“You really don’t mind if we paint the walls?” Zayne asked his grandfather as he took a seat on the edge of the bed.
It felt so strange to be back in his great-grandparents’ bedroom. They’d both been gone for years now, but the room still remained practically untouched and unchanged. Zayne supposed it made sense though. What else would they do with the old room?
Nothing… Until now, that is.
Tobi smiled as he lowered himself onto the bed beside his grandson. “You can do whatever you like, Zayne. It’s yours now. And I think that’s what my Mama would have wanted.”
His grandfather nodded. “She’d be so happy you’re coming back home. And so am I.”
“Thanks, Opa.” Zayne smiled. “Hope and I have been wanting to move into a bigger place anyway. I guess it finally felt like the right time. And I figured maybe you could use some help with Oma now too…” He added uncertainly.
“Thank you.” Tobi replied. “But I think we both know the real reason you’re moving back into this old house… You’re doing the right thing for your Tante.” He smiled warmly at Zayne as he spoke.
Zayne felt a slight twisting sensation in his stomach at his grandfather’s words. “What do you mean, ‘real reason’?” He asked.
“Oh, come on, Zayne.” Tobi almost laughed. “We both know your Oma only has a few years left, at best. I’m not that delusional, you know.” He paused, shaking his head. “And once my Lettie’s gone… Well, I’m not planning on sticking around too much longer after that. I already lost my Bruder last year…” His voice was thick for a moment. Tobi cleared his throat before continuing. “And with Stefan and Lettie both gone… It’ll be my time to go too.”
Zayne shook his head slowly. “Opa, don’t talk like that.” He knew that everything his grandfather said was true, of course. But how could he sit there and talk about it so calmly?
“I’m just being honest.” Tobi shrugged as he spoke. “And I’m so proud of you for being here for your Tante. With the girls so far away now, you’re all she has left… Promise me you’ll take care of her.”
Zayne smiled gently at him. “Of course.”
“And… promise me one more thing?” He asked softly.
“Sure. Anything” Zayne replied. “But Opa, where is all this coming from?” It was so rare to see his grandfather so serious about things. What could have brought this on?
“I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking lately. With your Oma in the hospital again and my doctors upping my heart medication…” Tobi sighed. “I’m not trying to be a downer or anything. I just…” He paused for a moment. “These are the kinds of things I wanna make sure I get to say to you. Before it’s too late.”
“It’s okay, Opa. I get it.” Zayne assured him.
“I just want you to promise you’ll take care of your little girl too. Be the best father you can be, okay? Don’t make the same mistakes I did.”
His grandson’s brow furrowed slightly. Tobi had given him plenty of pep-talks about taking care of Harper before… But not quite like this. “Mistakes?”
“I let down my own kids so many times when they were younger. Especially your Onkel and your Tante.” Tobi said seriously. Zayne could see the slight sparkle of tears in his eyes. “I’ve apologized to them so many times. I’ve tried my best to make amends over the years… But nothing can ever undo the damage I caused…”
Zayne didn’t know what to say. He’d never heard his grandfather talk like this before. “Opa…”
“Just… promise me you’ll be there for Harper, Zayne. Don’t judge her. Don’t turn your back on her. Support her no matter what. Never let her forget how much you love her.”
Before he had a chance to reply, a soft voice called out to them. “Zayne? Papa?” Jocelyne stood uncertainly in the doorway, carrying Harper in her arms.
I wonder how much she heard… Zayne glanced briefly at his grandfather, who appeared to be wondering the same thing.
“Hey, Tante Joce.” He said at last.
“Sorry if I’m interrupting… But I think it’s almost time to take Harper to her appointment?”
“Oh, shit! I almost forgot. Thanks, Tante Joce.” He rose to his feet and crossed the room, gently taking his daughter from his aunt’s arms. “Ready for a ride in the car, baby girl?”
“Vroom!” Harper cried in reply.
Zayne glanced over his shoulder as Jocelyne headed toward the bed to join her father.
“Papa, come here.”
He let the bedroom door close behind him.
As he headed out to the car with Harper, Zayne found himself replaying his conversation with his grandfather over again in his mind.
The conversation had felt a bit unexpected at the time, but looking back, it made sense — Tobi had been noticeably more emotional and sentimental than usual, ever since the latest scare with Colette. The news that Zayne and his family would be moving in seemed to be one of the only things keeping him going lately.
Zayne was happy to share that heart-to-heart with his grandfather, and he was certainly grateful for Tobi’s words of advice… But wasn’t he already doing exactly what his grandfather had told him to do? Loving his little girl, and supporting her no matter what?
He and his wife had already had to support their little girl through so much more than any child should have to go through at her age. So much illness, so many visits to the doctor…
Today, it was a follow-up visit with the audiologist. Hope had taken Harper to get her hearing tested and her ears examined about a week ago. Even though she no longer seemed to have the symptoms of her infection, the little girl was still showing difficulty hearing and understanding. Could it be another infection coming on so soon? Would she need tubes put in after all? The doctor had requested a follow-up appointment, and Zayne hoped today he’d get some answers.
As he sat in the small examination room to wait for the doctor, Zayne found himself once again thinking about what his grandfather had said. Who knew what struggles still lay ahead for his little girl? What kind of challenges would Harper face?
Whatever they were, he and Hope would always support her, just like his Opa had said. He’d never turn his back on his own child, no matter what.
“Papa loves you.” He told Harper as she played with her favorite toy on the cold hardwood floor. “You know that, right? And I’m always gonna be here for you no matter what happens.” Zayne promised her softly.
As he expected, she did not respond. It was probably too difficult for her to hear him over the wheels of the car on the floor, or her own soft laughter.
“I said I love you, Harper.” He repeated, louder this time. He did his best to hide the bit of frustration he felt at her inability to hear him.
This time, his daughter looked up at him, putting down her toy at last. “What, Papa?”
“I was just telling you that I love you, honey.”
“I wuv you too, Papa!” She replied happily as the door finally swung open.
The look on Dr. Whidden’s face immediately sent a feeling of dread coursing through Zayne’s veins. “I’m sorry for the wait, Mr. Rosebrook.” He said seriously as he took a seat behind his desk.
“It’s fine.” Zayne struggled to keep his voice calm and steady as he replied. Oh God, what is it?
“Mrs. Rosebrook isn’t with you today?”
He shook his head. “She had to work.”
The older man nodded. “Normally I’d prefer sharing this information with both parents at the same time… But I don’t want to keep you waiting any longer.” Dr. Whidden explained. “I’ve analyzed the results from Harper’s scans, and…”
He went into a small speech then, using confusing medical terms like “chronic otitis media” and “ossicular chain dislocation”.
Most of the specifics went over Zayne’s head, but in the end, the doctor’s meaning was all too clear.
Harper’s ear infections had been worse than anyone had anticipated. The pressure from her infections had severely damaged and dislocated the bones in her middle ear. On both sides.
Surgery was still an option, but due to the extent of the damage, it was unlikely she’d ever be able to regain her full hearing.
Her hearing loss would be permanent.
I realize how abrupt it is but… This closes out the end of this legacy’s first toddler-arc! (Shoutout to the folks who’d predicted deafness in Harper’s future. Not completely deaf, but you all were close… unfortunately. Poor dear 😦 )
Also, three out of my seven sims available have been adopted… But that means four are still up for grabs. See who over at the Adoption Page 🙂
See you Saturday with our debut of child-Harper! And start being on the lookout for some of your casting call sims! ^_^