Carin was glad that it was Friday. It had been a long week. Maybe she’d be able to catch up on the house work this week end. Those leaves piling up under that huge tree out back needed raking, too.
She heard Joey come in the front door. “Hi Mama, I’m home. I’m hungry.” He zipped by her, thumping up the stairs, stray leaves flying behind him.
“Joey!” Too late. He was already half-way up the stairs. She set pumpkin spice cookies and apple juice at his place on the table. Joey bounded down the steps, skipping the last three with a leap. He slid into his spot at the table like it was home base with a runner on third.
Carin wiped up the slopped juice around his glass with a napkin. “Joey, I’m going to need your help tomorrow, raking leaves.”
“All right!” he cheered. “Mom, I wanna have a hayride with the leaves and my old wagon.” It sounded like a serious business proposal.
Carin groaned inwardly. She had so much to do, all the time. Being a single Mom was so much work. She prayed: “Lord, can You just help us to get the chores done and have some peace and quiet this weekend?”
Saturday morning dawned all sunshine and singing meadowlarks. Joey bounded out of bed, when he heard the neighbors dog, Brutus barking at 6 am.
Crabby Jack, Carin’s next door neighbor, had rescued Brutus from the pound a year ago; Carin hadn’t slept past 6 since then.
“Hey Mom, I found the rake! I’m gonna make my hayride now!” Joey’s voice came through her open bedroom window like a loudspeaker.
Looking out the window, Carin saw Joey industrially raking away. Good, this would buy her some time to vacuum and get the laundry started.
She went into the back yard an hour later to check on his progress. His wagon was brimming with fall color.
“O.K., Mom, now pull me around the yard, will ya?” Joey looked at her excitedly.
Carin hadn’t realized this was going to involve pulling her son around the yard. She felt the energy draining out of her after one lap.
“Yee Haw! Giddy-up, Mom!” Joey was having a blast. She hated to say it, but she was all in.
“Buddy, I’m sorry, but I just can’t do this anymore,” she panted.
“Aww, but I worked so hard, Mom.” Joey was visibly disappointed.
“Hey, Mom, look, Crabby Jack’s comin’ this way!” He’d said it too loud. Carin was sure Jack had heard the “Crabby” moniker she’d dubbed him with. She silently scolded herself for using the disrespectful nickname to her son.
“Hi Carin. That’s a nice wagon ride Joey’s got set-up there.” Old Jack had barely spoken to them since his wife, Gracie had passed away almost two years previously.
“Hello, Jack. Yes, he’s quite the innovator. I’m afraid I can’t be his horse anymore, though. It’s just too much work.”
Jack surprised them both with the purpose of his sudden visit. “Well, I’ve been training Brutus now the whole past year. It turns out he’s a champion weight puller. He loves the competitions. He has a special harness. I think I could hook it up to Joey’s wagon.
Carin smiled as she watched old Jack lead the dog pulling Joey in his “hayride.” Jack was lavishly praising Brutus for his efforts.
She’d been wrong about old Jack. He wasn’t crabby at all. He’d been grieving. Maybe Carin and Joey could be an answer to prayer, just as much as Jack and Brutus’ respite had been for her.
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