Saturday, April 23, 2016

Goodbye, Mom I Will Always Love You - Chapter Two

Goodbye, Mom, I Will Always Love You - Chapter Two

We arrived home minus one of our sons, having left David at school in Utah.  During our trip home, I kept looking for him, only to remind myself he was at college.  I missed him so much!  Yet, I was so proud of him.  It had been only a few weeks since he had refused to deliver a plate of cookies to some friends.  His fear had paralyzed him.  He couldn’t get out of the car and make himself walk up to the front door to hand the cookies them.  I had called them ahead of time, so they knew we were coming and let David talk them on the phone.  The cookie delivery had been David’s idea.  He wanted to do it to work on his fear of doing things by himself.  He had managed to deliver cookies to two of the five families we were scheduled to visit that day.  Rick and I had done everything in our power to make it easier for him to be away from home; but, I still worried we hadn’t done enough. 

His roommates were kids with similar interests and he seemed to be comfortable with them, especially Joel.  Joel shared a room with David and was gay.  David had bonded with Joel immediately.  Last night, David told me to stop worrying about him.  He informed me he and Joel were boyfriends, now; and we’re sharing a bed.  I was happy for him, but I couldn’t help worrying about him!  David had broken up with his longtime boyfriend, Markley, when he had informed him he was going to West Point.  Markley made it clear he didn’t want a long distance relationship, since Markley would be living in New York and David in Utah.  David had been devastated.

I could still hear David’s words ringing in my ears, when I mentioned Joel might just be a rebound guy:

“Daddy, I’m an adult and can make up my own mind about my relationships with other guys.”

“I’m sorry, David.  I just worry about you,” I said.

He said, “I know, Daddy; but you need to let me make my own decisions about who I love.”

“Okay.  Did you contact the school about your special needs?” I asked, changing the subject.

David assured me, “Yes, talked to them about getting help, if I need it.  May I remind you that you and Dad got me every possible device there is to take notes, organize my assignments and just about everything else.  I don’t need more gadgets, Daddy.  If I need help, Joel can assist me.”

“Okay.  We love you,” I said.

“I know and I love you, too,” he said, and ended the call.

 After my conversation with David, I had called Mark, one of our friends from our time at the University of Minnesota, and he advised me to relax.  Sending me a quote from Khalil Gibran about children:

“…Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you…”

Mark and I had a long talk, leaving me feeling better about learning to let go.  You would think I had already learned that life lesson, when Kyle left us to study in Brazil.  Thankfully, Rick understood my anxiety over David!  I knew Kyle would be fine no matter where in the world he travelled.  With his confidence and charm, I had no doubt Kyle would be successful at whatever task he put his hand to do.  With David, I felt a strong protective urge, from the first day we met.  That protective instinct only grew stronger over the intervening years. 

As Rick pulled into our driveway and turned off the engine, he looked over at me and said, “Stop worrying about David.  We’re all guilty of being over-protective of him; but now, we need to let him go so he can grow in his own space.  We can’t protect him from the world forever.”

I met Rick’s gaze and smiled.  “I know you’re right; but that doesn’t stop me from wishing I could always be there for him.  I still remember how he clung to me when Mrs. Evans from Child Protective Service (CPS) brought him to our home.”

“I remember Kyle and Ashley climbed on your lap, wrapping their arms around you and David that day,” Rick said.  He leaned over to kiss me lightly on the lips.  “Babe, we’re still here for him.  It’s just now he’s over 2,000 miles (3200 km.) away,” Rick said.

I nodded my head.  “I know, but I still miss him.”

Ashley said, “I miss him, too.  Now it’s just me and the twins.”

I looked over my shoulder at her.  “Yes, and that means we have more time to pay attention to you and the twins.”

Ashley rolled her eyes.  “Just what I need…more parental attention.”

I laughed and said, “I know how you feel.  I felt the same way when I was your age.”

Ashley grinned at me.  “Then, you know not to smother me with fatherly attention.”

I nodded my head.  “I do; but we can still consult each other on boys and clothes, right?”

She giggled.  “Yes, Daddy, we can still talk about the good looking boys at school and go shopping for great clothes.”  Ashley was our fashionista.  She knew how to put clothes together that looked good on her.  She also knew how to use just the right amount of makeup to highlight her beautiful eyes and high cheekbones.  Ashley had blossomed over the summer into a drop-dead gorgeous young woman.  Everywhere we went, I noticed how the guys followed her with their eyes.  I pointed it out to Rick, who growled, “They’d better keep their distance from her.”

My mind returned to the present as Rick opened the door and climbed out of the mini-van.  I joined him and marveled at how good it felt to finally get out of the car.  Ashley and the twins were just as happy to be home as I was.  The twins jumped out the van and rushed to the door, just as Rick unlocked it.  JJ and Josh pushed past him and ran throughout the house, before returning to me and Rick.  I laughed as my ten-year old twins hugged us.

Josh said, “I’m so glad to be home.”

JJ looked up at us and said, “Everything is still here!”

Rick asked, “Why wouldn’t it be here?”

JJ shrugged.  “I don’t know, Dad, I’m just glad everything is where I left it when we left.”

I said, “Uncle Jeff and Uncle Collin checked on the house while we were gone, sweetheart, so I don’t know why you were worried.”

JJ shrugged again.  Josh’s excitement was visible on his face as he said, “Our trains are still in their box.  Can we play with them?” 

I was surprised at the request.  The twins hadn’t played with their wooden trains in quite a while.  Their current forms of entertainment were all electronic in nature.  All I could figure out was it had something to do with David moving away from home.  David had spent many hours playing with them, building and designing different configurations with the train tracks.

Rick laughed and said, “Of course, you can build your trains, but you have to take your backpacks to your room, first.”

Josh’s face fell, his disappointment plain to see.  “It won’t take you very long to get your backpacks from the van,” I said.

JJ took his twin’s hand and pulled him toward the door.  “Let’s hurry.”

They disappeared outside as Ashley came inside, hauling her suitcase.  “Do you need some help?” Rick asked her.

She shook her head.  “Thanks, Dad, but I got this.”  She passed us and mounted the stairs to her room.  We heard her door close and lock click into place.

“I guess she wants some time to herself,” I said, smiling up at my husband.

Rick agreed.  “Yes, and I don’t blame her.  I need some down time, as well.”  He leaned forward, giving me a gentle kiss on the lips.  “I’m very glad to be home.”

“I’ll finish unloading the van.  You go upstairs and get showered.  If you want to take a nap, I’ll wake you in time for dinner,” I said.

Rick smiled at me, pulling me into his arms.  “I have a better idea.  Let’s both unload the car, then we’ll shower together.”

“Sounds like a plan,” I responded, kissing him deeply. 

He released me and squeezed my ass as he followed me outside to the mini-van.  We made quick work of unloading out gear.  I carried the ice chest to the kitchen and emptied it, putting away the few perishables we hadn’t eaten during our 10-hour drive from Nashville, Tennessee.  We covered the 669 miles (1077 km.) to Alexandria, Virginia, with few stops.  It had been a long drive for all of us. 

We stopped in Knoxville, Tennessee, just long enough to eat lunch and let the twins run around a bit, before taking them up to the observation deck of the World’s Fair Sunsphere.  I smiled as I remembered their excitement.
1982 World's Fair Sunsphere

Rick returned from taking our luggage to our bedroom, coming up behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist.  Turning my head, I met his lips in a quick kiss.  Leaning back into his hard body, I said, “The ice chest is empty.”

He met my gaze, giving me a lecherous grin.  He pushed his hardening cock against me, before saying, “I’ll take it out to the garage, while you get in the shower.  I’ll join you in a few minutes.”  He captured my lips in a passionate kiss, then released me.  He grabbed the ice chest, leaving me panting from his mind-numbing kiss!

I adjusted myself, before leaving the kitchen.  I climbed the stairs and stopped outside Ashley’s door.  I tapped lightly and waited.  She opened the door, and I asked, “Will you keep an eye on the boys for a little while?”

Seeing my flushed cheeks, she smiled and said, “Of course, Daddy.”  She stepped out of her room and headed downstairs, passing Rick on his way up.

“Thanks for watching the twins for us, Ashley,” Rick said.

Ashley said, “No problem, Dad.  You know they’re ten, not five.  It’s not hard to keep an eye on them.”

Rick stopped and turned around to face her.  “But who knows what mischief they’re plotting.”

Ashley laughed and said, “Yes, they do tend to get into trouble.  I feel for whoever will be their teacher this year.”

“That’s why we asked the school to split them up this year,” Rick said.

Ashley laughed.  “Mrs. Horner told me she was sure they would be the death of her.”

“When did she tell you that?” Rick asked, his eyebrows raised.

“At the 4th grade graduation party at the pool,” Ashley said, smiling.

“She never mentioned anything to your Daddy or I,” Rick said, frowning.

“She didn’t want to upset you, but she said they were little hellions in her class the last few weeks of the school year,” Ashley said.  She turned and continued down the stairs.

Rick finished climbing the stairs and met my eyes, and grinned broadly.  “You’re not in the shower, Babe.”

“True, but it won’t take me long to get there,” I said, giving him the same lecherous grin he had given me earlier.

In no time, we were both naked and enjoying the cascade of warm water washing over us.  Of course, we engaged in our usual shower activities, leaving us both fully sated and clean.

Rick dried me off and I returned the favor.  Rick pulled the towel from my hands and lifted me off of my feet, carrying me to our bed.  I barely had time to position myself, before he drove his long length into me.  I gasped with pleasure, as he captured my lips in a searing kiss, his hands trailing fire everywhere they touched my skin.

Rick murmured against my lips, “Are you ready for round two?”

I nodded my head, then opened my mouth to him as he pushed his tongue past my lips.

Later, we lay together with our limbs intertwined, enjoying the feel bare skin against bare skin.  “Did you know the twins were terrorizing Mrs. Horner last year?”

I raised my head from his chest and met his gaze.  I nodded my head and said, “Yes, I did.  Josh’s friend, Gavin, told his mother what was happening at school and she called me.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Rick asked.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, Babe,” I said, caressing his chiseled chest.  “But I talked to the twins about it and they wrote her a nice letter apologizing for what they’d done.  Mrs. Horner accepted their apology.  Rather than get you upset, I decided to let it go at that.”

Rick frowned.  “I wish you wouldn’t keep things like that from me.”

I cupped his cheek and searched his eyes.  “Will you promise me you won’t lose your temper with the boys if I do?”

He growled, “I don’t lose my temper.”

I looked deeply into his eyes.  “Yes, you do, Babe.  Since Kyle and Purev moved out, you’ve been a bear to live with.  You’ve been short tempered, especially where the twins are concerned.  The boys need your understanding and support more than they need your anger at their failings.  They’re acting out, just like you are, because of the changes in their lives.  Think about it…Kyle is in another country, attending school; and now David is on the other side of the country doing the same.  Added to that, Purev is living in his own place and we see him on weekends for a few hours.  They feel their world isn’t secure, because their siblings are no longer living at home.  Do you see why they’re acting out of character?”

Rick nodded his head and said, “Yes, I get that, because I’m feeling out of sorts, as you’ve already noted.  When we sit down to eat, I’m looking for the three boys and have to remind myself they’re not here.”  Tears blurred his vision, as he swallowed past the lump in his throat.  “I miss my workout buddies and the sassy attitudes.  I didn’t think I would miss my mouthy teenagers, but I do.”

“Then you know what the twins are feeling.  They need us to show them we love them, even more than we do, normally.  They need to be reassured we won’t leave them like their siblings have,” I said.  “Then, they’ll stop acting out.”

Rick smiled and kissed me on the lips.  Pulling back, he said, “You sound like a shrink.”

I laughed.  “I’ve seen enough of them over the years I should be able to spout their psycho-babble better than they can.”

Rick raised his hand to run his fingers through my long blond hair, eventually twirling it between them.  “I love your hair.”

“I know,” I responded, kissing him.

Rick placed his hands on my back, sliding them down to my buttocks, giving me a hard squeeze, when we heard a soft tapping on our bedroom door.  Rick pulled the duvet over us and shouted, “Come in!”

The door opened and JJ and Josh rushed into the room, jumping on the bed.  We moved apart as they burrowed between us.  I’m glad some things haven’t changed!  For now, they are still our little boys.  My eyes filled with tears, knowing they would begin to pull away from us as they moved into their teen years. 

Rick laughed and asked, “What’s going on, boys?”

JJ put his arms around his father’s neck and hugged him.  “We miss David.”

“We miss him, too,” Rick said, giving JJ a hug. 

“It’s a little too quiet with the boys off at school” I said.  “Do you remember where your brothers are going to school?”

Josh spoke up, before JJ could respond, “Yes, Kyle is in Natal, Brazil, David is in Logan, Utah, and Purev is in Fairfax, Virginia.”  Josh clearly enunciated each word, putting up one finger for each of his brothers as he recited from memory the locations where they were going to school.

JJ said, excitedly, “Ashley said we’re supposed to tell you Purev will be over for dinner.” 

Purev was living in the dorms at George Mason University, majoring in music performance and theater.  We tried to convince him to live at home, to save money; but, he wanted to live on campus.  So, we agreed to pay for his room and board, with the stipulation he would be home for Sunday dinner each week.

Rick looked over at me and smiled, “I bet he’s bringing his laundry home.”

I nodded my head in agreement.  “Yes, and that’s okay.  He’ll get a home-cooked meal and we’ll help him do his laundry.”

Josh clapped his hands.  “Yeah!  We get to help Purev fold his clothes.”  Purev had engaged the twins in his weekly chore by offering to pay them a dollar each to fold his clothes, an offer the boys had eagerly accepted!  The twins absolutely adored their older brother and would’ve helped him, even if he hadn’t offered to pay them!

JJ said, “I’m hungry!  May we have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner?”  He gave me his best puppy dog look. 

There is no way I could ever say, ‘no,’ to the look in JJ’s chocolate brown eyes, “Yes, spaghetti and meatballs it is.”

Josh high fived his twin.  “Yeah!”

I hugged the two of them and said, “If we’re having spaghetti and meatballs, you two need to let your Dad and I get up.”

The two very excited boys clamored over us and jumped to the floor.  Racing each other to the door, they shouted, “Ashley, we’re having spaghetti!”

Rick looked over at me, and said, “You’d think we were having a gourmet meal!”

I grinned at him.  “Of course, we’re having gourmet spaghetti because I’m the best chef in the world.”

Before we could get out of bed, Ashley appeared in our doorway.  “Purev wants to know if he can bring his new boyfriend over for dinner.”

My eyebrows shot up in surprise.  “I thought Purev had sworn off getting into another relationship after his experience with that guy….what’s his name?”  I looked at Rick for help with Purev’s ex-boyfriend’s name.

Rick supplied the name, “Terry.”

“Yeah, Terry,” I said, looking back at Ashley.

Ashley looked at her cell phone, and said, “This guy’s name is Trevor and he’s from Richmond.”

I said, “Tell him Trevor is welcome and we’re having spaghetti.”

Ashley tapped on the screen of her cell and looked up at me.  “Done.”  She turned and left us, closing the door behind her.

We got out of bed and quickly dressed.  I went into the kitchen to cook dinner, while Rick joined the boys in the family room where they had built a huge train track.

*** ***

Purev grabbed his laundry bag from his closet and sat it on his bed.  He glanced over at his boyfriend, who was pacing back and forth in front of the window.  “Trevor, stop.”

Trevor met his gaze and said, “I’m not ready to meet your dads.  What if they don’t like me?”

Purev walked over to him, pulling him into his arms.  He looked up into his eyes, and said, “They will love you, Trev.”

Trevor frowned and said, “But you said your Dad will interrogate me.”

“Yes, he will,” Purev said, bringing his hand up to move Trevor’s hair out of his eyes.  “He’s very protective of us and he’s also the enforcer in our family.”

“He sounds pretty scary to me,” Trevor said, making a face.

“Well, he is scary to other people,” Purev said.  “But you don’t have to worry, Babe.  Just be honest with him when he asks you about us.”

Trevor nodded his head.  “Okay.  I hope your family accepts me.”

Purev smiled and put his hand to Trevor’s cheek.  “They will love you because they love me.”  He kissed him and pulled back to say, “My family isn’t like your family, Trevor.”

“But your birth family is just like mine,” Trevor said.

Purev said, “Yes, they are; but, my dads are nothing like them.  They took me in when my birth family rejected me when I came out to them.  They love me, unconditionally.”  He released his lover and turned to grab his laundry bag, dropping it into his empty laundry basket.  He had resisted taking the laundry basket to his dorm, but his dads had insisted he needed it to carry his clean laundry home, instead of putting his clean clothes back into the same bag where his dirty clothes had been.  He picked it up and looked over his shoulder at Trevor.  “Let’s go.”

Trevor grimaced and said, “Do I have to meet your dads today?  Can’t we wait until next month or even longer?”

Purev laughed.  “No, Trevor.  You’re such a drama queen.  You can stop acting like you’re being led to your death.  My dads aren’t going hurt you in any way.  I promise.”

Trevor sighed, resignedly.  “Okay, let’s go.”  He followed his boyfriend out of the room.

*** ***

I was setting the table, when I heard the front door open and close.  I looked up to see Purev enter the kitchen followed by a handsome young guy.  Purev smiled and said, “Daddy, I want you to meet my boyfriend, Trevor.”  He wrapped his arm around Trevor’s waist, pulling him forward.

Trevor put out his hand and I took it, as I looked him over.  He had blond hair that was short on the sides and long on top.  He had deep blue eyes, a hawkish nose, a square jaw and a wide grin, showing his perfect white teeth.  He was 6’2 (188 cm.) and well built.  It was obvious to me he worked out.  His jeans hugged him in all the right places as did his tight t-shirt.  He was mouth-watering!  When I met his steady gaze, he smiled and asked, “Do I pass inspection?”

Grinning up at him, I gave his hand a firm squeeze before releasing it.  “Yes, you’ll do.”

Purev laughed and said, “What Daddy means is you’re a walking wet dream.”

I blushed and said, “Am I that obvious?”

Purev nodded his head.  “Yes, you were practically undressing him with your eyes.”

I looked over at Trevor and said, “I hope you’re not offended, but you’re very good looking.”

Trevor shook his head.  “No, I’m flattered to know you find me attractive.”

“You’re definitely Daddy’s type of guy.  You’ll see what I mean when you meet my Dad.”

As he finished speaking, Rick joined us.  “What type of guy does your Daddy like?”

Purev said, “Guy’s like you, Dad.  This is my boyfriend, Trevor Bainbridge.”

Rick walked over and extended his hand to Trevor.  Trevor shook his hand, and said, “Nice to meet you, sir.”

Rick scowled and said, “Call me Rick or Dad.”

“Yes, sir…I mean Dad,” Trevor responded.  His whole demeanor had changed when Rick had entered the room.  With me, he had been relaxed and at ease, flirting with me.  With Rick, he seemed nervous and unsure of himself.

Rick put his arm around my shoulders, then met Purev’s gaze.  “Sorry, son; but I’ve got to ask.”  Purev nodded his head, knowing what was about to happen.  Rick turned to Trevor, pinning him with a steely gaze.  “What are your intentions with my son?”

Trevor looked at Purev, before answering, “Purev warned me you would ask me that question.”  He turned back to Rick, and continued, “I like Purev a lot, but I’m not ready to settle down.  I’ve been honest with him about wanting to date him, but neither of us is looking to get married right now.”

Purev added, “We’ve decided to be exclusive, for now.  I’m not into sleeping around with every guy I meet.”

“And neither am I,” Trevor said.  “We both want a steady boyfriend.”

Rick nodded his head.  “Okay, I just wanted to make sure you aren’t going to break my son’s heart.”

Trevor leaned over to kiss Purev on the lips.  “I won’t do that, I promise.”

Purev smiled and said, “Dad, we’ve talked things out and know where we stand with each other.”

“Good.  Just make sure you continue to keep those lines of communication open,” Rick said.  “I don’t want to see either of you get hurt.”  The surprised look on Trevor’s face was priceless.  Seeing it, Rick continued, “Trevor, you shouldn’t be surprised we care about your well-being, too.  If Purev thinks you’re worth bringing home to meet us, you’re already part of our family because he cares about you.”

Trevor nodded his head.  “Purev told me what to expect when I met you, but I didn’t expect you to treat me like family since we’ve just met.”

Rick looked over at Purev and said, “Purev is a good judge of character, so I trust him to only bring home guys who meet our standards.  He already knows not to bring home anyone who doesn’t.”

Purev smiled and said, “That means you’re good to go, Trev.

 I said, “Dinner is ready.  Rick, will you call the children to the table?”

Rick said, “Sure, Babe.” 

He gave me a quick kiss and left the kitchen.  I heard him talking to the twins, followed by their mad dash down the hallway to the bathroom to wash up for dinner. 

Rick and Ashley joined us.  Purev opened his arms and his sister flew into his arms.  Ashley said, “I’ve missed you, Purev.”

Purev released her and turned to his boyfriend, and said, “Ashley, I want you to meet my boyfriend, Trevor.”

Ashley smiled and put out her hand, which Trevor took and pulled her into his arms.  “It’s nice to meet you, Ashley.  Purev loves you very much.  He’s told me so much about you.”

He released her and she looked up into his eyes, and said, “You know I’ll kick your butt if you hurt my brother.”

He grinned, and responded, “So I’ve been told.”

She turned her attention to Purev, giving him a huge smile.  She turned back to Trevor and said, “Good, I’m glad we understand each other.”

She stepped away from the boys and walked over to the sink, turning on the water.  She squirted some liquid soap onto her hands and scrubbed them under the warm water.  Drying her hands on a dish towel, she turned to me and asked, “What do you need me to do?”

“Here, you can finish setting the table,” I said, handing her a stack of napkins.  She folded them and placed them next to the plates I had already laid out.  She turned and grabbed the silverware from the drawer next to the sink.  Rick returned and pulled down the glasses and placed them on the table.

As Rick and Ashley set the table, the twins entered the kitchen and ran to their brother.  He enveloped them both in his warm embrace.  Letting them go, he introduced them to his boyfriend, “Trevor, this is JJ and Josh.”

He said, “Hey, guys!”

The twins chorused, “Hello,” looking up at him.

“Please take a seat at the table.  Let’s eat,” I said, as I sat down next to Rick.  The twins scrambled around the table to their customary seats on Rick’s left.  Ashley sat next to me, while Purev and Trevor sat between Ashley and the twins.  I reached out to take Ashley’s hand and Rick’s.

Rick looked across the table at Purev.  “Will you say grace?”

Purev nodded his head, taking Ashley’s hand and Trevor’s.  We bowed our heads, and listened to Purev give thanks for our family and friends and asking a blessing on the food.

We chorused, “Amen,” when he finished.  We quickly filled our plates with spaghetti and meatballs with a side salad and bread sticks.  It wasn’t long before the food disappeared.

JJ asked, “Did you bring your laundry home?”

Purev said, “Yes, I did.  It’s out in the car.  After you clear your plates, you and Josh can help me bring it in.”

The twins hopped up from their seats and quickly cleared their dishes, rinsing them and placing them in the dishwasher.  Purev disappeared with them to retrieve his laundry.

Rick looked at Trevor and asked, “So, Trevor, tells us about yourself.”

Trevor said, “I’m from Richmond.”

“So how did you meet Purev?” I asked.

“Mutual friends introduced us,” he responded.  “I’m a public relations major and I’ve been working with a couple of consulting companies in the area.”

Purev and the boys passed the kitchen doorway, carrying his laundry.  He poked his head into the kitchen and said, “I’ll be right back, Trev.  I’ve got to get this laundry going.”

Trevor laughed and said, “I know.  You haven’t done laundry for nearly three weeks.”

Surprised, I said, “So, basically, Purev didn’t do laundry the entire time we were gone.”

Trevor nodded his head.  “Yes, he told me you were taking his brother, David, out to Utah for school and he planned to wait until you got back to do his laundry.”

“How did he manage without clean clothes?” Rick asked, incredulously.

“He bought new clothes instead of washing his old ones,” Trevor said, grinning at us.

I shook my head in disbelief.  “Sometimes…”

Rick laughed and took my hand.  “He’s a typical young man, Babe.”

“But…” I started to protest, when Rick cut me off.

“No buts, he’s typical for a college student who lives close to home,” Rick said.  “Isn’t that so, Trevor?”

Trevor shrugged.  “I wouldn’t know, since I don’t take my laundry home.  I hate the commute to Richmond.  The traffic is so bad.”  A look of deep sadness crossed his face.

Seeing it, I said, “The commute isn’t the reason you don’t go home, Trevor.”

Trevor met my gaze with eyes bright with unshed tears.  I saw his lip tremble and I opened my arms to him.  “Come here, Trevor.”

He flew into my embrace, clinging to me, his body shaking with the force of his emotions.  He buried his face in my shoulder.  I rubbed his back and smoothed his hair, murmuring, “It’s okay, son.  Everything will work out for the best.”

After the storm passed, he pulled back and met my gaze.  “I knew I was gay when I was about 12 years old, but I was afraid to come out to my family.  My parents are religious fanatics and raised us to be like them.  So, when I came out to them as a sophomore in college, they disowned me.  They told me I was dead to them and they never wanted to see me again.  They threw me out with only the clothes on my back and cut off all financial support.  Fortunately, I’ve got a full-ride scholarship that includes room and board or I would’ve been forced to drop out of school.  I work part time at the school library to have a little pocket money for incidentals.  I only go to Richmond to visit my sister, Lucy.  We meet on the campus at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) where she’s going to school.”

I rubbed his back and said, “I’m sorry to hear about your parents.  I want you to know you’re always welcome here.”  I gave him another hug and a kiss on the cheek, then released him.

“Thank you,” he said, smiling weakly.  “I’m sorry I got your shirt all wet.  I didn’t mean to get so emotional.”

“Not a problem,” I said, smiling at him.  “It’s okay to grieve for what you’ve lost.”

Purev returned to the kitchen with the twins trailing behind him.  Seeing Trevor’s tear-streaked face, he asked, “What’s wrong?”

Trevor smiled and said, “Nothing’s wrong.  I was telling your dads about my family.”  He took Purev’s hand in his.  “You’re so lucky to have such a great family.”

Purev smiled and said, “I know.  I told you my dads were awesome.  They took me in when my dad kicked me out, remember.”

Trevor nodded his head.  “I remember.”  He shifted his gaze to us and continued, “You are very blessed, Purev.  I only wish I had been as fortunate as you’ve been.”

Purev put his arm around Trevor’s shoulders, leaning over to kiss him on the lips.  “Well, Trevor, you are just as blessed because you’ve got me and my fantastic family.”

Trevor nodded his head.  “Daddy just told me I’m always welcome here.”

Purev grinned, “I guess this means you owe me a milk shake.”

Trevor blushed and looked over at us.  “I told Purev he was crazy when he told me you would tell me I would always be welcome and I’d end up being part of your family.  He bet me a milk shake and I’m very happy I lost the bet.”

I asked, “Are you boys interested in playing some board games?  Ashley doesn’t like them and neither do the twins.”

Trevor said, “Sure, do you have Ticket to Ride?”

Rick said, “Yes, we do.  I love playing that game.  I’ll go get it.”

Rick walked down the hallway to the family room to retrieve the game.  “Boys, we’re playing Ticket to Ride, if you want to play.”

JJ looked up from where he was playing with his wooden train.  “I want to play with Thomas right now.”

Josh said, “That game is boring.”

Rick smiled at his two sons.  “I understand.  It’s much more fun to construct train tracks and play with your wooden trains.”

JJ and Josh chorused, “We love trains.”

Rick left the boys to their adventures in train building and returned to the kitchen with the board game. 

After we finished the game, Purev stood up and said, “I’d better check on my laundry.”  He left the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with his laundry basket.  He sat the basket on the floor at his feet.  “It’s all done.”  He smiled and looked over at me.  “I paid the twins extra for doing my laundry.  They did a great job of loading the washer and switching the clothes to the dryer, plus folding them all and putting them in my basket.”

I smiled and said, “I think you’re getting extra special treatment because they missed you while we were on vacation.”

Purev laughed and said, “If that’s the case, you can go on vacation any time!”  He turned to Trevor.  “We need to be going, Babe.”  Hearing the endearment, Trevor blushed.  Purev grinned broadly.  “It’s okay.  My dads call each other, ‘Babe,’ or ‘sweetheart,’ all the time.”

“It’s just….”

“It’s okay, Trevor,” Rick said.  “We assumed you and Purev we’re more than friends when he asked to bring you over to meet us.”  I almost felt sorry for Trevor as his blush deepened.

I stood up and walked over to him, pulling him to his feet.  I hugged him, before leaning back to look up into his face.  “You’re really cute when you blush.”

Purev complained, “Daddy, you’re so not helping.”

I looked over at him and said, “I’m glad your boyfriend is a little shy about things.  It shows he cares about you.”  Turning back to Trevor, I continued, “However, I’m sure it won’t take you long to lose any sense of embarrassment you have about being in a relationship with our son.  Rick and I aren’t in the least embarrassed to talk about anything, so you shouldn’t be either.  And just for the record, we enjoy each other immensely and aren’t shy about saying so.”

Trevor relaxed and his color returned to normal.  “Thanks for being patient with me.”

I nodded my head, and released him.  I walked over to Purev and pulled him into my arms.  “I love you.”

“I love you back, Daddy,” he responded, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek.

I released him and said, “It’s getting late and I suppose you should collect your boyfriend and head back to campus.”

Purev nodded and walked over to give Rick a kiss and hug.  “Bye, Dad.”

“Love you, Purev,” Rick said.

Purev replied, “Love you, too.”  He turned around and picked up his laundry basket and said, “Let’s go, Babe.”  This time, Trevor didn’t blush. 

They left us in the kitchen.  After I heard the front door close, I turned to Rick.  “I like him.”

Rick agreed, “Yes, I do, too.”

“Let’s get the twins to bed, then I want you to make love to me all night long,” I said, giving my husband my most lecherous grin!

*** ***

The next day, I was sitting in the family room, watching the twins play video games, when the phone rang.  I saw it was my brother, Gary.  I answered, “Hello.”

Gary said, “Mom wants to talk to you.”

I was surprised, but happy she was aware enough to want to speak to me.  Next, I heard her say, “Hello, Glenn.  How are you and the children?”

“Kyle is doing well in his studies at the Federal University of Paraiba, in Brazil,” I said.

“When did he go there?” she asked.

“He decided to study overseas during his freshman year at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Mom.  He likes the university where he’s studying now, but thinks he’ll transfer to Natal to the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, because it has better programs, plus his new girlfriend is transferring there.  I think that’s the real reason behind his desire to move to Natal.”

“What’s her name?”

“Lucena Afonso.  We’ve seen photos of her and she’s very beautiful.  We’ve talked to her on the phone as well.   Her English is very good.  He plans to bring her home at Christmas to visit with us,” I said.  “We dropped David off at school after we visited with you, Mom.”

“You were here?  I don’t remember that,” Mom said.

“Yes, Mom we were there two weeks ago.  We had a big family party at Gary’s house and sang your favorite songs,” I said.  “You sang along with us.”

“I did?”

“Yes, you did.  David played his violin for you,” I added.  “He’s joined the local community orchestra and loves his roommate, Joel.  Joel is gay and the two seemed to hit it off.”

“Good.  I worry about David,” she said.  “He has such a tender heart.”

“That he does,” I agreed.  “But I think he’ll be okay.  I’m trying really hard not to be a helicopter parent, Mom.  I don’t know how you did it with us.”

“Well, living on the farm didn’t leave me much time to worry about you or the others, when you left for college,” she said.  “Not to say I didn’t miss you, because I did.”

“I look around the table at mealtimes and find myself thinking I’m missing someone and I am,” I said.

“Just enjoy the time you have with your children, Glenn,” she said.  “They’ll be grown and gone before you know it.”

“Ashley is very excited to start her senior year,” I said.  “She and Michaela are already trying to decide who they want to date this year.”

“She is a very beautiful young lady, Glenn,” she said.  “You’re going to have to keep a close eye on that one.”

I said, “Yes, I agree; however, she has a good head on her shoulders and I trust her to choose her friends wisely.  She intimidates the guys because she is so well put together and knows what she wants.  She’s a straight A student and is taking as many AP (advanced placement) courses as she can fit into her schedule this year.”

“Is she still playing the violin?”

“Yes, Mom, she is still taking orchestra.  She’s not really into learning to play the instrument as she is in being with her friends, who just happen to be in orchestra,” I said.

“She plays well,” Mom said.

“Yes, but she’s very shy about playing for anyone and barely makes herself perform in the orchestra concerts,” I said.  “She won’t even play for me most of the time.  She practices in her room with the door locked.”

“Well, son, let her be.  When she’s good and ready, she’ll show off her talent for you,” she counseled.  “I understand her stage fright, because I was like that when I was teenager.”

“Really?” I asked in surprise.  “You always seem so confident.”

She said, “I was painfully shy, Glenn.  I was a junior in high school when your Grandpa insisted I play for him every night and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

“The twins will be in 5th grade this year,” I said.  “I’ve met their teachers and I think they’ll have a great year.”

We talked for nearly 30 minutes about many things.  I was telling her about Rick’s work, when she interrupted me mid-sentence, “Glenn, why don’t you talk about yourself?  You’ve talked about the children and Rick, but you haven’t said a word about yourself.”

I was surprised by her comment.  I hadn’t realized she was listening so closely to me.  I wasn’t sure how to respond.  As I tried to formulate a response, she said, “I want to know how you’re doing.”

“I’m trying to keep myself busy, Mom.  I miss the boys so much, it hurts.  Rick says it will get better, but I’m not so sure,” I said.  I went on to describe my daily activities at work and at home.  When I finished, I asked, “Mom, are you still there?”

There was no sound on the other end.  After a few minutes more of silence, Gary came on the line.  “I’m sorry, Glenn.  Mom’s slipped back into her catatonic state.  I’ll call you again, when she’s lucid.”

The tears started rolling down my face as I said, “Thanks for calling me.  I’m glad I got to have a normal conversation with her.  It felt like she understood me and knew who I was.”

Gary reassured me, “She did know who you were.  She won’t remember she talked to you, but, at least for a little while, she’s the mother we’ve always known.  I know it’s harder on you, because you’re not close enough to see her every day, so you aren’t able to see her when she’s all there and knows who we are.  I’ll try to make sure I call you when she’s having one of her good days.”

“Thanks again, Gary.  I love you,” I said.

“I love you, too, little brother,” he responded, before breaking the connection.

I was glad I had the opportunity to talk to her, but, at the same time, I was grieving for the mother I had lost to dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

*** ***

A few days later, I was surfing the internet when I decided to check my Facebook account.  I logged in and I saw Kyle’s post from earlier in the day.  My vision blurred with tears as I read it, “I love my family; and more importantly I love my siblings. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without the blessing that each of them brings to my life. They are my best friends, my role models, the people who bring happiness and joy to my everyday routine. Here's to a great 21 years, and many, many decades to come!”

I called out to Rick, who was upstairs, “Rick!”

He shouted back, “I’ll be right there.”  I soon heard his footsteps on the stairs.  He appeared in the family room and joined me on the loveseat.  He looked at my computer screen and asked, “What’s up?”

I passed the laptop to him and pointed to Kyle’s post, “Read that.”

He read Kyle’s words and handed the laptop back to me, his eyes bright with tears.  “I’m very proud of him,” he said.  “He’s a good son and a great brother.”

I reached up and brushed a tear from his cheek.  Our son had managed to make his father cry, something that rarely happened to my tough guy ex-marine.  Not that Rick doesn’t show his emotions, because he does; just not in this way.  I leaned in to kiss him gently on the lips.  “You’ve done a wonderful job raising our son, Rick.”

He smiled at me.  “No, WE’VE done a great job raising an exceptional young man.  Kyle came to us with so much potential and all we’ve had to do is love and nurture him, which we’ve done.”

I nodded my head.  “I thank God every day for our children, Rick.  They’ve brought so much joy and happiness into our lives.”

He put his arm around my shoulders.  “Yes, they have.”

Ashley appeared in the doorway to the family room.  She smiled at us and said, “I just read Kyle’s post.”

I returned her smile.  “We just read it ourselves.”

“I sent David and Purev a text message to let them know it’s there,” she said.

“Thanks for thinking of them, Ashley,” Rick said.

“I shared it on my timeline,” she said.  “I want all of my friends to know I have the best brother ever!”

“That’s a good idea,” I said, and did the same.

Later, I shared Kyle’s note with the twins.  JJ said, “I miss Kyle.  I wish he would come home.”

I hugged my little guy and said, “I wish he would, too; but he wants to go to school in Brazil and he’s got a girlfriend there now.”

JJ wrinkled his nose.  “Yuck!  Girls!”

I laughed.  “You’ll soon change your mind about girls.”

Josh chimed in, “No, we won’t.”

I reached over and pulled him into a hug.  “Yes, you will.”

He shook his head, and said, “No, we won’t.”

I ruffled his hair and said, “Let’s wait and see.  Is that okay?”

He nodded his head and climbed onto his bed.  I tucked him in and turned to do the same for JJ.  I kissed each of them on the forehead and stood to leave the room.  Before turning out the light, I said, “Good night, boys.  I love you.”

They chorused back, “I love you, too.”

As I closed the door to their room, I felt Rick’s arms slip around my waist pulling me back against his hard body.  He bit my earlobe, and whispered in my ear, “Take me to bed, Babe.”

I turned in his arms and kissed him passionately, as he maneuvered us across the hall to our room.  Opening the door, he pulled me into our room.  He closed and locked the door and turned to strip me out of my clothes.  He pushed me down on our bed, then did a slow striptease that had me panting with anticipation.  It wasn’t long before he showed me, in no uncertain terms, just how much he loved me!

*** ***

Author’s Note:

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