Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: fathers (06/06/05)
By Joanne Malley
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I remember one day bein’ outside when I was ‘round twelve. I be leanin’ against the porch column wit’ my eyes reachin’ for the sky. Ain’t nothin’ like bein’ alone sometimes wit’ my head in them clouds—just me and what I be thinkin’.
The weather was real warm—musta been sometime in June or somethin’ ‘cause my armpits be wet, and them bees were swarmin’ ‘round those honeysuckles.
Sometimes, though, what I be thinkin’ hurt real bad. But, gettin’ lost in a sky that looked like one of them water-colored paintin’s sure helped my sad memories fade away along wit’ them clouds that rolled by.
While I stood there waitin’ and waitin’, I be fiddlin’ wit’ Benny’s keys, throwin’ them high and playin’ catch. Benny was my Foster father at the time. I was waitin’ for him and my Foster mom, Bibi, to take me somewhere special. It was a s’prise.
Wit’ my head still in them clouds, I daydreamed, just like I did when I was little. My real daddy taught me to do so (he didn’t know it, though) every time he beat me ‘til I was spotted like the color of eggplant. Bleedin’, bruised and broken hearted, I’d run to my room and dream of mama or somethin’ happy. She died when I was seven. She was special.
My dog, Wags, would be in my room, cowerin’ in the corner, ‘fraid for his self. Whenever I come in cryin’, he licked my hurtin’ limbs. ‘Least he loved me. He helped to take mama’s place.
Then, some real nice lady…she come to our house and took me ‘an Wags away. I never did see daddy again.
Since I was nine, I been blessed. Benny and Bibi…they were real good foster parents. Benny would sometimes come in my room late at night an’ add a blanket to my bed when it be cold. Then, he’d kiss my forehead ‘an push a few strands of hair ‘way from my face. He’d make me cry happy tears, but I didn’t let him see, ‘cause my real father would hit me when I did. I ain’t never knew dads did good stuff like that ‘til I went an’ lived wit’ Benny.
He told me I was special ‘cause he chose to have me be part of his life. I really liked when we be together in the workshop makin’ and fixin’ stuff. Many times he gave me big hugs an’ told me I was the smartest kid he ever knew. He even said he wished I be his.
However, while I lived wit’ them, I be feelin’ like a mismatched puzzle piece that didn’t really quite fit nowhere. I often wondered if their home was ever gonna be mine for keeps.
How I prayed it would.
Little did I know that day waitin’ on the porch, they was takin’ me to them fancy lawyers to make me theirs. Bibi sure wasn’t my mama, but she was real nice. That day was the first time I heard the word “son” said with warmth in a man’s voice. From that day on, I had me a real father.
I let Benny see that time ‘cause I knew he’d never hurt me.
My life whizzed by since then. Benny and Bibi…they be long gone now. They took Jesus wit’ them in their hearts but also left Him here wit’ me. They left me pieces of them too. God knew what He was doin’ wit’ my life, even if I hurt real bad long ago.
Today’s warm…Father’s Day—just like that beautiful June day long ago. Except I ain’t leanin’ against no porch column waitin’ for Benny and Bibi this time. I be waitin’ near my favorite shady willow tree in my chair for my grown children and grandbabies to come see me an’ share the same love I did with Benny.
Now, when I stretch my eyes toward the sky and stick my head in them clouds, I be thinkin’ ‘bout stuff that don’t hurt no more. Benny replaced them bad memories for me. And, I be rememberin’ him on this day ‘cause he was somethin’ special.
Benny turned me into a puzzle piece that finally fit and gave me love and security. He also helped turn me into a father by watchin’ him all those years.
Me—I be gettin’ old now and happy where my life went.
And, Benny—he be waitin’ for me this time.
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