Joey sat up in bed. He looked outside and it was still dark. He couldn't see his clock, but he knew it wasn't anywhere close to morning. What had woken him up? He listened. Then he heard the familiar sobbing from his mother's room. He crept out of his room and across the dark hallway. She wasn't crying very loud tonight, maybe she was crying in her sleep.
He never knew what to do. Mom had been crying like this most nights since Dad had left. She was always embarrassed if he went in. Then she would apologize for waking him up. He was tired of making her sorry for things. He knocked gently on her bedroom door. The crying stopped, and a shaky voice said, "Come in." Joey walked in and sat on the side of his mother's bed.
"Are you ok?"
"Oh Joey I'm so sorry I woke you up again. I'm so embarrassed for you to see me like this," Mom said as she reached for a tissue.
"You didn't wake me, I was just on my way to the bathroom, and I heard you." Joey lied.
"Joey, sometimes it's hard for me to believe that your daddy left us. I feel so sad, and sometimes the tears just spill over. I'm fine now. Give me a kiss goodnight and go back to bed. You have school tomorrow and it's late."
"Do you want me to sleep with you so you won't be afraid?
"You're a very sweet boy, but I'm fine. Goodnight little man."
Joey walked hesitantly back to his room. He couldn't help being angry with his Dad. He was only six and one half and he knew he wasn't old enough to understand a lot of things, but he knew it should be against the law for daddies to break up a family. Joey climbed back into his bed and snuggled under his Batman quilt.
I wonder if Batman could make his Dad come back.
At breakfast Mom was quiet, but she seemed better.
"Please pass the syrup, Amy."
"You already have enough syrup on those pancakes to float them off your plate."
"Amy, just pass the syrup to your brother," Mom said with a sigh.
"Mom, look at his plate. He doesn't need all that sugar."
"Amy, I'm the mother, not you, PASS THE SYRUP TO YOUR BROTHER!"
"OK, OK, you don't have to yell!"
"I'm sorry kids, but you'll have to ride the bus today. I have to be at work early."
"That's OK, Mom, I like riding the bus," Said Joey, thinking of last night.
"And how am I supposed to carry my science project, lunch and backpack?"Whined Amy.
" I'll help, Joey said."
"Amy, I also need you to watch Joey after school until I get home"
"I'm supposed to go to Peyton's after school to watch a video."
"I know, and I'm sorry, but I have lots to do today and we all need to help around here."
"It seems like I'm the one who always has to help, I never get to have fun anymore. I have to ride the bus which I hate, and then rush home to watch Joey. What did I do to deserve this?" Joey wished with all his heart that his sister would knock it off. He could tell Mom was on the verge of tears again.
"We better go so we don't miss the bus." Joey tried.
"I know this is hard for you, Amy. It's hard for all of us." Mom said as she rushed out of the room."
"I didn't mean to make her cry, Amy muttered, realizing she had gone too far.Come on, Joey, let's get out to the bus stop, and be careful my science project is breakable."
Mom came back into the kitchen wiping her eyes. "You'll have to buy lunch today, I forgot to make your lunches last night."
"Perfect!" Amy snapped, as she stomped out the door. Joey got the money from Mom, kissed her good-bye, picked up Amy's project and followed his sister out the door. Another morning ruined as he raced to catch up with his sister.
As they settled into their seats on the bus Joey thought about last night.
"Amy, do you know that Mom cries almost every night?"
"What are you talking about? Joey"
"I heard her again last night. She said, she's just so sad, apologized and sent me back to bed. She works so hard, Amy, and we have to be careful ; we don't want Mom to leave us too. Then what we would do?"
"Mom isn't going to leave us. I didn't know she was crying. I do know she says, "I'm sorry" a lot. But one thing I know is she would never leave us."
"I just feel like we should do something nice for her, so she knows we love her."
"Like what Joey?"
"Maybe we could give her an I LOVE YOU PARTY when she gets home today."
"And just what is an I LOVE YOU PARTY?"
" We could make her a cake, help with dinner, and give her a present."
" We could maybe do the cake, and help with dinner, but it costs money to buy a present, and we don't have any."
"Amy, you worry about the cake, and I'll think up a gift, by the time you get home."
Joey spent the whole day at school thinking about a present for Mom. What could they give her that didn't cost money. When he got home from school Amy had started on the cake. It looked a bit lumpy, but at least she was trying.
"Well, what's the great present you have come up with?" Amy demanded.
"Joey began, Well we want her to know we love her, so, how about if we write down all the reasons we love her on pieces of paper, and give them to her?"
"You know that might work. I have a plastic jar in my room and we could put the papers in there." Amy sounded almost excited.
"I have some valentine stickers we could put on the outside of the jar." added Joey.
"You know what, Squirt, this was a great idea. Now, set the table, we've got tons to do."
Mom came home to the table set and good smells in the kitchen. "What's the occasion?"
"Just sit down, tonight you are the guest of honor.
Amy had cooked hotdogs and macaroni and cheese her entire cooking repertoire. Joey made fruit salad. But to Mom it was a beautiful feast and she looked so happy. After dinner, Amy brought in the lopsided cake with lumpy frosting.
"Mom said," What a beautiful cake!" Amy laughed and warned mom about any more compliments until she saw the kitchen.
"Joey, go get the present!"
"All this and a present too? Mom laughed.
Joey put the decorated jar on the table." Tonight is a Love You Party, when you open the jar you will understand."
Mother picked up the jar and read Amy's label. REASONS WE LOVE YOU. She carefully opened the jar and reached her slender fingers inside. She read the first message. "We love you so you don't have to say you're sorry." The second said, " Even when things are hard you never give up." Mom's eyes filled with tears.
"We thought the jar would make you happy."
"This is the best present I've ever gotten. I have the most wonderful children in the world. You figured out a way to make
me realize we are starting a new life too, not just Daddy. I'm only going to read 2 notes each day so I can appreciate each one. Thank you."
Mom, Joey and Amy cleaned up the kitchen which took awhile.
"I'm sorry, I didn't get laundry done last night. "
"Remember, you don't have to apologize. Laughter ran through the kitchen.
As Joey climbed into bed he was still smiling!!! What a great day!!
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
This is a wonderful story about hope in the face of adversity. Any man who leaves his family needs a lesson from my Grandpa who adopted my Father as a two year old, after he returned from his 3 year tour to marry into a blended family in 1946. That man taught me more about life than anyone in my family and never mentioned blood.
thanks for reading my story. I love your comment about hope. So glad there are people like your grandfather in this world.
Just a really human story!
Thanks for reading my story.