My mother waited until I’d graduated from high school to tell me that she’d selected me to be heiress of our legacy heritage, as well as our accumulated wealth and family home, but being who she was, she didn’t push me to accept it sooner than I felt I was ready. She wanted me to be able to experience my youth, as she had, and live my life to the fullest and exactly as I wanted before having to take up the mantle and responsibility of the family, myself.
I can’t say that at that young of an age I was truly ready for the expectations ahead of me, but family had always been my first and foremost concern, and I’d always wanted children–always wanted to be a mother. Unlike my own mother, I didn’t see inheriting the family responsibilities as a burden, quite the contrary; I considered it both a gift and an honor that my parents had chosen me over my sisters, though I knew my mother had always been closest to me, resembling her as much as I always have, both in looks and in my talents and interests.
I dated a little throughout my teenage years, always encouraged by my mother to be a strong, independent woman–to make my own way regardless of the inheritance that was there for me–but I never felt a connection to any of the boys in town, never felt that special spark that told me they’d be the one I was meant to be with. I never remained with any of them long and never gave myself to any of them or let things get too serious, respecting myself enough to know better–to be the responsible daughter my parents had raised me to be.
Unbeknownst to my sisters and I at the time, my mother’s health was failing fast, despite still being early in years and ever full of the youthful spirit she’d always possessed. Though the last four generations of our family history were there at our home in Riverview, our small town simply didn’t possess the medical care my mother needed, and if we hadn’t left when we did, we’d have likely lost her years before her time. My sisters and I were, of course, scared to death of losing our mom when we heard the news. I was barely out of high school, and Cassandra and June were still young, but we held it together and kept strong for her, agreeing to do whatever was needed of us, even if that meant leaving the only home we’d ever known.
It was for that reason that we returned to Sunset Valley, the coastal city our ancestors had originated from as far back as anything we had recorded of them. Given that the family land there had been long since sold and the home on it demolished by the city in favor of other building opportunities, my mother and father, instead, rented a large home for the five of us. My aunt Megan also returned with us to Sunset Valley with her two sons, her husband having recently passed away rather suddenly, and settled in a few blocks away from us in her own home. I think it did my mother quite a lot of good, having not only her daughters and husband there, but her sister and nephews nearby, as well.
Under the close care of her doctors there, my mother’s health stabilized, allowing her to return home and live fairly normally with a careful regimen of medications. Our family, though, remained in Sunset Valley, wanting to have the doctors close at hand, should anything happen. My parents kept the family estate and property back in Riverview, a portion of my rightful inheritance and a huge piece of our family’s history, but they didn’t ever return.
My sisters and I adjusted to our new life there with little difficulty. It was just another place, after all, and it was having our family there that made it home, not the house we were living in. Much like my mother, I had difficulty finding my focus early on and took to expanding my experiences and views before choosing my path, remaining home and helping take care of my mother rather than looking for a career, myself, much to my parents’ pleasure to have me close by. Cassandra, in contrast, knew from childhood what she wanted to do with her life, and it was no surprise to any of us when she took after our father as a budding artist–ever the free spirit. When my youngest sister, June, graduated, though, I realized my youth was quickly passing me by, and with June being the dutiful daughter and remaining home to help our father care for our mother, I was able for the first time to really spread my wings a bit.
As it happened, ‘spreading my wings’ turned out to be finding someone to spend the rest of my life with, as was expected of me as the inheritor of my family’s legacy–to find someone who could love me with the devotion my father had always had for my mother. His name was Connor Frio: a writer and somewhat of a recluse, the early days of our relationship were not easy to build, but I was devoted to him, and from our first moments together, I knew there was something there between us, if we only had the patience to build it. After a fairly long period of courtship, drawing out that side of him he so rarely showed, he proposed to me there in his home. We were wed on the beach in a small ceremony with my family and his, and soon after were expecting our first child, a daughter we named Autumn, for the season in which she was born.
With my father’s hair, my eyes, and a fairer complexion than even I had, she was a stunningly beautiful child and so very different from the blonde and light brown hair that was so prevalent throughout our family. From a very young age, I could tell that Autumn would have the creativity that ran so distinctly through our line. The way she’d draw, paint, how easily spelling came to her, how quickly she picked up words when I’d read to her at night–she was every bit her mother’s child, but she had an awkward streak, as well, getting more bumps and scrapes along the way than I think my sisters and I collectively ever got when we were young.
Connor, Autumn, and I lived a simple life in the two bedroom home Connor had owned since before I’d met him. It was small, but it was just enough for what we needed. Given that being a mother was something I’d always desired and dreamed for, I desperately wanted more children, but no matter how long we tried, how many years we put into not only natural conception, but artificial means, as well, the Watcher didn’t see fit to bless us with another baby, so Autumn became my world–my little girl, my only child. I doted upon her endlessly, as did my parents, knowing that as my only child, and a daughter, she would, no doubt, be heiress of our family someday.
As hopeful and inspiring as our life in our little home of our own was going–Autumn teaching us something new through her bright, innocent eyes each and every day–my mother’s health was another matter entirely. She continued to decline, her health problems resurfacing steadily worse than before, but she and my father kept it to themselves, not wanting to worry the rest of the family or have any of us fuss over her. Being at home with them, June had her suspicions, but she could only guess at how bad our mother’s health had truly gotten. There were times my mother pulled me aside to talk, just her, Autumn, and me, to reminisce, to give advice. I’m grateful for that time with her, and thankful that at least she got to know her granddaughter, but I wish I could have had more time as an adult with her, to speak with her more closely once I was a mother, myself.
My father was devastated when we lost her. Yes, he still had June and me; he still had Autumn, and he had the four grandchildren Cassandra and her husband, Holden, had given him, but my mother was his life, his love, his heart. He loved his children and grandchildren, but her absence left a hole that could never be filled. Despite that loss, though, he held on for years for all of us–a long, full life, giving him time to even see some of his grandchildren reach high school.
Autumn’s birthday snuck up on us not long after my mother’s passing, and without a need to stay in Sunset Valley anymore for my mother’s care, our family moved back to Riverview. Aunt Megan and her boys chose to remain there, but June, my father, myself and my own family, as well as Cassandra, her husband, and her children all chose to go back to our home. June and my father went back to the family estate, but after living on our own for so long, Connor and I weren’t sure we wanted to be back with the whole family under one roof again, and I didn’t think I could stand to be there without my mother. So many memories of family we’d lost were there–my mother, my grandparents; everywhere you turned, there was a memory. Connor and I wanted a fresh start with our own family, rather than dwelling on the past.
Instead, as Autumn got older, we took the chance to travel as a family, first Champs Les Sims, France, then Shang Simla, China, then Al Simhara, Egypt. As much as we were traveling, I chose to home school Autumn, taking her to see all the sights, learning the rich history of each place we passed through. She soaked all of it up like a sponge, gathering a great interest in world history and exploration, herself, and was always an avid learner, wherever we went. While I was with Autumn, Connor pursued archaeology, joining teams of excavators and explorers in each region we visited, unearthing tombs and remains of ancient peoples, as well as bringing back a myriad of artifacts to display and decorate our home. He wrote numerous texts regarding the discoveries he’d made, and the royalties from his writings, as well as the substantial profits from his expeditions, gave us a very comfortable life back at our home in Riverview.
With Autumn nearly grown now, though, my piece in this is coming to a close. We never did move back to the family estate, but my sister June continues to manage it, and has ever since the death of our father. Connor and I have mostly retired from traveling, him choosing to continue publishing books on his experiences, while I remain simply a mother and wife, but looking at the woman my daughter is growing to be, that is more than enough of an accomplishment to show for my life’s worth. I know what an astounding mother she’ll turn out to be someday as I turn these texts and histories over to her, passing on the legacy of our family, as my mother did to me. I only hope that I may be blessed with enough time that I may see her marry and have a family of her own. Je t’aime, ma fille.