Jamie bolted through the back door into the kitchen and slung his ball cap and well-worn glove onto the tiny kitchen table. His cleats, knotted and slung over one shoulder, slid from his arm and dropped into the middle of the floor with a dull thud.
“Geeze Mom, why don’t you turn on a fan? It’s hotter than stink in here.” He wiped his face with his sleeve then fanned his body with his t-shirt.
“It’s the middle of August and this is Texas son. It’s hot everywhere.”
He draped his muscular arm across my shoulders, leaned over, sniffed, and kissed my cheek – softly.
“Smells good, what’s for dinner?”
Snatching a cold biscuit from the top of the stove, he wiped his sweaty forehead with the heel of his dusty hand.
“Baked spaghetti and you’d better hurry and shower. The Johnson’s will be here any minute.”
“Aaaw, not the Johnson’s again,” he yelled, pulling a towel from the hall closet. “I hate it when they come over. That kid of theirs is obnoxious. He sneezes juice out his nose and screams when he doesn’t get his way. He makes me want to puke.”
“Well, he thinks you’re the greatest invention since the napkin. His mother says you’re all he talks about at home – says he wants to be a baseball player like you when he grows up.”
Clad only in his shorts, Jamie strolled back into the kitchen. He grabbed another biscuit and flashed an impish grin my direction.
I couldn’t help but stare. With muscles bulging and chomping down dry bread, his 6 foot 3 inch frame complemented his coal black hair, high cheek bones, and eyes that mirrored the bluebonnets along highway 20. He was the spitting image of my father – and his.
“You know Mom, I’m gonna miss your cooking when I go to college, especially your biscuits. I like em cold.” He turned to go.
Thinking about him leaving home to attend school 400 miles away was eating a hole through my heart. Since his father died five years ago it had been just the two of us, alone in the desolate wilderness of west Texas where the nearest town was almost an hour’s drive away.
Often since his father passed I’d wondered why we chose to leave the jungle of Manhattan but I didn’t have to look far to remember. It was for him – so that he could have the chance to grow and flourish in wide open spaces. Despite the turbulent teen years we were close – unlike some horror stories I’d read about but I couldn’t help but wonder; had I taught him all he needed for life on his own?
Among his daily diet choices of blaring rock music, less than favorable literature, and questionable friendships had I planted enough of the important seeds of Living Water, the Salt of the earth, and the Bread of Life, to sustain him? Would the life-lessons he’d been forced at such a young age to master be enough to get him through the tough crevices in the midst of a cruel, changing world?
With a towel wrapped around his waist and feet now soaked and soaped, he slid back into the kitchen – arms extended and hips jutted out like an Olympic skateboarder dropping in on a ramp.
“I’m sorry Mom. I didn’t mean what I said about the Johnson’s. I don’t really hate them and I know you need the company. I promise, I’ll try to be more patient with the kid.” He flashed his pearly whites and as quickly as he’d slid in, he skidded the hallway again.
It was in that instant that I knew. The constant, subtle, day-in, day-out dripping from the River that never runs dry had worn smooth the rocks in his heart – and in his head – and he would be fine.
Standing over the stove in the sweltering afternoon heat, with the Johnson’s van rounding the bend in the driveway I breathed a prayer. For my son. For friendships given. For new days to come. And I was thankful too – for plenty of cold biscuits.
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