Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Lernier Family Chapter Fourteen - Joshua


Chapter Fourteen – Joshua

This was Memorial Day weekend and we had invited a bunch of our friends over for a day of boating and then a cookout in our backyard, hopefully with lots of fresh fish!   As I worked in the kitchen with the rest of the guys, I thought back over our preparations for this holiday weekend.  

*** ***

We had sat down with Zach and Todd to draw up a list of friends to invite over when the four boys entered the room.   Cameron’s purposeful walk and the look on his determined face signaled that he had been elected the boys’ spokesman.  

When the boys had lined up in front of us, Cameron asked in his most grown up voice, “May we invite some of our friends, too?”

“Yeah,” Skye declared, also in a serious tone of voice, “We want to make sure you invite someone over for us to play with and not just big people.”

Zach and Todd looked at each other and then across the kitchen table at me and Rick.   I shrugged my shoulders and said, “It’s okay with me.”

Rick laughed, “Okay, boys, who do you want to invite?”

Cameron immediately spoke up, “We want Kyle, David, and Ashley to come over with their grandma.”

Joshua, not to be outdone by Cameron, said, “JJ and I want Nana and the General to come.   We like riding with the General on his motorized wheelchair.”

Skye said, “May we invite some of our teammates over as well?”

Zach thought for a moment, “Okay, but it will have to be one for each of you.   Otherwise, we won’t all fit on the sailboats.”

Cameron and Skye conferred with each other before Skye said, “We want to invite Trevor and Jimmy.”

Todd smiled, “I think that would be a good idea.   We know their parents pretty well since we have been coaching the boys’ soccer team for a couple of years now.   Trevor is an only child and Jimmy has a younger brother, Connor, who is about JJ and Josh’s age.   They have been very accepting of me and Zach as gay parents so I think they will make a nice addition to our guest list.”

I asked, “Josh, do you want to call Nana and ask her if she wants to come over with the General?”

Josh nodded his head in the affirmative.   I pulled out my cell phone and hit the speed dial and handed the phone to Joshua.   He said, “Hello, Nana, this is Joshua.”

“Hello, Joshua,” Mrs. Campbell answered.   She covered the mouthpiece and said to the General, “It’s Joshua.”

The General grinned, “I wondered if we weren’t going to hear from the boys about some sailing this coming weekend.”

Joshua said, “We want to invite you and the General to go boating with us this weekend.”

“I think that would be lovely.   Tell your Dads that we will be there,” Mrs. Campbell said.

Josh handed the phone back to me and said, “Nana says they will be here.”

I spoke into the phone, “Hello.”

“Good morning, Glenn.   We will be over early Monday morning.   You know how the General likes to get an early start when he goes out on the boat,” Mrs. Campbell said.

I laughed, “Yes, we do know how the General likes to do things.   We will be ready.   Don’t worry about bringing anything.   Just make sure to bring the General.”

“I can do that.   We will see you boys in a few days,” Mrs. Campbell said.

I cut the connection and then we called to make sure Kyle, David and Ashley could come.    Their grandmother said that they would be happy to spend the holiday on our boat.   Zach and Todd made their phone calls as well.   Soon we had the boys’ invitations issued and had confirmed that our friends would be coming with us.

We also decided to invite Jamie, Eddie, Scott and Alonzo.   The two couples were making steady progress towards forming what looked like stable, loving relationships.  I was amazed at how quickly Alonzo and Scott had bonded.   They seemed like they were made for each other.   Rick accuses me of being a matchmaker and this time I am proud to say I did a good job matching up two my dear friends.

*** ***

Todd asked, “Do you think that the guys will get engaged this weekend?”

“I think that Scott is going to pop the question to Alonzo because he asked me last week if I knew of a reputable jeweler,” Rick said smiling.

I nodded my head and added, “Alonzo asked to see our wedding photos and kept asking questions about the reception center and how much we had spent on our wedding.   He was very interested in what was needed to get a marriage license in Ontario.”

Zach laughed, “Did you tell him to visit the city government’s web site?”

“I did and I even went on-line and downloaded the application form for him,” I said.

“It sounds like they are pretty serious about it then,” Todd said.   “What about Eddie and Jamie?”

“I think they are already engaged but haven’t made it official, yet,” I said.   Seeing the look of surprise on the guys’ faces, I elaborated, “I overheard Eddie talking about their wedding plans yesterday with Jamie.   When they saw me coming down the stairs they suddenly stop talking so I am sure they haven’t announced it to anyone.”

“I am glad that they have found each other,” Rick said.   “They are all great guys and deserve to be happy.”

Rick and I finished cooking breakfast while Todd and Zach finished making lunch for us and our guests and packed it into several coolers to be loaded on the boats.    With the table set for breakfast, we went upstairs to wake the boys and get them ready for the day.   Zach and Todd turned into Cameron and Skye’s room while we went into the twins’ bedroom.

I love living next door to Zach and Todd.   We live like members of an extended family instead of being just good neighbors.   They have rooms at our house so they stay with us any time they want and we have rooms at their house.   Mostly, I am glad that the children have the benefit of being raised by four parents instead of two.   Fortunately, all four of us have very similar ideas about raising children so we have had minimal differences of opinion.

We walked into the boys’ room.   Rick flipped on the light and said, “Good morning boys.   It’s time to get up.”

“Breakfast is waiting for you.   We made your favorite pancakes with chocolate chips, scrambled eggs and link sausages,” I said grinning at Josh who stretched and yawned widely.

“Do we have to get up?” JJ asked as Rick picked him up.   JJ automatically placed his arms around his Dad’s neck and snuggled close to him.

I leaned down and picked up Josh who followed his brother’s example and clung to me.   He kissed me on the cheek and said, “May we eat first and then get dressed?”

I looked over at Rick who grinned and nodded, “Okay, you can wait until after breakfast to get dressed.”

We carried the boys out into the hallway where we met Zach and Todd carrying their boys towards the stairs.   We weren’t surprised to see that Cameron and Skye were still in their pajamas as well.

We trooped into the kitchen and got everyone situated at the kitchen table.   We reached out to take the hand of the person on either side of us.    

Todd said, “I’ll say grace.”

We listened to Todd and then said, “Amen,” when he was finished.   You would have thought the boys had never been fed by the way they demolished the pancakes!

I said, “I believe we just set a record.   I don’t think I have ever seen breakfast disappear so fast!”

Cameron looked at me and said, “We were hungry!   Besides, Uncle Glenn, your pancakes are the very best in the whole world!”

I grinned, “Flattery will always win you more pancakes.”   I stood up and crossed over to the warming oven.   I pulled open the door and removed another plate of pancakes.   I placed them on the table and said, “They are all yours.”

Skye crowed with delight, “Thank you, Uncle Glenn!”

Zach laughed, “You are spoiling our boys, Glenn!”

“Isn’t that what uncles do for their favorite nephews?” I asked grinning across the table at Zach and Todd.

“Only if we get to spoil Josh and JJ when you are at our house,” Zach said smiling.

I laughed and exclaimed, “Deal!”

Josh asked, “May we have more pancakes Daddy?”

“Sure,” I replied and added a couple of pancakes to each of the twins’ plates.   Rick poured the maple syrup and helped them cut up their pancakes into bit-sized pieces.

We had just finished cleaning up the kitchen when we heard the doorbell ring.   Rick said, “I am sure that is the General and Mrs. Campbell.   I will go let them in.    Will you help the boys get dressed?”

I nodded my head and smiled, “Okay, Babe.”   I took the twins by the hand and led them back upstairs where I helped them get dressed for the day’s activities.   Before long we were back downstairs.

Seeing the General and Mrs. Campbell, both boys ran over and hugged Mrs. Campbell.   Josh said, “Nana, I am so glad you came.”

JJ turned to the General, “May we ride with you?”

The General grinned, “I thought you would never ask!   Climb aboard and we will see if this old chair can handle you two.”

Both boys climbed onto the General’s lap.   Josh said, “General, let’s go down the hall to the elevator.   I want to show you the two-way radios our Dads got for us.”

The General smiled, “Sure.   I am so glad your Dads put in an elevator for me so I can visit with my favorite grandchildren.”

The General and Mrs. Campbell are the twins’ honorary grandparents.   Mrs. Campbell insists on being called “Nana” but the General has always been the General so the boys call him that like everyone else.  The boys know that the General loves them very much.   He always gives them rides on his lap and spoils them with all kinds of special treats.   The General informed us early on that it was his duty as a grandparent to spoil our boys as much as possible, a duty which he performs with much energy and zeal!

Mrs. Campbell laughed, “The General has been acting like a big kid all week.   He has been so excited about going boating and spending time with the twins.   He is almost worse than a kid at Christmas!”

“The boys are just as excited to see the General.   They have already planned out every activity to make sure the General is well entertained!   We had to remind them that the General needs to have some time to rest in between all of the things they have for him to do today,” Rick said grinning.

I walked over to Mrs. Campbell and gave her a hug and a kiss, “Thank you for coming and bringing the General.   We love having you with us for the holiday.”

Mrs. Campbell smiled, “I couldn’t have kept the General away even if I had tried.”

Zach and Todd joined us in the living room.    They both came over and hugged Mrs. Campbell.

“How are my boys?” Mrs. Campbell asked.

“We are doing very well,” Zach replied smiling at her.   “Cameron and Skye hitched a ride with the General in the elevator.   They are just as excited as Josh and JJ to see their favorite General!”

Mrs. Campbell smiled, “The General is in his element.   He has always wanted children and grandchildren.   Every day I thank God for sending you four boys and your children into our lives.   It has given the General a reason to go on living.   He considers you four to be his surrogate sons.”

Todd’s eyes sparkled with unshed tears.   The General had counseled with him and Zach at various times over the years and had helped them overcome some of the bumps that had appeared in their relationship.   “I feel very much like he is a father to us,” Todd said.

Zach nodded his head in agreement, “Yes, I know that he helped me to see that I needed to make some changes to help save our marriage.   He gave us the love and support we needed during that time.”  Zach kissed Todd lightly on the lips, “I am very grateful that the General was there when Todd needed someone to help me see the error of my ways.”

Mrs. Campbell smiled, “The General tends to be pretty direct when it comes to telling you the way things are even if you don’t want to hear it.”    She paused and looked at me and Rick, “The General’s health was rapidly declining and made a dramatic turn for the better after Rick and Glenn came to stay with us.   It has continued to get better every day.  With the arrival of the twins, the General insists that he has a serious job to do and intends to be around to see them grow up into fine young men.   Of course, things have continued to improve.   Zach and Todd, thank you for sharing your boys with us as well.”

The doorbell rang at that moment.   Rick got up and answered the door.   Three children rushed in the door and hugged Rick.

Kyle said, “Thank you for inviting us to go boating with you.”

“Yes, thank you for having us over,” Ashley said smiling up at Rick.

David nodded his head, “Thanks.”  David is a boy of few words.   He is autistic and often doesn’t speak to anyone for long periods of time so his one word greeting was a good indication of the excitement he felt at being invited to go boating today.

Rick said, “You are most welcome.   The boys and the General are already downstairs if you want to join them.”

The three children raced down the hallway and soon disappeared.   Mrs. Reed entered the house at a much more sedate pace.   She grinned at Rick, “Thank you, Rick.   You don’t know how excited they are.”

Rick smiled and said, “I am glad you were able to come.”   He hugged Mrs. Reed and said, “Please join us in the living room.   Mrs. Campbell is already here.”

“I saw the Campbells’ car in the driveway.   She is such a wonderful person,” Mrs. Reed said as she made her way slowly into the living room.”

Rick noted with sadness that she wasn’t looking well.   Over the last few months since they had started the adoption process, he noted how her health seemed to be deteriorating before his eyes.   He closed the door and followed her into the living room.   Rick’s thoughts took him to the interview they had with the social workers from the family court a couple of weeks ago.

*** ***

The social worker, Mrs. Rushin, asked, “How has the homeschooling worked out this year?”

Glenn replied, “Todd and I are homeschooling our children together which has paid huge dividends for both sets of twins.   Todd is the scientific one who loves math and science and I bring the music and language arts side to our team teaching experience.   Rick and Zach help us teach the basics (e.g., math, reading, and writing, etc.) by helping the boys with their homework in addition to taking on the responsibility for teaching sports and physical fitness.”

Todd added, “By having Rick and Zach help with homework, it reinforces the concepts we have taught the boys during the course of the day.”

“But more importantly, it allows us to be part of the teaching process,” Zach said.   “I want very much to be a big part of their lives, and helping them with their homework gives me that opportunity.”

“I like it because I get to teach those things I like to do best – sports,” Rick said smiling.   “Zach and I have taught the boys how to play hockey and football.”

“Glenn and I teach them the basics of how to exercise properly as well as teaching them soccer, dodge ball, etc.   It makes a nice break from the academics we teach in the mornings and afternoons,” Todd said.

“It sounds like you have worked out a good system to teach the boys the basic skills they need to pass the state-mandated standards of learning tests,” Mrs. Rushin said with a smile.

“Our goal is to have them not only pass them but to ace them,” Glenn said.   “The boys play soccer in the local youth soccer league so they are able to learn how to be good sports and how to interact with their teammates.”

Mrs. Rushin was making notations in her book as we showed her the lesson plans we used and textbooks we used in teaching the boys the core subjects required by the school system.   We also showed her that we were participating with various other homeschooling groups to provide our boys with the opportunity for interaction with other students as well as support for others who have decided to home school their children.

Mrs. Rushin asked, “Why did you decide to home school your boys?”

Zach answered for us, “We decided early on in our marriage that we did not want to subject our children to the bullying and harassment that we experienced attending classes in the public schools where we grew up.   We want our children to have a safe learning environment free from the prejudice and hatred of others.”

Mrs. Rushin nodded her head, “You do know that Fairfax County has strict policies against bullying and harassment.”

“Yes, but those policies are only as good as the people enforcing them.   I know for a fact that many teachers and administrators turn a blind eye to those who bully gays in the schools,” I said.

Mrs. Rushin scowled.   She did not like to be contradicted or challenged.   Rick saw her look and said, “Mrs. Rushin, we have chosen to home school our children as the best way to educate our children which I believe is legal in the state of Virginia.   We are obligated to teach them core materials and ensure that they pass the state mandated tests, etc.”

Todd said, “If you wish to see the boys’ scores on the state tests, I have them right here.”   He passed them to her.

She took them and a look of surprise crossed her face.   Mrs. Rushin said, “Congratulations!   The boys have done very well on their standards of learning tests.”   She handed back the scores to Todd.

Mrs. Rushin’s visit was the last in a long line of evaluative sessions we had endured since filing the adoption paperwork with the court.   Glenn had been a saint during the entire process.   Rick was very proud of his husband for his self control, given the level of scrutiny they had endured.   Hopefully, they would be able to complete the adoption process very soon.

*** ***

Rick’s thoughts returned to the present as Mrs. Reed slowly sat down in the armchair next to Mrs. Campbell.   She noted his look of concern and smiled, “Don’t worry, Rick.   I am not as bad off as I seem.”  

“I just worry about you, Mrs. Reed,” Rick said.  

She smiled and said, “I appreciate your concern, dear, but I am doing just fine.   I have completed all the paperwork the family court has requested of me and my lawyer has read over everything so far.   You should be hearing from the family court very soon.”

Rick nodded his head in agreement, “Yes, Child Protective Services (CPS) and the social workers from the family court have conducted their interviews already.”

Zach smiled and said, “Yes, they sure did and Glenn didn’t even throw them out of the house for their impertinent questions.”

“You don’t know how hard that was for me to keep from decking that last one.   She is such an ignorant wench!” Glenn declared.

Mrs. Campbell exclaimed, “Glenn!”

“I am sorry, Mrs. Campbell.   It is just that she had no right to ask questions about things that have nothing to do with discovering if we are fit parents or not,” Glenn said.

Rick put his arm around Glenn’s shoulders, “Glenn is correct in that the questions were totally inappropriate.   I contacted the woman’s supervisor after she left and complained about her offensive behavior.   I also called our lawyer who also contacted the family court and filed a complaint with the court.   We completed the home study over a month ago but the questions this lady asked were very biased against gays.   The people at the court house said they would review her report and then send out a different person to interview us if they found if it contained any prejudicial statements.”

“I have already heard that the write up was not favorable.   My lawyer contacted me yesterday,” Mrs. Reed said.   “He said that her supervisor reprimanded her for her misconduct during the interview but that the write hasn’t been changed.”

I was getting a little agitated about the fact that Mrs. Reed had access to this information and we hadn’t heard anything from our lawyer about it.   Rick could see I wasn’t happy about what I was hearing.   He said, “Let’s talk about this later.   We are waiting for the remainder of our guests to arrive and then we will head down to the boat dock and get underway.”

A few minutes later the doorbell rang.   This time Zach got up and answered it.   We heard him greet the guys and invite them to join us in the living room.   Eddie, Jamie, Scott and Alonzo walked in to the room.   Rick introduced everyone.   We heard Zach welcoming the rest of our guests.  

Jimmy, Trevor and Connor were directed downstairs to join the rest of the children while their parents joined us in the living room followed by Zach who said, “Everyone, I want you to meet Bob and Sherry Bushor.   Their son, Trevor is a member of the twins’ soccer team.   This is Nate and Paula Henderson.   Their son, Jimmy, also plays on the twins’ soccer team.”

Rick went around the room and pointed out who we were.   Rick continued, “Now that we are all here let’s get everything loaded into the boats.   The plan is to sail down to the Potomac for a while and then we will drop anchor.   We will tie the two boats together so we can visit and enjoy the day.   The Bushors and the Hendersons will go with Zach and Todd for the trip out while the Campbells, Reeds and you four will sail with us.”   Rick pointed to the four guys standing beside him who all nodded and smiled.

Zach smiled, “Let’s collect the children and the General.   Everything is stacked by the back door ready to be loaded.   If everyone will grab something and bring with you down to the boats, we will make quick work of loading the boats.”

We soon had all of our gear loaded into the two sailboats along with all the people in their life jackets.   Zach and Todd showed Bob and Nate how to help with the sail, etc., while Rick and I did the same with Eddie, Jamie, Scott and Alonzo.

The General took up his post at the tiller where we had secured his wheelchair.   It had taken four of us to lower him down the steps to get him onto the dock but it had all worked out.   We keep a regular wheelchair for him at the house so we can get him down to the boat.   His motorized wheelchair weighs a ton and there is no way we could have lifted it without tipping the General out of it.

As soon as the ropes were loosed and the boats were free of the dock, the General gave us the high sign and started the engine to back us out into the river.   He turned the bow downstream and moved us out of the way so Zach could get their boat out into the middle of the river behind us.   We made quick work of raising the sails and were soon moving at a good clip.   The children were below deck while we set the sails.   Afterwards, we invited everyone to come up and feel the wind as we sailed along.   

Kyle looked up at Rick and said, “I love sailing on your boat, Dad.”  

Rick smiled and replied, “I am glad you like it, son.”

Ashley climbed up on my lap and hugged me, “I am so glad we get to spend time with you this weekend, Daddy.”

Mrs. Campbell asked, “How long have the children called you “Dad” and “Daddy,” Glenn?”

Before I could answer, Ashley said, “They have been our Dads since our parents died.   We live with Grandma but Glenn and Rick are our Dads and we spend a lot of time with them.   We live only a few blocks away from them.”

Mrs. Campbell smiled, “Thank you for telling me, Ashley.   Do you think you could call me “Nana” like the twins do?”

Ashley looked at Mrs. Campbell for a minute with her head cocked to one side.   She smiled, “Okay.   That will be wonderful.   We will have Grandma and a Nana just like we have a Dad and a Daddy.”

She climbed down from my lap and made her way over to Mrs. Campbell and reached up her arms to be hugged.   Mrs. Campbell leaned over and hugged Ashley and then asked, “How old are you, Ashley?”

“I am 8 years old now but I will be 9 in July,” Ashley said.   “Kyle is 12 and Aaron is 10.”

Mrs. Reed said, “Kyle and Ashley love being around people and are very social.   Aaron is very shy and doesn’t like to be in large groups.”

Mrs. Campbell smiled, “I can see that Ashley is quite the young lady.”

Ashley nodded, “Thank you, Nana.   I think you are pretty special yourself.”

Kyle and Aaron each had one of the twins on their laps sitting on either side of the General.   I could see that they were asking questions and that the General was enjoying all of the attention.   I turned to Rick and smiled, “Today is so perfect.”

Rick responded, “Yes, it is.”  

We looked behind the boat and saw that Zach and Todd had everyone up on deck just like we did.   We waved to them and they waved back.   We moved towards the bow to join the four lovebirds.

Eddie grinned as he moved over to make room for us.   “Jamie and I are engaged to be married.”

“I thought you might be,” I said.

Jamie laughed, “You know us too well, Glenn.   Eddie thought we could hide from you guys but I told him you would figure it out pretty quickly.”

“We want to be married in the same church where you and Rick were married,” Eddie said.   He paused to smile at his sweetheart, “Jamie has seen your wedding photos and wants the same thing for us.”

Jamie said, “You two are my role models and I know that Eddie and I can have a wonderful family just like you have.”

Rick said, “I am very happy for you two.   Congratulations!”

Scott smiled and said, “We have some good news as well.”

Alonzo grinned broadly, “Scott proposed to me last night.”

Rick exclaimed enthusiastically “Congratulations!   We wondered if that is what Scott had in mind when he started asking questions about jewelers, etc.”

“I am very excited for you guys.   Have you guys chosen a date, yet?” I asked.

Eddie nodded his head, “We were just talking about having a double wedding.   We think that July 4th would be a great day to be married because everyone will be celebrating our anniversary with us every year.”

“Scott and I think July 4th will give us enough time to get everything ready,” Alonzo said.   “We like the photos taken at the White House of you guys at your reception and the church seems like a nice place as well.”

“We thought we could split the costs of the wedding if we planned a double wedding,” Jamie said.

Scott said, “We want to honeymoon in Montreal.   I have always wanted to go there and now would be a perfect time.”

Rick and I enjoyed talking with the two couples as they discussed their wedding plans.   We made a few suggestions and then returned to the stern of the boat to see how the General was faring with our boys.

The General looked like a school boy who had just gotten out for the holidays.   He was smiling and laughing with the boys.   He looked so happy.   I put my arm around Rick’s waist and leaned over to whisper in his ear, “I think the General loves entertaining the children.”

“I agree,” Rick said and kissed me lightly on the lips, “just like I love entertaining my lover boy.”

I blushed and laughed as Rick put his hand on my behind and squeezed.   “You sure are frisky this morning,” I said.

“It’s the fresh air and the wonderful company,” Rick replied, kissing me, again.

Ashley came over and took my hand, “May we play games in the cabin?”

“You certainly may,” I replied.   “Do you remember where the games are kept?”

“Yes, I will get them down.   Will you play with me?” Ashley asked looking up into my eyes.

“Yes, I will play with you,” I replied.

Ashley climbed down the ladder into the cabin and walked over and pulled out her favorite game, Connect Four, and took it over to the table.   She pulled out the pieces and set it up.   She looked up and smiled, “It’s all ready to go.”

“You go first, Ashley,” I said smiling as she chose her favorite color, yellow, leaving me with the red pieces.

As we took turns playing, Ashley asked, “Are you and Dad going to adopt us like Grandma says you are?”

“Yes, Ashley, we are.   We have been working hard to make that happen,” I said.   “Do you want us to adopt you and the boys?”

With her hand half way to placing another yellow piece in the end row, Ashley paused and said, “Yes, Dad, I want all of us to be together.   We love you and Dad and the twins.   Grandma says that she doesn’t feel very good and wants us to be settled with you and Dad before she joins Mom and Dad.”

I was shocked to hear her words about Mrs. Reed.   I knew that she wasn’t doing well but the fact she had told the children that she was going to die soon really bothered me.   No wonder the children had been so clingy the last few times they had been over to see us.   It had puzzled us because we hadn’t done anything different.   We have always shown lots of love towards these children.   I didn’t respond but took my turn.  

Ashley placed her yellow piece in the slot then she looked into my eyes.   I saw the tears rolling down her cheeks and her voiced cracked as she said, “Grandma said she is going to die because the cancer in her body won’t go away.”

I reached across the table and took her hand in mine.   I guided her around the table and helped her climb up on my lap and I held her tight as her tiny frame was wracked with sobs.   In between fits of sobbing, she said, “I don’t want Grandma to die, Daddy.”   She clung to me as if I were a life preserver that had been thrown to her just as she was going under.

I gently smoothed her hair and said, “I don’t want your Grandma to die either, sweetheart.   Your Dad and I will always be here for you.”

Mrs. Reed and Mrs. Campbell joined us in the cabin.   Mrs. Reed looked at me and said, “Ashley told you.”

I nodded me head silently still comforting the distraught little girl in my arms.   Mrs. Reed sat down across from me and with great sorrow said, “I am sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.   I hoped that the chemotherapy would slow the cancer’s advance but it hasn’t.   When the doctor told me that the cancer had spread even faster than before, I felt compelled to tell the children just in case they came home and found me gone.”

Mrs. Campbell said, “You poor dear trying to hide such a terrible thing from everyone.   What can we do to help?”

Mrs. Reed said, “You can help me persuade the courts to let Rick and Glenn adopt my grandchildren or at least the very least get the judge to agree to allow you and the General keep them as your foster children so they can still be close to Glenn and Rick.”

Mrs. Campbell nodded her head, “That is the least we can do.   I know how much these children love Rick and Glenn.   I remember when they first came to visit my home with the twins.   They had such a wonderful time with the General.”

Mrs. Reed said, “Thank you so much.   I am sorry to put such a damper on our holiday celebration.”

“We will make sure this is a holiday the children will always remember,” I said smiling.   “Now, no more tears.   We must make the most of the time that we have with each other to make warm memories that we can cherish forever.”  I lifted Ashley’s chin so I could look her in the eyes, “Okay, Ashley?”

Ashley nodded and tried to smile.   She reached up and wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me tight.   I returned the hug and then she kissed me on the cheek and said, “Daddy, you always know how to make me happy.”

She climbed down and then said, “I am going to see what the boys are doing.”   She climbed the ladder to the deck and left us looking after her.

Mrs. Campbell said, “That little girl is very special.”

Mrs. Reed smiled, “Yes, she is.”

We chatted until we heard the boys shouting in excitement.   We climbed the deck to see what all the commotion was about.   Joshua said, pointing to the shore, “Look, Daddy, There is our favorite restaurant!”

Mrs. Campbell said, “It is our favorite one as well.   It has been a while since the General and I have been there.”

Rick said, “We are going to have lunch there on the way back.   Right now we are going further down river to our favorite fishing spot.”

Kyle said, “Are we going to the same place where I got the giant flounder?”

“Maybe.   It depends on how quickly we can get to where we are going,” Rick said.

David was looking at the navigation charts and said, “It’s about 70 nautical miles from Dad’s house to the mouth of the Potomac River.   Are we going to fish in the Chesapeake Bay today, Dad?”

Rick turned to David and asked, “Is that what you boys want to do today or do you want to fish along the river at some other point along the way?”

“I want to try and catch a flounder today,” Kyle said.

“If we go to the Chesapeake Bay, we won’t be able to eat at Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant today.   I am okay with fishing for flounder but you boys need to talk among yourself and you might want to use the walkie-talkies we gave you to talk to Cameron and Skye to see what they want to do,” Rick said.

David said with a smile, “I forgot we had those.”   He pulled his out and pushed the talk button.   “Calling the Turtle Dove, come in, Turtle Dove, this is the Red Dragon.”

There was static for a moment and then we heard Skye answer, “Red Dragon, this is Turtle Dove, over.”

Aaron explained what the boys wanted to do and then waited, “Red Dragon to Turtle Dove, What do you want to do? Over.”

There was silence on the other end.   Aaron started to push the talk button when Skye started talking, “Turtle Dove to Red Dragon, we want to fish for flounder.”

The General grinned, “I thought that might be the answer.”

Kyle was ecstatic!   “Yeah!”   Kyle capered about the deck and gave me and Rick a big hug.

Rick laughed, “You would think Kyle had just won the lottery or something.”

Mrs. Reed said, “He did in a way.   He has talked about fishing for flounder all week.”

The rest of the way to the bay, the boys talked excitedly to anyone who would listen about the big fish they planned to catch.   We finally arrived at the mouth of the Potomac and moved further into the bay before we let down our anchors and lashed the two boats together side by side so we could visit with everyone on the other boat.

We helped the boys set up their fishing gear and then relaxed as we waited for the fish to bite.   The guys got their fishing poles out as well so we had a line of eight poles lined up.   I looked over at Zach and Todd who were helping the twins with theirs.   

They grinned and Zach said, “This is the perfect way to spend Memorial Day.”

“Yes, it is,” I replied with smile.

Bob and Nate each had a fishing pole as did their boys, Jimmy and Trevor.   Bob said, “If we all catch our limit, we will have quite the fish fry when we get back home tonight.”

Nate responded, “I hope we do.   I love fresh fish.”

Sherry said, “Just remember, I am not cleaning them.   You have to clean and fillet them before I’ll cook them.”

Bob laughed, “I am sure we can take care of that chore before we leave for home.”

We broke out the food and had a nice lunch on deck.   It was a good thing I thought to bring lots of sunscreen as the day was sunny and warm.   It wasn’t too long after lunch that the first fish took the bait and practically pulling the fishing pole out of Eddie’s hands.   Fortunately, Jamie grabbed his pole until Eddie got a steady grip on it and began the process of reeling in his catch.

Rick stood ready with the net and scooped the fish out of the water as soon as it broke the surface near the boat.   He held the fish still while Eddie cut his hook out of the fish’s mouth.

Eddie looked at Rick and asked, “What kind of fish is this one?”

“It’s a croaker.   They are good eating,” Rick said.

Eddie grinned, “I have never eaten croaker before.   I can’t wait to taste it.”

Jamie put an arm around his fiancé and gave him a kiss on the lips, “That’s for being such a great fisherman.”

Eddie laughed, “I guess I had better get busy if I am going to get that kind of attention for catching a fish!”

We all laughed and Jamie’s cheeks turned a pretty color of red.   “Don’t worry, Eddie,” I said.   “I am sure that Jamie will give you a huge reward later even if you don’t catch any more fish today.”

That made Jamie even more embarrassed.   The General laughed, “Jamie, don’t let these guys give you a hard time.   They are just jealous because Eddie loves you and not them.”

Jamie finally laughed and responded, “You are right, General.   Eddie is all mine, and no one else’s.”

Just then, Kyle let out a yell, “I’ve got one.”   He started reeling in his line.   Rick stowed Eddie’s fish in our ice chest and then joined Kyle to help him with his catch.   It took Kyle a while to bring in the fish.   He started to tire so Rick held the pole while Kyle reeled in the fishing line.   I picked up the net and leaned over and scooped up the fish and brought it aboard.

Kyle shouted, “It’s a flounder.   Grandma, I caught a flounder!”

It was a nice size one.   Rick pulled out the hook and the flounder found its way into the ice chest.   The rest of the afternoon saw the rest of the guys catch a couple of fish each.   Both sets of twins caught several fish each.   We had quite a day between catching fish, basking in the sun and using the binoculars to identify birds, etc., as we floated in the bay.   The sun was low in the sky when we put away the fishing gear and loosed the boats from each other.  

The General used the motor to take us a fair distance away from Zach’s boat before we raised the sails and began our journey back up river.   As we came abreast of the restaurant, I asked, “Do want to eat at the restaurant or are we going home to throw our fish on the grill?”

The gang answered in unison, “Home to grill the fish!”

We docked the boats and began the process of taking our gear back into the house.   As soon as everything was back in its place, we took the fish out to the garage and began the process of cleaning them.   Rick asked Kyle, “Do you remember how to clean and fillet the fish?”

Kyle nodded his head, “Yes, I do.”

Cameron and Skye watched Kyle clean his fish.   Cameron asked, “Dad, can we do that?”

Zach replied, “Not yet, sweetheart.   You need to be a little older before I will let you use a knife like that.”

Cameron’s face showed his disappointment but then he smiled and grabbed the fish he had caught and handed it to Kyle, “Please clean mine next.”

Kyle smiled, “Sure, Cammy.   Watch carefully and I will show you how it’s done so when you are older you can do it, too.”

Bob and Nate were busy showing their boys how to clean their fish.   Trevor and Jimmy both wanted to clean their own fish but were told the same thing as the twins – they had to wait until they were older.

Josh and JJ were gathered around me as I cleaned the fish we had caught.   I looked at Josh and said, “I know what you are going to ask and the answer is no.”

Josh grinned, “I know I can’t use the knife but can I help cook them on the grill?”

“Yes, you can help me with the timer.   We don’t want to overcook them so I will need a couple of helpers to make sure we turn them over when the time comes,” I said smiling at my two little guys.  

JJ said, “I have a watch.”

Josh said, “I have one, too.   That means we can watch the time for you.”

“Yes, it does,” I replied.  

I finished cleaning our fish about the same time as the rest of the guys finished cleaning theirs.   We cleaned up the mess we had made and then washed off the fish with water from the hose.   Josh handed out plastic bags to the guys for their fish.   We carried them to the backyard where I had aluminum foil, salt, pepper, lemons and other spices waiting to be used.   We season our fish and placed them on the grill to cook.   The boys watched the time and let us know when we needed to turn the fish over.   Rick and Zach supervised the grills while Todd and I brought out the food we had prepared for dinner – a variety of salads and fruit to go with the fish.    As soon as the fish was cooked, we all sat down and ate a wonderful dinner complete with tiki torches and a nice fire in the fire pit.

We roasted marshmallows and made ‘smores for dessert.   Mrs. Reed said, “Thank you for such a wonderful day.   I love ‘smores.   They remind me of my youth when my parents took us camping.”

I roasted a couple marshmallows.   I put them between two graham crackers with a piece of milk chocolate in the middle and waited a few minutes for the chocolate to melt.   Rick sat next to me on the bench in front of the fire with his arm around my waist.

He asked, “Are you planning to share that with me or do I have to make my own?”

I laughed, “You know that I will always share with you!”

Rick kissed me on the lips and then let me feed him half of my ‘smore.   Rick said, “Thank you, Babe.”

I handed him the rest of the treat and said, “I expect to be amply rewarded for sharing my ‘smore with you.”   I grinned broadly and winked at him.

Rick finished swallowing before he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You have earned an evening of the best sex you have ever had.”  Rick’s husky voice sent shivers of anticipation down my spine.   He nibbled my ear and then kissed me on the lips.

Sherry, who had been watching us, smiled and said, “You two remind me of newlyweds.”

“We still are,” Rick said.   “That is how we see ourselves.   We are also best friends as well as lovers.”

“We still treat each other the way we did when we were first married,” I said.

“Spending time with you guys has really opened my eyes to the fact that gay marriage is a very positive thing.   Between your two families, I have seen the evidence that gay families are just as loving, caring and nurturing as straight families,” she said.

Bob said, “I admire you guys for your courage to raise a family with so much negativity surrounding gay marriage in today’s society.”

Zach said, “It hasn’t been easy.   Just ask Rick and Glenn about their experiences with evil-minded people.”

Nate said, “I wish that more people could see your two families.   Maybe they would stop saying such mean things about gays or trying to discriminate against them.”

“Nate, I agree that most reasonable people would stop their harassment of gays but there are so many religious zealots who have made it their mission to eradicate gays from the world.   Even if they were to see how wonderful gay parents are with their children, they would never admit that gays are capable of raising children just as well as straight couples if not better,” Paula said.

Zach said, “The religious leaders of this country have tried to dehumanize gays.   Their aim is to get society to accept the fact that it’s okay to discriminate against gays.   Gays are being victimized at the hands of these so called “Christian” ministers along with their many followers.”

Nate spoke up, “That is not true of all denominations though.   Our church is very accepting of gays and has many support services for our gay members.”

Paula said, “Yes, our church is very open.   You should bring your boys and join us for Sunday services.”

I looked at Rick and then at Todd and Zach.   Todd replied, “Thank you for the invitation, Paula.   We will talk it over as a family and let you know.”

The conversation moved to the newly engaged couples and their wedding plans.   The children played games and chased each other around the yard playing a game of tag.   It grew late and soon our guests bid us farewell and left us.   We made quick work of cleaning up and then took the twins upstairs for their baths.

As soon as everyone was in bed, Rick took me in his arms and said, “Mr. Lernier, your presence is requested in our bedroom.”

I grinned and kissed my lover boy, “I am all yours, Babe.”

Rick laughed, “I am glad you acknowledge that fact!”

The rest of the evening with my sweetheart was just as magical as our first night together!

*** ***

The next day was very busy for all of us.   Josh was a little warm when woke up so I took his temperature.   It showed that it was 101.1.   I called our pediatrician and made an appointment to see her.   She checked him out and recommended that we keep him hydrated and to use acetaminophen to keep his fever down.

I followed her directions and kept the Josh under close observation all day.   That evening after Rick came home, we ate dinner and got the boys ready for bed.   Josh was sitting on my lap as we read stories together when he started shaking violently in my arms.

“Rick, come quickly!” I shouted as Josh started flailing around with his arms and legs twitching and jumping in every direction throwing his head back and forth.

Rick saw what was happening and pulled his cell from his pocket and dialed 911.   Rick described what was happening to Josh to the dispatcher who said, “The paramedics are on their way.   Place the child on the floor and turn him on his side.   Make sure there is nothing obstructing his airway.”

Rick relayed the instructions to me.   I gently laid our boy on his side and held onto him to keep him from rolling around the floor.   Rick checked his mouth and made sure he was breathing.

I looked at Josh’s face.   It had gone totally white and his eyes had rolled back into his head as his seizure continued.   “Rick, how long will it be before the paramedics arrive?”

Rick replied, “Any minute now.”

JJ asked, “Is Josh going to be okay?”

“I don’t know, sweetheart.   We will have to wait and see,” I said trying not to let my concern show in my voice.

Eddie called on the intercom to inform us that the emergency responders had arrived and Rick raced to the door and returned with the paramedics.  They quickly assessed the situation taking over from me as they worked on Josh.   The violent, spastic movements of his limbs came to an end but he was still rigid; his muscles wouldn’t relax.   The paramedic talked with the emergency room doctors informing them that Josh was still seizing with his jaws clenched shut and his eyes completely unresponsive.  

The lead paramedic asked us, “Do you know what may have precipitated the seizure?”

Rick replied, “No.   This is the first time we have ever seen anything like this.”

“Do either of you have a family history of seizures?” he asked.

I didn’t respond at first as I tried to recover from my surprise that he knew that Josh was related to both of us.   My brain finally unfroze and I said, “My little sister had grand mal seizures when she was about 18 months old.   They put her on some medication to control them.   She eventually outgrew them,” I said.

He repeated the information to the doctors at the hospital.   He said, “The child’s temperature is 100.1.   His parents gave him acetaminophen.   They said his temperature was 102.2 when they gave him the fever reducer.”

He listened for a few minutes and then turned to us, “Has the child seen a doctor recently?”

Rick answered, “We took him to see the pediatrician this morning about his fever.   She told us he had the flu and to keep him hydrated and to keep giving him acetaminophen to keep the fever down.”

“The doctors think he is suffering from febrile seizures due to his high temperature but they don’t know for sure until they run some tests,” he said.  “The ambulance should be here any moment.   We need to get your boy to the hospital as soon as possible.”

Two more paramedics showed up with a stretcher and they placed Joshua on it and strapped him down.   His poor little body was still rigid and convulsed every minute or so.

The other paramedic asked, “Who is going to ride with us to the hospital?”

Rick said, “Glenn, you go while I take JJ over to Zach and Todd’s.   I will meet you at the emergency room.  To which hospital are you taking him?”

The paramedic answered, “Mount Vernon.”

“Okay,” Rick said.  He turned and went into the kitchen and soon returned with Josh’s health insurance card and the legal documents I needed to make sure the hospital didn’t give me any hassles about not being his dad.

I gave JJ a hug and said, “Daddy is going with Josh.   Will you stay with Cameron and Skye while Dad goes to the hospital?”

JJ nodded his head, his eyes wide as he watched his twin brother being carried out of the room.   When he didn’t answer, I took him in my arms, “Josh will be okay, JJ.   I promise.   The doctors are going to help him at the hospital.”

JJ said, “Okay.”

Rick said, “You need to go, Glenn.”

I kissed Rick and said, “I love you.”

Rick said, “I love you, too.”

I walked out the door to the waiting ambulance.   The paramedic helped me into the back of the ambulance and then climbed in on the opposite side of Josh.   As they closed the doors, Josh started convulsing violently.   The paramedic quickly released the restraints and turned Josh onto his side, clearing his airway.   He looked at me and asked, “Can you hold him on his side like this?”

“Yes,” I replied and did as he asked.  

He opened the window into the cab and said, “We aren’t going anywhere, yet.”   He consulted with the emergency room doctors; telling them was happening.   They gave him instructions which we followed.   I was so terrified for our son.   His body contorted into all kinds of weird positions.   It was like he was a marionette with someone pulling his strings forcing him to make these grotesque body movements.   After a few minutes, Josh’s body relaxed and the seizure ended.

The paramedic strapped Josh down, again, and relayed the information to the doctors who told him to get Josh to the hospital as soon as possible.   He passed on the information and the ambulance driver switched on the emergency lights and the siren and roared out of the driveway and down the street.  

The paramedic looked at me and said, “I am Barry McCormick.   I live a couple of blocks from here.   I have seen you and your family walking through the neighborhood.   I have also seen you and your husband running in the mornings.”  His comments had the desired effect of distracting me from the seriousness of the situation.    I stared at him trying to process the information.   Since I didn’t respond right away, he continued, “My wife and I have three children – a boy and twin girls.   My girls are the same age as your twins.”

Something clicked and suddenly knew exactly who he was.   I had seen his family many times as we had passed their home.   I nodded my head, “I remember seeing you in the neighborhood.   I had no idea you were a paramedic.”

Barry smiled, “Most people don’t.   I work shift C at the Gunston Fire and Rescue Station.   We are Fairfax County’s station 20.”

“We drive by it all the time.   I am glad you were able to arrive at our house so quickly,” I said.

“I am, too.   We knew it was serious when they relayed the information to us about it being a small child,” Barry said.

“How long will it take for us to get to the hospital?” I asked.

Barry understood the anxiety in my voice, “We should be able to get there in about twenty minutes maybe sooner.   We have to make sure everyone moves out of our way before we can proceed through intersections.   We don’t want to have an accident on our way to the hospital.”

“Do you think Josh will be okay?” I asked.

Barry smiled, “I think so now that the seizure is over.   The doctors at the Mount Vernon Hospital are pretty good at figuring things out.   I am sure they will be able to help your son.”

His comment reminded me of his statements at the house.   I asked, “How did you know that Josh is a blood relation to both of us?”

Barry grinned, “I talked to your neighbors, Zach and Todd.   They said that your sister was your surrogate mother and that your husband is their natural father.”

I breathed a sigh of relief.   I was afraid that the whole neighborhood had been gossiping about us.   “I am glad you didn’t find out through the grapevine,” I said with a smile.

He smiled, “There is a very active group of women in the neighborhood who try to get into everyone’s business.   I grew up three houses over from your place.   My parents still live there.   I know all of the neighbors pretty well.   They are all good people and know when to stay out of people’s business.”

I took a moment to look him over and noted his strong, wiry frame; his buzz cut brown hair, striking blue eyes and an overly generous smile which transformed his rather rough features into a thing of beauty.   He was exactly my height I remembered as we stood together before getting into the back of the ambulance.

Barry’s smile grew even broader if that were possible.   He said, “We are both married, remember?”

I blushed and dropped my eyes to the sleeping boy between us.   “I’m sorry.   I didn’t mean to offend you.”

Barry laughed, “You didn’t offend me in the least.   In fact, I am rather flattered.   I was worried that I was getting too out of shape to attract anyone’s attention.”  I looked up and met his eyes.   He reached over and patted me on the shoulder.   “It’s okay.   Really it is.”

I smiled, “I love good looking guys.   Rick is always teasing me about how obvious I am about it.”

Barry said, “I completely understand.   My wife tells me the same thing about looking at other women.   She says it’s okay to look but that’s it.”

I laughed, “Rick tells me the same thing.   I know how fortunate I am that I found Rick.”

“You really love him, don’t you?” Barry asked.

“Yes, I do.   I would be so lost without him,” I said.

“I can tell by the way you look when you talk about him,” Barry remarked.

We rode in silence for a while; listening to the sirens.   Barry said, “We are almost there.   After this is all over, please stop by and visit with me and the family.   We would like to get to know you better.   Zach told us about some of the bad experiences you had in Arlington.”

The memory of those dark times clouded my face and brought a look of pain that startled Barry because he quickly said, “I am sorry if I have spoken about something I shouldn’t have.”

“It’s okay, Barry.   The deep wounds we suffered at the hands of those vile servants of evil are still very tender and painful,” I said.

Barry nodded his head, “I’m sorry you were subjected to such hatefulness by those who should have been looking out for your welfare.”

I didn’t speak because of the lump that had suddenly formed there.   Here was a representative of the Fairfax County government apologizing to me for something that happened in a neighboring county.   It was a little overwhelming.   Fortunately, I didn’t have to say anything because we had arrived at the emergency room and the doors of the ambulance were opened.

I climbed out and moved to the side as the paramedics carried Josh from the ambulance into the emergency room.   I could see Josh was so exhausted from the ordeal that he didn’t even open eyes.    I quickly followed them inside.   Barry introduced me to the triage nurse, “This is the child’s father.”

The nurse asked me to sit down at her desk and started asking me questions as she completed the hospital’s forms.   I showed her Josh’s health insurance card and she took down additional background information about Josh’s condition.   She then stood up and said, “Mr. Lernier, please follow me.   I will take you back to see your son.”

She took me to an alcove where Josh lay in bed asleep.   The curtain was pulled between his bed and the one next to it.   There was a line of ten beds.   All of them had the curtains pulled and I could see that each one was occupied.   “You are very busy tonight,” I commented to the nurse.

“Yes.   It seems everyone decided tonight was the night to have an accident of some sort.   It seems to happen like this at the oddest hours,” she responded.   “The doctor will be with you shortly.”

I sat down in the chair next to Josh’s bed.   I didn’t wait very long before a young physician stepped into the alcove and asked, “Are you the boy’s father?”

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

He said, “I am Dr. Yang.   We want to run a couple of blood tests to rule some of the worst causes of seizures as well as to look at his blood counts, etc.”

“Okay.   How long before we will know what is going on?” I asked.

“It may take a few days before the tests come back.   We want to give him an injection of Rocephin just to make sure it’s not a bacterial infection like meningitis.  There have been several cases of meningitis identified in the area over the last few weeks.   Rather than wait for tests to come back positive, we want to begin an aggressive treatment to prevent any further damage.   If we wait, things could become much worse.”

I nodded my head in understanding.   I knew how serious meningitis could be and I agreed with the doctor’s assessment.   “Go ahead with what you have outlined,” I said.

Dr. Yang replied, “Good.  I will send the nurses in to draw his blood and to give him the Rocephin injection.”

A few minutes later, Rick was escorted back to join me.   Rick asked, “What did the doctor say?”

I repeated what Dr. Yang had told me.   The nurses came in and asked us to step outside while they drew Josh’s blood.   One of them smiled at us and said, “We know how hard it can be to see us draw your little one’s blood.   We won’t be long and we promise to be as gentle as we can.”

I took Rick’s hand and squeezed it.   Josh started screaming and I clung to Rick to keep myself from running in and ripping Josh away from them.   Rick said, “It’s alright.   It won’t be long and it will be over.”

He turned me to face him and put his hands on my face to wipe the tears from my face.   “Josh is going to be fine,” Rick said trying to comfort me.   All I could think about was our little boy screaming in terror as they inserted the needle to draw his blood followed by another needle with the antibiotic.

I looked up into Rick’s eyes and saw that they were bright with tears and that he was just as torn up by what was happening as I was.   I brushed his cheek with my fingertips.   “Thank you for being here.   I don’t think I could deal with it alone,” I said.

Rick took my hand and led me back towards the alcove as one of the nurses came out from behind the curtain.   Seeing us, she said, “I’m sorry but it had to be done.”

I wouldn’t even acknowledge her for fear of losing control.  Right at the moment I hated her for inflicting such pain on my little one.   We saw that the other nurse was trying to comfort Josh who was crying uncontrollably.   Seeing us, he struggled to get away from her.  I rushed over and took him in my arms.   Josh clung to me as if his life depended on it.   I smoothed his hair and said, “It’s alright.   Everything will be okay.”

Rick changed places with the nurse and sat down opposite us and took Josh’s hand in his, “We won’t leave you.   We promise.”

Josh’s tears started subside as did his sobs of terror.   I looked up at the nurse, “He is burning up, again.   Did the doctor leave orders to give him a fever reducer?”

“He did.   I will be right back,” she said.

I glanced over at Rick and asked, “Did you get her name?”

Rick nodded, “Her name tag said her name is Millie.”

She returned with some orange colored medicine, “The doctor wants to start out with ibuprofen followed by acetaminophen in four hours.   He wants to use the two medicines in tandem to control the fever.   He believes the seizures were caused by the boy’s high fever.”

She tried to give Josh the medicine but he wasn’t having anything to do with her.   He would turn his head away and bury his face in my chest.   Finally, I said, “Let me give it to him.”

She acquiesced and handed me the medicine cup.   I said, “Josh, this medicine will make you feel better.   Please drink it for me, sweetheart.”

Josh reluctantly let me put the little cup to his lips and he swallowed the medicine.   I handed the cup back to Millie who left us.   Rick dozed off while I held Josh who lay on my chest like a limp rag.   I gently patted his back as his breathing slowed and evened out.   Soon he was asleep.   I must have zoned out as well because the nurse was shaking me awake saying, “It’s been four hours, Mr. Lernier.   We need to wake Josh up and take his temperature and give him another dose of medicine.”

I sat up as did Rick.   I gently woke Josh and gave him the medicine after which the nurse took his temperature.   She smiled, “His temperature is back to normal.”

She left us for a moment but returned with Dr. Yang.   Dr. Yang said, “We have the results of the blood tests back.   His white blood count is elevated as we suspected.   I am releasing you to go home but I want you to see your regular doctor tomorrow.   Here is a prescription for an oral antibiotic.   Do you have children’s ibuprofen at home?”

“Yes, we have both ibuprofen and acetaminophen,” I said.

“Good.  I want you to follow these directions.   It is important that we keep his fever down because I believe that is what caused the seizure.   Your pediatrician will call you with the rest of the test results in a day or so,” Dr. Yang said.

The nurse said, “I will be back to walk you out after you have dressed Joshua.”

Rick pulled out Josh’s pajamas from the bag he had brought with him from the house.   I looked at him and smiled, “What would I do without you?”

“You would be a total basket case,” Rick said with a grin.   He helped me dress Josh.

The nurse returned and we were escorted out of the emergency room.   I put him in his car seat and buckled him in and turned and got into the front seat next to Rick.   I said, “Are you okay to drive?   I can drive us home if you are too tired.”

“No, Babe, I am fine,” Rick said smiling at me.   I leaned back and closed my eyes as Rick negotiated the streets that led to Route 1.   He turned left and proceeded to drive us home.  

Eddie opened the gate for us as we approached the house.  He came out of the guard shack and asked, “How is Josh?”

“He is going to be okay,” Rick said.

“Good.  I will see you guys later,” Eddie said and returned to his post.  

I looked over and noticed that Jamie was sitting next to him in the guard shack.   I smiled and said, “I think we are getting two for the price of one tonight.”

Rick laughed, “Yes, we are.   I just hope they don’t forget that they are in a public place.   I wouldn’t want one of the neighbors to call the cops on them for indecent exposure!”

We pulled the car into the garage and Rick carried Josh up to his bed.   I followed in his footsteps barely able to coerce my body to move.   I was so physically exhausted.   When we were finally in bed, Rick said, “I have set the alarm to go off in one hour so we can give Josh his next dose of medicine.”

I groaned, “I know we have to do that but I am so tired.”

Rick said, “I have set two different alarms to make sure one of us gets up.”   He pulled me close and I melted into his embrace and was instantly out.   An hour later, the alarms both went off as planned.

“I will get up and give Josh his medicine,” Rick said.

“I will help you because I know Josh is still traumatized by what happened in the emergency room,” I said.

Rick smiled, “Are you sure you aren’t talking about yourself and not Josh?”

I put my arm around Rick’s waist, “Okay, I am still traumatized by what happened.   There, I said it.”

Rick hugged me and we went into the boys’ room and woke Josh up.   While I held Josh, Rick went downstairs to the kitchen and retrieved the medicine.   He returned and he gave it to Josh.   I put Josh back to bed and we returned to our room.   Rick set the alarms to go off again in two hours and we collapsed into our bed.

*** ***

Author’s Note:  

Here is a great resource for information about homeschooling your children:  http://www.vahomeschoolers.org/

Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant is accessible by car and boat - http://www.timsrivershore.com/index.shtml

3 comments:

  1. What a great chapter! However, it was a tear-jerker!!! I wasn't sure I would be able to see clearly enough to finish the chapter. I love both of your stories and eagerly await new chapters for each of them. Thanks so much for sharing your talents!!!
    Bowothorny

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the feedback. I am glad you are enjoying the story. I just sent chapter 16 to my editors. It should be posted this weekend. I started writing chapter 87 of The Man from Swift Current tonight.

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  2. Sorry to read both the twins had their fair share of medical issues in the last few chapters. I am glad to read about some of Glenn's MN friends and they are still together as couples. It is nice having Todd and Zach back in the story too. Glenn & Rick almost live a fairy tail life. I mean everything isn't coming up roses, but it is still a nice life. I wish I was able to raise my kids that way. Home schooling, traveling and all. I didn't get to enjoy my children. I was a single parent, struggling to make ends meet, keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, working so many hours, taking night classes I was exhausted when I arrive home and we never had money to go away or do things that weren't free. Oh well no sense looking back and feeling bad about something I can't change. These last few chapters just made me think about what it was like when my kids little and something's they missed out on and I lost when we were all young.

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