The story so far:
Father/Doctor began to spend time with me sitting out on the porch. It seemed he did not know what to say at first to me. So he started with the books and one book after the other one we begin our relationship. Though we both were concerned about Mother we found a place of peace within the company of each other. Many afternoons turned into evening with us swinging back and forth on the porch swing and turning the pages of the books. I enjoyed him reading to me much more than me reading to him. Often times I had no idea what the story was about, it all seemed to grown up for me. However, I felt the bond we were making with each other and I was drawn in by his kindness. He seemed genuinely concerned about how school was going. He asked about my friends which I found I had trouble making because Mother sheltered me so much.
Spring began to turn into summer and Father/Doctor and I began taking walks instead of sitting on the porch. We brought the books along and still read aloud. At this point, we had grown tired of the gossips and the glares from the neighbors. No longer did it matter what people had to say. As I look back on it now, I am grateful for Father/Doctor not making me any promises for after Mother passed. I believe we both held onto hope. We would check in with Mother before we would go off for our walks. She smiled as she would squeeze our hands, through her silence she said a lot. Our behavior seemed to please her. The nurse would run us out quickly when we popped in. Saying she needed her rest.
Father/Doctor asked me what did I want to be when I grew up. This question seemed so far away and so unimportant when really all I could think about was will Mother be there to see me. I did not want to think about a future if it held the possibility that I would have to face it without her. I began to fidget with the end of my shirt, twirling it around my fingers. I was afraid to talk about my future, it was like leaving Mother behind. I wondered if that would sound silly, so I just said, “I don’t know.”
“You haven’t thought about it in the least?” He questioned.
“Isn’t it too early to decide something that big?” I tried to get out of answering the question. As I looked at the tops of my shoes as we walked. I noticed the red dirt fly up, land on my shoes and somehow find its way into my shoe for a gritty feel in between my toes. How does that happen? I knew I wanted to be someone important. Maybe a Doctor to help save people who had cancer. So that they didn’t die and leave their children behind. Or maybe a Doctor who could fix people’s hearts so that they didn’t have to keep secrets that would break them.
“Well,” he laughed a little, “I guess it is too soon to make a decision.” He went back to reading as we walked. On one of our walks we found a pond with ducks we would feed them bread sometimes, today was one of those times. This was fun and it changed the subject. I would fantasize about being able to call Father/Doctor simply Daddy. But then part of me would feel guilty like I had replaced my Dad. I wasn’t replacing him at all, but I felt God had smiled on me and gave me someone to be here for me and Mother. So, Mother couldn’t die she must get better. Could she love Father/Doctor? I think I do. Since he has spent time reading and talking with me I am doing better in school. I look forward to going to school. I wish that there was school in the summer time now that I am really smart.
“Bradley, would you like to go with me to church and to my town this week?”
I felt like we would be betraying Mother if we did. “Is there something wrong?”
“No, not all. Just wondering if you wanted to go.”
“Won’t Mother worry about us?” I questioned. I was not too comfortable, but I felt a desire to go. It was once part of my life, plus the ice cream.
“We could ask her and see what she says if you want too.”
“Okay and if she says yes can we stop for ice cream?”
“We sure can.”