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Daddy's House

Updated on March 9, 2013
Love waxed abundant...
Love waxed abundant... | Source

...I left one world and entered another.

"Daddy! Daddy!" he squealed with delight. As soon as the cyclone fence gate closed behind him, he ran towards me--the way only two-year-olds can run--with utter abandon. I suddenly wished I had a movie camera; here was a scene to be freeze-framed in my memory. He rushed into my arms, and I swept his face with kisses. His hair, red-brown like his mother's, shone like jewels in the late morning sun. Just as quickly as he'd wanted to be in my arms, he clambered out of my embrace. There used to be a time when I could hold him for hours, I thought. Now, independence ruled his actions. Already, I have to let go.

"Hi, honey!" my wife exclaimed. Her arms were encumbered by an ice chest and two bags. "Quick! Grab this!" She pointed with her chin to the heavier bag. I grabbed both bags, and she sighed with relief.

"Good morning!" I said with a smile, and gave her a quick kiss.

Our little boy was already climbing the steps to the trailer. He could just barely stretch his legs high enough to reach the next step. I opened the door for him, and he plopped right in. After my wife stepped in, I turned around and watched the man and woman in blue uniforms walk away. I squinted as I surveyed the tower next to the trailer. The man up there looked bored. Just another day.

I entered the trailer and closed the door behind me...and by so doing, I left one world and entered another.

"I'm in Daddy's house!" The little sport was already exploring the living room and hallway. That gave me an opportunity to give my sweetheart a big bear hug and a more lingering kiss.

The energized dynamo came running out of the children's bedroom with some toys he'd found. "Look, Mom! A truck!" It was my cue to end the loving embrace.

"I'll keep him entertained while you make lunch, hon," I said. She gave me an appreciative smile.

"Come on, son! Let's make a slide. You can help Dad, okay?"

"Okay!" His face beamed with anticipation. That priceless smile. It'll keep me going when nothing else will.


...love waxed abundant in the tiny trailer.

I removed the mattress from the single bed in the children's room and dragged it into the living room. Then I had my son help me put some pillows on the mattress. I propped one end of a coffee table on a sofa and situated the other end at the tip of the mattress, thereby creating a makeshift slide. I covered the sharp end of the table with smaller pillows from the sofa in order to protect his back from scrapes at the end of the slide.

He giggled as I helped him walk up the slide in his stockinged feet. He sat at the top, perched like a king of the mountain.

"Ready, son?"

"Ready!"

"Okay, you count with Daddy, okay?"

"Okay!"

Together, we counted. "One--" Lord, make this one special day last a lifetime "--Two--" He's only two, Lord; help me be a good father to him "--Three!--" Please bring the three of us together again soon!

"Whee!" my little boy exclaimed as he slid down the four-foot long coffee table. It was such a short ride, so he asked me to help him go for another. "Again, Daddy!" he kept saying at the end of each slide.

Finally, it was time for lunch. My little guy and I helped set the table. My wife had made a simple yet nourishing meal. I was prepared to say grace, but she stopped me short. "Honey, he can give the blessing." Well! Good for him! Another landmark in his development.

I listened intently. I even opened my eyes so I could watch him pray. In a tiny voice, with his hands reverently clasped and his face adorned with a grimace (as a child is inclined to wear when he is intent on keeping his eyes closed), he said, "Thanks, Jesus--"

"For this food," my wife prompted.

"--for this food. Amen!"

"Amen!" we proudly echoed.

"You know," I said as I patted his head, "I am so proud of you!" He dove into his broccoli, but I could tell he was pleased.

In the evening, he asked me to make a house for him.

"Okay, son. Here we go!" I took two chairs from the kitchen and placed them on either side of the mattress in the living room. I then spread a sheet over the two chairs. The result was a modified pup tent.

"Come, Daddy, Mommy. Come inside my house!" he said. We joined him underneath the linen canopy. Ah! That joyful look on his face! "Mommy, Daddy, me!" he piped up. My wife and I looked at each other, understanding in our eyes.

Under that flimsy tent, we sang a host of children's songs--some secular, some learned at church. We clapped and moved our heads according to his lead, and love waxed abundant in the tiny trailer.

Soon, it was his bedtime, so my wife prepared a bottle of milk for him. I watched as she changed him and put on his pajamas. So much--I'm missing out on so much.

She said a prayer with him, and I added words of my own. I kissed his forehead.

"Hey, tiger," I said with a smile, "did you have fun today?"

He looked up at me with sleepy eyes and nodded. In between swallows of milk, he said, "Mm-hmm."

Soon, he fell asleep. My wife and I leafed through a hymnal and harmonized a few songs. We felt it was an appropriate way for us to bid him a good night. Dream of angels tonight, son.

My wife and I did not have the luxury of undisturbed slumber that our little boy enjoyed. We were awakened at 2 AM and then again at 6 AM by the uniforms.

"Count time!" they shouted and rudely banged on the side of the trailer.

After I showed my face at the door so they could acknowledge my presence, I returned to the master bedroom. On my way, I looked in on him. The poor little guy had kicked his blanket off, so I gently covered him up again. I watched him as he slept. This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. He had his mouth set in a cute pucker. His legs were sprawled every which way. How long he is! I mused. He was 20-1/2" long at birth, and now he's over 37"! A typical Dad, sizing up the stats...

Wasn't it just yesterday when I talked to the infant not yet seen or known, my head gently pressed against his mother's tummy? Wasn't it just yesterday when he came to visit me for the first time, barely a week old and looking like a grumpy old man? Wasn't it just yesterday when he took his first bite of solid food? Or walked his first wobbly steps? Or blew his first candle out? Or spoke his first sentence?

I have a thousand and one yesterdays to cherish--yet only one special day to look forward to...

...the day I can go home...

9 AM came all too soon. The dreaded knock at the door got my adrenaline going. I picked up our garbage and dirty linen bags and deposited them in the appropriate barrels outside the trailer. I then returned to carry my little boy and a couple of bags out of the trailer. My wife followed with her things.

We had just a few precious seconds to say our goodbyes. I gave my wife a loving hug and kiss. "Thanks, honey! I had a great time!" She smiled. I knew her thoughts were already racing to the practical concerns of her world out there, just as mine were reverting to the primal realities of my world in here.

The final tug came when I looked at him. He was bundled up in a warm hooded jacket. He looked up at me with a look beyond his years. It shook me to see that look. The look said: Dad, do you have to go?

"Son, I love you so much! We had so much fun! I'll see you soon, okay? Now say 'Bye' to Daddy, son!"

"Bye, Daddy!"

"I love you!"

"I wuv you!"

And before he could see me cry, I turned my back on him and headed, under escort, towards the prison compound.

Comments

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  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Born2care2001

    Hi, Bruce! You are most perceptive and empathetic. Seven weeks ago, I read a wonderful and heartwarming video hub of yours that had to do with complimentary commenting. As in the case of another HubPages social activist, billybuc, you are very much invested in the connective glue that gives this literary community solidarity, and I support that 100 percent.

    One day, I wanted to see just how far that penitentiary I wrote about in this story was from my home. At the four-mile mark, I passed the church that I used to attend. Exactly one mile later, I turned around at the northernmost boundary of the prison. So I learned that morning that the Big House was only five miles away, and I also learned that I will never again go on that particular route again. It dawned on me, you see, that I was the only one walking that close to the prison, and I could only imagine with my writer's creativity just how many sets of eyes might have been upon me, not to mention implements with triggers.

    Still, I had challenged myself, and I had accomplished what I'd set out to do...a ten-mile walk.

    Now, here's an update on the story. While some officers' children grew up to be antisocial and got involved in lives of crime, this little boy endured a challenging childhood--taunting from classmates, ostracism from much of society, and the experience of seeing his family go through the same. He had a special ilk--a stubborn tenacity, if you will--that enabled him to persevere against tremendous odds. He graduated from high school with a 4.0 average, attended a local university where he formed a contemporary Christian band and ministered to thousands of young people and their families, and got a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He then went straight to a prestigious graduate school in California, spending one quarter in Europe where he toured almost every single country, sometimes sleeping with the hobos in the freight cars of trains. He graduated with a dual master's degree in Business Administration and Mechanical Engineering and immediately got a high-paying salaried job at a company where he had served as an intern during grad school.

    He took all of that shame and anger and bitterness and turned a tidal wave of dilemma into a harvest of abundant blessings. How? Why?

    A loving mother who never wavered in her faith. A loving sister he felt very protective and responsible for. An absent father who loved from a physical distance and yet with spiritual intimacy.

    A God of infinite grace.

    He was one of the fortunate children of incarcerated men. His sister is also demonstrating a remarkable propensity for succeeding in spite of their father's past.

    My brother once told me, "Joe, every man has a story." What he was saying was that we do ourselves the biggest favor by listening to the other man's story. Without judgment. Without prejudice.

    Read the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1 once again. Funny thing...special mention is made of a woman who slept with her father-in-law; a second woman who was a harlot; and a third woman who committed adultery with a king. From these errant human beings, Christ was descended. The point is aptly made by God.

    In His abundant favor, the ultimate worst of situations can be used by Him for good.

    I'm not a bleeding heart liberal. I believe in the law, and I believe that if a man breaks the law, he should be punished. But that's not the end of the story. I also believe that discipline and punishment are cruel concepts in the absence of redemption and restoration.

    Have a wonderful evening and a memorable new week, Bruce! Your presence here on HubPages has already made a significant contribution to the improvement and solidarity of this community. Aloha, my friend!

    Joe

  • Born2care2001 profile image

    Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

    5 years ago from Asheville NC

    I too, enjoyed this story...and it broke my heart as well. For many years I mentored young men, in and out of correctional facilities. Life there is no picnic, but often much better for them than outside.

    You demonstrate your compassion for humanity as well as your acumen for the written word here in this hub. I am grateful for that and for the wisdom behind it!

    I am still befuddled though, by the tenderhearted father who, at the same time, is often a coldhearted felon. It hurts me for the families that are forced to deal with the emotional roller coaster this lifestyle demands.

    This was so well done Joe, so well done!

    Thank you!

    Voted Up +++

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @rajan jolly

    Sir Winston Churchill was big on social reform. He once said something to the effect of, "If you want to see the scum of the earth, go to prison at shift change." I always wanted to know what he meant by that. : )

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    I just loved this story. You are a great story teller as well, my friend.

    Voted up, beautiful.

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