Dorothea Benton Frank
New York Times Bestselling Author
Dorothea Benton Frank
"Southern womanhood has found a new voice, and it is outrageous, hilarious, relentless and impossible to ignore." —John Berendt
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Plantation - A Lowcountry Tale (Continued)

They shared many things in common. Great regard of weekly family dinners, love of land, sense of place, and the importance of a stiff drink or two at the end of the day. Frances Mae was never going to get in the way of Mother's love for Trip. She didn't stand a chance. Sometimes I would think that he had married Frances Mae just to show Mother that she was irreplaceable. That Frances Mae was some kind of a surrogate who could have his body but would never know his heart.

Unfortunately for Mother, as Trip's family grew, his attention became less frequent and more disingenuous. When he began to drink a lot, Mother began to whip it on the Masses. The gardener, Raoul. The UPS man. Mother spread it around, to say the least. She had a ball - no pun intended. I used to think she did these things to make Trip jealous, but later I decided she was just determined to enjoy every minute of her life.

Mother's affairs pretty well horrified Trip and Frances Mae and helped them build their case that Mother had a loose screw. Well, in the amour sense, she was a loose screw - hell, she left a string of bodies behind her too numerous to count. But crazy? Not even for a second. Our mother, Miss Lavinia Boswell Wimbley, finally laid out in lavender (and blue paisley), was as sane as they came. She offered no apologies.

My heart was completely broken. You see, six months ago I was living in New York and I thought I was very happily married. Richard and I had a great apartment on Park Avenue, our son, Eric was growing up beautifully, I had a small but successful decorating business and life was pretty darn good. Sure, we had our issues now and then, buy there was no pressing reason for complaints.

No, I never dreamed this could happen. I had spent the last fifteen, sixteen years or maybe more, building a case for living in New York and against anything remotely connected with the ACE Basin of South Carolina and plantation life. It was horrible to me! Boring!  The unending repetition of tradition, day after year after generation after generation! Suffocating!  The ACE was my demon to reckon with and mine alone. And anyone would have thought that at this stage in my life, I was old and wise enough to take it on. So I came home to see about Mother for a short visit. I wanted to assess things with my own eyes.

My relationship with Mother and with Trip had been strained for years. The geographic distance between us didn't help things either. But I wasn't going to let Trip move Mother out of Tall Pines and into a retirement community without knowing if it was truly necessary. And, that Mother wanted to go. I remember thinking, shoot, even though Mother and I had zero in common, she was my mother and I owed her at least that much.

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