wouldn’t admit it, but he was grateful that he didn’t have to fret over overgrown bushes, the clippers made his hands shake after use, and just making the morning coffee was difficult enough most days.
On auction day, Vivienne volunteered to run the register, mostly because she could cry and not be forced to haggle over her grandparents’ belongings.
Some people were especially aggressive, or obnoxiously cheap, that it hurt Vivienne’s feelings even more, as if their things were mere junk and held no value.
Cicely did well selling, it seemed to Morgan that the local boy, Alex Welsh was interested more in her daughter than the computer on the desk. Morgan didn’t feel prepared for boys to like her girls, but she’d already decided that it would be Vivienne that would start that phase first, and seeing Cicely talk with a boy first was alarming.
It seemed things were going out of order, and happening too soon. Her Mom had barely enjoyed her retirement, never made it back up to the mountains, and now her daughter had a boy interested in her.
The house took the entire weekend to empty, John had to lower the prices instead of kick hoodlums to the curb as he would have preferred.
By Sunday afternoon, it was nearly complete. Cleaning crew had been arranged to arrive Monday morning, but John wouldn’t be there to handle it. Morgan had already arranged for the neighbor, Norma to let them in and inspect their work. John trusted her, they’d been neighbors since the start, their son Grant was already eight years old before Morgan had arrived on the scene, otherwise they might have been friends instead of only neighbors.
The sun began touch the horizon, and Morgan had taken the family out to the car to allow John to say goodbye in peace. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way, it was all too sudden, that he could barely grasp that he wouldn’t wake up in his own home, next to his wife of forty-nine years.
That night, he climbed into a single-sized bed in Lewis’ old room, still decorated with his belongings as if he intended to return after a sleepover and reclaim it.
Downstairs the girls were talking about the next day back to school, and making sure the clothes they intended to wear were actually clean, and Zeke spoke in low tones about a dilemma at work with a customer that wasn’t satisfied with their logo, while Morgan sauteed onions for spaghetti.
John resigned himself to bed, uncertain if he was quite prepared for this next stage of life, without his only true friend by his side.
Notes: Regina was my first death in the upcoming elder massacre. I did my elder death roll, and then I rolled a d12 to see what month she would die in. I like not picking, otherwise I’d really delay, there is always something more to see or do. So Regina rolled to die at 71 in month of November, which I would definitely not pick with holidays.
She wasn’t my favorite sim out there, but I was still sad when she passed, so now I’m dreading more favorable sims’ deaths even more.
When it came time, Regina did not want to die, I had her die of old age, and most of mine have been okay with that in the past, but the Grim had to demand she move.
Her posture makes me think of Vivienne when she’s told to pick up the dishes.
Even in death, Vivienne received more money, I think it was that piano playing, Regina truly enjoyed music.
Each of the grandkids and Morgan were allowed to pick a trinket from the house, and John too, then I sold all the rest. They made bank!
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