33,053 words. Love it. That means that I met my personal goal of doubling today’s goal: this calls for a celebration! (=Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream.)
We’re half-way through the week everybody! Hope it’s going well for you all.
Criticism and feedback are welcome and appreciated as always!
I buried myself further beneath the covers and moaned. Bobby, on a twin-sized bed in the other side of the room, did the same.
“Yoohoo!” The voice called again.
“Go uhway, Gwam,” Bobby whined. His speech still wasn’t perfect for an eight year old, but it was improving.
The door finally opened. “Oh come on you two, it’s past eight o clock,” Grammy fussed. “It’s time for you two to rise and shine,” she called out brightly, and I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was already smiling. I grinned underneath the covers and stayed as still as I could. I heard Bobby give in as his feet hit the floor.
“Good boy, Bubba. Now what are we going to do about sister babe?”
“Get UP, Rows,” he shouted across the room.
I continued staying still, pretending that I was asleep.
“I guess that if that won’t wake her, we’ll just have to go over there and tickle h—“
“NO!” I cried, jumping out from under the covers.
“No, no, no! I’m up.”
Bobby grinned and Grammy laughed.
“You guys hungry?” she asked.
We hopped down the stairs and plopped onto the couch, turning on the TV and watching Flintstones while Grammy made bowls of cereal in the kitchen. Our favorite kinds of cereal were Fruit Loops, Pops and Reeses Puffs, and despite dad complaining about how the sugar was rotting our teeth, mom and Gram got them at the store. Every week. I honestly don’t even remember brushing my teeth when I was a kid. I might not have.
On the screen, a Flintstones cartoon character cracked an egg open and dropped it into a sizzling pan of butter. We watched while it crackled and sizzled in the pan, and the character stood in front of it, eyeing it carefully and smiling. Soon, a spatula was produced and the egg was flipped over onto its other side. The cooked side looked plump, soft… delectable.
“Hey Grammy?” I yelled towards the kitchen.
“Can you cook me an egg? Like instead of cereal?”
I heard a pause, and then laughing. “Okay sugar.”
I leaned back into the sofa and smiled.
“I guess I’ll be eating Reesers Puffs,” I heard her mumble quietly to herself afterwards.
Right after we had finished breakfast, Grammy walked up to the TV and turned it off.
“Heyyy,” Bobby frowned.
“Now I know you guys plan on watching the movie Home Alone later, and I just don’t think it’s good for you to spend the whole day sitting in front of the television.” She paused. “How about we go for a little walk outside? Hike up the road? Who knows, we might find something exciting.” She smiled mischeviously and Bobby and I looked at each other, smiling.
We agreed and put our tennis shoes on. Bobby’s walking had improved immensely, but he still held Grammy’s hand the whole time and even leaned on her arm every once in awhile. About a quarter mile up the road and on the right there was this small clearing in the trees. Grammy, feeling adventurous like usual, suggested that we walk into the woods through it.
”Do you fink there’ll be snakes tho?” Bobby looked a little skeptical.
“No,” Grammy said thoughtfully, “but if there were, I bet we could beat ‘em with a stick!”
“You’re crazy, Grammm!” Bobby said slowly, smiling while he spoke.
We didn’t find any snakes, but I do remember finding an interesting little campfire set-up. There was a big black hole in the ground, all ashy and with the smell of smoke still involved with it. There was also a pair of socks, a tank top, a few empty beer cans and one shoe, all scattered across the ground.
“I don’t know what on earth was going on out here,” Grammy muttered to herself, looking pensive and a little suspicious.
I looked all around me and tried to imagine what could have been going on. I was clueless. I couldn’t help Grammy.
We hiked along the road often afterwards, but Grammy was no longer as keen about letting us go into the woods through the small clearing. In just a few months time, after the winter had passed and spring had sprung and our family decided to move back to Florida, we dropped an orange cat off inside that clearing. It had been dad’s idea.
”Someone will find him,” Grammy assured Bobby and I while we sat in the backseat, crying. She watched as my mom set the cat onto the ground and shooed it forward. Mom looked sad as she walked back to the car, and a little angry, too. She was probably mad at dad.
“He’ll be okay,” Grammy smiled at us sympathetically, but she looked sad, too.
Soon, there was something even more important and exciting to think about than trekking through the woods and studying the lives of the Flintstones. Someone from the hospital called mom one day, and they had incredibly exciting news.
“Bobby, Rose, Mommy!”
She came running outside to where Grammy and Bob were sitting on the porch. I was chalking our driveway, but looked up immediately when I heard mom’s voice.
“What is it doll babe?” Grammy asked quickly, a worried expression already creeping over her face. She started to rise from her chair.
“Oh no, It’s good, good GOOD news,” my mom clarified, gesturing for Grammy to stay in her seat. Triple good news?
“WHAT IS IT?” I ran over, screeching at the top of my lungs.
“Now settle down Rosebud,” Grammy frowned a little while letting me climb onto her lap. I had a tendency to get on my family’s nerves with both my hyperventilation crying fits and my overly enthusiastic, happy outbursts.
“I just got a phone call from Children’s Hospital,” my mom began. Grammy still looked nervous. “They wanted to congratulate Bobby for beating his cancer,” she announced, smiling over at Bobby, who grinned widely in return, “and they wanted to apologize for being a little late, but they said that they would love to grant Bobby’s wish.”
Grammy gasped while I continued standing there, waiting to hear the good news.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a wonderful organization that was created for the purpose of granting the wishes of terminally ill children. A physician or parent can refer a child who they feel qualifies, and then, it’s as simple as the child deciding on and expressing their wish. The wish can be for absolutely anything, from going to watch a movie with a famous basketball player to receiving a new bike or going on a trip to Hawaii. Then, to the best of their ability, the organization works to grant the child’s wish.
At the beginning of his chemotherapy treatments, Bobby became so crucially ill that the doctor released him from his morning treatment on the 24th of December, telling my parents to “give him a good Christmas”; that it might be his last one. He returned to the hospital, just as sickly, in the beginning of January. Just after the nurse started Bobby’s next chemotherapy treatment, a woman who also worked at the hospital slipped into the room. Liquid began dripping from the IV bag and into Bobby’s metaport, a medical device that had been inserted under his skin to make shots, IVs and taking blood easier for him to handle and for medical staff to take care of. He would come about once a week and the bag usually took about four hours to empty itself.
Loony Tunes was playing on the television in the room and he was munching on some French fries that mom had bought from McDonalds on the way when she stepped in.
“Mrs. Roderick?” the woman asked hesitantly.
“Yes, that’s me,” my mom answered pleasantly but looking a little nervous.
“Hi, my name is Anna,” she smiled, closing the door behind her and walking over to extend her hand.
“I wanted to talk with you about making one of Bobby’s dreams come true.”
She briefed my mom quickly about the Make-A-Wish Foundation: its purpose and mission, how it was free to apply, that Bobby qualified, and that in making his wish, he should reach for the stars.
My mom turned and explained to Bobby, simply and excitedly, that he could have anything he wanted.
“What do you want me to write down?” she asked softly. “What should we ask for? What is your wish?”
He tried to say something but got frustrated and was unable to do so. The lady, Anne, had a great idea:
“Let me go get some magazines. We can let him look at pictures and maybe he can point at something he wants.”
She smiled as she left the room and returned a little later on in the morning, with a tall stack of magazines balanced in her arms.
Mom and Bob spent a good portion of the afternoon looking through the magazines together. Anne seemed to enjoy watching and she stayed most of the time. She noted the things that made him smile and seemed to interest him. On one of the pages in a Toys R Us magazine, Bobby became boisterously happy.
He seemed to be looking at an add on the page, and trying to say something about it. Mom leaned over but couldn’t understand him, so he started pointing at the page, obviously happy and wanting to draw attention to the item that had his attention. Mom looked down to see where his finger was pointing. Directly at a jungle gym set.
“Is that what you want, Bob?” my mom laughed a little. “A jungle gym set?” He nodded.
“You can have anything you want,” Anne reminded him from her seat on the other side of him.
He kept pointing at the page and moaning words, words that, could he have said them, would have been similar to: “Yes, I know I can have anything, but this is what I want. I really like this jungle gym set, and that’s what I want to wish for.”
Soon after, Anne had left the room, with my brother Bobby’s wish written in blue ink on her form, my mom’s signature and contact information on the same page, and the tall stack of magazines off to travel elsewhere in her arms.
And now, we are all on the porch together, being reminded of the story and becoming completely loony with excitement. Grammy doesn’t even reprove me when I scream and fly off of the porch, running into the yard and twisting and turning my body in a crazy fashion to outwardly represent my excitement. Bobby laughs long and loud and claps his hands.
“We’ll get you out of that wheelchair soon, Bubba.” Grammy says brightly and smiles down at him. “And you’ll never have to use it again when we do.”
I don’t know if Bobby could remember being in the hospital with mom and Anne nearly a year before and pointing at the picture of a jungle gym set in that Toys R Us magazine, but when my mom knelt down and told him that someone would be bringing him a jungle gym set soon and building it right in front of him in our very own front yard, he smiled.
And three days later, when a whole staff of workers from the Make-A-Wish Foundation showed up in our yard, wearing smiles and kid-friendly clothes, and built the jungle gym set with a reporter right there with them, taking pictures and smiling at our family, Bobby must have remembered then.
This is all for you, they said.
I still have the newspaper article, and most of the pictures. I was wearing yellow overalls that day. Bobby was wearing a t-shirt and shorts and smiling; he was the skinny little boy, with a shiny, bald head, who was now in remission from cancer, and who had his wish come true.
It didn’t end there. After the crew left with their chest of tools, ladder and empty boxes, and after we had spent the entire afternoon exhausting ourselves on our big, new toy (with Grammy assisting Bobby, of course), mom gave us another bit of exciting news as soon as we entered the house.
“Since Bobby was so modest with his request,” she began, “and because he is so cute and they liked him so much,” she grinned, running her hand through Bobby’s hair and making him laugh, “the Make-A-Wish Foundation has left us with this gift card for Toys R Us.” She grabbed her purse and keys from off of the counter.
“How much is on there, doll babe?” Grammy asked quietly.
“It’s fully-loaded,” my mom answered, raising her eyebrows and smiling, “and I don’t think that we need to wait to wait until tomorrow to use it.”
It was the most exciting shopping trip of our childhood, kid lives. Bobby was a gentleman; in addition to buying the things that he wanted, he let me pick out anything I wanted, too; I think I ended up throwing some kind of princess Barbie Doll into the cart and a stuffed animal or two. Bobby got lots of new toys and games – I particularly remember a toy racecar that you controlled with a remote – and it made the recovery process of resting on the couch or in the yard at home pass even more pleasantly than any of us could have imagined or asked for.
I am eternally grateful to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for making my brother’s wish come true. He loved going on the shopping spree and he thoroughly wore the jungle gym out during the rest of our stay in South Carolina, and I really appreciate that I was able to be at home with my family, witnessing and experiencing Bobby’s joy with him.