Annie had flown to Chicago so that she could drive her mother's car to Philadelphia. Diane was released from the hospital the day after her surgery. Annie took Charlie and Josie to the car and pulled it around for Diane. The nurse helped Diane into the car and shut the door.
"Did you want to take your cane or walker with you?" Annie had already retrieved her mother's and sisters' things but didn't mind going back to the house.
"No, it's just a bit sore. As long as I take it easy I should be fine."
Diane stared at her daughter for a moment, "Which one did you bring?"
She knew her children all too well, "the cane. Are you mad?"
"No of course not," Diane laid back in her seat, "gives me something to whack you with."
Annie only stopped once on the way to her house so that everyone could use the restroom and Diane could stretch her legs.
Meanwhile at the Brennan house:
"Okay kids, your mother will be here with your grandmother just before dinner. Now we have to get our stories straight," Peter Brennan paced in front of his adult children.
"Dad, why do we need a story for grandma?" Todd asked.
"Gee I don't know Todd? Do you really want to tell your grandmother, whose husband of almost fifty years cheated on her, that you ended your engagement because you cheated on your fiance?" Peter snapped at Todd.
"Fair point," Todd agreed, "why did you tell grandma the wedding was canceled?"
"That you both realized you didn't want to get married and weren't really in love with one another." Todd looked at his father in shock, "it was your mother's idea. Now Sara we don't need a story for you, but Tim your grandmother doesn't know you are dating and living with a woman your mother's age. So keep Maggie away."
"But dad, grandma is going to be here for a week," Tim told his father.
"What's your point?" Peter responded just as Charlie and Josie walked in the front door. "Hey girls! Where are your mom and sister?"
"Mama's leg is really stiff, so Annie is helping her. Hi everyone," Charlie responded as she and her sister greeted everyone.
"Well gee look at the time I have a patient," Todd got up and left.
"I have an appointment that I need Sara to drive me to," Tim and Sara followed their older brother.
"It's actually better this way," Peter decided, "listen girls you're in the same rooms as always so why don't you head up and put your things down. The girls ran up the stairs just as Annie was helping Diane in the door. She had one arm around her mother's waist and her mother's left hand in hers. Diane was holding on tightly to her daughter and cane.
"You good Annie?" Peter asked his wife.
"Yeah, can you just get mom's things from the car?" Annie asked her husband.
"Sure," Peter took the keys from his wife and went to get his mother-in-law's suitcase.
Annie helped her mother to sit on the couch, "there, now aren't you glad I brought the cane?"
"Shut up," Diane smiled at her daughter, "thank you for helping me."
Peter brought in Diane's suitcase and took it up to her room. When he came back down he greeted his mother-in-law.
"Hello mommy dearest, how are you feeling?" Peter hugged Diane.
"I'm okay, just a little tired."
Peter and Annie looked at one another confused. Usually, Diane had a comeback when Peter referred to her as 'mommy dearest.'
"Mom, why don't you take a nap before dinner? You can lay right here on the couch," Annie knew her mother wouldn't want to climb up and down the stairs right now.
"I might," Diane was lost and they could tell. Her life had fallen apart and they were the only family still speaking to her. Annie and Peter left Diane and went into the kitchen.
"Peter, I've never seen my mother like this."
"I know, there has to be something we can do to help her."
"Like what? Go back in time and make sure my father doesn't get drunk and cheat on her? Make sure my sister doesn't humiliate her in court? Tell my siblings to get over that my mother slapped Alicia? Tell my mother to get her money out of the Rindell fund? I need to go for a walk." Annie walked out the back door to clear her head.
A few minutes later Todd, Sara, and Tim walked in the back door.
"What's wrong with mom?" Sara asked.
"She's just upset because she can't figure out a way to help your grandmother who appears to be quite lost."
"Well we need to go find her," Tim said.
"No, Tim she's not lost lost, she's just unsure of what to do about her life," Peter bit back.
Just then Diane limped into the kitchen, "I thought I heard my grandchildren in here."
Todd, Sara, and Tim went to greet their grandmother.
"Mom I thought you were going to take a nap?" Peter asked his mother-in-law.
"I decided not to, and the girls wanted to watch television."
Diane walked to a chair at the kitchen table, "mom, here let me help." Peter pulled Diane's chair out enough so she could scoot in. Then he helped her prop her left leg up on another chair.
"Thank you. Where's Annie?" Diane looked around unable to find her daughter.
"Umm...gotta go," Todd said as all three Brennan children ran out the door.
"I'm not getting an explanation am I?" Diane asked Peter.
"I wouldn't hold your breath."
Annie returned from her walk to find her mother and Peter at the kitchen table.
"Hi sweetheart, where were you?" Diane asked her daughter.
"I just went for a walk."
Diane looked at Peter, "really? That's it? That's what you all wouldn't tell me?" Peter just shrugged
"Peter, are the kids having dinner here tonight?" Annie asked.
"I'm going to go out on a limb and say no."
"They told me they would," Diane said.
"When?" Peter asked confused.
"Just now when I texted them to ask."
"Oh, you're good," Peter gave a sly grin to his mother-in-law.
Annie went about making dinner while her mother and sisters were in the living room. When the Brennan children arrived, Peter and Annie were stunned to see Maggie.
"Tim, I thought I made myself very clear," Peter scolded his son.
"When grandma asked if I was coming over for dinner, I told her I had a date with my girlfriend. Grandma said to bring her," Tim explained.
"Well Peter it looks like my mother will be having a stroke tonight," Annie was not happy with Tim. "Alright everyone, go and sit at the dining table. Peter will you help my mother please." The kids went to the dining room while Peter went to the living room. He could just kill Tim, and his mother-in-law was one of the best damn defense attorneys in the country so he could probably get away with it.
"Alright, dinner is ready. Girls why don't you go take a seat at the dining table. Here, mom, I'll help you."
"Thank you, Peter. I really didn't think it would be this bad," Diane winced and groaned as her son in law helped her stand. Peter held on tightly as he helped his mother-in-law walk to the dining room. The room was really close to the living room, but it probably felt further away if you had just had surgery on your leg. Diane left her cane by the entrance to the dining room so it didn't get in the way. Peter helped her sit in a chair and went to help Annie.
"So Tim, you said you were bringing your girlfriend?" Diane asked her grandson.
"Yeah, about that, grandma this is Maggie," Tim gestured to Maggie, "my girlfriend."
Diane just stared at the woman in shock, "umm...well...it's nice to meet you, Maggie."
"Likewise," the brunette smiled.
Dinner went really well with Diane even including Maggie in the conversation. After dessert, Diane sent her young daughters upstairs. Peter and Annie starred nervously at one another.
"Let's get something straight," Diane started, "I don't like it when people play games with me. I don't like it when people, especially my family, lie to me. Who told Tim not to tell me about Maggie?" Peter reluctantly raised his hand, "care to explain Peter." Now the litigator in Diane was coming out.
"Mom, Peter and I both decided to not tell you about Maggie because we really didn't know how you would take it, and we're also still hoping it ends soon," Annie admitted.
"I have to say I don't blame you one bit for how you and Peter feel about this," Diane gestured at Tim and Maggie, "Timothy what the hell are you doing with a woman your mother's age?"
"Actually mom, I'm younger than Maggie," Annie added.
"Grandma, what does it matter how old she is? Isn't it enough to love one another and to be happy?" Tim said and watched his grandmother's face drop.
"You would think so, wouldn't you? You know Tim, life is going to throw all sorts of shit at you. You won't know when it's coming. You can love someone with all your heart and they could end up breaking your heart into a million pieces. That's the shit I'm talking about. When real life happens to people who are in love and think that nothing can tear them apart. When they're hit with something and get the wind knocked out of them, or feel the rug pulled out from under them. Not everyone is lucky to survive. When I hear you say Maggie makes you happy, that makes me happy because I want my children and grandchildren to be happy. When I hear you love each other that also makes me happy. I want all of you to be in love, but that's not always enough. Both of you just think about that and talk to one another before deciding anything serious."
"Well I moved in with Maggie," Tim said cautiously.
"Tim I said serious, like marriage," Diane responded. "Don't end up like your brother saying he's going to commit to someone and realizing a month before the wedding he isn't in love."
"Grandma I would never cheat on Maggie the way Todd cheated on Jean..." Tim hadn't realized he was saying it until it was too late.
Diane's eyes were wide and shock was written all over her face. She turned to Todd, "you cheated on your fiance?" Todd just sat there silently and terrified. "Todd! Did you cheat on your fiance?!" Diane was yelling now.
"Yes, I did."
"Son of a bitch!" Everyone knew this was going to be bad. "Was this before or after your grandfather humiliated me?"
"After," Todd admitted.
"You saw how your aunt and I were humiliated by our husbands cheating on us and you still went and cheated on your fiance? I thought you had more respect for women than that."
"Grandma it's not really a big deal," Todd said casually.
"Not a big deal?!"
"Lay down, play dead," Peter whispered to his son.
"Jeannie forgave me."
"But I haven't," Diane slowly stood, retrieved her cane, and went to the kitchen.
"Todd I am so sorry. I didn't realize..." Tim pleaded with his brother.
"It's okay Tim, I know," Todd looked at both of his parents, "so what should I do here? Go talk to her or give her space?"
Peter spoke first, "that depends on how badly you want her to hit you with her cane."
After the kids left, Annie went to check on her mother.
"Mom, are you alright?" Annie sat next to her mother.
"I don't know. I've never been disappointed in one of my grandchildren before." Annie rubbed her mother's back, "I think I'm just going to call it a night."
Annie helped her mother up the stairs. As they passed him, Peter could see how much more broken his mother-in-law was.
"Annie, do you want some help," Peter could tell his mother-in-law was too stiff to take the stairs.
"I might," Annie answered as she tried to get her exhausted and stiff mother up to bed.
"Mom, do you need me to carry you up?"
Diane whispered 'yes' but Peter couldn't hear, "she said yes Peter."
Diane was gripping the railing and her cane while bent over from exhaustion. Peter wrapped an arm around Diane's waist and Annie took the cane. Peter lifted his petite mother-in-law quite easily and carried her up to bed.
"Mom do you need help getting ready for bed?" Annie asked as they entered Diane's room.
"No thank you. I'll be fine."
Peter placed his mother-in-law on the bed, "you sure because I just carried you from the living room?"
"Thank you for that Peter, and maybe I could use some help."
"Annie, I'll wait in the hall. If you need me just yell."
Annie was able to help her mother get ready for and into bed.
"Thank you, Annie."
"Of course," Annie kissed her mother good night, "I'll make sure the girls get to bed."
"Thank you, sweetheart. Good night."
Diane was too depressed to get out of bed the next day.
"Mama," Charlie and Josie entered her room, "can we go mini-golfing with Tim and Maggie?"
"Sure, do you need money?"
"No, thanks mama love you."
"Love you too."
Annie entered the room a few minutes after her sisters left, "mom do you need anything?" Diane didn't answer, "mom!"
"Sorry, umm, no I don't need anything. I'm fine don't worry about me." Diane tried to smile in a way that would convince her daughter she was telling the truth. It didn't work, "look finding out about Todd has brought back all the feelings I felt when I found out your father had cheated on me. That's all, and I just have to work through them."
Annie nodded and left her mother's room. Diane spent most of the trip avoiding Todd. She just couldn't look at him and that made her feel worse. When Diane and her daughters left, Diane didn't even try to find Todd to say goodbye.