I have to say, I was surprised to hear from my sister after all this time, and to find out she’s handing off the legacy? That’s just never been done before by any of the matriarchs of our family, no matter how much they or their children didn’t want the mantle. I’ll, of course, accept it, and ensure it’s carried on from there, but I can’t help but wonder why she didn’t push harder for her own sons to continue the family’s traditions.
In any case, the responsibility falls to my son and myself now, and we’ll uphold it with pride. I know both my grandmother and my mother very much wanted it to be Taytum’s line that continued the family, but the situation is what it is. As my own generation has already been recorded by my mother and my sister, I will put my own small piece here and then pass these volumes down to my son, who is already a father, himself.
Born River Aspen Day to my parents, James and Ameline, in the small mountain town of Hidden Springs, I had two older brothers; a twin sister, Sienna; and a younger sister, Taytum. When I graduated from high school, Sienna and I moved out and got our own place a few streets away from our parents’ home, Sienna becoming a published author while I attended medical school. Like my younger sister, though, I didn’t intend to stay in the town we’d grown up in forever. I had my sights set on being a surgeon, and a sleepy little place like Hidden Springs didn’t possess the career potential I was looking for.
So, I broadened my search for other possible places with more opportunities for me and found what I was looking for in Lucky Palms, a desert city halfway across the country—not quite as far as Taytum had moved to, but close. I settled down, advanced my career there at Lucky Palms General, and became the surgeon I’d always wanted to be. With Taytum having been named the heiress to the family legacy, my focus was set entirely on my career, my passion, as it had always been, but even when you aren’t looking, fate sometimes finds you, and it did exactly that with me.
I grew close to a colleague of mine, Andrew Hudson—a fellow surgeon there at the hospital and a single father reeling from a recent divorce—and after a time together, we were married in a simple ceremony in one of the city’s classier casinos. With none of my family living nearby, and him having no family outside of his son, Lydell, we had no reason to make the wedding a big occasion; we were both more the practical types, anyway, and I’d never been one to dream of having the perfect, princess wedding that so many girls want.
Suddenly finding myself the step-mother of a young child was surprisingly not as jarring as I’d expected it to be. I adjusted to the role fairly easily and became the only mother Lydell ever knew, since his biological mother wasn’t involved in his life. Given that I’d never particularly desired to have children of my own, raising my step-son was plenty enough for me. Being an inheritor of our family’s magical gifts, as well, I continued to hone and practice them, which Andrew was always supportive of, but though I wanted to be able to control my abilities, I didn’t have the focus on them that my sister and grandmother had.
We were happy there, but as life has a tendency to do, time passed, and things changed. A surgeon’s hands don’t stay good and steady forever, and once age starts to catch up with you, many in our line of work have to look to other fields of employment. We both knew that was a realistic future we’d have to face eventually, and while we could stay at the hospital in a different aspect of medicine, we had to ask ourselves, was this the city we wanted to retire and spend the rest of our days in? We both already had a large retirement nest egg set away from both of our successful careers. We knew we could go anywhere we wanted and not ever have to worry for funds, so we started looking for quiet communities where we could settle down, find a nice little house that we knew we could be happy in.
We chose the small community of Willow Creek to put down our roots in, finding a small, two-bedroom house, just big enough for our son and us. Though money wasn’t a problem, Andrew and I were never ones to sit idle, so while he took up a myriad of hobbies—gardening, cooking, tinkering with things around the house—I started writing children’s books on the side and publishing them myself. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t long until a publisher took interest in my works, opening up a world of possibilities for me as an author. Not only just writing children’s books, though I continued that, as well, I also wrote a line of motivational self-help guides that became our primary source of additional income to the household.
Lydell was in school by this point, and while he didn’t seem to make any friends in Willow Creek, he did excel in his studies. He’d inherited his father’s brilliant mind, as well as his sweet and kind-hearted nature, but his genius led to him being somewhat alienated by the other kids his age, leaving him to spend most of his time alone. He didn’t seem to mind so much, preferring to spend the majority of his days at home in his room, buried in his books and his studies, but I did worry that he needed more of a social life. A perfectionist at heart, something that Andrew said Lydell shared in common with his biological mother, Lydell never did anything halfway, and his teachers continuously praised him for his exceptional work ethic, going above and beyond the assigned criteria.
We were satisfied, the three of us, but as I got into my matron years and Lydell got older, the maternal instincts that I’d never really had started to kick in, making me realize just how empty the house would be once Lydell was grown and gone. I had spent my entire youth focused on my career, but now, perhaps, it was time for me to focus on family, instead.
Though we both had concerns about having a baby together now, since neither of us were very young anymore, I’d reached the point in my life that I wanted a child of my own, one that was ours, together, and I just wasn’t ready for us to be empty nesters yet. Knowing now what would come with my sister abdicating the legacy mantle, I’m especially glad we made that decision when we did.
Andrew was extremely supportive of the idea when I asked him for his thoughts and told me he’d always wanted children with me, but since I’d never seemed interested, he didn’t press. When I came to him with the test to tell him I was positive, I think it’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him.
Having become so handy around the house since our move with all his free time, Andrew immediately started fixing things up in preparation for the baby and was soon in and out of the county clerk’s office getting one permit after another for upgrades and additions to the house. It would be years before the entire place was done, but well worth the wait, and in the mean time, he made sure the new baby would have a space in our own room, later to share a room with his brother while the house was still in progress.
With a smooth delivery at the hospital, we brought our second child—our first together—into the world: a boy we named Christopher. Andrew was ecstatic and enthusiastically jumped into being Mr. Mom, staying at home with our little one while I continued to work. Lydell, as well, helped out with babysitting on occasion when Andrew had his hands full, even if having a noisy baby in the house was a disruption to his studies. When he needed the quiet time, he’d just shut himself in his room to work.
The years with our boys flew by faster than either of us would have ever expected, but even so, they were some of our best years, growing together as a family, our children teaching us as much as we taught them, though I’ve read the accounts of all the strong women that came before me in my family, and I know that they all felt the same. It’s just a special experience that no daughter ever truly understands until she’s a mother, herself.
Despite the dramatic age gap, the boys grew extremely close. Christopher gave Lydell the friend he’d never seemed to find at school, and Lydell was the straight edge big brother for Chris to always be able to look up to. It was a gift, because it was a phase where both Andrew and I were having difficulty communicating with Lydell, and he’d been pulling back from us for a while. Having the boys as they were, I always knew that if they needed to talk to someone about anything, even if they didn’t feel comfortable coming to Andrew or me, they had each other.
Entering high school, Christopher was immediately more popular and well-liked than Lydell had ever been, especially with girls. While Chris was going on dates from early on, Lydell had still never brought a girl home, even in his senior year. He always had his nose in either his computer or a book, studying away, almost never doing anything just for fun. He was passionate about his work and focused on his education, learning and understanding the programming behind computer software and development in his free time, and I couldn’t bring myself to discourage him from it, even to steer him elsewhere. He seemed happy, and every child needs something they’re passionate about to drive their interests and success.
We did, however, require that both the boys get after school jobs. It was important they learn prioritization and develop a work ethic outside of just their studies, and the rule went especially for Chris; if he wanted to maintain his social time on the weekends, he had to buckle down during the week, maintain his grades, and keep up his job, and they both did. Lydell looked into employment in retail, and Chris got a job in fast food.
Meanwhile, sales of my books continued to soar, increasing the profits brought back that would go towards expanding the house, and Andrew spent countless hours toiling away in his prized garden, his second love in life, only behind the family and me. A good amount of his produce were put into our own cooking to reduce the cost of our groceries, but the majority was sold at the local farmers’ market, adding additional income to the household.
As Lydell graduated and entered his adult years, leaving his retail job to take up a career in programming and game design, the renovations on the house finally completed—taking our two bedroom, one bathroom house and expanding it to three bedrooms, three bathrooms, with a full second story addition. Despite being grown, Lydell had no desire to leave home just yet, remaining here with his family as he toiled away countless hours working on programming in the office and in his room to work towards his promotions.
Andrew’s prized garden finally reached the pinnacle of the perfection he expected of it, his expert touch with the plants allowing them to produce a bounty of every kind of flower, fruit, and vegetable we could want, selling what we didn’t need, and with his goals to have the ideal garden complete, he looked for new challenges and hobbies, taking up fishing with a bit of collecting on the side, bringing home large batches of fish to cook with, as well as finding interesting fossils and gemstones for the boys to take interest in.
He was a little overzealous with his cooking when he first started acquiring all that fish, though. Ecstatic to be able to fix our meals entirely from his catches and harvests in order to cut down on grocery bills, he started making fish tacos a regular thing in the household, fixing them at least three times a week, but… while the decline in food costs was nice, the boys and I didn’t have the heart to tell him his tacos were horrible, eventually persuading him in a gentler way to start cooking other things, that our income could handle the cost of food no matter what the bill ran.
Reaching the ceiling of how far I could progress as an author, I looked to other pursuits, though I continued to work off the royalties from the books I’d written, in addition to going into the office a few times each week to check on sales or give my input on movie adaptations of my books. I took up painting as a hobby to keep myself busy in my spare time, experimenting with all different styles. My family has always run strong with artists of all kinds—painters, sculptors, writers, musicians. Our heritage sparkles with creative minds across the generations, and though I’d looked to express my artistry in a different way, with the strokes of a surgeon’s knife rather than a paintbrush, for the majority of my life, it was refreshing to see how easily I picked up the gifts of the matriarchs that came before me, though I’m sure my abilities weren’t nearly so practiced as theirs.
Even though Lydell was an adult now, he and his little brother remained close. With Lydell out of school and working in the gaming industry, he was cooler than ever to Christopher, who had delved heavily into video games, himself. Taking his gaming seriously, even in his teenage years, he started entering competitions and earning prize money for his placing in the top slots. True to his agreement with Andrew and me, though, he kept at his job and held his A in school, though there may have been a few more sleepless nights than Andrew or me would have liked, had we known at the time.
Just a stone’s throw of years later found us with our youngest graduating and entering the world of adult employment, as well. Getting a job at the same company Lydell worked for, Chris started off in the programming department that Lydell had started in, but instead of following directly in his brother’s footsteps in game development, he worked his way over to the testing department, still heavily playing competitively online in his spare time.
Just as in his teenage years, he never lacked for the attention of women, though there was a particular girl he had in mind—Zoe Patel, the popular brunette that had held his affections from the first time he laid eyes on her. Although they’d spent years as just good friends, now that he was older and more confident in himself, he began to push for more, despite the continuous stream of interruptions that seemed to arise every time he tried to take her out anywhere. He’d come home ranting and raving afterward about just how many nosy people there were in town that just couldn’t seem to take a hint and mind their own business.
Somewhere along the way, though, he must have gotten the chance to get time to just the two of them and work his quirky charm, the same his father had, because it wasn’t too long before the two of them were an item. Especially with as many years as they’d been friends, they fell in together as though they’d been meant for each other, even as great of opposites as they were. Soon, Zoe was a regular sight around the house. Sweet and likable, she got along well with the whole family, and as a mother, I began to wonder when the time would come that Chris would pop the question.
With both our boys grown and standing on their own, Andrew and I aged into our golden years with grace, though our birthdays were a bit of a fiasco: going the distance to plan a big party at the Solar Flare lounge, only to forget the cakes at home. We took it in stride, though, enjoying ourselves through the evening to then wrap up the night back at home with just us and our sons—the way it should be, really.
Both Andrew and I really stepped back in the day to day running of the household, letting the boys take the more active role that they’d need to know how to fill once we weren’t around anymore. I continued to work, enjoying the few days each week that it allowed me to have time outside of the house, but Andrew took some more time to himself rather than continue trying to do everything, sometimes just spending hours at the chess table upstairs. While Lydell worked tirelessly away in front of his computer, Chris took on more of the family responsibilities, maintaining his father’s garden, fixing up anything that broke around the house, and preparing the meals for the household—not as good of a cook as his father, but he was getting there.
But even though we were getting up in years, things between Andrew and me stayed exactly as they had always been, if not better. Without children and jobs and responsibilities we were accountable for getting in the way, our relationship was as strong as ever, and we both set aside all our busywork outside the house to devote time to each other each day. The romance that had dimmed between us in recent years blossomed full again, and I truly believe, especially now, that he was the soulmate I was always intended to find.
Time passed, and our family flourished with the increased income the boys brought in. Lydell became the most talked about rising name in the programming community with popular game titles under his name, becoming the entrepreneur he’d always wanted to be. Christopher’s career also took off, rocketing him to the upper echelons of competitive gaming in R.E.F.U.G.E., doing so well that he didn’t need to keep up his job as a game tester, striking off completely on his own under the support of numerous sponsors lining up to have him sport their product during his tournaments.
All the while, his relationship with Zoe remained strong, and when he won his championship game and secured his title and sponsored place in the competitive ranks for years to come, he finally worked up the nerve to ask her to marry him. He wanted to have a solid career and know that he could provide for his family before taking on that responsibility, and for that and so many other reasons, his father and I are exceptionally proud of him.
The wedding was set for an evening at an open pavilion in the park, surrounded by willow trees with the setting sunlight streaming through their bows. The couple didn’t want a big event—just the immediate family and Zoe and Christopher’s close friends. We sent out wedding announcements to the rest of our extended family back in Hidden Springs and Moonlight Falls, but we didn’t ask that any of them make the trip.
The ceremony went off without a hitch—quite an accomplishment for our family, really. Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Hudson exchanged their vows and rings, then cut the cake together, sweetly feeding each other the first bite while, thankfully for the sake of pictures, refraining from smearing it across each others’ faces. After cake, we had a dance floor and open bar set up there in the park, and the couple took their first dance together before having the rest of the family and guests join in, celebrating until it was getting too late for anyone to remain.
After escorting those that had hit the bar too hard to their cars with designated drivers, we all called it a night and headed home to give Christopher and Zoe their last gift: that we’d done a surprise remodel of the house, giving them the full master bedroom and bath while Andrew and I took one of the smaller bedrooms. Our time was past. It was now their chance to take charge of the family and have children of their own, and Andrew and I would have been lying if we’d said we didn’t hope and expect to see grandchildren soon.
Now with this news from Taytum that Christopher will be the new heir to our family, I pass all this off to him, and I have every confidence that he’ll carry on the legacy with the proper respect our family’s heritage deserves. He and his beautiful bride have a son now, but Christopher’s story is his to tell. With my piece in this at a close, I can only hope that he has as many happy years with Zoe as I’ve had with Andrew, and all of his dreams come true, as mine have.