Continuation of the story begun in response to Willow's prompt at Magpie Tales
Jane was still sitting at the kitchen table when she heard Mick and Mhairi coming home from school. She quickly thrust the diary underneath a pile of towels in a drawer. She wasn't sure why she wanted to keep that from them.
'What's this, Mom,' Mick was first to spot the box on the table.
'Well, I took out a box of your dad's old things, to help you with your papers on family history.'
'Ooh, fabulous,' Mhairi didn't hesitate to start to pull out the trophies, jacket, and other mementoes. Mitch grabbed the jacket and pushed his arms into the sleeves - they dangled a good six inches below his hands, but brought quick tears to Jane's eyes as she recalled Jock wearing his letter jacket so proudly even years after high school. She cleared her throat, and turned away quickly so as not to upset the children, opening the fridge to get out some milk to go with their after-school snack.
As the three of them sat at the table, munching on cookies and looking through the box, the children were full of questions about how Jock had earned the jacket and the trophies, which teams he'd played on, which positions he'd played, what other activities he'd done, how he made the box and the bowl - many of which Jane couldn't answer because she'd only met Jock after medical school when he was doing his internship at the same hospital in which she'd trained. She promised to ask Jock's mother to come for dinner in a day or two to see if she could answer any of their questions.
Then Mick pulled out a report card - grade one. Uh,oh - Jane had forgotten about those. Mick read the report card and silently handed it to Mhairi, then pulled out the next. Each report was reviewed by both children with no comments for several minutes. After the last one, Mhairi looked up and said, 'Dad was sure smart, wasn't he?' While this was true (his grades had always been excellent), Jane was surprised that grades were the focus.
Mick said, 'Of course he was. How do you think he got to be a doctor? And we have to be just like him, right, Mom?'
'Well, your Dad's grades were good, and it would be a good thing if you wanted to have grades as good as his were.'
'But his teachers say he asked questions, and was busy, and was a leader. I want to be all of those things, and get good grades, and play sports, and be a doctor some day, just like Dad.' So Mick hadn't missed the comments, but apparently wasn't ready yet to read between the lines and understand that 'active' and 'inquisitive' and 'leadership qualities' when paired with 'fun-loving' and 'innovative' probably meant that Jock had been somewhat disruptive in class, and led his classmates into activities best left unsaid in a written report card. The frequent requests for parent-teacher meetings attested to that in Jane's mind.
'Just remember, you need to be your own person, and do your best at anything that you try, and then find out where your talents lie, and what you like to do the most. That's what's most important, that you - both of you - are individual, not like anybody else, and are not expected to be exactly like any other person.'
Then Mhairi pulled out a year-book and began to look for pictures of Jock, and the discussion turned to which one looked more like their father. Jane sat back and listened to them chatter, and wondered if the secret of 'AL' could be found in one of the annuals.
Later, when the children were settled with their homework, Jane discovered the watch in her pocket, and, looking at the inscription again, determined to discover the mystery of 'AL'. She took the watch and the diary and moved them to the bottom of a drawer in her bedroom.
A few days later, Jock's mother joined the family for dinner, and the box of mementos was brought out. Stories flowed, so many that Jane had never heard because Jock just hadn't had time to tell her everything of his school and university years. Laughter and cheers abounded as they heard about his sports victories, his attempts at woodwork (only the successes were kept apparently), his academic and citizenship awards. Jane had warned her mother-in-law to keep mischief and errant behavior out of the conversation, so nothing was mentioned of any exploits that might encourage Mick to step farther outside the boundaries than he sometimes was wont to do.
After dinner, and the children headed for their rooms to their own activities, Jane and Liza chatted as they cleared the table. Jane asked, 'Did Jock ever date somebody with the initials 'AL'?'
'Not that I recall. Why do you ask?'
So Jane told Liza all about discovering the watch, and the inscription, but left out any mention of the cryptic note in the diary - actually didn't mention it at all, not sure if she was ready to share Jock's private musings with anybody else yet.
'A pocket watch? Can I see it?' Liza was very curious.
When Jane handed it to her, Liza said, 'So that's where it went! I always wondered what happened to it. Rob must have given it to Jock before he died, when he knew he wouldn't survive the cancer, so that Jock would be sure to have it when his first son was born.'
'But it says the watch was for 'JM' not 'RM'.'
'That's right dear. It was given to Jock's great-great-grandfather, John McDougall, by Alannah Lynch on their wedding day. John passed it on to his son, when his first son was born. And so the tradition was begun - from father to son on the birth of that son's first son. Rob must have wanted to make sure that Jock had the watch, even though you weren't even married yet.'
'But I wonder why Jock never mentioned it.' Jane was puzzled - and still didn't know who the 'AL' was in the diary entry.
'I really don't know dear, maybe he just hurt so much when his dad died that he just put the watch away and forgot all about it. I don't remember packing it up with everything else, so maybe your mother tucked it into that box.'
'Well, that's quite likely. I'm glad to know that we have the heirloom, and I'll be sure to pass it on to Mick when the time is right. I know that's what Jock would have wanted. For now, I'll put it away somewhere safe.'
So the mystery of the watch was solved, but still no clues to who 'AL' might be. Maybe Jane would never know, but she wouldn't stop wondering.
I'm not sure where this story is going (completely - there are some ideas rolling around), but for now I've satisfied the prompt. Stay tuned - maybe the next prompt will bring the answer.
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