Chapter 19 - A Funeral and a Wedding
The minister stood beside the grave as the casket was lowered.
"We commit the body of Charles Emerson Winchester the Second back to the soil. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. For from dust we came and to dust we shall return..."
Charles stood stoically beside his mother and sister who were both weeping uncontrollably. Louise stood beside Charles, holding his hand tightly.
"My father and I could be twelve thousand miles apart in the same room. My father is a good man, only wanted the best for me..."
He had been a good man, thought Charles. As his son, Charles had never lacked for the finer things in life. He'd been born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. He'd gone to the best schools, always had the best clothes.
In return for all of the best life had to offer, Charles had worked hard to become the finest surgeon in Boston. He'd proven to his father, to himself and to Boston Mercy that he was indeed worthy of the position of Head of Thoracic surgery.
Charles looked at the snow covered ground. His tears were forming droplets of ice around his expensive shoes. Oh Father, he thought, I would have given all of that up for one fishing trip. He sighed. Louise squeezed his hand.
He turned his head to see Margaret and Hawkeye standing behind him. He took Margaret's hand and kissed it. Hawkeye squeezed Charles' shoulder.
There was a dinner after the funeral for friends and family at the Old North Church where the Winchesters were charter members.
"What a grand church," said Margaret, looking around.
"Actually Margaret this church is quite famous," said Charles. "It was built in 1723 and is mentioned in the poem, "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
"Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April in Seventy Five;
Hardly a man is still alive
Who remembers that famous year.
"He said to his friend, 'If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--"
Hawkeye picked up reciting the poem from there;
"One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore shall be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
"Well done, Pierce, I never would have expected it from you," said Charles.
"This is quite a feast," said Hawkeye looking around at the tables.
"Yes, 'tis, isn't it," agreed Charles. "Father would have been quite pleased with it all; the service, the food, the cream of Boston society here for the send off. He always appreciated the finer things in life."
"Charles, are you okay?" asked Hawkeye. There was something about his friend's demeanor that was disturbing.
Honoria Winchester came over to Hawkeye and Margaret, extended her hand and said, "Th-thank y-you f-for coming. I-I know it m-means a l-lot to Ch-charles. A-and I w-was so s-sorry to hear about y-you're a-accident. I-I'm g-glad you're w-well."
"Thank you, Honoria," said Margaret putting her arms around the other woman. Charles sister was very sweet. She seldom spoke around others because of her stuttering. Margaret was pleased that Honoria felt comfortable around her. "I'm sorry for your loss. I lost my father a little over a year ago."
Margaret went to find Mrs. Winchester. She told Hawkeye, "I'll be back."
Charles leaned over and whispered to Hawkeye, "Pierce would you and Margaret care to escape this three ring circus?"
"Are you sure?" Hawkeye asked. "This is your family and your society."
"I feel like I'm suffocating in here," pleaded Charles. "Please, let's just get out of here and go somewhere...anywhere else but here. There's something I need to talk to you about."
"Sure Charles...let me go get Margaret. She's giving her condolences to your mother."
Hawkeye walked quickly over to Margaret. He put his arm around her and said, "We have to go, darling." He extended his hand to Mrs. Winchester and said, "I'm so sorry about your loss."
"Thank you, dear boy," said Mrs. Winchester. "It was indeed a great loss. We shall all miss Charles very much."
Charles, Louise, Hawkeye and Margaret sat around the table in a little diner not too far from the church. They felt a little overdressed in their formal mourning attire.
Charles loosened his tie. "Thank you, Pierce. I couldn't stay in that room a minute longer."
"That's all right, Charles. You know I've always been happy to do anything for you," said Hawkeye with a grin.
Margaret rolled her eyes at his comment, "Yeah, you're a real prince...or was that a royal pain? I can never remember which it is."
Hawkeye looked at his wife with approval. It had been two weeks since their trip to New York. She was still underweight but was slowly filling out. He beamed at her. She was more like the Margaret that he'd married. Her vivacious smile had returned, even though there were still moments of sadness, she seemed to be ready to move on.
Charles, as if he were reading Hawkeye's mind, said, "Margaret you look absolutely ravishing today. Are you truly doing well?"
"Yes, I am, Charles. Thanks for asking. In fact I go back to work next Monday. Doris called and said that my job is there whenever I'm ready to go back."
"Will that be difficult for you...I mean...with the babies," asked Louise.
Margaret answered thoughtfully, "I suppose it might be, but it's like Sidney says, I can't hide from babies forever. They're all over the place."
Hawkeye squeezed her hand under the table. Her palms were sweating. He knew that she was apprehensive about her return to work in the maternity ward. He felt proud of his wife's courage; she'd always been the strong one.
"I don't fall over, Captain! Everything around here will be just fine if there's a little less leaning and a lot more leadership. We need obedience, we need discipline, not this chaos. Doctors like you constantly out of uniform, nurses who don't belong in uniform, dogs running around loose...they're getting run over by jeeps...(sob)..."
Hawkeye smiled. Well maybe Margaret wasn't always as strong as she put on but she was still one of the most courageous women he'd ever met.
"Hello, calling Dr. Pierce..."
"Oh sorry, Charles, did you say something. I guess I got lost in thought."
"As I was saying," said Charles. "I've been doing some thinking lately...em...that is...Louise and I have had a long talk about this..."
"Charles, you're speaking in open ended sentences," said Hawkeye.
"What Charles is trying to say," said Louise, "is that he and I've been doing some talking and thinking lately...and...um..."
"Yeah...and?" said Hawkeye.
Charles took Louise's hand and looked into her eyes. They were so blue he thought. She was everything he wanted in a wife. They shared so many interests and a passion for classical music. She was the perfect choice to be Mrs. Charles Emerson Winchester the Third.
"Hello?...calling Dr. Winchester..."
"Oh yes..." said Charles, tearing his eyes away from his fiancÚ. "Louise and I..."
"I think we've already heard this part," said Hawkeye.
"Hawkeye! You're not making it any easier. Put your lips together and keep them that way," said Margaret.
"Mmmm...hmmm...mmm," said Hawkeye and Margaret smacked his shoulder.
"Louise and I want to get married."
"We already know this, Charles. This is on the back page of the paper under the heading; 'Old News,'" said Hawkeye.
"No...what I mean is, we want to get married now. Today."
"We've thought this over," said Louise. "With Mr. Winchester's death we don't want to put any undue pressure on Mrs. Winchester. And neither of us really cares about all the pomp and circumstance. We don't need a lot of frivolous wedding gifts..."
"...and you can't wait any longer to take that first tumble between the silk sheets," said Hawkeye.
Louise's jaw dropped, then she rolled her eyes and blushed. Even though he was more subdued than he once was, the old Hawkeye Pierce was always close to the surface.
Margaret covered her face and kicked Hawkeye under the table. "Pierce! I can't believe you said that."
"Ouch!" Hawkeye said melodramatically and rubbed his ankle. "I've been fatally wounded by a spiked heel."
"Oh Margaret, haven't you known this lothario long enough? I'm not at 'tall surprised to hear what escapes this cretin's unwashed lips. So...Pierce would you and Margaret accompany us to City Hall and be our witnesses?"
Hawkeye squeezed Charles arm and said, "All kidding aside, my friend. I would be honored."
"Louise, are you sure you want to get married wearing black," asked Margaret.
"My pearls are white," said Louise. The four of them laughed.
"Let's go get married," said Hawkeye with a grin.
"No kidding! Charles and Louise eloped?" asked BJ. He put down the phone for a moment. "Hey Peg, Charles and Louise got married at City Hall yesterday! Can you believe that?"
"That's wonderful!" called Peg from the kitchen. "Ben stop that! Now I'm going to have to wash my hair all over again!" Ben had discovered that he could fill his mouth with oatmeal and then spew it all over Peg. He laughed and clapped his pudgy hands as Peg tried to scrape the sticky cereal out of her hair.
"Daddy," said Erin with her finger to her lips. "Could you talk more quieter?"
"What was that?" asked Hawkeye. "I thought I heard Erin say something."
BJ laughed, "She couldn't hear Howdy Doody. You know how these women can be about their TV programs... I still can't believe that the Winchester skipped the ceremony and got married at City Hall."
"You might recall that he once got 'married' in a hotel by the bartender," laughed Hawkeye.
"Oh yeah," laughed BJ, "with little smiles painted on his knees."
"Well it isn't all plain and humble," said Hawkeye. "The Winchesters left this morning for their honeymoon in Europe."
"So how is Margaret doing?"
"She's doing really well," said Hawkeye with a smile that BJ swore he could hear over the phone. "She's more like her old self again. She still needs to gain some more weight but at least she doesn't look like a walking skeleton any more. She's going back to work Monday. I'm a little concerned for her going back to the babies, but she seems to think she'll be fine."
"How's work going for you, Hawk?"
"Not too bad. The first couple of days were a little hairy but I'm back into the routine of things. I'm still having some nasty headaches but I'll live. How's the job going on your end?"
"Great! Can't complain...actually I'm thinking that it's time to hang out my shingle."
"You mean as in private practice?"
"Yep, I think it's time.
"Hey Beej that's great. I wish you all the best. Are you going to specialize?"
"Actually I thought I would. I think I'm going to specialize in pediatrics."
"Beej," said Hawkeye. "Why does this come as no surprise?"