Two weeks after Joy and Gabriel married, in one of the crazy rooms of the Lockwood “mansion,” Joy said goodbye to all her friends at the retirement center and loaded up a small moving van with Simon by her side. It was scary, altering her life this way, this quickly, but she refused to look back or think too hard about it.
There hadn’t been time to find a permanent home, so Gabe rented a small house near Simon’s school until they could go house-shopping. By summer, the hunt had been fruitless, so the three decided to just build a house. Gabe let Simon design it. And as it turned out, the boy had a talent for architecture, one of his many talents. Their new home was finished by Thanksgiving of the next year, and it was just as mixed up and crazy as Grandad Lacey’s cabin in Montgomery.
Everyone loved it.
Joy soon realized that, although she loved staying home, especially when Gabe was working there, she needed to do something else besides wash dishes and laundry all day. So, she went back to school. In five years, she earned her masters degree in business management, and she started working at Gabe’s company on the Angel Tree project. She enjoyed it so much, that when the director of the charity department retired, she put in her application, and she was hired on the spot. It didn’t hurt that her husband owned half the company, but that was okay. With Joy’s natural benevolence and unselfish heart -- and her knack for organization and thrifty finances -- the Angel Tree project soared and expanded, helping families and children all over the world. In the twenty years she headed that department, she received over a dozen humanitarian awards. And Gabriel, extremely proud of his wife’s work, never took any credit for any of it.
They did have more children. About a year and a half after marriage, Gabe and Joy were blessed with a baby girl, whom they named Angela. Simon became the protective big brother and watched his little sister diligently, teaching her everything he knew, even before Angela could walk and talk. Then two years after that, they had another son. They named him Wallace Clarence, after both his grandfathers, but everyone called him Clancy -- except Grandad Lacey, who called him Squirt II.
It wasn’t easy, raising three children, while both parents worked for a company like the Lockwood Corporation, but they never complained. When life got too rough, they all took time to enjoy the little things, like cutting down their own Christmas trees and snuggling on the couch. All three children grew up to be happy, loved, and well-rounded individuals. Angela became a teacher, and Clancy, a football coach for the Crimson Tide.
Simon, on the other hand...everyone knew he’d grow up to be someone special. Not that any of his siblings weren’t wonderful at their jobs, and they all three had loving families, but Simon’s future was a little different. In March, after his mother married Gabriel Lockwood, Simon’s Math Bowl team won the state championships. In June, that same year, he went to band camp, and earned top marks in his section. The following school year, he joined the Chess team and competed against some of the best youth players in the country. In tenth grade, he was cast as the lead in the high school musical, Dracula: It Sucks To Be Dead, and earned a raving review in numerous newspapers. By the time he finished high school, he’d accomplished everything he set out to do before college. Even when it came to girls.
Colette Barnes was his high school sweetheart. Ten years later, she became his wife, and some fifty years after that, they were watching their own grandchildren grow up and fall in love.
But Simon’s success didn’t conclude with his marriage and the love of his wife and family, although he would argue that those were his greatest achievements. After Simon finished high school, he entered the University of Alabama with one academic goal in mind.
It was strange to his family, that he would chose such a career path. Everyone assumed he would go into business, like his mother and Gabe, or into the sciences, mathematics or technology fields. But no...Simon chose politics. And the state of Alabama couldn’t have been more grateful for that. At the age of fifty-three, Simon Murphy-Lockwood became Governor of Alabama, and in the eight years he served, he managed to get the entire state out of debt, increase tourism by one-hundred-fifty percent, the economy by eighty percent, overall test scores in public schools by sixty-seven percent, and he decreased the unemployment rate and the poverty level by half, and taxes by a quarter. No one could understand how he accomplished feats that no other politician in the country could do. Everyone thought he was crazy when he initially outlined his plans for his first term as governor. But at the end of his two elected terms, he did it all. Even decades and centuries after he retired from politics, the country still talked about Governor Murphy-Lockwood. He became the example that all future politicians had to live up to.
And when asked in a biographical interview, “What do you think is the reason you were so successful during your gubernatorial term in office, Governor Murphy-Lockwood?”
A seventy-four-year-old Simon, pushed his glasses higher up on his nose and smiled. “My mother, Joy Lockwood, God rest her soul. She was the epitome of what an angel from Heaven would be, if they walked among us. Without her love and support, and her guidance, I would not be the man I am today or have been during my lifetime. She was never afraid to take a chance on love, and she always saw the good in everyone. My mother loved with all her heart, and every decision I’ve ever made was modeled after what she taught me about life and love and how we should all perceive it.”
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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...