During our last chapter, JJ returned from Texas with Charles Sampson and his family, which included Mitchell Kensington, simply known to us as Mitch. Mitch stayed with the Sampsons even after the offer of one of the larger bedrooms, which is a good portion of the square footage of the 1924 home. He chose his friends over comfort.
JJ and Kathryn were bringing together their expanding family, which not only includes Sam, but their new daughter Crystal and foster daughter Cindy. The gift of the bicycles will mean time the three girls interact with JJ. JJ supposed to help them learn how to ride their new bicycles. There is only one problem JJ needs to learn how to ride a bicycle himself.
The Ten of Them. Chapter 25 Composed by hard93
Kathryn and I awake to our girls shaking us after a two and a half hour power nap. I know what they want because they are all in their swimwear. I stretch sleepily and Kathryn simply rolls over, I put a finger to my lips for the girls to be quiet. I slide out of bed, and get my trunks before heading to the bathroom. Once dressed in my trunks, I rejoined the girls and then give Kathryn a kiss as she reaches for me. I tell her, “I’m going to take the girls swimming don’t sleep too much or you won’t be able to sleep tonight.”
Kathryn starts to stretch saying, “No, I can get up too. I will be downstairs in a couple minutes if I don’t start exercising a little I’m going to get fat.” Kathryn rolls onto her back looks toward your feet then makes a funny face looking at her belly. She exclaims, “How that happen so fast?” The girls giggle, which is what, she wanted. Kathryn gives me a wink, as she gets up and heads to the bathroom.
Patients is not something our girls have a lot of, and it does not take them long before they start pleading for me to go ahead and take them to the pool. I get Kathryn swimwear, a bikini she wore last summer.
When I walk into the bathroom with the bikini, Kathryn giggles before she says, “There is no way I can get into that right now. It is nice that you think I can though. Go on and take the girls swimming, I will be down in the moment or two.”
The girls are chasing each other around the bedroom giggling merrily when I return. I walk to the elevator pushing the call button the doors open. It is then that I noticed the girls are all holding their hands up like there are holding their bikes’ handlebars. The day outside is not good for bike riding, it is turn cold and drizzly shortly after we returned home.
With a chuckle I say, “It is a good thing we have an indoor pool, or you would have to pretend going swimming today too.”
Sam giggles, “Daddy we were just talking about how much fun it would be if we could ride in the house.”
In a more serious tone I say, “I am pretty sure Mom and Kathryn would not like that. Bicycle tire marks all over the floor would probably make them mad. Ok new rule, no riding in the house, because I do not want to find out how mad they get.”
Giggling Sam says, “I think Mommy would not like it too. That is why we were just pretending.”
The elevator doors open, and most of my family are in the pool or around it. I pick up Crystal and hold to Cindy as we walk to the pool. Kathryn sisters are splashing with MC and Rosy. Rosy is on MC’s shoulders and doing her best to hide behind her Mamma’s head. Daniel, Marshall, the Coach, Charles and Mitch watch from the patio.
It Sam the protector to the rescue, taking a running dive Sam slips into the water with very little splash. I lift Crystal up onto my shoulders and tell her to watch. Sam swims under the water coming up behind her aunts as soon as she breaks the surface she began splashing them from behind. They turn to try to get Sam, but she disappears under the water only to come up a few feet away and begin to splash her aunts again. Sam once she is splashed she disappears under the water only to come up again splashing away.
MC uses the diversion given to her by Sam, for a little revenge. She gets a bucket full of water hands it to Rosy as she gets close to Michelle, Rosy pores the whole bucket over her head. Michelle is a good sport and plays along, as last of the water comes out of the bucket she turns and falls backwards letting herself sink under the water to Rosy’s giggles.
I am leading the girls around to the steps once there I say, “I guess it is time for us to get wet. Do you want to join the fun?”
Crystal giggles, but Cindy is a little hesitant. Crystal asks, “Are you going to teach me how to swim like Sam?”
I say, “No I am going to teach you how to swim like Crystal, she might even swim better than Sam.”
Crystal asks, “What if I cannot swim as well as Sam?”
That is when I let Crystal in on a little secret, “Crystal I cannot swim as well as Sam does. That does not stop me from having fun, or Sam’s aunts who cannot swim as well as me. No one is perfect, and I do not expect you to be. I just want you to be happy and have fun. If you are good at something like swimming that does not mean it cannot be fun too. Sam is having a lot of fun right now, she loves her aunts and they love her. Although it is usually, Kathryn Sam is rescuing from them.”
Kathryn catching up with us giggling says, “Usually because I start it, my sisters can be boring sometimes.”
Kathryn takes Crystal and slips into the water standing off to the side she begins to splash her sisters too. Cindy still beside me is a little more hesitant before I say, “Cindy no one is trying to hurt anyone, and they are just splashing each other trying to see who will back down first. We can do this for hours and laugh for hours more afterwards.”
Cindy asks, “They are not really fighting? They are not mad at each other?”
I explained to Cindy, “No, they are not mad and they are not fighting. Even when they do get mad at each other, they do not stay mad very long. They love each other and realize that being mad hurts themselves as much as it does their sister. That is why they can play like this. Even Sam when this is over will hug every one of her aunts and get a kiss from them.”
Cindy finally smiles looking up into my face she says, “Uncle JJ I am really beginning to like your family.”
Smiling down at Cindy, I say, “Cindy we love you that is why it is our family. Remember you are part of this family too.”
Cindy begins to smile before she says, “I have never felt like part of any family before. Every family that took me in told me I was just there temporarily. You tell me I am always going to be part of this family, I really hope that is true. I am afraid to believe it, when my Mom gets out of jail she will take me back.”
Cindy’s smile fades at the thought, as her eyes grew sad. She says, “I am going to hate to leave, because as far as I know this family is the only ones who love me.” Tears began to fall and Cindy turns and runs back into the family room.
I follow Cindy unsure of what to say I only know I need to say something, something true because Cindy does not deserve a lie just to make her feel better. My thoughts divide from what I know to be true and what I feel to be true. I know about six months Cindy’s mother should be released from prison, and will most likely want to reconnect with her daughter. I feel that Cindy will always be a part of this family, but how can that be when her mother will probably take her away. I guess there is many things I need to find out and have little time to do that.
I catch Cindy I gently turn her to my embrace. I find a place to set and pull her into my lap. As she sets across my legs, she still cries and I gently wipe her tears away as I tell her, “I know your Mom is supposed to get out soon, but maybe I can get her to work here. That way she can bring you to work with her. You will still get to come and play with Sam and Crystal. You can even still call me uncle.”
Cindy looking a little brighter says, “I bet you would still love me.”
With a chuckle I say, “That is one thing I never learned to stop, I never stop loving anyone once I started. So you are going to have to put up with me loving you until I die.”
Cindy does look a lot brighter now, and she gives me a hug. She says, “I do not think it would be good if my Mom worked here. My dad left us when I was little, I do remember Mom and him fighting, he called her bad names it scared me. I found out Mom was stealing stuff, she even made me hide stuff in my backpack. Then she would give it to a man who gave her money."
Fighting my anger because it is the result of actions from Cindy’s mother, after a deep breath I ask, “Did your Mom have you do that a lot Cindy?”
Cindy shakes her head yes not wanting to say anything against her mother. I ask my next question giving that information, “Cindy does anyone else know about how your mother used you to carry stolen goods?”
Cindy shakes her head no. I gently ask, “What did your Mom do with the money?” If she was desperate to feed herself and Cindy, I can easily forgive her actions.
Cindy says, “She buys funny green stuff with the money. Then she goes into her room, she would laugh a little, and then come out looking for something to eat.”
I ask, “Did she ever take the money and buy food, maybe clothes for you?”
Again, Cindy shakes her head no. I made up my mind unless Cindy’s Mom has made major changes in her life there is no way I am going to let Cindy go back to her. Cindy is one of my girls now, and I will do what it takes to protect her even if that is to see her Mom back in jail. I do not intend to do anything illegal, but if the child endangerment was unprosecuted, I will see that she receives punishment for that.
I see I am going to have to research her case, maybe talk to the prosecutor and the police. I bet Uncle George probably could help me out, I am sure he could arrange the necessary meetings. The first should be with Cindy’s Mom I want to meet with her to find out if she has changed.
Kara comes wrapped in a towel and sits down beside us. She shows her concern for Cindy it written all over her face. Kara can sense the child’s need and opens her arms to Cindy who quickly slides from my lap into Kara’s embrace. Again, Cindy allows her emotions to erupt as her tears fall against Kara’s shoulder. Kara gently caresses Cindy allowing her the emotional release Cindy needs.
Cindy needed to feel mothered, and Kara is doing a great job being exactly what Cindy needs. I understand why Kathryn sent her sister instead of coming herself. Cindy and Kara share a bond, I know it and so does Kathryn. We felt that same bond with Sam and Crystal. We do love Cindy and want what is best for her. We know Daniel and Kara is much better for her. The only thing I wonder and worry about is how we will put Daniel and Kara together with Cindy permanently.
Daniel comes in and I give him a sad smile and then beckon him to set with us. Daniel only hesitates for a moment before moving beside his wife on the couch. Daniel began to caress Cindy’s shoulder at feeling his touch Cindy turns and looks into his eyes. She only cries a little harder as she puts her head back on Kara shoulder. Daniel is confused by her reaction nearly starts to get up thinking he is upset her more, I motioned for him to stay and Daniel raises an eyebrow but sits back down.
I began in a gentle voice as I talked to Cindy, “Cindy you’re surrounded by people who love you, no matter what happens were going to stay in your life. We want to be part of your life, either in a very big way, but if not given the option we still will remain part of your life in whatever way we can.”
Daniel immediately realizing why Cindy is crying says, “If I have to volunteer at school as a crossing guard just to say hi to you I will. I will find some way to always be a part of your life.”
Cindy moves to Daniel’s lap and hugs him tightly then says, “I wish you could be my Daddy.” She turns to Kara and nearly repeats herself, “I wish you could be my Mommy.” Then she puts her head against Daniel shoulder and begins to cry again.
Daniel doing the best to restrain his own tears says, “I know Cindy, I want that too.”
Kara can no longer contain her tears and they flow freely as she says, “I love you Cindy and I would love to be your Mom, but if I cannot be, I will be your aunt or your friend but I will be in your life. You do not need to worry about losing me.”
Cindy moving back so she can look into our faces asks, “But how? How will you if...”
With the determined look on Daniel’s face, he interrupts her, “Cindy love always finds a way. Just hang in there, give us time and we will figure out a way to stay in your life. We really should enjoy the time we have together and not worry too much about tomorrow.”
I smile and nod my head yes, happy to be the support for the hero, Cindy’s hero Daniel. I child’s hero should be their dad, most children do look up to their parents as their heroes, unfortunately many parents do not come close to living up to what a child’s hero should be.
Cindy looks into Daniel’s face, she wipes a tear away as she says, “Uncle JJ promised to teach me how to swim but could you do it? Can you teach me how to swim?”
Daniel smiling brightly says, “I am sure I can. I would love to teach you. If you let your uncle JJ help me, I will teach you how to swim, the way he teaches how to swim is better than the way I know how to teach at first. After that I got him beat, I used to swim at college, and I know all the good strokes”
Cindy asks, “You think I might be able to swim better than Sam?”
Daniel smiling says, “As I understand it Sam has been swimming for six months, so it might take a little while but we will keep working on it. Not long at all you will be a mermaid too, will part like Sam you have to breathe air.”
Cindy giggles, “Okay we better get started, and I want to try to catch up with Sam.”
I chuckle and say, “Just remember swimming is supposed to be fun first, the work comes later.”
Returning to the pool we began our swimming lessons, I first show Crystal how to float. Daniel copies what I am doing with Cindy. The two girls only take a few minutes to learn how to float. Next Daniel helps me teach MC and Rosy, Daniel helping Rosy. Rosy picks it up faster than MC; sometimes it is much easier for a child to learn something new. MC just does not relaxes well in the water and that is her main problem. Ten minutes after Rosy is paddling around MC is just learned how to float.
Uncle George and Alyssa show up with Allen and Anna. Alyssa asks, “JJ could you teach Allen and Anna how to swim too?”
I never seen Alyssa in the pool before and wonder if she knows how to swim. Uncle George I do believe he knows how, but it would not surprise me the only way he knows how to teach is the same way the coach knows. I smile, “Of course I will teach my niece and nephew how to swim.”
Uncle George and Alyssa smile, Anna and Allen’s reaction is exactly what I expected, they both jumped for joy. Anna jumps from the side of the pool into my arms, which is a very good thing because that shows her trust. In my arms, Anna says brightly, “Uncle JJ thank you and thank you for the bike.”
Returning her smile I say, “You are welcome Anna.” Anna gives me a hug and a kiss on my cheek. Michelle is currently the one aunt not holding the child so I pass Anna to her. Michelle dotes on her new niece that cause Anna to giggle.
Allen is a little impatient as he waits his turn at the edge of the pool, as soon as I turn to him he jumps and I catch him just like his sister. Thanks me for his bike and the lessons. Unlike his sister, there is no kiss on the cheek just one difference between what a girl does and a boy does. In ten minutes, both Allen and Anna are floating around the pool. The only one of my new students having any trouble is MC, and she cannot float more than a few seconds. I pull MC over to the side and speak to her quietly, “Michelle Collins what is your problem.” I said it joking but the look of frustration on her face has me worried after that.
What MC says makes sense giving her experience, “I just cannot believe water is going to hold me up.”
Looking at MC I smile knowing how to explain this to her. MC is a very logical person; I simply need to give her the facts. In my most reassuring voice I say, “Michelle your body is made of ninety-eight percent water, the other two percent weighs nearly the same as water. The main difference in your weight and water is the amount of air in your lungs. Try not to exhale too deeply, and relax if you are tense your muscles they become more dense.”
MC begins to giggle before she says, “You mean it is just that simple, if I tense up or let too much air out of my lungs, I sink.”
After shaking my head yes, I gave her the other major secret about water. I say, “The other thing about swimming is like an airplane when you are moving in the water your body posture helps you to stay on the surface.”
Continuing her giggling, MC stands up straight with her shoulders back and chest forward. I smile and say, “That is the right posture, now you have that I think it is time for your next step in your lessons. Take a deep breath hold it and let yourself fall forward in the water once your horizontal raise your head extend your arms forward, kick, then draw your arms back to your side and down, as you raise breathe and pushed them forward again and repeat.”
MC says, “Yes Sir.” Once I move out of her way, MC follows my instructions. She is not swimming very quickly, but as long as she is moving forward feeling the water moving under her help support her. MC swims halfway across the pool without her head going under; she displays the biggest smile the entire time. When she stops and stands, again she turns around and shouts as she begins to jump in the water, “I did it!”
Rosy shouts, “Yeah Mama!”
I repeat the process with Rosy, and she swims to her Mama. Her Mama catches her holding her in her arms MC jumps, and they shout for joy. There is applause from our onlookers. Daniel, Kara, Kathryn and I repeat the process for each of the children and before long; Sam is organizing a race between them. I realize that is one way to make them stronger swimmers. Rosy and Crystal tie for first place, with Cindy coming in just barely behind them.
After the race, it is tag and then a splashing match. Cindy and the rest of the kids are having a great time; Cindy is on Daniel’s back she splashes her aunts giggling the entire time. After a while, we order pizzas and share dinner together. After dinner Sam wants to show the wedding video to her new sister and cousin’s.
Mom giggles before saying, “Sam we better not ware that out, but since it is the first time for your cousins to see it. I guess it is okay.”
Ron catches Charles and Jane having their full attention he says to them, “You really want to see this, it is really a beautiful wedding, and you will even see an angel.”
Charles chuckles thinking Ron means Kathryn in her wedding gown. He replies, “I guess we have time to watch.”
We watch the video, Ron asks see it in slow motion, we watch it again as each frame flashes by, the face can easily be seen beside Kathryn. Sam has tears beginning at seeing herself with Lester and Nicole, even more at the image that appeared beside Kathryn. Charles and Jane gasp at seeing the face; they both recognize Nancy in that image.
Jane asks Kathryn, “It looks like Nancy whispered something to you did you hear her?”
With a smile Kathryn replies, “I am not sure if you can actually hear an angel, but what I felt I heard was, find our daughter. The rest of the afternoon I knew I had to do something, and I was continually drawn away from the wedding party, I wish I could have found Sam sooner.”
We watch the video one more time in slow motion again, just over Sam is two bright dots. Sam says, “That is right when I wished for the bride and groom to be my new Mommy and Daddy.”
One of the bright dots disappear from Sam and the next frame the image of Nancy appears by Kathryn. Sam and Kathryn are clinging to each other, and I gently caress Sam’s back then I whisper in her ear, “Sam, your Angel Mommy made your wish come true.”
Crystal asks, “Sam did you really wish for Mommy and Daddy.”
Sam turning to her sister says, “I did, then when I met them for the first time they a change clothes, and I did not recognize them. The first time I knew I got my wish was the day we found the treasure. The day after Daddy knocked down the tree.”
Chuckling I say, “Sam, you know I really did not knock down the tree, it was hit by lightning I only timed my fingers snap to when it would happen.”
Charles chuckling says, “If it was anyone else I would not believe it either way. What is this about a treasure?”
It takes about an hour to explain everything to Charles and Jane who set there wide-eyed the entire time. At the end of the story, we show them pictures of the original stock certificates, and show them the deposits from AT&T, Exxon, and IBM.
Once recovered from his shock Charles chuckles, “You just let Sam choose who got a share.”
With a smile, I say as I ruffle Sam’s hair, “I thought it would be the fairest way, Sam had the least to gain or lose by choosing. Her choosing also meant fewer arguments from the members of the family. With Grandma Elizabeth and Uncle George to back her up, no one really had an argument. Besides who is really going to complain when they receive one point one billion each after taxes.”
Reese punches Ron in the arm, “You would never let her call you uncle.”
Jane looks at Charles, who raises his hands and says, “Okay I told Sam that I was not her grandpa that is why she had to go live in Oregon with her real grandma.”
Jane looking at Sam says, “Sam, you and Crystal are welcome to call me grandma if you want.”
Charles with a smile says, “I would be honored Princess Sam and Princess Crystal if you called me grandpa, but I really do not need that much money.”
Ron chuckles, “Kathryn and JJ I really want to thank you again for helping Reese and I. If Sam listed me as uncle, I know you would have fought for me to get a share. I do not need money like that too. What you have helped us earned so far is more than enough.”
Reese giggling, “More than I thought I would ever have in my lifetime. I really do not care, the amount of money we have will ensure our family is comfortable, and that is all that really matters. That the children Ron and I have will be able to go to college, start their life without debt is more than good enough for me.”
Charles says, “If your plan is to bring us to where Ron and Reese are I am sure my family will be very comfortable too.”
I tell Charles, “My plan is to show you how to have the life you deserve, you are only job is to learn how to trade, and decide when to stop.”
With a chuckle Mitch asks, “You mean if we do not want to stop until we are billionaires that is fine with you?”
Smiling I say, “You decide when to stop, the only thing I would like to see is you help others while you are doing that. Just like Misty and Marshall are helping Ron, Reese, Charles and you,”
Charles laughing for a moment and then he says, “In other words the greedier we are, the more people we have to help.”
With a chuckle I say, “It is a karma thing, as you do, you receive. It keeps the scales balanced, even though I tried to keep them tipped to the good.”
Charles chuckling, “You sound just like a friend of mine, don’t you agree Ron?”
Ron shaking his head yes before he says, “I would swear the two of you must have been brothers you are so much alike.”
Jane smiles and says, “Maybe that is why Sam loves you so easily, she found the one man exactly like her Angel Daddy.”
Sam looks at me curiously then says, “Daddy you’re a lot like my Angel Daddy, but not exactly. You think of everybody first before you do anything. I am trying to do the same thing every time I do something.”
I scooped Sam up into my arms, and give her a big hug and kiss her cheek in neck causing her to giggle. I do not keep it up long because if I did Sam would make me let her down to go to the bathroom. Setting Sam down, I scooped Crystal up and give her much the same treatment. When I reach for Cindy, she backs away and says, “Uncle JJ you are not getting me like that, I am more ticklish than Sam or Crystal.”
With a mischievous smile I say, “Oh yes I am.” Cindy squeals and turns to run, I chaser not really trying to catch her too quickly, because she is giggling merrily.
Finally, she runs to Daniel and says, “Save me, Daddy Daniel.”
Daniel scooped her up into his arms as naturally as I would Sam or Crystal, Daniel looking at me says, “JJ leave Cindy alone, it is a Daddy’s job to give his daughter kisses, not an uncles to give his niece kisses.” Daniel begins kissing her cheeks and neck as I had done Sam and Crystal. Cindy giggles merrily until Daniel stops. They hold each other, and many of the family have confused looks. It does not take long before everyone makes the connection, and smiles replace the confusion. Kara walks to the two and caresses Cindy’s back, Cindy moves to Kara giving her a warm hug.
Uncle George looks a little unhappy before he says, “You do know her mother is due to be released shortly. Do not get the girl wanting something when it cannot happen.”
Cindy looking at Uncle George says, “I want Daniel to be my Daddy, but I know I have one. If I can have more than one uncle, why cannot Daniel be Daddy Daniel?”
Uncle George not wanting to totally dismissed Cindy’s argument, but he also wants to make sure she understands that her Mom will most likely retain custody. Sadly Uncle George says, “Cindy do not get your hopes up too high, your Mom may or may not allow you to continue seeing Daniel and Kara. I need to have a talk with JJ, Daniel and Kara. Let the children go out into the play house and enjoy some time together.”
It does not take long for the kids to leave, although Cindy is a little hesitant. We watch them for a little while before beginning our discussion. I mute the channel, we can watch the children but they cannot listen to us. Uncle George begins, “In six months Sylvia Conn, Cindy’s mother will be released. You have no right to get that little girl’s hopes up about staying with you. I know Sylvia, and she has made a turnaround since her incarceration. Sylvia is really looking forward to her release, and really wants to be with her daughter. That is her right.”
Daniel begins, “Your honor I am not trying to mislead Cindy in any way. I just... Shit, I love her and I cannot see her crying for the next six months. I am not trying to hurt her, and I do want to be a part of her life from now on.”
George looking at Daniel says, “First this is not a court building. I am with family; you call me George or Uncle George.
After Daniel smiles Uncle George continues, “Daniel I understand, I do not want to see her crying for the next six months too. I was the one to remove her from her previous foster parents, and I know how poorly she was treated. If JJ and Kathryn had not volunteered to be her foster parents, given the connection you have with her I may have put you three together. The only way I see this working, if you work with Sylvia. I know that because of Cindy you will help her. Right now Sylvia is away from all of the temptations that were destroying her life and Cindy’s too. She spent the last two years in confinement, it took her about three months to detox, after that she was a changed person. Her release will not be her total freedom. She will be going on parole for three years. I can arrange for either JJ or you Daniel to be a sponsor. You will have to employ her in some fashion.”
Kara says, “Uncle George could I be her sponsor? She could be my aid. I could send her to the grocery store shopping, or a hundred other little things to help me with around the house.”
Looking at Uncle George I say seriously, “You are aware that Sylvia used Cindy to carry stolen merchandise out of the store she stole it from? That when she fenced this merchandise she bought drugs, not food or clothing for herself or Cindy? I understand that parole is a method to see that the prisoner truly has reformed. I hope that is the case, but I am unwilling to risk Cindy’s well-being until she is had at least a couple months in which she has the opportunity to prove she truly has changed, and not just acting for the parole board.”
Uncle George looking at me says, “It is not your choice. However, I can see your concern, and I do know how protective you are. That is reasonable, given the number of criminals who quickly revert to their previous lifestyles. I do not want to separate Sylvia and Cindy and take away the motivation she would have.”
Daniel makes a novel suggestion, “How about visitation, maintain JJ’s foster parentage for a number of months, while continuing to increase the amount of time Cindy spends with her mother. This would give a transition time for Sylvia and Cindy to a custom themselves to each other. They have been a part for a number of years, and Cindy may not remember that much about her mother and her mother definitely is not the same person if she has changed.”
Kara speaks up, “This would allow me time to work with Sylvia, to befriend her, and still maintain contact with Cindy. JJ definitely has earned Cindy’s trust. I do not believe she has ever mentioned carrying stolen goods to anyone else. If her mother does revert back, JJ may be the only person Cindy would tell.”
Looking at Uncle George I say, “Or more likely Kara and Daniel. Although I do not think, she would ever do anything to bring harm to her mother. If we have the six months with her, we have the opportunity to show Cindy how a loving family behaves, and after the visitation period exposes Sylvia to the family as well. Sometimes examples speak louder than any sermon.”
Uncle George looking at us smiles and says, “You all are determined to protect and help Cindy. You will change Sylvia’s life to do that. You would befriend Sylvia just to visit with Cindy, you feel that deep of a connection already?”
Daniel speaks, “The first time I laid eyes on Cindy, I was drawn to her. I remember a girl much like her from school. I remember how many times her having poor clothing resulted in her receiving teasing. How badly I felt for her, and wishing I could change things. I can do that for Cindy. It is a lot more than just that, I feel like her father, I cannot explain that. I know her own father lost his parental rights. I want to remain a part of her life, as much as I possibly can.”
Kara says, “I want to remain a part of her life too. I want to make sure Cindy as well taken care of, whether that is by Sylvia, JJ or possibly by Daniel and myself, is not as important as her well-being.”
Uncle George smiles saying, “You are going to make a great mother Kara, and you are going to be a great father Daniel.”
I look at Uncle George and say, “I feel the same way about them. However, to make this work Sylvia will have to cooperate and the sooner we can talk to her and convince her this is for her benefit and Cindy’s benefit the more I feel she will work together with us.”
Uncle George looks at Kara then me he says, “Could you meet with her tomorrow afternoon. I know that short notice, but next week school starts again right?”
I shake my head yes. Kara says, “It should be good for me too.”
Uncle George replies, “I will make the arrangements in the morning, be ready by 1 o’clock.”
The next day at 1 o’clock finds Kara and me in a visiting room at the state women’s correctional facility. We had completed visitor paperwork, before getting passes and then escorted into a small room. This is the minimum-security prison for the state. We go through a metal detector, and patted down, before allowed into a divided room, a glass wall with a telephone handset separates the room.
Sylvia brought in and seated opposite us. The guard moves back closes a door behind Sylvia sliding a bolt from the outside enclosing Sylvia in her visiting booth. The guard only goes back to the station near the door to this section.
Sylvia and I pick up the phone to begin our conversation. I began, “Good afternoon Sylvia I would like to introduce myself. I am JJ Meyer for the next few months I am Cindy’s foster father. This is my sister-in-law Kara Akins she and her husband Daniel will be your sponsors. If you accept our proposal they are prepared to offer you employment, as part of your parole.”
Sylvia is blinking rapidly and one of her eyes looks strange, it is not wondering it looks slightly droopy. I have seen fighters who have taken a strong blow to the head have similar looks, similar to a concussion. Other than the obvious, Sylvia is an older version of Cindy. The orange prison jumpsuit hides her body well, and no true detail other than the fact that she is not overly heavy is discernible.
I hand the phone to Kara. Kara begins, “It is come to light, that during your criminal activities before your imprisonment that you involved Cindy. That will not be prosecuted at this time, or even brought up to the parole board, but Cindy’s well-being needs addressed. When you start your parole, because of these facts you have limited visitation rights to Cindy that will expand over time. This will allow two things, for Cindy to remain in a stable environment and guarantee that you will not again involved Cindy in any criminal activity. If you do, not only your parole be revoked, it will terminate your visitation rights and parental rights. That is not something we wish to see because it would be devastating to Cindy.”
Kara said that exactly how Uncle George worded it, it is not going to be part of her parole but he will order it if need be. We have paperwork prepared for Sylvia to sign agreeing to that voluntarily. By the agreement, her parental visitation expands much faster than if we had to have it ordered. Is not something we want to begin a fight about, but Cindy’s well-being must be paramount.
I am not sure because Sylvia seems even paler now than when she walked in. It could be the strain of the conversation we are having affecting her. It looks like something worse to me. I try to get the guard’s attention, but it seems to be elsewhere. Sylvia slumps backwards obviously in great distress. Her chest ceases to rise and fall, and I fear I am witnessing her death, from either stroke or heart attack. I begin to slam on the glass, hoping that would bring the guard and emergency help. The guard is oblivious to what is occurring. It has been at least thirty seconds and still Sylvia has not taken a breath. Kara runs to get another guard from our side hopefully to bring emergency help.
Again, I slam on the glass and the guard still is unaware. Now in desperation, I use all my strength and the glass cracks down the center; I pull the halves away as alarm sound. I go across and begin CPR. A guard comes from our side, seeing I am performing CPR he ignores the broken glass and comes across to begin two person CPR. Sylvia had a pulse, but she had stopped breathing.
I inform him, “Possible stroke, I found a pulse but no breathing.” He places his fingers over her carotid artery to monitor her pulse. I give two more breaths. He shakes his head yes, and I began a five count until the next two breaths.
A second guard is calling for emergency aid from the prison clinic, and three more guards rush in obviously one is very high-ranking. Using his key goes through a doorway finding the guard doing something on his iPhone, he slaps him in the back of the head to get his attention. Now his ear buds drop as his face goes white.
Emergency help arrives within a minute. Handcuffed, I give no resistance while walked into the outer waiting area. Kara is upset seeing how I am treated, not realizing I broke down the glass to begin CPR.
Kara began shouting, “Why is he in handcuffs, he did not do anything wrong. Your idiot guard was not paying any attention.”
The guard informed her, “He just broke into prison.”
Kara’s eyes go wide looking at me. Kara asks, “JJ is Sylvia still alive?”
The only thing I can do is shrug my shoulders, and say truthfully, “She stopped breathing. I started CPR until EMTs came and put her on a ventilator, and were monitoring her heart beat the last I seem.”
The high-ranking guard returns looking at me he asks, “How the hell did you do that? You breaking that Plexiglas is supposed to be humanly impossible.”
I shrug my shoulders and ask, “Am I under arrest?”
The guard lieutenant informs me, “We had enough time to look through the surveillance, and it looks like you tried for thirty-five seconds to get the guard’s attention before the young lady left. About twenty seconds after that you broke the divider, and begin CPR. Because you did not try to leave with the prisoner you will not be charged.”
I hand him the handcuffs. “So these are not needed.”
Kara begins giggling at his expression, but become serious very quickly. She looks him in the eye and ask, “What is being done for Sylvia?”
The guard lieutenant says, “She is being prepared for transport to the nearest medical facility capable of handling her condition. Our clinic here is not capable of handling a stroke case. Your friend here saved her life, according to our doctor. She is again breathing on her own, but will require monitoring.”
I ask, “Would it be possible that we are informed of any change to her condition?”
The guard lieutenant asks, “Are you related to Sylvia?”
I informed him, “I am JJ Meyer her daughter’s foster father, and this is my sister-in-law Kara Akins, she will be one of her sponsors.”
He gives me a shake of his head and says, “Before you go the Wharton wishes a word with you.”
He leads us into the administrative offices. They are off a hallway leading away from the waiting room. He knocks on a door, waiting for the reply he says, “If I had not seen the video I would never have believed anyone by themselves could break that barrier.”
A mumbled reply comes through the door in the guard lieutenant opens the door and ushers us in. In front of a large desk, he introduces us to the Wharton. “Sir, this is Mr. Meyer and Mrs. Akins they were involved with the incident involving Sylvia Conn.”
The Wharton is an older gentleman, possibly in his late 50s, judging from the amount of salt and pepper, showing salt more than pepper and the amount of wrinkles on his face. Extending his hand to me he says, “Mr. Meyer you are reputation proceeds you somewhat. When the incident occurred, I took the liberty of researching exactly who you are. You have a very interesting folder young man.”
I give him a firm handshake saying, “Thank you sir, I think.”
He chuckles and motions for Kara and me to set, he asks, “Would you care for anything to drink before I begin the business of debriefing you. Unfortunately it is necessary to get a statement concerning the events that occurred.”
Kara and I both decline with, “Thank you we do not need anything at the moment.”
Kara and I go over the events, I point out the observations I noticed, prior to breaking the barrier. Kara confirms my observations, and again ask to be Up-to-date on Sylvia’s condition. Once our statements are finished, the Wharton releases us; he does inform me that I may be charged for destruction of government property, a misdemeanor requiring that I pay for the damages.
I reply, “Send me the bill for the repairs. I will gladly replace the barrier. No need to involve paying lawyers to recoup the government’s losses.”
The Wharton chuckles, turning to the guard lieutenant he hands him five dollars. The guard lieutenant says, “I knew he was not going to buck on paying the repairs.”
The guard lieutenant walks us out, in the waiting room he says, “We will contact you if there is any change in Sylvia’s condition. By now she is at the hospital, if you give me a few minutes I can see if there is an update.” Kara and I set nervously waiting, when he returns his face is grim and I fear the news is not good. After a deep breath the guard lieutenant says, “They begin the work up as soon as she arrived, it is not a stroke she had. Apparently, it is some sort of tumor. That is all we know so far, but she will be remaining in the hospital for further care.”
Kara is white faced and shaking on hearing the news. With nothing to accomplish here we bid the guard lieutenant goodbye and return to our vehicle for the drive home. Once away from the correctional facility Kara turns to me. She confesses tearfully, “JJ I hate to say this, if Sylvia dies, it will be so easy to adopt Cindy. I never wished for anyone to die, I do not really now. It is just that I want to be Cindy’s Mom so bad.”
Understanding how Kara feels, how her feelings divide over the longing to be Cindy’s mother, and not wanting another human being to die I say with understanding, “Sylvia’s life is out of our hands now, we did save it earlier today. I am sure given the chance you will not allow Sylvia to die.”
Kara through her tears says, “No, I will not. How could I become Cindy’s Mom and not have done everything within my power to save her mother.”
I caution Kara, “There is very little we actually can do Kara. Obviously, the tumor is far along and very dangerous, maybe we can get her better medical care than what she can get otherwise. Other than that there is very little we can do for her.”
After a deep breath Kara says, “I will do that; I will make sure she has the best medical care available. I will be her friend, and do my best to give her hope. No matter how bad the odds are there still a chance. That is what I am going to tell Cindy, that her Mom is sick, but we will do everything we can to help her get well.”
We drive on in silence until we are a mile out of town; Uncle George gives us a call interrupting our thoughts. He begins, “JJ, I heard you did it again. Kara you did the right thing, if the EMT had not got there, let us not think about everything that could have gone wrong. I have an update. Are you where you can listen?”
I pull over at the gas station at the edge of our town, “We are parked at the moment Uncle George.”
George letting out a breath before he begins, “Sylvia was taken to emergency surgery, so far everything is looking good, but she still going to be in surgery for quite a while. She actually has two tumors, one was affecting her vision, and the other is more serious the doctor will do what they can. Once they have a biopsy done know what type of cancer she has. One of the tumors was growing at the base of the brain and into the automatic reflex center of the brain. That is what stopped her breathing. The surgeon believes he can remove enough of it to give her a chance.”
Uncle George takes another ragged breath before we can say anything he continued, “Even with the surgery the doctor feels he is only giving her maybe six more months. I began the paperwork to have her immediately released. I spoke to Ms. Clark, and made her aware of Sylvia’s condition. We both feel it best for JJ and Kathryn to continue their foster parentage. Sylvia is going to need a lot of support, and I plan to do what I can.”
Kara ask, “Has anyone told Cindy yet?”
Uncle George says, “Kara, your Mom and Dad are with Daniel and her. I told your Mom and Dad about everything that is going on. Your Mom and Dad are very proud of you. Daniel is doing the best he can with Cindy. He is going to be a great Dad, but this is beyond anyone.”
Kara looks at me and says, “JJ, we need to get back now. My husband really needs my help, and so does Cindy.”
Getting ready to leave I asked Uncle George, “Would you be coming out tonight, I think it would be a very good time for the family to get together.”
Uncle George says, “I thought you are buying dinner at Bobby’s and Mary’s tonight.”
I reply, “Giving everything that has happened, I would like to discuss with the family either before dinner or right after. Which do you think would be best, that we meet before dinner or all return home to discuss how we can help Sylvia?”
Kara says, “I am paying for the hospitalization, and we will find the best treatment center to give Sylvia the best chance of survival.”
Uncle George says, “Well the only thing we need to discuss then, is how were going to handle Cindy and Sylvia situation. During Sylvia’s treatment and recovery, I do not think it would be a very good idea to have Cindy with her continuously. We will discuss that after dinner.”
I say, “That sounds good. We will be home in a few minutes. Goodbye.”
Uncle George asks, “7 o’clock good for dinner?”
I reply, “Bobby and Mary can have all thirty of us sure.”
Uncle George chuckles, “The way this group is growing, they are going to have to put a separate dining room in just for us. Goodbye.” Uncle George ended the call as I began driving through town.
Once on our local road, I speed up to just above the speed limit, very seldom is there a police officer on our road. I cover the normal fifteen minute trip and under twelve minutes. I drive straight to my house, at this distance I know exactly where Kathryn is, she is currently in the family room and judging from her emotional state with Cindy. I can feel her longing to help and to comfort Cindy.
I take Kara down to the family room where we found the entire family except for Uncle George. Uncle George was at his office at the courthouse, he could better coordinate Sylvia’s release from his office there.
Kara runs straight to Daniel and Cindy, Daniel is doing his best to console Cindy, but they are times when a child needs a mother. For Cindy this is one of those times. Cindy goes into Kara’s embrace crying into her shoulder. Kara gently caresses Cindy and speaks in a voice so full of love and compassion you could only describe it as the voice of an angel, “Cindy everything will be okay. It may not look like that right now. Your Mom is very sick, and the doctors are doing everything they can. I will make sure your Mom has the best doctors. Everything will be all right.”
Cindy cries herself to sleep in Kara’s embrace, sometimes I wish I could forget things like this, but I have learned you need to look at them not as the negative but the positive. Cindy’s mother nearly died, but she lives and where there is life, there is hope. Cindy may be losing one mother, Kara may be losing a possible friend, but they gain each other.
My arms wrap around Kathryn and she turns into my embrace. I do what I can to comfort my love. Kathryn has great empathy for Kara’s pain and Cindy’s pain. Sam holds to Crystal and Kathryn and I open our arms to our daughters. They both have suffered the pain of losing parents, Sam has grieved for her parents but Crystal has yet to grieve. Crystal have been clutching to her teddy bear, but with Kathryn and myself, the bear falls forgotten as she clings to me. Crystal is crying just as hard as I have ever seen her. I know what Cindy is going through has brought forth Crystal’s pain; she had depressed the pain, which had found its way to the surface and erupted in a shower of tears.
Sam rubs Crystal’s back and says, “It is okay, you can miss your Angel Daddy and Mommy.”
In a gentle voice I say, “Crystal, you do not have to stop loving them to love us. You never have to stop loving your Angel Mommy and Daddy. I never want you to stop loving them. I never stop loving my Angel Daddy.”
Kathryn in a voice just like her sisters says, “We are never going to stop loving you because you still love them. I love you Crystal. That is something I will not change, that is something I will not give up, even if you stop loving me.”
Crystal draws a deep breath through tear-filled eyes she looks at Kathryn. Crystal understanding Kathryn’s words looks into her eyes and says, “Mommy I will never stop loving you too.”
We take Kara and Cindy to Cindy’s bedroom, Cindy is so emotionally exhausted she does not wake as Daniel and Kara lay down with her on her full-size bed. The two adults are on either side with their arms across Cindy.
As we left Crystal asks, “Daddy are you jealous of my Angel Daddy?”
With a smile I answer, “No my beautiful Princess, I get to be with you now. Maybe your Angel Daddy is a little jealous because I get to hold you. He gets to watch you every second of every day. Which I think is really cool; because that is something I do not get to do.”
Sam asks in a whisper, “Daddy, it is okay that I love Grandpa Charles and Grandma Jane?”
Answering Sam quietly, “Yes my Princess it is okay.” I am uncertain why Sam would ask that other than for Crystal’s benefit. She did call them grandpa and grandma prior to her leaving for Oregon, and her now deceased grandmother. Sam gives me a smile, and then she hugs me tight.
Crystal asks, “If it is okay for Sam to love Grandpa Charles, Grandma Jane and Grandpa Mike can I love them too?”
I get Sam a pat on the back, knowing she was sharing with her sister what she already knew. I say, “Yes Crystal, they are family and it is okay for you to love anyone, and everyone in the family.”
Crystal responds, “Good, because if Sam loves them I am sure I will too.”
Sam giggles and pulls Crystal up into a hug as she says, “Crystal, I love having you as a sister.”
Crystal giggles in Sam’s embrace and then responds, “Sam, I love having you as a sister too.”
Kathryn yawns, “I think it is time for my nap, could I get my two girls to keep me warm.”
The two girls giggle and say simultaneously, “Yes Mommy.” The three giggle as they go upstairs.
With what has occurred so far today I need to burn off some nervous energy, so I decide it is time to learn how to ride the bike I got today, it is in the back of the SUV and Kara was nice enough not to complain when I asked for us to leave early. I scanned through an online lesson on bike riding hopefully it will help. I am wearing blue jeans and medium heavy shirt; it should not be too warm for what I plan on doing. I really need to do this, if I do not know how. How am I expected to teach the girls?
It is a lot harder to do than what it made it sound on the Internet, after a little while I can hear Kathryn giggling in my head as I fall off the bicycle for the fifth time. After dusting myself off, I get up and on the bicycle once again. This time Kathryn gives me pointers, which make more sense to me than anything that I read. This time I do not fall, and bicycling is fun, when you are not hitting the ground.
This time I make it to the end of the driveway them back using the large area at the end of our road, the same type of structure found at the end of a cul-de-sac where a vehicle can turn around easily. Although our driveway is nice, long paved, and as smooth as a road is it does not have that wide area at the end of it. When I turned the will sharply on the bicycle to make the turn at the end of our drive I get another big lesson in bike riding. My forward motion stops, but my body’s momentum carries me on over the handlebars. Fortunately, I know exactly how to land on my ass, and the ground is soft enough, unhurt other than my pride I pick myself up for the sixth time.
Kathryn’s laughter rings in my ears this time, and I look over my shoulder to find her standing in front of the garage along with my Mother, the Coach, Ron, Reese and Charles. Still through her laughter Kathryn says, “The only thing he injured is his pride.”
Charles chuckles, “That is the best wipeout I have seen in a long time. Jim had a few like that.”
The Coach says, “Do not laugh too hard Kathryn, remember I saw you launch yourself over your handlebars too. You just did not land as gracefully as JJ.” Kathryn sticks her tongue out at her Daddy, to chuckles from the other family members.
Kathryn says, “Oh, Daddy do not tell him that.”
Ron says, “You are just learning, it is nice to know there is some things you are not perfect at yet. Hang in there JJ you are getting it.”
The Coach reminds his daughter, “Kathryn it took you nearly a week to learn to ride and you had your brothers helping you.”
Kathryn interjects, “You think they were helping me, they were seeing how many times I would trust them, and how bad of a wreck I could survive.”
The Coach chuckles, “It only look like that from your perspective. I was watching and they were not doing that bad.”
I sense Kathryn’s anger I know it is not good for a blood pressure and Amanda. I come over and take Kathryn in my arms; looking into her eyes, they are brown. I ask, “Do you want me to beat up your brothers, they have been training so it might take a little more effort this time.”
Kathryn giggles, and her eyes begin the change shades. I speed the process by giving her a long kiss. By the time we break, her eyes are again bright emerald green. Smiling I say, “There is my green eyed wife.” She wrinkles her nose at me, but the sparkle does not leave her eyes.
The Coach pulls me away from my wife saying, “Let us look at the bike you got. That is a nice dirt bike, not the best for pavement but it should be good enough. Looks like a pretty good bike to learn on, it’s a little more rugged than most adult bikes.”
Charles comes over, between him and the Coach I am getting many years of bicycling experience explained to me. Everything from the basics to maintenance, the coach probably has enough use bicycles for all the kids if I had asked. After adjusting the air pressure, I had to little I find it easier to peddle and control the bike. The Coach and Charles take a couple of his use bikes and join me, our road is very quiet with mostly the traffic from our family at the end, and there is only maybe a dozen more families between town and us.
I hope that by the time the girls wake up from their nap if the weather holds I will have enough experience to at least, help them begin to ride. With the Coach and Charles’, help they correct a few areas that my inexperience nearly has me falling again. Before we realize it where at the edge of town and turn to ride back home. Half hour later finds me again pulling into the driveway, I know there is a lot to bicycling that I am still not aware of, but with constant pointers from Charles and the Coach, I am feeling a lot more confident.
Just like, I had guessed all the children are in the driveway, jeans and long-sleeved shirts along with all the safety gear adorn them. Alyssa, Daniel, Marshall, Misty, Helen, Mom and Kathryn along with Jane, MC, Michelle, Kara, and Karen all lined the driveway. I am little uncertain if they want a repeat performance of my bicycle lunch ability, or they are just checking to see if I am still alive on my return. I stop in front of Kathryn and lean over to give her a kiss. I put my foot down the catch myself before I fall, and there is giggles from the children.
After I am stable Kathryn leads in and gives me a kiss, and the girls giggle more. The coach says, “JJ should be good enough now to help you guys as long as we are here.” Of course, he means himself and Charles.
Daniel helps Cindy, which I am glad to see. The Coach takes Crystal, Charles takes Anna, and I am with Sam, Marshall helps Allen, and MC is with Rosy as we help them onto their bikes. Their training wheels help keep them upright. We begin to move them down the driveway remaining beside them as they begin to peddle. We keep spaced apart because we do not want one accident becoming three. After a few trips, the girls find their balance easier than I did, to cheers from their mothers and aunts. It is not long before where only running along beside them as they move on their own. Sam notices that I no longer got a hold on to her bike; she nearly topples herself in her excitement. After that, she realizes she has control over her bike. A wide smile is on her face as she pedals past her Mom shouting, “Look at me Mommy.”
Kathryn shouts back, “Yay Sam!”
Crystal is riding by next, in her excitement she shouts, “Mommy you see, I am doing it!”
Kathryn shouts back, “Yay Crystal!”
We make one more trip before we have the girls stop mainly because the three of us are wended, having to sprint beside the girls. We give them hugs, and the kids return are hugs, before long Crystal practically tackles Sam and me. That seems to start a chain reaction, and all the kids tackle me, someone starts tickling me, I believe Sam. Here six children between the ages of six and three cover me, and two or three of them begin to tickle and there is not much I can do other than lay there and laughed my head off.
Finally, Kathryn comes to my rescue. She had noticed what was happening and waited until I could not take it any longer. Her in the other mothers come and collect their children. Thankfully, that ends our outdoor activities for the day.
No sooner than we have gotten inside that Uncle George gives us a call, Sylvia has survived her surgery and expected to do well. He said the surgically marked, “It is not often of ever felt like this, but I swear someone was guiding my hand as I operated. I believe I got at least ninety percent of the cancer. Sylvia should do well. The cancer though is a very fast growing variety of it. I fear the ten percent that is left if left untreated will still kill her within a year.”
Uncle George remarks, “Sylvia’s health condition came on very quickly, I spoke to her myself only a month ago. She seemed normal, and very happy that her parole would begin shortly so she could be again with her daughter. She remarked there so many things she needed to make up for, and hoped it was not too late.”
Now I see the situation with a little more understanding. Sylvia truly has changed for the better. I hope that we can help her survive to fulfill her wish. In that endeavor, possibly befriend her at the same time. Add her into the family circle that seems to grow by the month now.
At dinner that night, Cindy is in a good mood, possibly the best sense she came to us. She sets with Daniel and Kara near Uncle George, Alyssa, Alan and Anna. Crystal is on my lap, Sam sets with Kathryn, Charles is on my other side, with his wife Jane and Jim his son. Jim watches Bobby’s youngest daughter who is a server intensively. I have noticed she bumps into him several times, or allow her hand to rub across his shoulder. You can almost see is heartbeat faster when she does.
After dinner, Bobby asks me about Jim, and I explain how he is Charles’ son, and their family connection to Sam, Ron and Reese. We call Charles over, after I introduce the two fathers, it does not take them long to begin plotting their children’s future. I guess it has something to do with being a parent. Thousands of years, fathers have arranged marriages for the children, and some things do not change quickly. Given their ages, Jim will be sixteen shortly and Bobby’s youngest daughter Deborah, called Debs just turned fourteen and the fact they are attracted to each other. The fathers agree that they should see each other but in a controlled manner. Neither father wants to see a teen pregnancy and all the problems from that. Jim offered a job that he really cannot refuse although I highly doubt he would. He is going to get the work at Bobby and Mary’s restaurant, which will allow him to see Debs the object of his desires.
Charles calls Jim to meet Bobby, after given the opportunity to work here Jim’s eyes light up as Debs blows him a kiss, the two fathers chuckle at their two children. Jim agrees to the job, something I knew he would do. He will work here after school, and Charles will come and pick him up at the end of his shift. Bobby tells him, if you treat my daughter right, you may get a break with her occasionally.
Jim can hardly wait to tell her, and when she come by Jim says, “Guess what, your Dad gave me a job.”
Debs giggles, “That is just because he wants to get to know you, do not expect it to be an easy job.”
Jim seriously says, “I do not mind working hard. If I get to see you, I would do it without getting paid.”
Debs giggles again, “You better not let Dad know that, you will need the money to take me out when we can go.”
I do not think anything is holding Jim down now, as he seems the float above his chair throughout the rest of dinner. When dinner is over, Bobby comes and grabs Jim telling him it is time to start work, Jim comes back wearing an apron and caring a container for the dirty dishes. Jim will bus tables and be the assistant dishwasher. Not an easy job by any means. Charles chuckles telling his son, “I will be back at the end of your shift.”
That was how our year began, it did settle down the next week into somewhat of a routine. Kara and I did take an afternoon off from school, the day Sylvia was released we took Cindy to meet her mother at the hospital. We had discussed with Cindy beforehand, how important that she can be to her mother’s recovery. How that really started during her time in jail, that once she was off drugs she realize what she has lost, that her mother truly loved her. Cindy was still little nervous it had been a little over two years since the two of them have been together. Cindy’s mother was a different person. Sylvia had tears of joy at seeing Cindy. It did not take the two very long to reconnect, that was bittersweet for Kara. Kara always wants the best for Cindy even that was to be with Sylvia.
Cindy had not lost her love for her mother, but also she still held the warm affections she had for Daniel and Kara. When she was alone with Daniel and Kara she would referred to them as Mama Kara and Daddy Daniel. Sometimes I think that made it tougher for Kara, but Kara did befriend Sylvia, which strangely made it easier for Kara. After Sylvia’s surgery, she did improve rapidly for some time, but we did not hesitate in finding a treatment center for Sylvia. Time was Sylvia’s enemy with the type of cancer Sylvia had, and we knew any hesitation might prove fatal for Sylvia.
Kara maintained her stance on her decision to help Sylvia. She had come to the realization that to fail at helping Sylvia was to fail at helping Cindy. Kara doing everything possible to help in Sylvia’s recovery, a furnished apartment for Sylvia and Cindy, although Sylvia did agree to the visitation, due to the circumstance we made it as liberal as possible. Cindy spent as much time with her mother as her mother’s recovery would allow.
Cindy seemed to have a recovery of her own, with the love of her mother and Kara. Cindy immediately did better in school. Stood up to her tormentors and insist that they apologize not only to her, but to the other children they had teased. Cindy shared with the bullies the video clip of Sam tossing me, explained that that Sam was her cousin. That Sam’s sensei had promised to teach her how to do the same. Saying it was only a matter of time before she was as good. Of course, when I picked Cindy up she introduced Sam to a few individuals whose faces turn white.
On the way home I ask, “Cindy what was that about?”
The girls giggle, then Cindy says, “I just put the fear of Sam in the bullies. I am making them behave like you do Uncle JJ.”
I glanced in the rearview mirror before I say, “You know I do not ever really hurt anyone, and I will not allow Sam to hurt someone.”
Cindy says, “I found out something uncle JJ, bullies act that way most of the time because they are scared. If you scare them even more they back down, sometimes all you have to do is stand up to them.”
I reply, “That is true, but sometimes them being scared makes them act out. Be very careful when you deal with them. Remember my rules, first avoid the trouble, second get away from trouble, then when all else fails stand up for yourself.”
Sam points out, “Daddy that is not what you do all the time.”
I say, “I do except when it comes to protecting others, if trouble comes looking for someone and they cannot avoid it, or get away from it, I will stand up for them if they cannot stand up for themselves.”
Sam asks, “Daddy, if the bullies keep bothering Cindy does that mean I can stand up for her?”
I give my answer, “Sam if all else failed you could, but before that Cindy’s teacher should stop the bullying, the bullies parents should discipline the children to stop the bullying, the school should separate the bullies from the school. You see there is many things that should happen before you should ever need to help Cindy defend herself.”
Cindy says, “Uncle JJ my teachers never stop the bullies before, you think it was because they thought I deserved it?”
What Cindy said upset me. The way I look at it, no teacher should ever demean a child; the child is not the parent. The child is blameless for whatever the parent does or has not done. No teacher should ever demean a child because of the lack of quality clothing. The fact that child’s parent is in prison, or a saint should have nothing to do with how that teacher behaves toward that child. Each child deserves treated like the individual they are, their actions and behavior should be the only deciding factor in that child’s treatment.
To answer Cindy’s question I say, “Cindy if a teacher treats a child poorly because of anything other than the child’s actions, then the teacher is wrong. If a teacher fails to protect a child against bullies, the teacher is wrong. If the teacher does not listen to the other children who speak against the bullying that teacher is wrong. Teachers are human too, and they can be wrong. If the teacher is doing the wrong thing speak to the principal, and always speak to me, your mother or another adult responsible for you. They are there to protect you, not Sam.”
Cindy smiles, then says, “I bet you and Daddy Daniel would be down at the school in a heartbeat if a teacher did something wrong to me.”
I glance in the rearview mirror at Cindy and give her a smile. I say, “Damn right we will be there. We will not see you treated that way.” Cindy and Sam smile brightly at me, I have debated about putting Cindy in homeschooling like Sam, but because that would alter her environment, I thought it best to maintain Cindy’s normal environment.
Sam although younger, has finished the subjects Cindy currently takes in school. On more than one occasion, I have noticed Sam assisting Cindy with her schoolwork. Sam caught on quick when I explained to her the difference between helping Cindy understand something, or just doing the work for her and Cindy not actually learning anything. Sam agrees that helping Cindy understand is more important than Cindy’s grades.
When we arrive home, Ms. Clark is there waiting for us or she had just arrived I am uncertain to which. It being a cold day and not good for bike riding, I let the girls go swimming as long as one of their aunts is at the pool. Speaking with Ms. Clark as we said in the family room with Kathryn, a month has passed since Crystal and Cindy had come to live with us. I thought it is just a normal visit from Ms. Clark to check on the girls. As Ms. Clark begins to speak, I realize it is something quite different.
Ms. Clark begins, “JJ and Kathryn because you’re adopting Crystal there are the matter of Crystal’s estate. Crystal’s parents died without a will, and no executor. As you know, Crystal has no living family. Her parents’ deaths left several debts outstanding. The judge in Cindy’s adoption is requesting that you become Crystal’s executor. One of the most pressing is Cindy’s previous home. No one was available to secure the residence, and it has been standing abandon since the day of the accident. Unfortunately, the mortgage payment is past due, and we found out that it had been prior to their death. The bank is foreclosing on Cindy’s previous home, you only have a few days to work with the bank and remove any items from Cindy’s home.”
Ms. Clark hands us the paperwork, Kathryn and I do not hesitate to sign the paperwork. We both would do anything for Crystal, even though this may prove to be unpleasant and painful it needs performed.
Ms. Clark takes to signed paperwork back to the judge in Crystal’s case. She leaves us, the thick folder containing several delinquent bills, and notices of disconnection for the utilities at Crystal’s previous home.
We make several phone calls before the evening is over, several will have to wait until the next day. We did manage to get a hold of the bank holding the mortgage, and arrange for a meeting the next afternoon. We will pay off the mortgage and have the bank give us a key to the home. We want to retrieve any personal items remaining in the home. As I understand it, only a sheriff’s deputy has been in the home to retrieve Crystal’s clothing.
Crystal’s former home is in the town next to us, it still is in the county but nearly thirty miles away. The bank holding the mortgage has a branch in our town, but they do not possess the key and we will have to take a trip to Crystal’s hometown. I make the necessary arrangements for myself to be away during afternoon classes. The Coach, will take over in my absence, although it more or less gives the girls a day off from their training.
Kathryn and I call Crystal to us. We explain what will happen tomorrow and ask if she would like to accompany us to her previous home. I remember how painful this was for Sam, and how much fear it caused her. We are determined not to make that mistake again. We can arrange for Mom to stay with Crystal if she truly does not want to go, but it probably would be best if she did come with us.
Crystal does not seem upset by the prospect of returning to her former home. She does ask, “Can I get all my toys?”
With the squeeze from Kathryn’s hand, I reply, “Anything you want from your old house, it all belongs to you now.” Crystal smiles obviously not upset. I ask, “Crystal you are okay with going back to your house, it was not really good for Sam.”
Crystal explains, “Sam told me about that, she said were just going for pictures and things. That I will not be staying there, this is my home now. You never going to not be my Mommy and Daddy.”
She gives us a hug, and ask, “If I get sad there...”
I interrupter, “We will be with you, if you get sad that is okay. If you need to cry, we are there for you. We understand, and we love you.”
The trip to Crystal’s house the next day was not very bad. I brought a U-Haul trailer behind my SUV. Where the power was off it was rather cold, and Crystal and Sam stayed in their coats. The fridge would definitely need cleaned out after this long the food was rotten. Several things needed removed from the home. I found their mail, and Crystal’s father received unemployment checks for the past two months.
In the living room, was a dead Christmas tree, nearly all the needles had fallen onto the gifts below the tree. Crystal did seem sad looking at the tree, which definitely would be normal. I really hope that Christmas time is not sad for Crystal I do not want the two memories tied together.
I am going to do my best to separate the memory of the accident from Christmas for Crystal. I say, “Crystal you know the accident had nothing to do with Christmas. It just like most accidents happened. They are never at a good time.”
Crystal turns to me and buries her head against me, she begins to cry and I do my best to comfort my daughter. Kathryn wraps us in a hug too, and then Sam joins us. We are all holding Crystal tightly not so tight that we would suffocate her. After about ten minutes, Crystal looks at me. Crystal says, “I feel better now, Daddy. Thank you for being my Daddy. I love you.”
She turns to Kathryn and says, “Thank you for being my Mommy, I love you Mommy.”
She turns to Sam. Sam being the impatient one says, “I love you sister.”
Crystal actually giggles before she says, “I love you too sister.”
Kathryn and I say simultaneously, “We love you daughters.”
It takes a couple more hours to finish cleaning up and packing away toys, pictures and a few other personal items. Still left is unopened presents under the Christmas tree. Brushing the pine needles aside I read the tag, it is for Crystal. I hand it to her and say, “Your Angel Mommy and Daddy bought this for you. They wanted you to have it you should open your present.”
Crystal’s eyes show no joy, but she does understand my meaning. Instead of opening the present she sets it aside for a moment slides under the tree and finds two presents, she hands one to Kathryn and the other to me. Crystal explains, “I got those for my Mommy and Daddy. You are my Mommy and Daddy now so you should have them.”
Sam prompts us, “Go ahead, open the presents. I want to see what you got.”
Crystal begins first ripping at her package. Once it is open, a bright smile covers her face. She looks up and says, “This is something I really wanted. Thank you Angel Mommy and Daddy.” There are another two packages under the tree; they are from each of Crystal’s parents to each other. I really do not feel that we should open them, but Crystal wants us to. The packages contain, I hand woven sweater made by Crystal’s mother, and a birdhouse made by Crystal’s father.
Kathryn and I both had tears in our eyes, realizing the only store-bought gift was Crystal’s present, with no money Crystal’s parents did the only thing that could, they use their time for their present to each other. Kathryn says, “I absolutely love it, thank you Crystal and thank you Crystal’s Angel Daddy.”
Seeing Crystal’s bright smile I slide my coat and my shirt off, now in just my T-shirt I slide the sweater on that fits remarkably well. Looking Crystal in her beautiful brown eyes I say, “I think this is the best sweater I have. Thank you Crystal and thank you Crystal’s Angel Mommy.”
Crystal, Sam Kathryn and I enjoy a long hug before we leave Crystal’s former home for the last time.