What a crazy, hectic Friday morning! And now I need to hurry or I’ll be late! Glancing at her watch, Samantha ran to her old beat-up ’88 Buick, making mental notes of everything she needed to finish at work today. She quickly inserted her key, fiddling, until the starter switch finally jerked downward and moved into the correct spot. The car definitely needed some repairs, but “thank you, Lord,” for now, it started right up. She’d worked through her lunch period, thinking: Perhaps after the appointment, I can return and finish some files, even if I need to bring Stevie with me - he’s usually pretty good with some scratch paper and a pencil to draw. She sighed. Seems like I’m always on the run. And I know he has to work, but Stevie’s father is always away on that offshore drilling job. I get so little help.
Roughhousing with a friend last evening, Samantha’s six-year-old thumped his arm when wrestling with a friend on the sidewalk. But resilient as children often are, Stevie bounced right up. After his bath and checking it before bed, it had appeared only bruised. Samantha kissed him good night and Stevie drifted right off to sleep.
This morning, Samantha had asked her son again to bend his arm and move it up and down, which he could do. Stevie didn’t complain, but said it was a bit tender, so Samantha made him a mock sling and sent him on the school bus with a note pinned to his sling: “No recess today. Seeing doctor shortly.” She promised Stevie: just in case -- as soon as the doctor’s office opened, she’d make an appointment to have his arm checked and would pick him up at school. Tomorrow the clinic would be closed. At nine o’clock, Samantha accepted the earliest opening at one o’clock that afternoon and called the school with Stevie’s appointment time.
Now hustling through the school office door in a flurry, Samantha was initially relieved to see that the school secretary had retrieved Stevie from his class. She smiled, seeing that he patiently waited for her in the office. But one glance at the little guy increased her apprehension: now his arm looked swollen and … it must be painful!
Samantha tenderly pressed the arm. “Baby, when it started hurting, why didn’t you ask the teacher to call me at work? I’d have come right away!”
It’s not so bad, Momma.”
Her heart ached with love for the little trooper. She was continually amazed that her son was such a tough little guy! Samantha kissed and hugged Stevie all the way to the car, in an absolute guilt-trip fuzz.
“Dr. Clinton will know exactly what to do!”
Samantha’s guilt-driven inclination right now was to race all the way to the doctor’s office, but every time she looked down at the speedometer, she slowed her breathing, and slowed down the car. All she needed now was an expensive ticket. Fortunately, the clinic office was only a couple of miles away and she reached it in minutes. When she arrived, she raced to the other door, picked Stevie up and hustled him into the office.
“I hope the doctor isn’t backlogged today,” she told the receptionist. “Stevie’s arm looks worst now than when leaving for school this morning.”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Stanley. He just returned from lunch and Stevie is his first patient this afternoon. I’ll take his chart in right now. He will be right with you.”
Samantha smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. Upon examination of Stevie’s arm, however, their family doctor uncharacteristically glared at Samantha. “You say this happened … when?”
Samantha’s heart raced. Surely, he knows it was an accident. “Just last night. He fell, playing with a friend. It wasn’t swelling; he could move it around and never complained, so I thought it was just a bruise. I’m sorry, Dr. Clinton, but I couldn’t get an appointment until now … and no one at school called to tell me it had swollen up today.” Her voice broke: “I feel so bad … I never dreamed it was anything serious. Samantha felt like she was about to break down and cry and it must have shown.
Dr. Clinton’s expression softened. “Hey, Stevie, let’s go get a neat picture of your arm and we can see what’s going on in there, okay?”
“Okie dokey with me, doc.”
Samantha’s fears were realized when the x-ray showed a slight crack, requiring that Dr. Clinton plaster Stevie’s forearm with a small cast. All thought of unfinished work at the office went put on her mental back burner. She would catch up Monday. Or whenever! She never missed work, so her boss would understand.
When they exited the doctor’s office, Samantha was relieved to know that Stevie’s pain was gone. But the little guy still seemed troubled. “What’s the matter, honey?” she quizzed as he climbed into the car.
“Our class was making valentines today, but I didn’t get yours done.” Stevie’s lip trembled slightly. “I’m sorry, Mom.”
She quickly pulled him toward her, breathing in that little boy smell – a mixture of sweat, doggie and sweetness. She kissed his brave little face, as well as his plastered arm. Looking into those soulful green eyes with fought-back tears clinging to the dark lashes, her priorities suddenly clarified. “Member what you told me when I picked you up?”
“Uh … you mean: Hey, Mrs. Armstrong; there’s my Mom?”
“Nope, something else.”
“What’d I say?”
“When I told you I was so sorry it took so long to get there, you weren’t worried about the time – or your arm. You said you knew I’d come for you. No one has ever had that kind of confidence in me. Little man, that’s the sweetest valentine I’ve ever gotten!”
“Absolutely – really! Now, how about we celebrate Valentine’s Day with a big ice cream sundae?
“And a cherry on top?”
“Oh yes, we must have a cherry on top!”
Stevie’s face lit up. “All right!”