Stories We Tell
A Fictional Series
I’ve always considered myself a man’s man. I grew up in Wyoming and was raised by cowboys and ranch hands, near a town that was brimming with blue collar workers.
My father died when I was small, and my mother was as tough as nails. She took over the ranch when he was gone – not in a physical capacity, but professionally. She hired all of the right people, and made sure that they did their jobs.
I loved our life, but my dreams for adulthood were of a different kind – a two-story house in suburbia, with a white picket fence, and a boatload of kids.
I’m sure that late night television was the spark that lit that fuse – because my fantasy looked nothing like the life that I knew at the time. Come to think of it, it looked nothing like the life that I know now, either.
My name is David Cross, and this is my story.
When I married Dizzy, she was totally on board – for a boatload of kids anyway. We bought a modest one-story home, with no fence at all, but by then that part didn’t matter. Dizzy and I were soulmates, and finding each other was a miracle in itself – which is a story for some other time.
Dizzy and I tried and tried, and then – sadly – we discovered that she was unable to conceive. I’m going to be frank here. We talked about the large family for so many years that the vision of small children running circles around my feet had started to wear thin.
This pitfall was a bit of an opportunity for me to throw some ideas out, like fostering a child or two and seeing how it all panned out before considering adoption or some sort of expensive treatment that might not even work.
I’m sure that sounds awful, like foster kids were just a way for me and Dizzy to give our parenting skills a ‘test run’ – but that’s not what I mean. I just wanted to see if we could tip toe into the shallow end rather than diving in, head first, only to find out that someone had drained the pool!
Ben was our first foster child, and he was such a good kid. It was obvious that his first twelve years of life had been hard, and he had risen to the challenge. He was well-mannered, and pretty darn self-sufficient.
It was also nice to have another male around. We’d talk about fishing and rock climbing, and sometimes we’d watch the Discovery Channel late at night, when Dizzy was asleep. When Ben left, I really, really missed having him around.
Dizzy’s best friend Levi comes to the house a lot, and her daughter Delilah – who is also Dizzy’s niece – so I’m forever surrounded by girls. Once they get to talking, their conversations start to sound a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher – if you know what I mean.
And then… our second foster child was a girl – a beautiful, sweet, and delicate young girl. Avery was almost five, and we were her third foster home. Her mother had spent some time in jail and a couple of recovery homes, and she was working on getting clean so she could gain back her parental rights.
Avery didn’t know much about her mother’s circumstances, but she knew that her mother loved her – and that her mother wanted to get her back.
We knew right away that we had a problem, because Avery refused to let either of us touch her. At first we wondered if someone had abused her in some way, but – according to social services – that was not the case. So, Dizzy and I adapted.
One afternoon, the ladies had a bridal shower to attend – and it was a ‘no children under twelve’ kind of thing – so Dizzy asked me if I could watch Avery.
“Of course, of course!” I said, hiding every fear that was spiraling through my mind.
I had worked hard at child-proofing the backyard – so Avery and I spent the day out there. There was yard work and chores to do, so she watched me for a short time and then putted around the yard looking into bushes and up the trees. She was full of curiosity.
Avery saw this little baby bird, hopping around the grass, so she called me over to see it.
“It must have fallen from its nest,” I told her, and I cupped my hands to pick it up.
The next thing I know, Avery is screaming, “No, no! Don’t touch it!!” She’s crying and staring at me all wide eyed as if I’m doing something horrific and I’m all freaked out because she’s screaming and I’m holding this little baby bird – trying to figure out what in the hell to do with it.
“Its mother won’t accept it now!” She says, tears streaming down her face.
“Ohhhh,” I said. Partly because I finally understood why she was crying and screaming at me, and partly because I thought I’d found a clue as to why Avery didn’t want anyone to touch her.
I told Avery that the thing about baby birds being rejected by their mothers if a human touches them was a myth, and then I asked her if that had anything to do with why she was afraid to let anyone touch her.
“Even if that bird myth were true,” I said to her, “You and your mother are not birds, and your mother will never reject you for letting someone else care for you.”
We spent the rest of the afternoon talking about mothers and birds, and I even explained to her what unconditional love was all about.
So, at the end of the day, the other girls get home and Avery runs to Dizzy and gives her a big old bear hug. Everyone’s all excited and happy, and they head into the kitchen, and their voices start to sound a little like Charlie Brown’s teacher again – and then I feel something touch my hand.
There’s sweet little Avery trying to take my hand so that I’ll get up and join the ladies in the kitchen, and I feel these uncontrollable tears welling up in my eyes.
And I realize… maybe I’m not such a man’s man after all… because this precious little girl just stole my heart.
A Note From Me
I think my word count was more than usual, but this was the first time I gave David the floor, so he earned it – haha. I was actually done much earlier, but I decided to try this bird image and a couple of hours went by.
I think this bird might be able to fly, but you get the picture. Let me tell you… feathers are HARD. That wasn’t even really fun to make – so I doubt I’ll try that again.
Anyway, it’s kind of late and I’m ready for TV or something, so I’ll keep this short.
One bit of new news… watching that show ‘This Is Us’ got me a little depressed because it’s all about family – and my grandkids live close enough that there’s no excuse not to see them more than I do. So…. I took the two boys to see the new Minion’s movie today.
It was so good to hang out with them – even though I tripped trying to hurry up the stairs and not only fell, but spilled my coke and popcorn! Oh my God. No injuries, just pure embarrassment and another story for the grandsons to tell someday.
That’s about all for now. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed!!