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Ya-Yas in Bloom

Chapter One

A Little Love Gift

Vivi, January 1994

My name is Viviane Abbott Walker. Age sixty-eight, but I can pass for forty-nine. And I do. I altered my driver's license and kept that gorgeous picture of me when my hair was still thick and I looked like Jessica Lange, and glued it onto every new license I've had since 1975. And not one officer has said a word to me about it. I like to think I am Queen of the Ya-Yas, the sisterhood I've been part of since I was four. But the fact is that all of us are queens. The Ya-Yas are not a monarchy. We are a Ya-Ya-cracy. Caro, who is still more alive than anyone I know, even though she is yoked to an oxygen tank most of the time because of her emphysema. Teensy, who is probably the most sophisticated of us, although she doesn't know it, and still cute as a bug. I never know when she'll be home in Thornton -- right smack in the heart of Louisiana, where we were all raised -- or in Paris or Istanbul. And Necie, our dear, kind Necie, who is still Madame Chairwoman of every charity in the parish, if not the state.

As Ya-Yas, we've grown up, raised our kids -- the Petites Ya-Yas -- and welcomed our grandchildren, the Très Petites, into this sweet, crazy world. We've helped one another stay glued together through most any life event you can imagine. Except we haven't buried our husbands yet. Well, Caro tried to bury Blaine when she found out he was gay, but decided he and his boyfriend were too much fun and Blaine too good a cook to kill him.

It was the Ya-Yas who brought my oldest child, Sidda, and I back together when we were on the verge of an ugly mother-daughter divorce. They would not stand by and watch it happen, bless their crazy wild hearts. Sidda said it was the three of them and that old scrapbook of mine that I so grandly titled "Divine Secrets" when I was nothing but a kid that helped her understand me. Helped her believe I loved her -- even though I was what you might call an "uneven" mother. Sidda has always been melodramatic.

Sidda said she especially loved the snapshots. Snapshots are just snapshots as far as I am concerned. Sidda analyzes everything too much, if you ask me. But this morning, I'm the one who wants to study a photograph. And, of all things, it's one with my mother in it.

This morning I woke from the most vivid memory. It was not so much a dream as a completely clear picture of my mother, surrounded by flowers. It triggered an image that I just knew I had a photograph of. But I had to have my coffee before beginning the search. Photos in this house are not what you would call organized. You have to be an archaeologist to even form a search team. I've always been too busy living to sit around for hours and arrange the photos and snapshots into proper family albums. My life is so full. I might be a card-carrying member of AARP, but I am not retired. Or retiring, for that matter! Hah! I am busy, busy, busy. Work out at the club every single weekday. Bourrée with the Ya-Yas. Cruises with Shep. And spending time in that garden of his. He's out there so much that in order to see him, I have -- for the first time in my life -- put on a pair of deerskin gloves and done a very small amount of digging and weeding. He says it will grow on me. I say, What's wrong with being a garden amateur? Mass every Saturday afternoon. Confession twice a month. Reading everything I can get my hands on (except science fiction, too much like my bad dreams). Playing tennis with Teensy and Chick. I am fit as hell. My constitution is amazing. My liver is in fine shape, to the everlasting shock of my doctors. The most trouble I have is a little arthritis in my hands. I'm going to be like one of those women they find in China who live to be one hundred and forty after smoking and drinking all their lives.

Oh, there is pain in my life, but it is harder to put a name to it. Sometimes I lie in bed and wonder if there was a typhoid booster or dental checkup that I forgot to give Sidda, Little Shep,Lulu, or Baylor. Something I missed and should have done. Sometimes I lie in bed and wish I had just asked the kids what would have made them feel more loved. But I do not dwell, thank you very much. I follow Necie's words of wisdom: "Just think pretty pink and blue thoughts."

After one strong cup of Dark Roast Community Coffee, I began scrounging through the hutch drawers where I keep most of our family snapshots. I had to pray to Saint Anthony, Patron Saint of Lost Objects, and he finally helped me find the image I wanted. It was stashed in the back of one of the hutch drawers, slightly wrinkled, but there all the same. One of the things I love about Catholicism is that there is a saint for everything. If Sidda can't find a saint for something, that girl just makes one up. Even has one she calls Saint Madge of Menstruation. I don't consider that blasphemous, although there was a time when I would have. Now I just call it creative ...

Excerpted from YA-YAS IN BLOOM © Copyright 2005 by Rebecca Wells. Reprinted with permission by HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

Ya-Yas in Bloom
by by Rebecca Wells

  • Genres: Fiction
  • paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0060953659
  • ISBN-13: 9780060953652