Come Away With Me(6)

By: Ruth Cardello

“She’s doing well. We’re hopeful about the new doctor we’re using.”

“That’s good. That’s really good. Is she awake?”

“No, hon. She already went to bed for the night. The medicine makes her tired, but she isn’t as anxious when she gets confused. I told her you were doing well, and that made her happy. So, tell me. Which piece sealed the deal?”

Julia sank onto the corner of her bed and slumped forward. “I didn’t get it, Dad. He didn’t want my jewelry.”

“Then he’s an idiot. Don’t give him a second thought.” Julia almost smiled, remembering that her father had said close to the same thing about every boy she’d pined for since grade school. They didn’t make many men like her father—gentle giants who loved with every fiber in them. Julia had always loved it when her mother spoke of how they’d met. Elizabeth had been driving home to the Carolinas, down the East Coast, after graduating from college and had planned to drive through Rhode Island without stopping. Her car had overheated within state lines, and he had pulled over to offer help. Flirtation had led to coffee. The story was a little vague after that, but her mother had never made it home. She’d stayed and married her father, and together they’d built the family business, Bennett Wood Creations, which was part showroom and part factory. Her father was a gifted furniture designer and craftsman. Her mother had excelled at finding buyers and keeping the books. They’d made a good team—an artist and a business-minded woman.

Until Mom got sick.

Flopping back into the thick, flowered comforter on her bed, Julia confessed, “I may have also been fired from my job today.”

Just as she expected, her father’s support didn’t waver. “From the security gig? That’s not a career anyway. It’s a filler job. You’ll have another one before you know it.”

I wish I could believe that. “I don’t know, Dad. What if I don’t have what it takes to make it here?”

Her father cleared his throat. “You can always come home, Jules. You know that.”

“All it would take to get the books current is one good deal, Dad. I have to try.”

“It’s just a business, Jules. It’s not what matters.” The sadness in his voice tore at Julia’s heart. Her father would do anything for her and for his wife, but he wasn’t a businessman. He’d tried to downplay the seriousness of his situation, but Julia knew how close he was to losing everything.

Her mother would have known how to turn it around. She would have known exactly what to say to the bankers, who had begun pressuring her father to sell the land to local developers before they claimed it and auctioned it off themselves. The hardest part of Alzheimer’s was, although her mother was there, still laughing and playing cards with her father, the sharp woman she’d been was gone.

Leaving Dad and me to fend for ourselves.

And we were cut from the same dreamer cloth.

No, I will no longer limit myself with narrow definitions of who I am. I’m a reasonably intelligent person. I can learn to be a businesswoman.

I must have some of my mother in me.

It was that decision that had started Julia reading motivational business books. Surround yourself with those you want to emulate. Want to land an opportunity? Put yourself where opportunities are plentiful. Want to be a business shark? Swim with sharks.

Less than four hours from her home and boasting one of the world’s largest collections of jewelry businesses, New York had been a natural choice for Julia. Working nights allowed her to frequent the Diamond District and learn which pieces were selling and which weren’t. It was a culture shock, but not all bad. New Yorkers were sharply dressed, blunt in their speech, and willing to fight to death for a taxi. She respected them even as she struggled to keep up with them.

“It does matter, Dad. It matters to me.”

“It’s not a weight that belongs on your shoulders. I have some options I’m considering.”

Julia sat up and wiped her tears away. “Don’t do anything until I come home, Dad. This is going to work out. You and Mom have been the best parents anyone could ever ask for. I would still be selling my jewelry out of your furniture store if Mom hadn’t gotten sick. You always believed in me.”

“That’s what parents do, Jules.”

“No. Not all parents, Dad. Good parents. And I know I don’t have to do this for you. I want to do this. I will do this.”

With a voice that was thick with emotion, her father said, “New York is about to discover an incredible artisan. I believe that. You’ll find a buyer. You know why? Because you have your mother’s heart. She was always a scrapper. If this is what you feel you need to do, then you get back out there, Jules, and you fight for it. Not for Mom and me. But for you.”

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