Bridging The Divide Chapter 7
Once Winifred was all settled in the guest room at Ethel and Raymond's house. She called her in laws. Elizabeth answered right away.
"Banks Residence. Elizabeth speaking.
"Hello Betty, it's Winifred."
"Hello Darling. I'm assuming you talked to George and he told you he was let go from the bank."
"Yes, we've had a long talk. He definitely mentioned that. Can't say I'm surprised at all."
William was torn about firing him. They've been business partners for so long but customer safety had to be put first."
"Do you think this will impact funding another job?"
"Do the children know?"
"Yes, they do, Jane says that she does not want to go back to Cherry Tree Lane ever again."
"Well that will make selling the house easier then."
"Excuse me, what did you say?"
"While I was away last week George went ahead and hired a realtor and a divorce lawyer."
"Well that's news to me. I wish he told me that so I could have told the children the house was being put up for sale. What terms have you reached regarding the divorce? Was it amicable?
"No, it wasn't unfortunately. We traded some pretty nasty words. I want nothing to do with him anymore,"
"What happened dear?"
" I am staying with a neighbor. I think we should hold a family meeting on Friday afternoon."
"Aren't you coming to pick up the children after school is over on Friday?
"No, actually I am going to check with my parents to see if we can meet at their flat.
I am staying with my neighbors now. I feel my parents house is a relatively neutral location. If we meet at Ethel's George may get suspicious. I feel he's grown a little paranoid. "
" Will you call me back with details on when we can meet?
"Yes, I'm going to call my mother now. I'll call you back in a bit."
Winifred disconnected and dialed her parents number.
"Hello?" her mother answered.
"Mother, it's Winifred/"
"Hello dear Have you worked things out with George?"
"You could say that. The divorce is definitely going through, I'm staying with a neighbor right now. We are selling the house on Cherry Tree Lane."
"Not surprising based on what you were telling me this afternoon though the sale of the house is sort of a sudden thing. That wasn't a rash reaction was it?
"That was George's decision not mine. He made it without consulting me."
"How soon will you be moving in?"
"Well I can't live with George another moment. He is a scoundrel and I don't trust him."
"Whatever do you mean?"
I want to have a family meeting on Friday to discuss it. I was wondering if we could convene at your house? I am staying at a neighbor's house but meeting here would be very risky given the situation with George."
" That's perfectly fine love. What time?
"Betty will be bringing Jane and Michael home around 3:30pm
"Splendid. It will be lovely to see her again. It has been years. Is William going to be with them?"
"No, he works until 5pm at the bank."
"Jolly good. I look forward to seeing you all.
Winfred disconnected the call and then dialed the Banks house again. Jane picked up.
"Hello Mommy Grandmother said you'd be calling back any second and said I could answer the phone."
A smile spread across Winifred's face. " Hello Darling. I wanted to let you know we'll be going to Grandma and Grandpa's house in Coventry Gardens around 3:30pm on Friday. Is it possible for you and Michael to get done with your lessons a little bit early?
"Grandmother said that can be easily arranged."
"Splendid. After the meeting we'll be going back to Cherry Tree Lane. You'll be packing the nursery up."
" Where will we stay?"
"With Grandma and Grandpa for a few weeks while I search for a place where we can all live together away from your father."
"So is the divorce final?
"Yes. That's what I'll be talking to you all about."
"Ok. We'll see you on Friday Mommy. I love you."
"I love you too sweetheart."
Winifred hung up the phone.. At that moment Ethel knocked on the bedroom door."
"Is everything all set for Friday Winifred?"
Winifred nodded. " Yes it is. Would you like to come with me?"
"It won't be an intrusion? "
Winifred shook her head. "No, I think Jane needs you right now more than anything actually."
Ethel nodded. "Okay. What time is the meeting?"
"3:30pm. We'll leave here at 2:30pm. Friday the weather is supposed to be nice so I''d like to walk to Coventry Gardens if that's all right/
"Fine by me."
Once everyone arrived at Winifred's mother's house and was comfortably seated the meeting began.
"I ve gathered us here today for an update on my relationship with George.. Effective immediately we are preparing to sell the house on Cherry Tree Lane. The divorce will be finalized with in the next two weeks."
"Quite frankly I'm glad of that. I don't want to be around Daddy anymore. I'm quite scared of him." Jane said.
Ethel pulled Jane into her lap and kissed her forehead. "I love you sweetheart."
Jane snuggled into her neighbor's embrace. "I love you too Ethel.. very much. Mommy must have told you that I look up to you an older sister."
Ethel stroked the little girl's hair back." "She certainly did. I'll always be here for you no matter what."
"Did you hear that George lost his job at the bank?" Betty Banks asked Winifred's mother.
She shook her head. " No, that's a shame"
Betty nodded. "It was certainly a touch decision for William to make. I would think you; be pretty embarrassed if your son came to work drunk and beat up a female customer. He was fearful for the safety of this customers and female employees."
Ethel looked at Winifred. "Don't you work at the bank too? That must be so hard for your Winifred.
"As of today I don't. William decided to transfer me to another bank in this area. I start on Monday."
"That's a relief..: her mother said.
"Mum are we still staying in the same school?" Michael asked.
Winifred nodded. "Of course.. Your father wanted you send you both to Boarding School but I extinguished that idea really quickly"
"How would he expect to pay for that if he's out of a job. Tuition is quite pricy." her mother asked.
"Quite frankly I am not quite sure what his thought process on that was... aside from making my life miserable."
"The house on Cherry Tree Lane will be sold with in the next month or so?" Betty asked
Winifred shook her head. "I don't know how long it will take to sell it.. all I do know is that the three of us need to be out of the house immediately."
"Where will we live Mum?" Michael asked.
Winifred's mother smiled. "Your grandfather and I have plenty of space here."
"What about Mary Poppins Mommy? What will happen to her?"
"She'll move on to work with another family. I plan to give her a glowing recommendation. "
"We'll miss her very much indeed. She's the best nanny we've ever had." Jane said and Michael nodded in agreement.
"Dare I ask my dear what makes George such a scoundrel?" her mother asked.
Winfred let out a deep breath/ "He betrayed my trust in the most unspeakable way."
Jane's eyes grew wide. "What happened Mommy?"
"The word my dear is infidelity." Ethel said.
"What does that mean Ethel?" Michael asked.
Elizabeth Banks took her grandson's hands tightly in hers.
"Your father has been disloyal to your mother by cheating on her with another woman my darling boy."
Jane burst into tears. "I hate him SO MUCH! I never want to see him or talk to him again! Cut ties with him completely Mommy for goodness sake!"
Winifred scooped her daughter in to her arms and gave her a squeeze."
"I agree with you completely sweetheart."
Elizabeth Banks stared at her daughter in law in complete dumbfounded shock "How long has he been with this other mystery woman?"
"A year." Winifred whispered.
"Is that why he acted so strange at counseling that day Mum? Michael asked.
Winifred nodded. "That's exactly what your father told me Michael."
"I want to give him a piece of my mind." Elizabeth said.
"You can certainly do that if you want. it will not change anything though Betty."
"Quite frankly I could care less .. you deserve an apology Winifred. I raised my son to treat women with respect and this proves to me that he has disrespected you in an unspeakable way."
Winifred sighed. "If he was going to apologize then it would have not taken him a solid year to admit he was being unfaithful. I would have left a whole lot sooner if he had just been honest with me."
"But then we would have never have hired Mary Poppins Mum... think of how much she's helped us." Michael said.
A smile crossed Winifred 's lips. "I am certainly going to miss Mary Poppins very much and I know how much you and your sister will miss her as well. She cares for you both very much."
"She's welcome to stay here as long as she is needed too." Her mother said.
"Are you sure Mother? I wasn't sure if it would be intrusive to invite her to come and stay and also if you'd have enough room. "
"We'll make it work. It sounds to me as if Mary Poppins is very special."
Winifred's smile grew wider "She is indeed."
"What's going to happen next Mommy?" Jane asked
"We'll go back to Cherry Tree Lane so you can pack up the nursery. We'll stay with Ethel and Raymond this weekend and then move in with you grandparents on Sunday."
Jane nodded. "Okay."
After the meeting ended Elizabeth Banks drove Jane and Michael back to Cherry Tree Lane.
"Is Mr. Banks at home Mary Poppinss?:
Mary Poppins shrugged "Where else would he be? I'm afraid he hasn't been putting much effort in to searching for another job. Perhaps he is waiting until the divorce proceedings settle down. Where's Mrs. Banks?
Elizabeth smiled/ "Winifred is staying with Ethel and Raymond and the children will be staying there this weekend and moving in with her parents on Sunday. Could you take Jane and Michael upstairs and help them to start packing? I have a few words to say to my son.
Mary Poppins nodded "Will Mrs. Banks be stopping by to give us our wages m'am?
Elizabeth nodded. "If you wouldn't mind going to Ethel's this evening Winifred will have payment for you and the other house staff ready to go. Winifred would like to actually keep you on for a little longer Mary Poppins... if that's alright with you."
"Perfectly alright. Come along children. Spit spot. Let's start packing your things up."
Jane and Michael followed Mary Poppins up the stairs one final time.
Elizabeth knocked on the door to the parlor.
"George, I think it's time we have a chat. "
George groaned . "Hello Mother, I suppose you have come to give me more grief."
Elizabeth entered the parlor and shut the door behind her.
"George William Banks to say I am disappointed in you in beyond an understatement. I am actually more furious at you then I was that night you tried to attack Jane,"
"No need to make me feel any more horrible than I already do Mother. Thank you."
"No, you're going to listen to everything that I have to say. I've been meaning to speak to you since last week but wanted to give you some space"
George did not reply.
"Why would you do something like this to your family George? The better question should be how? "
George was still silent.
"Didn't the vows you said to Winifred on your wedding day mean anything to you or what she said to you?"
"They did... and the love and passion was there for years."
"If you were unhappy why didn't you just leave?"
"Do you think I am an idiot George? If you do I'm sorry to say you're sorely mistaken.:"
"I never said that Mother."
"Your silence implies it."
There was silence for 10 minutes.
" Did you get this women pregnant?"
"How far along is she?"
"She's due in a few months Mother.."
"How could you betray your family like this George? Not only your wife and children but your father and I as well?"
"I was hoping I could bring Laura over for dinner soon Mother so you and Father could meet her."
Elizabeth shook her head. " I think it will take me some time to accept what has happened George. What you have done to Winifred is despicable. Jane and Michael want nothing to do with you, How can even think about bringing another child into this family after what you have done? You don't have any love for your own children. How can they even trust you again after what you did to them? The matter of your employment is a whole other issue. "
"I'll start looking for another job again once the divorce papers are signed off on and the house is sold."
"What does your girlfriend do for a job George?"
"She's a teacher at Jane and Michael's school actually. The children probably know her."
Elizabeth's jaw dropped.. "I hope none of the other children know what has been going on in this house and how absolutely horrible you've been to your wife and children."
"If Laura knows better she'll keep quiet"
"I do hope you don't plan on treating her the same way you've treated Winifred. The truth will come out sooner or later. Jane must've told her friends about all of this by now. She would not be shy at all about discoloring info if she was asked to share it."
"I'll give her a piece of my mind.!" George rose up from the couch angrily." "
" Sit your ass down George. I was speaking hypothetically.
George Banks knew he was gong to lose this battle against his mother.
"Yes Mother. You see Laura teaches 2nd grade. Michael will have her next year. You don't know how much shame I feel knowing that my son will have my new wife as a teacher. It's much too risky. I didn't even tell Winifred that when we talked to each other on Wednesday I couldn't bear it. Plus how do you know the children do not behave the same way in school as they do at home?"
Elizabeth softened "George, did you ever think the reason why they act out is because they want attention? Attention you have not given them in two years but instead pass along to the nannies you employ."
"That's been a fact for awhile my love. You've just failed to see it."
. "Go Away Mother. This conversation is over."
"I think you should continue to go to see the therapist George."
"Absolutely not. I want to put the past behind me."
Elizabeth Banks grasped her son's hand in her own tightly.
"Does that mean the part of your past you're most afraid to face George?"
"I don't want to talk about Miss Andrew Mother and I think you know it. "
Tears were starting to form at the edges of Elizabeth's eyes.
"Do you even realize how much pain I was put through trying to hide that abuse from people? How much I hated seeing you suffer at the hands of the horrible woman? When you admit to yourself that you were abused I think you will be able to see how much of a bad influence that woman had on you and how much she hurt your own children. I haven't been able to forgive myself for all these years. I want to go to therapy with you George like we should have done long ago. Our relationship should be repaired so I don't take this guilt to my grave. I am not getting any younger and neither are you."
George was silent for 10 minutes before he spoke again.
"To be honest with you I guess I really didn't."
Elizabeth let go of George's hand.
"Please consider going back to therapy George. If you don't want to save your relationship with your wife and children the very least you could do is save your relationship with me."
George let out a sigh.
"Alright Mother if you insist. "
"Goodbye George. I will make a therapy appointment for us and see you there. Do not contact me until then."
With that Elizabeth Banks walked out of the parlor and exited the Cherry Lane house for the last time. She was not sure weather she could fully trust her son to keep his promise about going to counseling but was praying that for her own sake he'd follow through.