Marli and Lee were ecstatic about the arrival of their little prince or princess in a few days. Lee’s lifetime aspiration was to have a successful lineage, and he was overjoyed to finally become a father. Because of her age, Marli was hoping she would get pregnant on her honeymoon night. From the outside looking in, one would think that it must be hard to begin their newlywed life as parents. How do you concentrate on loving your new spouse with a screaming baby in the room? How do you divide your time between making sure your spouse feels loved while taking care of some little one who requires more time than you have to give? Marli and Lee didn’t see it that way, though. As a matter of fact, they counted it as a blessing. What better way was there to celebrate a new life than with a new life? This baby brought them closer than they had ever been before, and they learned so many new things about each other they had not known before. Marli hadn’t realized Lee’s desire for family life. She knew he was romantic, but she hadn’t seen much of his caring, doting side. He couldn’t keep his hands off her belly. It would be a miracle if this child didn’t turn out to be a daddy’s girl or boy. Lee learned about Marli’s standard of cleanliness through the nesting. But, most importantly, they learned something about themselves. They learned that they had a great capacity for love and fortitude that was out of this world.
Marli and Lee spent the day together talking about the future and speculating on what they hoped their child looked like, of course, mashing up all the best parts about each of them. That evening, when Melody arrived home from work, she gave her the news. She barely was able to sit down and have her dinner when Marli came dashing in the dining room.
“I know, right! Isn’t it great, Mommy?”
“I’M GONNA BE A GRANDMOTHER! I’M GONNA BE A GRANDMOTHER!!”
Her excitement quickly turned into despair as she thought about what she would miss.
“I’m gonna be a grandmother,” she sobbed.
Marli didn’t know what to say. What do you say to someone who was expecting to die at any moment? How do you comfort someone who was still looking forward to life’s wonderment and miracles? She tried to hold her mom and comfort her, but Melody put on her game face.
“Don’t worry about me, baby. I’ve been through worse things in my life. With any luck, I can come back from time to time like my mom did.”
“I hope so.”
“It’s funny,” Melody began to say. “You look a lot like me, but when I look at you, I see your father’s face.”
“I look like him??”
“You’re a lot like him too. You’re always so sure of yourself and outgoing…you get that from him. He wasn’t a bad Sim, you know. He just made a really bad decision. I’m sure he’s dead by now, but I don’t want you going through the rest of your life thinking horrible things about him. It may affect the way you raise this child.”
“I never really had much of an opinion about him, but I’m glad you told me this. I love you, Mommy. I’m gonna miss you so much!”
“I love you too, Marli. I hope I can meet the little one soon.”
Melody reached out and gave her daughter a big bear hug for the last time. The next morning while she was having breakfast, death came for her. She was the first and only one up that morning and left quietly. River found the urn the Grim Reaper left in the place where she had lain and carefully placed it on the coffee table. He couldn’t just cast her out to a far corner of the backyard. He wanted her to still be part of the tender family moments that took place in the family room.
Everyone did well with the news. Mia was a bit quiet and aloof at times, but then again…that’s just how Mia is. Besides, Lee and Marli didn’t want to bring a baby into a world of sadness and gloom. They celebrated Melody’s life by keeping her memory alive. They spoke of her often, especially to the baby, remembering all of the good times and things she taught them. Every time Marli turned around, there was Lee waiting to feel his child once more. He couldn’t wait to meet this little Sim.
Those precious moments when Lee’s hands were on her belly were sometimes hard. She missed her mother. She missed being able to ask her about how to be a good wife and new mom. What if she wasn’t good at the whole motherhood thing? What if the child didn’t turn out well? What if the kid got on her nerves? What if Lee got on her nerves? So many questions and no one to answer them. But, through it all, she knew everything would be fine. She was significantly older than Melody was when she had them, she was confident and assured in herself, and she was married to a Sim she was madly in love with. Whatever happened, they would get through it together.
“Hey,” Lee said. “I know you miss your mom more than you let on. It’s ok to be vulnerable sometimes.”
“It is when you’re with me.”
Later that afternoon, River found Marli outside working out.
“Take it easy there, kid. Should you even be doing that?”
“I’m just doing what I can to keep the baby weight away.”
“You can worry about that after the fact. You should be resting and storing your energy. Come inside and watch the game with me.”
“Do you want to feel the baby?”
“Ummm…no, I’m ok.”
“Awww, come on, Pops! It’s moving. It’ll be magical.”
He hesitated because he was still uncertain about his place in their lives. Sure, she called him Pops and they had a father-daughter-like relationship, but who was he really to her? He married her mother who was now dead. Could he really claim this child as his own grandchild? He really wanted to, but he was afraid to. He finally decided to feel the baby because Melody wouldn’t be able to.
“Wow…this is amazing,” he said.
“I told you it would be magical.”
They went inside and joined Mia (and Melody) in the family room. River thought he would give Marli some advice on naming the baby.
“…you want to give him a good, strong name…like Al…Eddie, Harvey…Moe….”
“Whoa whoa whooooa! First of all, how do you think it’s a boy, and second…REALLY, River,” she laughed.
“Hey…I’m a bro! Bros know. And there’s nothing wrong with those names!”
“There’s plenty wrong with those names!”
“What names,” Lee asked as he came in at the end of that conversation.
“Dear River here thinks we’re having a boy and wants to name him after 1930s gangsters!”
“A little tough guy Taylor, huh? I like it!”
“Lee! You’re supposed to be on my side.”
“It’s ok, love. We don’t even know if it’s a boy. We’ll just keep our options open,” he said and nodded his head at River.
Marli took River’s advice and kicked up her heels for the rest of the night. There were dishes that needed to be washed, but she left them for someone else to do. All she wanted to do was rest and think about her baby.
The next morning, just before 7:00 she went into labor. She knew the baby wouldn’t come for another few hours, so she didn’t want to alarm Lee just yet. She tried to agonize through her contractions silently, but she quickly learned that was impossible. She was not as strong as she thought she was and groaned and wailed through each and every one of them…and he heard her and bolted out the bed.
“Holy freezer bunnies!! Is it time?? What do I do?”
“Calm dooooown,” she yelled through another contraction.
“How can I be calm when your in pain?! What can I do?”
“Go warm me up a plate of French toast. I’ll be down in a minute.”
He dashed out the room and down the stairs saying “French toast” over and over again as if he would forget.
“French toast, French toast, French toa…OH NO!!! THIS ISN’T FRENCH TOAST!!”
He dashed back in the kitchen to correct his mistake before Marli arrived. River was already down and had figured out that it was go time.
“Today is the day,” River asked.
“I’m gonna be a father,” Lee proudly and happily announced with his chest out.
“My my. Isn’t that something!”
River was excited. Any feelings he had before about his place in the family were forgotten. All he wanted now was to hold that baby in his big, strong arms. Marli finally made it to breakfast just as miserable as she could be. River didn’t quite know what to say to her, so what he did say to her turned out to be the dumbest mistake he would make that day.
“How’s it going over there, Marli?”
“How do you think it’s going, River?? I have a little SIM inside me who is trying to get OUT! How do you think it’s going?!
“And would it have killed you to wash the plumming dishes?! This place is a mess! You think because Mommy is gone we can live like llamas??!”
Lee and River knew it was just the hormones talking–although they really should have cleaned up last night. They just ignored her and let her go on.
“…three grown Sims and none of you hoooooooooooo,” she yelled as she was interrupted by another contraction.
“Just breath, love. Your French toast is getting cold,” Lee said calmly.
“FORGET THE FRENCH TOAST!! Let’s go…NOW!”
He went to grab her things while she took the time to wash the dishes, and then they were off to the hospital. Lee got her checked in quickly and folks dressed in white coats and masks came and took her away.
“I love you, Marli,” he yelled after her.
He sat in the waiting room for what felt like hours but was only about 45 minutes. Every time he heard a baby cry he perked up in his seat wondering if it was his and when his would come. Every time the door opened, every time he saw a doctor or nurse he got hopeful…and nervous. Finally, they wheeled Marli and their little prince out to go home.
“He’s perfect,” Lee said in awe of the tiny little creature he made.
They got home, and Lee helped Marli up the stairs. With River still alive and Mia still living at home, the baby would have to sleep in their bedroom until things changed.
“Do you want him,” Lee asked.
“No. You take some time with him. I’m gonna lie down for a while.”
“We haven’t even given him a name yet!”
“You can call him whatever you want. I trust you.”
“Are you sure? Shouldn’t we do it together?”
“Maybe. I want you to do it. Really.”
She sat on the bed and stretched out, but right before she went to sleep, she said, “…no gangster names!”
“Hey there, son! What am I going to call you? Hmmmm…you look like you could be a…something with a J….Joey…Jason…Jackson….If I called you Jo Jo, what could that be short for? Joseph? Joel? Jordan? Josiah?”
The baby just happened to start cooing when Lee said the last name. He thought it must have been a sign.
“You like that name? I think you do. I like it too. All right! Josiah ‘Jo Jo’ Taylor it is! I think your mommy will like it too.”
Lee cuddled JoJo and hoped that he could be the first of many children, but for now, JoJo was all he needed.
He put him down to go work out, and River came in to meet him.
“Hey there, kid! I’m your…I’m your…your…your grandpops!”