Mom was in a sleepy fog on the couch when I approached. "Mom" I shook her limp shoulder. "Is it true what big sister said?" Her eyes blinked open. "Was I born a mistake?"
She cleared her throat. "Son. What do you want me to say? Your father was a looser, and we wrestled too long in the night. But you were the prize. That make ya feel any better?"
"SO, I was a good mistake?"
"Yeah. Yeah, that's it.' She put the pillow over her head. "Now let me sleep, before you start to look like your father."
It felt like one of those fermented kisses from grandma. I could have done without the whole moment. But I got the message. I was what they called an OOPS CHILD.
It wasn't just a broken home I came from. Life was boring in the summer. So at the tender age of eleven I had become a "Peeping Tom." I didn't think it was a crime. I only wanted to see what real families did. I imagined living in their homes.
One day I snuck through the woods and found Susie Taylor's house at the end of the road. Her Mom and Dad were busy in the parlor listening to an old 45 record. Chubby Checker was singing, "let's do the twist. Come on baby, let's do the twist!" I spied from their maple tree as they dipped down low and came back up swaying those hips.
Suddenly Susie Taylor showed up at the corner of the house. I dropped my eyes and pretended to look for arrowheads. It was too late to run, if I did, she knew where I lived. I was sweating like hot butter, as her shadow came over me. When I had to look up she just smiled until her freckles disappeared.
She had eyes like blue diamonds, and her hair so dark it had a tinge of blue. She had her fingers in the loops of her bleached jeans, and kept getting closer. My heart raced. It felt like a thousand floating needles pricking the inside of my stomach.
"Oh, I was lookin for something." I said.
"Don't be silly, you're as bored as me."
"I guess so?"
"You like climbin trees Ricky?"
"This maple is my favorite. It's fat and the limbs start low. I can climb real high, and then put my back to the sky!"
When I started to slip she held me, and it felt like a soft electrical charge. She was the best tree climber I knew.
She started painting the sky with her finger. "The clouds look like cotton candy. Isn't it all just perfect!"
"What about all the mistakes in this world Susie?"
"My dad said, God don't make no mistakes, just people do."
I looked down at the branch I was leaning against where she had carved an empty cross.
"Jesus came to fix everything," she said, "and he's comin back. You ought to ask your folks if you can go to church with me?
In church I learned Jesus was no OOPS. I accepted Jesus in my heart. Together her and I went to church. We climbed hills and trees. We built forts in the tall weeds, and sometimes dreamed of what we might be. But one day the Taylor's moved away. So I carved on her tree a heart with our names in it. I never told her I loved her.
The last summer before I left for college I had one of those clammy conversations with my mother. "Listen here boy, keep your nose to the books, life aint no fairytale."
"Gee thanks mom." I kissed her on the cheek, and left down the road.
As I passed the vacant Taylor house I had a mind to freshen my carving with a penknife. When I got around the corner, I saw a lovely young woman climbing the tree. As I approached I had to get my eyes past the sparkling yellow leaves dancing in the sun. But it was true. It was Susie Taylor!
She turned as if she expected me. She made the sign of heart to her chest, with an arrow through it. I ran until she fell into my arms!
Nearly everyday we tell our children, dream big dreams, and when you dream, dream in color. We tell them for sure, God has a purpose. Amen.
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