“Hey, dad, how are you feeling?”
“I’ve had better days, but this looks like a good one, too,“ Clarence Jones said, smiling weakly up at his youngest daughter, Joy, who kissed his forehead, using the gesture to check his temperature. She and Simon arrived at her parents’ house early enough to beat Gabe’s visit...and so, she could get the foreseen questions out of the way. Especially since Simon had already notified his grandparents of Mr. Lockwood’s visit for the morning. Via phone call as soon as he woke up at 6 A.M....and again as he walked into their house, adding, “I smell cookies,” on his way to the kitchen. Thank goodness her parents didn’t mind company that day.
But Joy frowned as she straightened, thinking that maybe Gabriel coming over might not be such a good idea. Her father’s face seemed paler than normal, and the dull cast to his blue eyes belied the fact that Clarence Jones had once been a vibrant, handsome man...but that was before the disease claimed his body. It was in his kidneys, and the doctors say he waited too long, got too weak for a successful transplant. Dialysis and a strict diet were his only hope, if he wanted to gain the strength for surgery of that magnitude. But Clarence was stubborn. He liked his steak and potatoes. He liked his beer. And he claimed he had already made his peace with God.
Joy’s mother, RayAnn, was beside herself with grief, but she loved her husband too much to deny him anything. Kind of the way I feel about Simon, Joy mused, patting her father’s hand.
“You come to get yourself a tree?” he asked, leaning back in his old recliner.
“Yes. See any good ones lately while you’ve been out riding?”
"I saw a nice patch of younglings out by the south border a few weeks back. You’ll need the four-wheeler to get one out of there.”
Simon, who was in the kitchen, munching on Grandma’s infamous oatmeal cookies, heard the word “four-wheeler” and poked his head around the corner.
“Can I drive this time?”
Joy smiled. “I don’t know...what do you think, Dad? Is he old enough to drive this year?”
Clarence eyed Simon sternly, but Joy saw the pride in his face. Simon was his only grandson, and that was something to be indulged...even if it meant relinquishing his Big Horn 4x4 to a twelve-year-old.
“How old are you, boy?” her father asked, his voice loud and gruff, but a twinkle in his eye said he was teasing.
“Twelve, grandpa,” Simon answered, stuffing the last of the cookie in his mouth. “I’ll be thirteen soon.”
“Thirteen, huh?” Clarence Jones rubbed his chin, obviously thinking about it. But Grandma came in the room and swiped a dish rag at him.
“Oh, stop, Clarence! You let Lita’s girls drive it last weekend.”
Simon grinned. "Haley's the oldest, and she's only eleven. I'll bet she couldn't get it above five miles an hour."
"Nope," Grandpa chuckled. "She treated it like a lamb. That poor Horn needs to be let loose sometimes. You think you can handle some oomph?"
Simon nodded so enthusiastically, his glasses fell off his nose. He wasn't put off by the fact that the girls got to drive before him. He just wasn't designed that way. And Joy was glad for it -- that he was a gentleman like that and not spoiled or petty like -- God forgive me for thinking it -- like her two sisters' girls...all six of them.
“I’ll make you proud, grandpa,” Simon said. “I can make that Horn fly, if I have to!”
“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Grandpa Clarence laughed, though Joy could see a suspicious sheen in his eyes. Her father was already so proud of Simon. Joy knew that he wished he could do more with his grandson, maybe take him hunting or fishing, things he felt he should do with the only other male in the family, but he couldn’t. Not yet, and it made Joy’s heart ache.
YOU ARE READING
Angels Among UsRomance
Joy Murphy struggles to make ends meet every day of her life. Raising a son by herself is difficult, and this Christmas, nothing has changed...or will it? On the very morning she meets Gabriel Lockwood, her life suddenly becomes a whirlwind of hol...