Malinda watched her father pace the living room as he talked on the phone. She was trying to keep an ear on his conversation and an eye on her four-year-old daughter, Leah. They had arrived an hour earlier after learning he had fallen on black ice yesterday morning. A smile was etching an outline on his weathered face and grew wider whenever he tugged on Leah’s blond curls as she drew a picture.
“Thank you, Miss Kim. You’ve brightened my day,” James said as he hung up the phone. He limped to his daughter and granddaughter seated at the dining room table.
“Who was that Dad?” Malinda, ever watchful, didn’t quite trust people to not take advantage of the situation.
“Miss Kim just told me Medicaid has approved me for a sump pump!”
“A sump pump?” The question mark was all over her face.
James took a seat by his daughter. He saw the confusion on Malinda’s face, then a hint of a grin.
“Did I just have a brain fart?”
Malinda and Leah laughed.
“Miss Kim said Medicaid has authorized an insulin pump for me. It should dramatically help me control my high sugar. Isn’t that what I said?”
Clasping her father’s left hand, Malinda gently explained.
“Dad, you called the insulin pump a sump pump. Maybe you associated it with the numerous times you helped Mimi fix her sump pump when I was a little girl. These days, you scramble your words every now and then. It’s okay.”
James quietly lowered his head as though he had been scolded. Tiny fingers pinched his right hand.
“Poppie, I drew a picture for you.”
Looking at his granddaughter’s artwork and beaming smile, James asked, “What is it?”
“That’s a big red heart,” Leah said. Pointing to the stick drawing of a girl with a smile and an oversized head of blond curls, Leah added, “This is me. Poppie’s Princess.”
“Let’s hang it on the refrigerator door.”
The following morning, Malinda and Leah discovered James in his recliner drifting off into a nap as he watched the morning television newscast. The reporter was talking about President Obama asking former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to lead a humanitarian fundraising effort for Haitian earthquake victims.
James sensed Leah climb into his lap and kiss his forehead. He snuggled her close, and pulled one of her beautiful curls.
“What’s that kiss for?”
Leah looked up at her Poppie’s smiling face.
“I kissed your boo-boo to make you feel better.”
“Poppie doesn’t have a boo-boo on his forehead.”
“Mommy told me last night you have a boo-boo inside your head and I can’t see it.”
“Leah!” Malinda shouted.
James wrapped Poppie’s Princess into the tightest bear hug he had ever given her and repeatedly kissed her head. She hugged him back, and then jumped down announcing she was going to check on her baby doll in the bedroom.
“Dad, I’m sorry about that.”
“Malinda, it’s okay. Guess what? They said on the TV that George W. Obama is going to help the people in Haiti. Isn’t that great?”
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