The call came one summer day. It was nearing the end of the breakfast hour as I sat in my company vehicle at a stop light in front of McDonalds. I watched the cars pile into the drive through in hopes of getting their hash browns and biscuits prior to the menu flipping over to fish filets and Big Macs. I was busy. I sipped my choice of poison, Diet Coke. I didn’t have time to eat. I had a busy day ahead of me. My cellphone rang just as the light turned green. I answered the call. It was my son.
“I need to tell you something.” He said. “My girlfriend is pregnant.” I was silent. I thought back to all of the dinner table talks about teenage pregnancy. We would pass the potatoes and talk about the fact that I myself was pregnant at fourteen. I wanted my children to take full advantage of their youth and not have that type of responsibility early. We talked about STD’s and birth control but life happens and we make the best of it. My son was nineteen at the time. I still loved him but I knew he had a hard road ahead of him.
“Jimmy, I know you have a full time job but I want you to go out and get a part time job as well. Do it right now. You are going to need all the money you can get your hands on.” And I hung up the phone. I needed to digest what he’d said. We were no longer passing the potatoes around the dinner table. There was a baby due in six months.
I started stock piling the disposable diapers and wipes before we ever met the baby’s Mother. By September we had accumulated a closet full of items for the child that would arrive in March. My memory kept bringing me back to the birth of my own child, Monica. I wanted to help Jeff and Lisa. My son was still working two jobs and putting money in the bank. While his friends were partying, he was working. The time came for us to be formally introduced to Lisa. She was a petite young lady with a bright smile and long dark hair. We’d get to know her more over the next few months prior the birth of our first grandchild.
“Lisa, what is your dream job?” I asked.
“I’d love to a veterinarian one day but that plan will be put on hold for now. I’m not going to finish school at this point. I’m just going to work.”
John entered the world on a March day, seven years ago. Born to two parents with brown eyes, his were bright blue. He was a little baby with soft brown sprouts of hair. Wrapped in his swaddling blanket, I remember wishing he would stay that small forever.
The relationship between Jeff and Lisa did not work out but to this day, they still co-parent John in a manner that makes us proud. John is intelligent and he loves pizza. As he grows and learns, we can see that he has a knack for drawing. He loves geography and history. He is social and caring and makes some of the funniest faces I’ve ever seen. John is kind to animals. He loves our new kittens and always looked forward to giving our dog Gracie, a treat. Two weeks ago, my son Jeff showed up unexpectedly. He had John with him. I pulled my son to the side, “Gracie has had a stroke. She will be put down at noon today. We need to tell John.” I said. Jeff was quiet for several minutes.
“John, you need to come say goodbye to Gracie.”
“Why Dad, were is she going?”
“She’s sick. It’s time for her to go to heaven.” Jeff said. John walked slowly to the dog room which is our laundry room. He stared at Gracie and told her everything was going to be alright. It was heart wrenching. I put my hands back in the sink water and began scrubbing the breakfast dishes. I looked out the widow at the plum tree knowing I’d never see my dog beneath it again. I swallowed my tears.
“John, go give Mimi a hug and a kiss. We are going home now.”
“I love you Mimi and I’m sad about Gracie.” He said.
“I know honey but it’s going to be ok. We are going to bring Gracie to a special hospital and guess what John?”
“Your Mom will be waiting at the door when we get there.”
“Mommy? You are going to my Mommy’s job?” He asked.
“Yes. Your Mommy will be in the room. She’s known Gracie for a long time too.”