“Hey, pawpaw, watcha doin’?” I heard him yell from the front porch of my parents’ house. It had been a while since I had taken him here, but this is where he needed to be right now. Brad, my husband, had been steadily gettin’ worse and the doctors said that I should take Jake somewhere where he could forget and where I could regroup. We had just set up the house for hospice care and the stink of death was everywhere. Horrible thing to say about the love of my life, but that’s where we were, a horrible place.
He jumped down the three short steps and barreled full speed ahead for my dad. I sat down on the top step and watched a while as he gently patted my son’s cotton top head. My dad’s scrawny six foot frame towering over his five year old body.
“I’m goin’ fishin. Wanna come?”
From where I was sittin’ I could see the smile that crossed my son’s face.
“You betcha!” He yelled.
“Come on, then. Gotta keep it down a bit. You might scare the fish away if’n you’re too loud.”
“’Kay,” he said slightly quieter as they headed off.
I smiled. Fishin’ with my dad was the best thing for Jake right now. It wouldn’t be too much longer, and he’d be the only man in his life. It was best that he spent time gettin’ to know him now. A tear threatened to pull from my eye, but I didn’t want to do that now. Today I refused to cry.
I heard the screen door squeal open, before I saw her sit beside me. I smelt her perfume on her neck as she leaned in to give me a big ole hug. I could get lost here in my mama’s arms.
“So, you decided to take me up on my offer?” she said smilin’. “It’s about time; a person’s gotta eat.”
I patted her agin’ hand, “We eat, mama.”
She squeezed my fingers, “Well, it ain’t my cookin’.”
I smiled. No it weren’t her cookin’. It was barely fit to eat. Fast food was exactly that, fast enough to fill a belly but not slow enough to last. Just the thought of another burger with fries was enough to make me run for the hills. No, not tonight; tonight I would sit awhile and enjoy the fat and calories that filled my mama’s food.
“So, where’s my boy?” She asked looking across the pasture.
“Gone fishin’ with dad.” I said stretchin’ my neck to see the pond from where I sat.
“It’ll be good for him.” She said standin’ up to see.
I stood beside her, “Jake needs some time with him.”
“I guess it’ll be good for the two of ‘em.” I threatened to cry again rememberin’ the times that dad and Brad had spent fishin’ and talkin’ about God. I could almost see the way the sun shone down on father and make-shift son, sharin’ the only two things they really had in common.
“So, how long you think it’ll be now?” she asked treadin’ lightly on an open sore.
“May be days or hours; it’s a waitin’ game now.” I said, sittin’ back down, the weight of truth wearin’ me out.
“Well, I’m glad you came,” she said sittin’ back down beside me and wrappin’ me up in her sweet smellin’ embrace.
I just sat there and for the first time in a long time, allowed myself to get lost in this world. A world where the smell of good food cookin’ was waftin’ through the screen door, a world where the birds still sung and crickets still chirped, and a world where my son could find some comfort with his Pawpaw at the fishin’ pond.
“Sorry, I didn’t come sooner,” I apologized, feeling unworthy of this gift.
“We figured you’d come when you could,” she said as she gently stroked my hair.
I looked across the pasture as I saw my dad and son resurface.
“What’s wrong?” I asked thinkin’ they hadn’t been gone near enough.
“Fish ain’t bitin’,” Jake grumbled.
“Well, then, you’ll have to come back tomorrow, and we’ll try it agin,” dad said placin’ his big hand on Jakes soft head.
“Can we, mom? Can we come back tomorrow?”
Tomorrow seemed a lifetime a way and a lot could happen between now and then, but in faith I answered, “You betcha. Tomorrow.”
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