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20 August 2007

a little change of pace...

New Life...

Casey was late getting home from school today. He raced through the back screen door, letting it slam behind him. Dropping his books on the floor, he wrapped his mud-encrusted arms tightly around me. 'I'm real sorry I'm late! All the neighbourhood kids were playing baseball in the vacant lot down the street. I had so much fun! I'm so glad we moved here! What's for supper?'

I disentangled myself from his grip and looked him up and down. His favourite jeans were torn at both knees - again. I wonder how many more patches they'll take before I have to sneak them into the rag bag. 'Get out of those filthy clothes and take a nice long shower. When you're done, we'll have supper and you can tell me all about your day.' He started to walk away, then turned, and with a big endearing grin sang out, 'I looooove yooooou!'

I've learned to check his pockets before throwing his jeans in the washer. Sure enough, they were stuffed with odd bits I wouldn't want tossing around in there. Three pieces of bubble gum, a candy wrapper, homework assignments, a crushed dandelion, 4 rusty screws, a pencil drawing labeled 'teacher', and something green that I couldn't quite identify.

He came out out of the bathroom, wild tufts of red hair sticking up in defiant 'Alfalfa sprouts', chattering excitedly about the first day at his new school. Now that the dirt was gone, I could see those freckles he hated so much across the bridge of his nose. I've tried to tell him how adorable they are, but he just wrinkles his nose at me and says I'm prejudiced.

'I'm so glad we moved here!' he announced. 'I've already made some cool friends. The kids all seem really nice. I think I'm gonna like it here a lot!' He kept right on talking through supper and while he helped me with the dishes.

Finally, as we sat down to read the Bible together, he wound down and thought to ask me about my day. I squirmed in the big overstuffed chair to get more comfortable and to make room for him to sit beside me. He gently settled next to me and laid his head lightly on my stomach. After a quiet, breathless moment, he bolted upright laughing. 'I felt the baby move! He kicked me in the ear!' Feigning indignation, I scowled at him. 'What do you mean HE?' 'It COULD be a girl, you know.' For just a moment he looked crestfallen. Then, seeing the corners of my mouth twitching uncontrollably, his face lit up again and he set me straight. 'No girl kicks like that! No, it's definitely a boy in there. I'm gonna have somebody to play football with. And I'll look out for him. I won't let him get hurt or into trouble or anything. I'll be a good example for Little CJ, I promise.'

'Little CJ, huh? So you've picked a name, as well.' And just what does CJ stand for?'

His face lit up with pride. 'Casey, Jr, of course.'

'Hmmm, much as I love you, Dear, I'm not sure I could stand two Casey's in the house. I'll have to think about that. Now let's do our Bible study and get ready for bed, OK?'

Our chapter for the day was Ephesians 6. As we read God's instructions to fathers, Casey became very thoughtful. His father, a police officer, had been killed in the line of duty just 7 months earlier. I knew he'd talk to me about his thoughts when he was ready, so I kept reading, pretending I hadn't noticed.

Later, as he got ready for bed, he spoke. Half to me, half to himself. 'I wish Dad could be around when Little CJ is born.'

'Me, too' I whispered, a lump forming in my throat that made it impossible to say more.

I leaned back against the pillows and he rolled over next to me. I held him close and breathed in the sweet aroma of his favourite coconut shampoo. The scent always takes me back to happy days at the Gulf shore. Casey and his father had spent a week together, just the guys, in a beachside cottage every spring. Sometimes they allowed me to join them for the weekend, insisting they do all the cooking and cleaning while I 'take it easy' on the beach.

When he spoke again, bringing me back to the present, I could hear the sadness of fresh loss in his voice. 'I miss him a lot. He was my best friend, you know. Do you think he'd have been proud of me?'

'He always was,' I assured him.

He smiled, then, and patted my tummy. You're the best mommy in the world.

As I moved over to kiss him goodnight, he wrapped his arms around my neck, pulled me closer and blew a raspberry on my cheek.

'OK, funny guy. Time to settle down now. You have to get up early for school again tomorrow.'

'Oh nooooooooo,' he groaned. ' I have to do it all over again tomorrow? UGH!'

'Yes, wise guy. And the next day, and the next...'

'OK, OK, if I gotta, I gotta. G'night, "Mommy".'

'Good night, Casey. I love you.'

Lying here next to him as he drifts off to sleep, a sweet peaceful contentment fills my heart. Thank you, God, for bringing this man into my life. Casey is a great teacher and I know he's going to be a terrific father to 'Little CJ'.

(Copyright 2005-2007 by SophieMae - all rights reserved)


Steve said...

Hey, I like that! As writing, it flows well and is easy to read. As story, it sounds like life.

Cathy S. said...

Now who's the budding author? More please!

SophieMae said...

Thanks ever so y'all! Just every now and then something hits me.

Steve, I'm so glad you like it. I had to redo the last paragraph, coz nobody 'got it'.

Cathy, I do have a couple more pieces somewhere. I'd love to do a novel but I reckon I'm a short-story kinda gal. 8-}

SwampAngel65 said...

It gave me a lump in my throat. Sad, but goes on, and it is good. Different, but good.

I think you are a talented author!

I agree about the heat & caching. Too hot to go tromping through the woods or make any mile-long hikes through the swamp. When the heat and humidity are high, that's when I go for those sad little park-n-grabs that are stuck in stop signs or under lamp posts. I hate 'em, but they satisfy my need for smilies until the thermometer drops!

I think caching is the #1 best way to get out and see the "real" Florida. Plus, I've found that cachers are the nicest folks :)

SophieMae said...

Thanks ever so, SwampAngel! Yes, change can be hard, but we are resilient beings. Sometimes, the worst thing that ever happened to us turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to us.

I need to dust off my GPS, change out the batteries and get it ready for my trip to the Tampa area. I just hope the first week of September is WAY cooler. Fat chance, I know, but I can dream. 8-]

Meems said...

sophie, i enjoyed this piece. i'm a fan and would be eager to read your novel OR short stories.

SophieMae said...

Meems, I'm so tickled you liked it! My 'pencil' isn't quite as sharp as it used to be, but every once in a whle, I manage to jot down something. 8-]