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a quick retreat

A Quick Retreat

Chapter Seventeen

“Did Barry or Roy send you two here to find me?” A surprised Jake asked when he saw Mason and me.

“No, we’re on our way back home from visiting my grandmother,” I said. “What are you doing here in Little Rock, are you running away from home?”

“I’m not going back with you, if that’s why you’re asking,” Jake defiantly said. “I’m going to Atlanta to see Chance.”

“Why are you doing that?” Mason asked. “I thought Chance had a boyfriend there.”

“I got a text message from him that they had a big fight,” Jake said.

“Have you talked to him to find out if he even wants to see you?” Mason asked.

“No but I’m still going to see him,” a defiant Jake said.

“Did you even talk to Roy or Barry about this before you just up and left for Atlanta?” I asked.

“No I didn’t because I was afraid that they would keep me from going,” Jake said. “You’re not going to tell them where I am are you?”

“Jake, they love you like a son,” I said. “I have to tell them.”

“You ran away when you were my age,” Jake argued.

“Yes I did,” I said. “But, I ran away from abuse. You’re running away from two guys who love you. Haven’t they been good to you, Jake?”

“Yes, but I love Chance and I need to see him,” Jake said.

“Mason, why don’t you take Jake inside to the restaurant and get him something to eat,” I said. “I’ll call Roy and Barry and let them know that Jake is okay.”

“I’m not going back with you or them,” Jake said.

“I can’t keep you from running,” I said. “But, I do have to call them.”

Reluctantly, Jake went with Mason into the restaurant while I placed the call. “Jeff, are you back home now? Is Jake there with you?” A panic stricken Barry asked me when he saw my phone number on his caller ID.

“We’re in Little Rock, but I’m calling to let you know that we found Jake at a truck stop here.”

“What in the hell is he doing in Little Rock?” Barry asked.

“He said that he was going to Atlanta to see Chance,” I said. “It seems that Chance had a fight with his new boyfriend and Jake thinks that he and Chance might get back together.”

“Bring his ass back with you.”

“Barry, you know that I have no authority to force him back. You’re his legal guardian and you’re the only one that could do that. However, if I were you I wouldn’t force him back.”

“Jeff, he’s just a kid. He doesn’t know what he’s getting into.”

“He may be just a kid, but he’s a kid in love. You could force him back to Fayetteville, but he would run away again. You can’t guard him 24/7.”

“We love Jake and we want what’s best for him. I can see your point though. Where is Jake now?”

“Mason took him inside the restaurant to get him something to eat.”

“Okay, try to keep him there while I call Roy. We’ll fly down to Little Rock and take him to Atlanta to see Chance. If he still wants to stay in Atlanta we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

“I think that’s smart. I have the feeling that this is a one-sided love affair. Let him hear from Chance that it’s over. Do you by any chance have Chance’s phone number?”

“No I don’t. Why do you ask?”

“I thought it might be a good idea to call him and find out what you can about how he really feels about Jake. Isn’t Jake’s cell phone on your plan?”

“Yes, it is. Why are you asking?”

“I’m sure that Jake has called or sent him a text message, and if he did there would be an Atlanta phone number on your bill.”

“Damn, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll call Roy and let him know where Jake is. He’s out looking for Jake now. If there is a phone number for Chance I’ll give him a call. Do what you can to keep Jake there until we can get there.”

“Okay, I’ll do my best.”

“I’ll call you as soon as I finish talking to Roy. We’ll fly down to Little Rock and pick up Jake, and then fly him to Atlanta.”

“Are then going to try and take me back to Arkansas?” Jake asked, as I joined him and Mason in the Restaurant.”

“No, they’re flying down here to fly you on to Atlanta,” I said.

“They are just going to get me on the plane and fly me back home,” Jake said with an air of suspicion.

“You can trust me on this,” I assured him. “They want you to be happy and they know you won’t be until you see Chance.”

After I filled Jack and Mason in on my conversation with Barry, Jake excused himself and went to the restroom. “Are they really taking him to Atlanta?” Mason asked.

“Yes, they realize that they can’t watch him 24/7 and they want him to get this out of his system,” I said. “As I told Barry, I think this is a one-sided love affair. Jake needs to find this out for himself.”

My cell phone rang and as I expected, it was Barry on the line. “Jeff, Roy and I will be there in about an hour. Could you and Mason take Jake to the airport?”

“You know we will,” I assured him.

“Let me talk to Jake?”

“Jake is in the restroom.”

“Don’t tell Jake this, but I talked to Chance. Chance has no interest in getting back with Jake and is still with his boyfriend. They never broke up, but just had an argument.”

“Are you going to tell Jake this?”

“I was, but Roy convinced me that it would be best that Jake hear this from Chance. Chance has agreed to see Jake and tell him face-to-face.”

“I think that would be best. Here, is Jake now.” I handed my cell phone to a very nervous Jake.

“Hello,” he said with a shaky voice. “Yes, he told me that you would be flying me to Atlanta.” They chatted for a few minutes when Jake said, “Goodbye,” and handed the phone back to me.

We arrived at the airport about twenty minutes before Roy and Barry. When they arrived, both gave Jake a big hug to let him know that they still loved him. After saying our goodbyes, Mason and I continued with our trip home. “Do you think he will be coming back with Roy and Barry?” Mason finally asked after a long silence.

“Yes, Barry said that Chance told him that he was his boyfriend only had an argument, but they are still together.”

“Then why are they taking Jake on to Atlanta to see him?”

“Because Jake wouldn’t believe them, and he has to hear it from Chance himself. Barry said that Chance has agreed to tell Jake face-to-face.”

“He doesn’t realize how lucky he is to have Roy and Barry.”

“He will. He is a good kid.”

When we pulled into our driveway a good feeling encompassed me. It had been a great visit with my newly found family, but this was my home. We called Mason’s parents and George to let them know that we were home before we began unpacking. Susan insisted that we come by for dinner. We agreed since there was no food in the house and it was difficult to turn down one of Susan’s home cooked meals. Susan said that she would invite George to dinner too.

Steve and Susan were pleased to learn that our visit with my Tennessee family went so well. “I had a feeling you wouldn’t be sorry you went,” George said.

“Did you know that Jake ran away from home?” Mason asked.

“That little shit,” Steve said. “Why would he run away after all that Roy and Barry have done for him?”

“He was trying to get to Atlanta,” I said. “Apparently he thought his old boyfriend broke up with his boyfriend and he wanted to see him. We just happened to see Jake at a truck stop in Little Rock and I called Barry. They flew down to Little Rock and then on to Atlanta.”

“Why didn’t they just bring him back here?” Susan asked.

“Barry talked to Chance, the boy in Atlanta, and found out that he was still with his boyfriend,” I said. “He and Roy want Jake to hear this directly from Chance. I expect they will be back tomorrow, with or without Jake.”

“Roy and Barry have been good to that kid, and look what he does,” Steve said.

“Basically Jake is a good kid,” I said. “He has never known love until he met Chance. His parents never loved him, and when they found out he was gay his dad beat the crap out of him. I don’t think he realizes how much Roy and Barry love him.”

“You never did anything foolish like that,” George said. “You had it a lot worse than Jake ever did.”

“Grandpa, I had been abused from the time I was eight,” I said. “Jake’s abuse just began just before he ran away from Denver. I think that made us different.”

“We don’t know what the boy has really going through his young mind,” Susan said. “I think we have to all treat him as we always have.”

“Mom is right,” Mason said. “Like Jeff said, basically Jake is a good kid.”

George looked at his watch and said, “It’s getting late, and I should be getting back home.”

“Yes, it is,” I agreed. “I think we should go too. Mason and I have had a long day.”

Mason and I were both tired when we went to bed, but not too tired to make love. Our lovemaking was just as passionate as or first. We loved each other as much as we did the first time. After our lovemaking, we fell asleep in our warm bed as we could hear the cold winter wind blowing outside.

I was still sleeping soundly with Mason by my side when the phone interrupted my sleeping. I briefly looked at the clock and was surprised that it was nearly nine am. “Hello,” I sleepily answered.

“Did I wake you?” Roy asked.

“Yeah, but it is time for us to get up anyway,” I said. “Are you home already? Is Jake with you?”

“No, we’re still in Atlanta but will be leaving to fly home shortly. Jake is with us.”

“What happened?”

“He and Chance had a long talk. Chance told him that he was still with his boyfriend, and that Jake should forget him.”

“Poor Jake, how did he take that?”

“He cried a lot and then we had a long talk. He admitted that he went to Atlanta out of desperation. He did promise that he would never do anything that stupid again.”

“I’m glad to hear that and I hope he realizes what great dads he has.”

“Thanks Bud. I just called to let you know that everything worked out. Would you call the others and let them know what’s going on?”

“I sure will, and you have a safe flight.”

Over the next few weeks, Jake was a different young man. He often spent the night with Mason and me. He seemed to enjoy our company, but most of all he seemed happy. The family had a big birthday party to celebrate his sixteenth birthday. Barry had baked the cake himself rather than buying one from the bakery. We all agreed that it was delicious. After the cake it was time for Jake to open his gifts. He gave each of us a hug after opening our gifts to him. After opening the last gift he asked, “Okay, where is it?”

“Where is what?” Roy asked.

“I’m sixteen now, where is my car?” Jake asked with his mischievous grin.

“Barry and I agreed that we would help you get a car, but you have to get a job and pay for your own insurance,” Roy said.

Jake said on Roy’s lap and said, “Please Daddy, could I have a car? I have enough saved for insurance.”

“Now it’s Daddy, but when you’re pissed at me it’s Roy,” Roy teased him. It was obvious that Roy was enjoying the “father-son” interaction. “Your other daddy and I will discuss this with you later.”

“Hey, if I had my way he wouldn’t drive until he’s forty,” Barry said.

“How old were you when you got your first car?” George asked Barry.

“Okay, okay I was sixteen,” Barry admitted. But, I was…”

“You were what?” Jake asked with his grin. “You were mature? You were rich? I think I’ll just go live with Grandpa George,” Jake continued the joke as he sat on George’s lap.

“You’d be welcome to come and live with me,” George said. “But, you’d be lucky if you got a bicycle out of me.”

“So, that’s how it is,” Jake said as he looked in my direction.

“Don’t look at me,” I said. “I wouldn’t even get you a bicycle.”

As spring break came near, Jake had saved enough money for a year’s insurance on a car. Roy and Barry had agreed to get him a car providing he could pay for one year’s insurance. “He will realize how important it is to have a clean driving record if he has to pay for his own insurance,” Roy had said.

“Who in the world could that be?” Mason asked, more to himself than to me when he saw an unfamiliar car coming down our driveway.

I joined Mason looking out the window to see cute silver Toyota RAV4. “Jake,” we both said when we saw a smiling Jake exit the vehicle. We both grabbed our jackets and went out to inspect.

“What do you think?” Jake asked.

“Nice,” I said. “When did you get it?”

“Yesterday,” he said. “We got it from a graduate student at the university. She needed the money and Barry made an offer on it.”

“Very nice,” Mason said. “I hope you won’t go crazy and screw things up.”

“Give me a break, Mason,” Jake said. “I have to work and pay for my own insurance and fuel. My dads are too cheap to pay.”

“Jake, if you were still in Denver with your family would you have a vehicle this nice?” I asked.

“Oh hell no,” he said. “I wouldn’t have a car period.”

“Then why are you bitching?” Mason asked.

“Because I can,” Jake said with his impish grin. “Hey I have your old job, Jeff.”

“No shit?” I asked. “It’s a good place to work. But, they expect you to always be there and to work.”

“Come on, Jeff,” Jake said. “Give me a break. I’m not lazy. Besides, if I don’t work I don’t have wheels. Roy did say that this summer they are going to start having Mason do some of their bookwork and they are going to let me work at the office with you.”

“Come on inside out of the cold,” Mason said. “We were giving the house a good cleaning before Jeff’s grandmother comes for a visit over spring break.”

“Is she coming by herself?” Jake asked.

“No, my cousins are coming with her,” I said.

“How old are your cousins?” Jake asked.

“Jason is seventeen and Joseph and Jennifer are both sixteen,” I said.

“Are the guys cute?” Jake asked with his mischievous grin.

“Isn’t Jeff cute?” Mason said before I could answer.

“Hell no,” Jake teased. “He’s ugly.”

I threw the cleaning rag at Jake and he faked a cough to indicate it was full of dust. “Like I’d want you dating one of my cousins even if they were gay,” I said.

Jake pitched in and helped us clean. When we finished I made grilled cheese sandwiches for the three of us. “I want to thank you two,” Jake said between bites of his sandwich.

“You’re welcome, but it’s just a grilled cheese sandwich,” I said.

“Not just the sandwich,” Jake said. “I want to thank you for caring. You guys rescued me when you saw me at the rest stop in Kansas and then again when you found me at the truck stop in Little Rock. You also found two great dads for me.”

“I hope you realize what you have now,” Mason said. “Don’t fuck it up by running way again.”

“I learned my lesson,” Jake said. “I’ve come to realize that what Chance and I had wasn’t love. He was my escape from my unhappiness at home. I know that Roy and Barry love me like a son and I’ll never be so stupid again as to screw up what we have.”

Mason and I were expecting Grandma and my cousins to call when they arrived in town, but to our surprise they drove directly to our house. “We used Mapquest,” Joseph explained.

“What a beautiful view,” Grandma said when she got out of the car. “I love the log house too.”

“Come on inside and we’ll show you to your rooms,” Mason said. “Grandma, you and Jennifer can have our room since it has its own bathroom.”

“We’ll do no such thing,” Grandma said. “You keep your room. We’ll be fine wherever you put us.”

“We’ll put you and Jennifer in this room then,” Mason said. “It has a queen size bed, but we can bring the roll-a-way bed in for Jennifer.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Grandma said. “I don’t mind sharing the bed with Jennifer if she doesn’t mind.”

“I don’t mind, Grandma,” Jennifer said.

“Jason and Joseph can have the other bedroom,” I said. “It has twin beds.”

“I’m glad I brought my earplugs, because Jason snores,” Joseph teased.

“Make yourselves comfortable,” I said. “I’ll make some sandwiches for lunch. We’re invited to Mason’s parents’ for dinner tonight.”

“All of us?” Jennifer asked.

“Of course, all of us,” Mason said. “Mom loves to cook and she is a very good cook too.”

“Could you show us the waterfall that you told us about?” Jason asked.

“Sure we can show you right after lunch,” I said.

“I’d love to see it too,” Grandma said. “How far is it?”

“It isn’t far,” I said. “However, the path down there is all downhill. Mason and I cleared the path because Grandpa likes to go down there.”

“If you don’t mind letting me hang onto one of you young people, I think I can make it just fine,” Grandma said.

They all loved the waterfall and took lots of pictures. “This would be a lovely place for a wedding,” Jennifer said.

“Do you already have the lucky guy picked out?” I teased.

“Not yet,” she said. “But, when I do pick one out I’ll let you approve of him.”

I offered my arm to Grandma for support when going back up the hill to the house. I was surprised at the amount of energy she had. She had mentioned that she walked almost every day. “Your attorney friend, Bruce, located your mom for me,” she said as we walked back to the house.

I wasn’t surprised at Bruce’s ability to locate her, but the statement caught me off guard. When I didn’t respond, Grandma continued, “I hope you’re not upset with me for wanted to find her, Jeff. I know how badly she and your father treated you, but she is still my daughter.”

“I know that, Grandma,” I said. “Have you talked to her yet?”

“Yes, I have. Your father is in prison for drug trafficking. It seems that he was hauling his own freight when he was on the road.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. I heard rumors that he was dealing in drugs in Illinois. Will you be seeing Mom?”

“Yes, Judy and I are flying there in May. Do you want to go with us?”

“No thank you. I’ve seen enough of my parents.”

“I tried to talk to Karen about the way you were abused, but she got upset and started crying. However, I intend to talk to her about that when I go for a visit.”

“Grandma, that’s all water under the bridge now. They can’t take back the pain. I’ve moved on with my life and I’m now happy.”

“I’m so proud of you and wish I had known you while you were growing up. Most kids growing up as you did would have ended up on the street or dead. Look at this lovely home you have. You became an honor student, and you’re going to college to make something of yourself.”

“Mason and I bought the house together, and my part came from the sale of Mom and Dad’s house.”

“You deserved that and more after the way they treated you. Jeff, I’m not making excuses, but I think she has some severe mental problems.”

“No Grandma, she had a drinking problem. I can hardly remember a time that she was sober.”

“Mental health can be the root of drinking problems. But, let’s forget about it for now and enjoy spending time together.”

Roy, Barry, Jake, and George were already at Steve and Susan’s when we arrived. Having two bathrooms for six people to get ready took longer than I had expected. It didn’t take long for all to engage in conversation following introductions. I couldn’t help but notice that Jennifer was flirting with Jake. I smile to myself thinking she was wasting her time. I could understand her flirting since Jake is a cute guy.

Dinner was delicious as expected, mango and crab stuffed chicken breast. “Oh my goodness Susan, I hope you’re willing to share your recipe for this chicken,” Grandma said. Mason and Jeff said that you were a great cook, and I can see why now.”

“I’ll make you a copy of the recipe before you leave,” Susan said. “The boys also said that you were a great cook.”

After dinner I noticed Grandma and George in an animated conversation. I realized how great it was to have grandparents, one by blood and the other by mutual adoption. I loved them both equally. The room was full of lively conversation and all seemed to be enjoying themselves. I laughed to myself when I saw Jennifer still flirting with Jake. However, Jake was obviously more interested in my male cousins, especially Jason.

Jennifer seemed to become more flustered with Jake’s lack of response to her flirting with him. I decided to ask Jake to clue her in on his sexual orientation. “Is she really flirting with me?” Jake asked in surprise when I talked to him.

“Why wouldn’t she flirt with you?” I asked. “You’re good looking, and she has excellent taste in guys.”

“I’ll talk to her,” Jake promised. “What should I tell her?”

“That’s up to you. However, it would probably be kind of you to compliment her in some way. “You could tell her that if you weren’t gay that you would be interested in her.”

“I would be interested in her if I wasn’t gay. She’s cute and really nice too.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that Jake is gay before I made a fool of myself?” Jennifer asked me after Jake took her aside and talked to her.

“Because that is something that had to come from him and not from me,” I said. “Besides, you didn’t make a fool of yourself.”

“Why is it that all you cute guys are gay?”

“Not all cute guys are gay, and not all ugly guys are straight. You’ll find a nice young man to date soon enough, Jennifer.”

“Yes she will,” Grandma said when she overheard our conservation. “There are plenty of young men out that would love to meet a pretty and bright young lady like you. Besides, you’re still very young. Jeff, would you mind if we went back to your house now? It was a long trip and I’ve been up since early this morning.”

“What does everyone have planned for tomorrow?” Susan asked?

“Mason and I have to work tomorrow,” I said.

“Helen, why don’t I show you and Jennifer around town tomorrow, and maybe Jake could show the boys around town,” Susan said. “Jake, are you working tomorrow?”

“It’s my day off,” Jake said. “I’d be happy to show them around town.”

“Something smells good,” Mason said as we arrived home from work.

“I picked up a roast in town today and though I would cook dinner for you guys,” Grandma said. “I also invited everyone out to join us, but Steve and Susan already had plans. Barry and Roy will be out and so will George.”

“Helen, that dinner was delicious,” George said. “Thank you for inviting me out.”

“Don’t mention it,” Grandma said. “I can never thank you enough for everything you’ve done for my grandson.”

“He has brought me a lot of company and happiness upon his arrival here,” George said.

We visited for a while and then enjoyed some of Grandma’s homemade peach cobbler. My blended family along with the peach cobbler gave me a happy feeling. It was good to have a loving family, something that I had not known when I was growing up.

“I’ve enjoyed the evening, but I have to work tomorrow,” Roy said. “Mason you and Jeff take tomorrow off if you want. There isn’t much going on. Jake are you going now or are you coming home later?”

“Would it be okay if I spent the night?” Jake asked.

“It looks like they have a full house,” Barry said.

“He’s more than welcome if he doesn’t mind sleeping on the couch,” Mason said.

“Then I guess you can stay,” Barry said.

“Jeff, is it okay if Jason and I sleep in the travel trailer tonight?” Jake asked after seeing his dads off.

“I don’t mind, but it has been winterized and there is no water for the bathroom,” I said. “You would have to come inside to use the bathroom.”

“This is the country, we’ll just piss outside,” Jake said.

“Jake, there are ladies present,” I reprimanded.

“I’ve heard much worse,” Grandma said.

“There’s just one bed out there,” I said.

“We don’t mind,” Jason said. “Joseph, do you mind if we sleep out in the trailer?”

“No, I don’t mind,” Joseph said. “I won’t have to hear you snore.”

“I don’t snore,” Jason argued.

“There are blankets and sheets in the linen closet,” I said. “Get what you need and I’ll go out with you to turn the heat on.”

Mason and I made love as quietly as we could. We weren’t used to having others in the house when we made love and could get loud during our lovemaking. After making love I cuddled up next to Mason and fell asleep almost immediately. I awoke to the smell of coffee. I assumed that Mason had gotten up early and made coffee, but I saw him sleeping peacefully next to me. I realized that Grandma must be the one up. I got out of bed while being careful not to wake Mason, and made my way to the kitchen.

“You’re up early, Grandma,” I said.

“I’m usually up early,” Grandma said as she handed me a cup of coffee. “I guess that comes with old age.”

“Grandma, you don’t look or act old,” I said. “You really don’t look much older than mom.”

“Your mother was a beauty when she was young,” Grandma said. “I guess all those years of alcohol haven’t been kind to her. Do you think you will ever be willing to see her?”

“Grandma, I doubt it. It is hard for me to forgive after all I’ve been through. The only love I’ve know is my family here and now my family in Tennessee.”

“I won’t push the issue, but if you ever agree to see her I would be happy to be there with you.”

“Thank you, Grandma. I’m no longer afraid of my parents. Living with my parents was hell and very painful; painful both physically and mentally.”

“I know that. I’m not trying to push you into anything. That decision has to be yours. I hear someone in the bathroom, and I should start breakfast.”

“Grandma, you’re our guest. I can make breakfast.”

“I know you can, but this is something I enjoy. You sit and enjoy your coffee.”

“Jeff, where is your laundry detergent?” I heard Jake call out from the utility room.

“In the cabinet above the washer,” I said. “Why are you doing laundry?”

“Just washing the sheets from the trailer,” he said.

“I could have done that. Grandma is cooking breakfast, so you guys wash up and come in for breakfast.”

During breakfast I noticed that Jake was his usual talkative self, but Jason seemed to be quiet and withdrawn. I decided that I would talk to him alone and see if Jake had tried anything with him during the night. The opportunity came when Grandma asked if I would go to the store and get some things that she wanted for dinner. I asked Jason if he wanted to go along.

“Is something bothering you?” I asked as once we were in the truck.

“What makes you think something is wrong?”

“You were very quiet during breakfast and seemed withdrawn. Did Jake try anything with you?”

“What makes you think Jake tried anything with me?”

“Because you’re a good looking guy and Jake is a horny gay teenager.”

“Jeff, you can never tell anybody, but Jake and I had sex. Jake didn’t force me into anything. Are you angry with me?”

“Of course not, it just surprised me to hear that you’re gay. You are gay, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess I am. I’ve tried to hide it since I figured it out a couple of years ago.”

“Jason, you don’t have to hide anything. But, you should be the one to decide when and if you want to come out as gay. Once you do, it is much easier.”

“Jeff, you saw how my dad reacted when he learned that you’re gay. Can’t you imagine how he would react if he found out that his only son is gay? He would kick me out for sure.”

“I doubt that Aunt Judy would allow that to happen, but if you ever needed a place to live you would always be welcome here.”

“Thank you and I’m sure Grandma would take me in too.”

“I know she would. Uncle Mike might surprise you. He apologized about the way he reacted. I think you should at least talk to Aunt Judy.”

“I may, but this is very scary to me.”

“I know, remember that I’m gay too.”

“I never knew that a person could be gay and happy until I met you. You and Mason seem very happy.”

“We are happy. Don’t make yourself miserable for something that you had no choice about. Being gay is just the way you were made.”

“I guess you’re right. Maybe I’ll talk to Grandma first.”

“Good idea, she’s a very kind and understanding lady. You should never be ashamed of what you are. What you and Jake did last night is part something you shouldn’t be ashamed of either. Perhaps you should have gotten to know him better before you went that far. But, it isn’t my place to judge. Don’t let it eat at you though.”

“Thank you, Jeff. It’s good to have someone like you to talk too.”

“Anytime you need to talk, just call me.”

I never knew if Jake and Jason had sex again that week, but they did spend a lot of time together. Jason seemed to come out of his shell and became himself again. The week went by quickly and I was sad to see my relatives leave when their visit ended. “I wish you would change your mind and go with Judy and me to see Karen,” Grandma said as we had a cup of coffee the morning of their departure.

“Grandma, I’m sorry, but I’m not ready to do that. You and Aunt Judy go and see her. If you reestablish a relationship with her, enjoy it. She is your daughter, and I understand that. If I was to ever go to your house and she was there, I could be civil to her. I can’t see myself loving her as my mother. She gave me life and took care of me until I was old enough to care for myself, then she and Dad gave me hell.

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