Chapter 14 - The Milo Connection

It was close to 10 pm and May was having a difficult time getting Tessa to sleep.  The baby kept crying even when she was rocking her in the crib that she brought along for the trip, but nothing was working.  "Okay Tessa, let's go for a stroll in your buggy.  Hopefully that will help you fall asleep, okay Baby?!"

She was about to take Tessa out from the crib when Daniel came in with a guitar strapped over his shoulders.  He started plucking the tune to Hush Little Baby. 

Tessa's attention was caught and her sobbing started to slow.  May looked up at him with a gleaming smile, but she was shaking her head.  "Oh dear!  You are going to get me into big trouble by doing that!  You are so spoiling her!"

Daniel started singing to Tessa who was between heaves of sobs.  "Hush Little Baby, don't you cry!  Gor Gor's gonna buy you a mocking bird!” 

At once, Tessa stopped crying and blurted.  “Bahee!”

“And if that mocking bird won't sing, Gor Gor's gonna …..!" 

“Bahee!”  The baby started crying again and grew agitated.  “Bahee!”

Daniel stopped and looked at May, wondering if Tessa was upset by his singing.  Suddenly as if a light came on, they both said at the same time.  “Bahee!”

“You are Bahee!”  May pointed to him.  “Whatever that means, she’s been calling you that all day!”

“Okay Tessa, Bahee will try again!”  Daniel said and started singing from the beginning.  "Hush Little Baby, don't you cry!  Bahee's gonna buy you a mocking bird!  And if that mocking bird won't sing, Bahee's gonna buy you one onion ring!"

Tessa stopped crying and looked as if she was paying close attention to every word Daniel was singing; as if someday she was seriously wanting that onion ring.  She lifted her left chubby fingers to remind him.

“Looks like it’s working!”  May had to stifle her laughter by placing one hand on her mouth when he changed the lyrics.  But her other hand went to her chest because she was very affected by his attempt, in a knee-weakening kind of way.  After throwing her a glance to stop laughing, he continued.  "If that onion ring turns cold, Bahee's gonna get you a Visa Gold.  If that Visa Gold gets stolen, Bahee's gonna buy you a big red melon."

Tessa's eyes were starting to close, May gave Daniel two thumbs up as support and encouragement to continue.  But she couldn't stop laughing at his spontaneous improvising of the lyrics.  Daniel continued to pluck the tune and said to her in a soft whisper.  "I hope she falls asleep soon because I am running out of rhymes."

They both noticed Tessa fighting to open her eyes as soon as he stopped singing.  So May urged him to continue.  "And if that big red melon turns green, Bahee's gonna buy you a TV screen!"  Tessa finally closed her eyes.  "And if that TV screen's too small, Bahee's gonna buy you a cute little ball!"

May lost control of her laughter when he mentioned 'ball'.  The word seemed also caused Tessa to take a final peep with her sleepy eyes.  Daniel came to stand next to May.  When they noticed Tessa was trying to force open her eyes, he hip-bumped May for help with the song.  In a matter of seconds, May picked up where he left off and finished the song with a soft whisper.  "And if that cute little ball won't prance, Bahee's gonna buy you a doll that could dance.  And if that doll that could dance fall down, you'll still be the sweetest little baby in town!" 

When they saw Tessa was finally in deep sleep, Daniel faded out his plucking and unstrapped the guitar.  "Would you like to have a cup of Milo drink before turning in for the day?"

She asked with sparkling eyes.  “Your famous Milo drink?  The one you used to make?”   

Daniel nodded and was feeling internally elated that she remembered the Milo drink.  It was in Grade 9 when she stayed at Gram’s house with him to participate in the provincial music festival.  Every morning before Gram drove them to the community college where music classes and concerts were held, he would make the Milo drink for the two of them.
Gram placed a piece of her homemade apple pie in front of May when Daniel was making them his famous Milo drinks.  She held up May’s arm and said.  "You are too thin!  You have to eat more!"

Daniel gave out a ‘snortle’, which is a half snort and a half chortle.  So Gram asked May directly.  "Is Danny influencing you to look like those skinny models?  Is that why you are so thin?"

"Gram!  Why are you putting the blame on me?"  Daniel defended.  "Just so you know, Emily has commissioned me to feed her every 2 - hours so she puts on an extra 10 pounds by the end of the week.  Emily is worried May won’t fit into her dress.  She said they can't make it any smaller!"

"Really?"  Gram looked like she was ready to help her Danny boy with the challenge.  "Then let's dress up your pie with a scoop of ice-cream!"

May made a negative mumble with her mouth full and shook her head.  Daniel had to speak up on her behalf.  "Gram, May can't take dairy!"

"That’s just perfect!"  Said Gram as she walked to the freezer.  They watched her pull out a tub labeled Coconut Bliss.  "Then you can eat this up for me.  That nutritionist got me to buy three for a special price."

Daniel came to join them at the table with the Milo drinks.  "Wow Gram!  Since when have you turned organic!  This brand is one of the most expensive ones out there!  Don't tell me you only shop at Urban Fare now!  Since when did you turn so fancy?"

"Unfortunately, it's the closest supermarket to me now!"  Gram made a face.  Then she started to scoop the hardened ice cream with difficulty. "I only buy from there when I see something on sale.  They are so pricey, not like when I used to shop in Chinatown!"

"Here!  Let me do that!"  May reached out and took over the task of scooping the ice-cream.

Gram then sat back with the Milo drink in her hand and observed the interactions between her grandson and May.  May served Daniel a piece of pie with the coconut milk ice-cream.  Then when they were all done eating, she gathered up the dishes and headed over to the sink.  Gram obviously enjoyed what she was seeing because her eyes were beaming.  "May, you've come a long way from being born a princess!  You know how to wash dishes and look after a baby.  Do you know how to cook?"

"She's a great cook, Gram!"  Daniel praised.

"You've only tasted one meal; that hardly makes me a great cook!"  May responded. 

“I can tell with just one meal!”  Daniel added with a cheeky grin. 

May turned to Gram.  "After staying with you that one week, I decided I needed to learn to take care of myself.  You were my inspiration!" 

Gram beamed another warm smile at her.  “I do remember showing you how to wash dishes and work the washing machine.  Yes, you were really a princess back then!”

May was done with the dishes and returned to the dining table.  "Yes, and Daniel laughed at me for not knowing how to make orange juice from the frozen concentrated Minute Maid!" 

"I didn't laugh at you!"  He couldn't help but chuckle at the memory.  "But it was funny when you were about to serve three cans of frozen Minute Maid as Slurpee!"

Gram gave Daniel a smack on the arm for teasing May.  "Do you still have maids at home?" 

"Only one to look after Tessa, her name is Bedina.”  May explained.  "After Grade 10, I convinced my Dad that he didn’t have to hire maids to look after me.  I tried to stay on my own without a nanny."

"You stayed on your own?"  Daniel was surprised when she nodded.  “You were only 15 or 16?” 

May chuckled as she thought about that pathetic time of her life.  "Yeah, but it didn't last too long and I think my Dad secretly hired some bodyguards to follow me when he wasn’t in town."

“Your Dad must have been worried about all those boys lurking around you back then!”  Gram teased but was really making a lead for herself to dig further.  "So were there any boys then?"

"No."  May replied and eyed Daniel.  “I wasn’t like him!  I wasn’t into boys back in high school.”

“Hey!  I wasn’t into boys either!”  Daniel quickly protested and nudged May.

She playfully nudged him back.  “I meant you and Pam dating!”

"Oh!  Good riddance to that Pam girl and all those so-called friends of yours in high school!"  Gram gave a much bigger reaction than Daniel which surprised May. 

"Gram!  That was in high school.  I haven't seen any of them for ... at least ... 10 years now!"  Daniel added with a tone of sadness.

May felt bad for opening up this can of worms that obviously was still affecting Daniel.  But she was confused why Gram had such strong reaction.  She had always thought Daniel’s family loved Pam and wanted them to be engaged before going off to college or university.   

Gram held her grandson by his chin and looked into his eyes.  "Really?  That Pam girl never try to look for you again?"

"Not since I left Berkeley!"  Daniel assured his grandmother by holding her hands.  "Honestly Gram.  I’m lying.  After all these years, I'm sure they are grown up and mature now."

"I certainly hope so!"  Gram squeezed his cheeks as if he was still a little kid.

Gram turned to May.  "Did you know he got engaged when he hadn't even graduated from high school?  If I didn't ask his mother to show me the heirloom diamond ring from her safety box in the bank, we would have never known about his engagement!  Good thing Mary was still working at that bank then and kept that letter of proxy."

“Letter?”  May couldn’t believe the subject of his engagement involved more than one letter.

“Yes, a forged letter!”  Gram never did find out how that letter came about.  "Danny Boy, did that Pam girl force you to write it?"

He didn’t want to answer the question, but he had no choice but to admit his foolish ways.  "No, I only forged Mom's signature.  I was stupid and didn’t know what I was doing!"

“Your mom never knew about you and Pam being engaged?”  May was confused.  “But she wrote me a letter telling me about the engagement!”

Daniel remembered forging two pieces of paper with his mother’s signature.  The second letter was sitting under the proxy letter.  Pam had told him it was the second copy of the proxy letter so he just forged it regardless.  “Was it typed out and had her signature?”

May really couldn’t remember if it was written or typed, but she was certain it had a signature above her name.  “I think so.”

“That must have been the second letter I forged.”  Daniel admitted.  “It was under the proxy letter.  I didn’t pay attention to the letter.”

Everything made sense to May now though she would never have guessed things had gotten this complicated for his little short lived engagement of two months.  Though she was still confused as to why she got the second letter, her thoughts went the family heirloom Gram had mentioned earlier.  “I hope Pam gave the family heirloom diamond ring back to you."

Daniel shook his head and finally let out a breath of relief.  That was when May gasped and became indignant.  “That’s not right!  It’s your family heirloom!”

"I never gave her the ring!"  Daniel replied quickly so May wouldn’t continue to be upset.  The look of relief in her eyes brought comfort to his heart and he gave her a genuine smile.  "Thanks to you!  I got the ring just before the commencement ceremony.  But your so-called ‘good-luck’ made me think really hard about what I was doing."

Gram placed her hand on top of May's.  "You have no idea how hard we prayed for him to come to his senses.  We were so happy when he broke the engagement."

"Gram, May was the reason I broke the engagement!"  Perhaps it was the near death experience from today, Daniel was no longer afraid to let the truth be known.  "I was surprised she knew about the engagement; but I was not happy because she didn’t congratulate me!"

"Good for you, May!"  Gram patted May on her hand.  "You two were such good friends in grade 8 and 9.  Why didn't you stop him from hanging out with those bad dudes?  We had to drag him away from those gangsters!"

May never thought of his friends as gangsters; rowdy and naughty maybe, but not gangsters.  She gave out a boisterous laugh.  "Gram, Daniel and all his friends were popular in high school.  And with all the girls around him, he wouldn’t have paid any attention to me." 

Gram patted her hand gently and made a deep sigh.  "May, you were just too young to see he only had eyes and ears for you back then!"  Then she gleamed at Daniel.  "And you were just a lost little boy back then!"
Gram watched Daniel and May for a good few seconds while they sat looking at each other with eyes full of tenderness.  Then she grabbed her grandson’s hand and put it with May’s hand.  "I'm glad the two of you found each other again!  Maybe this time things will turn out different!"

Gram took the last sip of her milo drink and bid them both good night.  Just as she was about to leave the table, May was always wanting to know how she ended up staying here in grade 9. "Gram, did my school ask you to take me for the music festival?"

At first, Gram looked to be having trouble remembering.  After a moment, her face suddenly lit up and she replied with a smile.  "No, I believe I got your name from Danny so I could request to have you stay here.  That's why I got the two of you!" 

May turned to Daniel with a raised eyebrow.  He had denied having anything to do with her placement back in Grade 9.  He still stood his ground.  "Gram, I never told you to ask the school for May to stay here."

Gram gave them a cheeky smile and got up from her seat.  "No, you asked me to ask the school if you could stay here.  But I also offered to house a girl named May, but registered as Shamayim!"

As Gram waltzed out of the kitchen wearing a smile in her heart, she heard May asking Daniel about her legal name.  When Daniel started telling her about the diary he used to keep, Gram snickered when she heard the mention of Emily's name as she took her first step up the staircase.

You're My Inspiration - Chicago