Dedicated for Life

I’ve seen them numerous times on my weekend jogs at our neighborhood park. I’ve seen fathers and sons out together before, bonding in all the different ways a father and son can, but these two are different

The father must be close to 70 years old. He is balding, with a ring of white hair around his head. He always wears a short-sleeved button shirt, a lungi and sandals. He has bowed legs yet manages to keep a decent pace. He is in good shape for someone his age.

The son is tall and walks very straight. I put his age around 40. Except for a pot belly, he is not overweight. He always wears the same thing: a checkered, short-sleeved button shirt and navy blue pants that are frayed at the bottom. He walks at a slow pace, sort of lumbering along in his bare feet.

But there is something else about the son. He has a disability of some sort. I can’t tell what it is, though it seems to be mental. He spends his whole walk calling to his father: “Papa, papa”. Should his father get out of sight, he calls louder “Papa, papa”. Since the father walks faster than the son, he can get far ahead and out of sight often, but as soon as he is close again, he always acknowledges his son.

Today I noticed them as I was leaving. They were passing where I was sitting in the playground and the son called loudly “Papa” while gesturing to the benches. His father gave a reply that I took to mean he wanted him to walk one more round. It wasn’t in English so I won’t swear to that meaning but it made sense to me.

What really gets me is how much this father loves his son. Obviously the son has stayed with his parents his whole life; he is still a child mentally and needs care. Imagine the dedication of the parents! Most of us can’t wait for our kids to grow up and move out, but they have, knowingly and willingly, given their whole lives to the care of their son. That is unselfishness at its best!

I’ve tried to imagine how I would act if one of my children were disabled in this way. Would I really be unselfish enough to dedicate my whole life until my dying day to my child? Would I be able to endure year after year, knowing my child would never leave home, never be self-sufficient, never be able to reach a point where they would care for me in my old age? I hope I would.

Making Plans

This story picks up where this one leaves off.

Alec had finished his shift and gone straight home, even though his buddies had tried hard to get him to go with them for a few drinks. Since his daughter had been born, he always rushed home from the station, sometimes not even bothering to change out of his uniform first. “Only a few weeks old and already she has you doing her bidding, huh?” his partner had teased him. Smiling to himself, Alec got out of the car and ran up to the door.

Entering the house he called “Honey, I’m home!” There was no reply as he sauntered over to the bedroom where he could hear the baby crying. “Hi, Honey! Oh hey, my love,” he cooed. “Where’s mommy?”

He gently picked up the whimpering bundle and cradled her in his arms while he walked around the house looking for his wife.

“Honey? Where are you?”

The house was small so it wasn’t long before he found her outside on the back porch.

“Oh, there you are.” He noticed she was wiping tears away. “Everything ok?”

Suhaila looked up and smiled. “Yes, I’m fine … now. I … I’ve just been remembering my mom. I miss her.”

Alec stepped closer and held her hand as Suhaila began to cry again.

“Somehow, ever since Leslie was born, mom has been in my thoughts non-stop…. I can’t push the memories of her away any more…. I have to find her! I need to hug her and tell her how sorry I am! … Will you help me find her, Alec?”

Since they had been together, Suhaila had always made it clear that she had no intention of contacting her parents. She wanted nothing to do with them and had resisted Alec’s offer to track them down before their wedding. Now she was begging for his help. Motherhood had affected her emotions for sure, but he hadn’t expected this.

“Of course I will! I’ll have someone in my department look into it first thing tomorrow.”

Suhaila got up out of the rocker and hugged him as tears continued to make their way down her cheeks. Alec rubbed her back and held her close. She meant everything to him! He would search for her parents if it took the rest of his life, though he was sure it wouldn’t take that long.

The sun was setting now but the moon could already be seen over the horizon. Alec and Suhaila sat on the wooden porch steps while Leslie snuggled in her daddy’s left arm. They leaned against each other, her head on his strong shoulder, his right hand holding her left one. As they watched the moon rise, Alec began to sing,

“‘I would fly to the moon in a rubber balloon, anything for my baby.'”

Suhaila laughed as she always did when he sang that song, then gave him an extra-tight squeeze and kissed his cheek.

“I love you too,” she said.

This fiction piece was written using the following prompt from Write on Edge: …you have 500 words to write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, which includes the phrase “to the moon.”

Falling in Love

Nothing really prepares you for seeing your child for the first time. I had been asked to sit in the waiting room while my wife labored alone in the women-only labor room. At some point she had begged for me and her doctor let me in.

I held her hand and tried to imagine what a contraction felt like. Her face contorted into a grimace of pain as she squeezed my hand harder than I thought was possible. Then I was asked to leave.

“Sir, wake up, see your baby.”

I was tired and groggy, having been in the hospital for hours, waiting to see what was going to happen. When it was decided that my wife would need a caesarean after all, I sat in the waiting room and fell asleep.

“Hey, wake up, your baby is here.” The guy next to me grinned as he pointed to the nurse standing in front of me.

The nurse was holding a tiny, screaming bundle. “Sir, this is your daughter.”

I took the baby in my arms and her screams quieted to sobs as I spoke to her. Her red face turned pink and her ears perked up as she listened to my voice. That was all it took to quiet her. I held her close and took her to our room so she could be dressed. Then I took some pictures.

I was now daddy to a little girl. I tried hard to digest that information. Just hours earlier I only had a son; now I had a daughter too. She was perfect. She could have anything she wanted, just because she was mine. I would give her the world if she asked. Her large brown eyes stared into mine as if to say “I’m so happy you’re my daddy.”

This memoir piece is pretty much how my husband remembers the birth of our first daughter, Lila., and was written for Write on Edge‘s meme Red Writing Hood.

My Morning View

Every morning the same view greets me. I wake to see beige walls that have needed painting ever since my kids decided to use them as a canvas for crayon art. A high shelf, full of books that I struggle to find time to read, stares down at me. The large orange and tan crib is stained with dirt that won’t come off no matter how many times I try to wash it. It has been chewed by all three of my babies, touched by three pairs of tiny hands, each for a longer time than the last.

The air conditioner hums as it has all night; the fan is spinning as well. The brown wooden cupboard in the corner is neatly packed with clothes. Three sets of windows ensure the room is never completely dark. Two sets are at the top of opposite walls near the ceiling – one facing the outdoors, the other our living room. Why a window was placed there I’ll never know. The other window is at a normal level and is where the air conditioner is connected.

I also wake up to three more bodies in my bed; tiny bodies that weren’t there when I went to sleep. Each has found their way to a small nook and is sleeping in a favorite position. While I may feel rather squished, it is also comforting – all my kids are in bed with me and I know they are safe.

Today I am writing memoir for Write on Edge‘s weekly meme Red Writing Hood.

Thoughts in a Cell

You can read more about Robert here.
The echo of the heavy door slamming shut reverberated in the small cell. Robert shook as he trudged to the bench and sat, fear of what awaited him in jail rising in his heart. He should have known that sooner or later he might get caught! He leaned against the brick wall and tried to recall how he had gotten into this mess in the first place.
“Man, listen. All you have to do is drop this package at this address. That’s it. No strings attached. Once it’s dropped I’ll pay you. Simple.” Jake tried hard to convince Robert.
“I dunno, man.”
“Look, I’ll pay you up front, just because you’re my friend, ok?” Robert watched as Jake took out a wad of hundreds and began counting them off. He did need the money. Student loans were weighing heavily on him and he was currently between jobs. Yet something was making him hesitate.
Jake handed him the money and the package. “Don’t tell anyone that I paid you up front.” He lowered his voice. “I’m not supposed to do that.”
Hesitantly Robert took them. It was too late to back out now. “Ok, Jake. I’ll do it this once.”
“Thanks, man. I owe you one.”
Though he hadn’t planned on continuing, Robert found himself doing more jobs for Jake. Each involved delivering the same size package to different places and he was always paid well – too well, he thought.  He always told himself it would be the last, but whenever Jake asked, Robert relented.
“Look where it got me,” he thought. “I should have listened when my inner voice told me not to take this one.” The last drop had been at a shady-looking building that was covered in graffiti and falling apart. Even as he drove up to it, the urge to turn the car around had never been stronger. It took several deep breaths and all his courage to go in – and he had been caught! The undercover agent who had been waiting for the drop arrested him immediately.
Suddenly the cell door opened. “You’re free to go,” his arresting officer said.
“What? Why?”
“Your bail has been paid.”
Still shaking but grateful to be out, Robert determined he would never again do anything that would make him see the inside of a prison cell. Ever!
This fiction piece was written for Write on Edge‘s meme Red Writing Hood.

Anger Defused

His crossed arms answered her question before he spoke.

“No, I won’t do it. What if I get caught?”

“You won’t! Stop being such a wuss!” She gave her little brother a disdainful stare and crossed her own arms. “Now are you in or out?”

He couldn’t believe it! Here was the sister he had always looked up to asking him to commit a felony, just so she could get back at her cheating boyfriend. His body shook at the thought of being caught … again.

“I’m sorry, Lil. I hate Rex for what he did to you but I refuse to do something that could get me arrested!”

“Why won’t you do this one little thing for me? I’ve always done whatever you asked me to do for you.” Lil flung her arms in the air then put her hands on her hips.

She paced crazily, all the while glaring at Robert, as if it would make him change his mind.

Robert turned his back to Lil and looked out the window. He hesitated, not wanting to tell her the truth yet.

“I just can’t do it. I can’t tell you why now; you will just have to trust me when I say that doing what you are asking would get me into a bigger heap of trouble than the time when you closed the garage door on dad’s brand new Corvette.”

Lil stopped her pacing and plopped on the couch, shaking her head. “I have yet to hear the end of that one. Dad still swears I did it on purpose because he refused to let me drive it.” she laughed. “Ok, fine, you win.” She threw her hands in the air to indicate that she was giving up the idea of stealing Rex’s car and burying it at the town dump. There had to be a better way to get back at him and she would come up with it and carry it out on her own.

Robert sat next to his sister and hugged her. His secret was safe for another day.

This fiction piece was written for Write on Edge‘s prompt More Than Words.

Growing Up

She stood in front of the mirror, looking older than her 13 years. She was still my baby, yet here she was, all dolled up and ready for her first dance.

Up until now, she has been the tomboyish type, always ready for a game of football with her father and brothers. She was good at it too, the best player on her team.

Then she had surprised me. She asked me to buy her something to wear to the dance.

In the store we searched the racks for the perfect dress. She tried on dress after dress, each more stunning than the first. It was like seeing her play dress-up for the first time and she was enjoying it.

Finally she selected a silk lavender gown. It was simple compared to the others – no fancy frills, layers of lace, or beads and sequins. No, this dress fell from a high waist under the bust straight to the floor and tied behind with a thin ribbon. The sleeves were open, flowing and airy.

“How does it feel?” I asked.

“Like an angel’s dress,” she said, twirling to see how it would flow. “Can I get some shoes too?”

“Of course,” I replied.

We made our way to the shoe store across the mall where she spotted the perfect shoes to match the dress. Having never worn heels, she wobbled a bit at first, but was soon walking in them like a pro. I told her how to break them in over the next few days so that she wouldn’t end up with painful blisters on what was supposed to be a fun night.

Friday afternoon she asked me to help her with her hair and makeup. As I worked, I relived her childhood. “How has it gone by so fast? How much longer will it be before she no longer wants me to be involved?” I wondered.

I brushed her long hair and skillfully plaited the french braids that wound their way around her head. “Remember when all she wanted me to do was pull her hair into a ponytail?” I laughed to myself. I had never been able to convince her to wear any other style, not even for special occasions.

My hands shook as I pulled out the makeup. “Steady now. I don’t want to have to do this twice,” I thought. First I applied the foundation, then soft pink eyeshadow, lined with lavender pencil. Light brown mascara, pink lipstick, and some glitter finished the job. My baby looked like a princess.

“Have a look,” I told her.

“Just a minute. I want to get dressed first.”

Returning to my room, she slowly made her way to the mirror and gasped, “I look beautiful!”

“You have always been beautiful to me,” I said, “but tonight, you look extra special. I know you will have a great night.”

“Thanks, Mom,” she said. And she hugged me longer than she had in a long time.

This fiction piece was written for Write on Edge‘s writing meme, Red Writing Hood.
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