Regina Gerald was packing her son’s bag for a three week basketball camp, and trying not to let her emotions get in the way. It was her first time letting her son go to a summer camp, and the distance made it impossible for a visit. Although he would spend time at his Grandparent’s house, four days was not three weeks.
The unfinished bottle of wine she had the night before was calling her, but she knew her son would be home, and it would have to wait until dinner. Regina had four days off and she knew one of those days was going to be a cry night in front of the tv watching some girl movie about loss.
Packing for her son Landon was something Regina enjoyed doing, even though he was old enough to do it himself. As the clothes shifted from one hand to the other before being packed in the travel bag, Regina tried to remember when she was needed by him. Landon was thirteen now, and was trying to become his own person despite the silent pleas she had for him to stay young.
The three week long summer basketball camp was almost three hundred miles away. Regina was excited and terribly nervous about sending her son away for such a long time so far away. He was getting an opportunity to expand his skills, and wanted to go for over a year.
Most parents would be thrilled to have their child gone for so long, but Regina was a single parent that needed her child for the sanity of not being alone. She hated how she felt sometimes, but knew that her son was her world, and for three weeks she would be not needed. Regina got choked up just thinking about how less of a mother she would feel without her only son.
Regina was not one for dwelling on the past, but also never got over her husband’s infidelity and their eventual breakup. Although Malcolm was a great father, he was only a parent every other weekend. Her work schedule was perfectly balanced, and yet busy at the same time. It was a mother’s busy work that kept her momentum of life going, and Landon leaving was going to upset that balance.
The day passed quickly, and Regina heard the banging of doors, followed by cabinet doors closing. Knowing her son was home, the other voice she heard was his friend Josh. Walking down the stairs, she heard the commotion two teenage boys could cause.
Regina was downstairs, and it was too late, the kitchen looked ransacked and the two boys were already outside playing basketball. Like normal teenage boys their appetite was just as large as their need to expend energy they just got from pillaging the kitchen.
Looking outside Regina could see that Josh was there at Landon’s side like he had been for years now. They have been friends ever since he was accepted into Landon’s private school. Landon was accepted because his grades were high, and Regina had a checkbook to pay for it. Josh got in solely for his grades and his abilities on the court, yet some mothers protested a boy coming from such a poor area going to such a prestigious school.
Regina tried to act like a mother to both boys, knowing that Josh’s mother had abandoned him a long ago. It was kind of awkward at times, seeing that Josh was pale white, and Landon was dark like his father. Regina never took skin color serious though, and was raised to judge people on their merits not the color of their skin. As the two boys were best of friends, it seemed their race was never a question to them either.
A feeling of guilt, and sorrow came over Regina as she knew Josh was not going to the camp, and deserved a spot more than any other child on the team. Regina hated to admit he was more talented than Landon, but it was the truth. Josh did not come from wealth, and the camp did not take charity cases. It did cross Regina’s mind to pay for the camp for him, but felt it would be taken the wrong way by his Grandmother, and his father.
Although Josh attended the most expensive private school in the state, his Grandmother was dreadfully poor living in a trailer. Even when he was being admitted into the school, when some parents found out that he was getting a full scholarship, they protested to the board. Regina was happy to be in attendance that night, and got a chance to speak on Josh’s behalf. It did alienate some parents, but Regina was more than happy to feel righteous once Josh earned his grades, and a spot on the team.
Regina was born with wealth, and becoming a doctor only increased that wealth. Malcolm had to pay dearly for his indiscretions, and Regina had even more money than before the marriage. Her father was still alive, and his considerable wealth only secured more of a lifestyle that she could ever image. This money did not affect her dreams, and staying a family practitioner gave her that sense of life rewards one needs to continue.
Regina stepped outside to the two boys playing. “You boys need anything?” Regina asked as Josh, and Landon were taking turns shooting from the foul line.
“No mom,” Landon replied as he never turned his back.
“No thank you, Ms. Gerald,” Josh answered as he turned to look Regina in the face.
Regina always knew Josh had more manners than anyone she had even known. She met his grandmother a few times, and knew that she was just as polite and sincere as Josh was. Josh’s father was in the military and was stationed a considerable distance away which left Josh and his Grandmother sharing a small trailer between them.
Regina only heard a few stories about Josh’s father, and still never had the pleasure of meeting him. Every time she asked him about his father, Josh would explain how he was off to some far away country or being moved from one base to another. Josh did say that they talked every night, and that he would move in with his father once he was out of the military. Not being too noisy, Regina stopped asking questions about his father, and it did seem that he missed him terribly. Having met grandma at all the school functions, she just assumed she was raising him, and supporting the family. Regina even had the thought the story of his father being in the military was a story he made up to cope with abandonment. Not wanting to stir bad thoughts, Regina just continued to act like a mother to him whenever she could, although he seemed more independent than any boy she had ever known.
The afternoon quickly became night, and Regina called for the boys to have dinner. Feeding two boys was something that Regina never complained about, as she enjoyed having the mouths to feed. Josh was a regular at her table, and she loved the fact she could help him out any way she could.
Since Josh never asked for anything, Regina insisted that he eat over all the time. It was something she thought would be kind, but also felt it was stepping on his Grandmother’s toes for trying to take care of a child that was not hers. This was the most evident during Christmas and his birthday. Spending large sums of money for the two events made her feel both guilt and pleasure. She knew she was spending more on him than his Grandmother and father, and had to hide it sometimes from them.
Josh was more than happy to eat whatever was put on his plate, but he insisted on helping cleanup. Regina never argued, and loved the idea of a boy with manners being her son’s friend. To her the friendship was mutual as Landon was with someone who she never worried about getting into trouble. When some of the players of the basketball team were involved in a plot to steal equipment, Regina was more than happy her son and Josh were not involved. When Landon told about how Josh kept him out of trouble, Regina knew that he was a boy who would forever be welcome in her house. To Regina she felt he was a positive role model for her son, and poverty was just a motivating tool for him to become something great.
Josh was on his bike ready to head home when the sky erupted with fierce thunder, and a downpour that silenced everything. Regina was not about to send anyone off into the night with a storm coming down. Josh also biked further than a child should, and Regina often complained about the distance, as his house was in the trailer park across town.
Regina quickly had Josh call his Grandmother, and tell her that he was being driven home. He would have to leave his bike there, and could get it tomorrow afternoon. Landon was gone in the morning, and Josh was going to be out of a friend for three weeks, and his bike was going to be needed.
Driving to Josh’s Grandmother’s trailer was something Regina had done numerous times. She always offered to drive, and tried to hide his embarrassment from others about knowing where he lived. Regina never knew the plight of poverty, but was going to make sure that Josh would never feel the shame of its embarrassment to other classmates.
Regina pulled into the small driveway and noticed a beat up pickup parked in front. Josh lit up and announced his father was home. Regina was about to ask him a question, and he was already thanking her for the ride and dashed off inside his small trailer. Regina noticed the lights turn on, and her phone vibrate. Looking down it was Josh’s Grandmother thanking her for driving him home.
Landon was home waiting for her, and Regina quickly tried to make the night memorable as she knew it was going to be his last for awhile. A simple quiet night was all she needed now.
She changed into some sweatpants, and a simple white tank top put on a movie and settled down. Regina put the storm out of her mind, and wondered if the leftover bottle of wine would get her tipsy before bed. She thought of Josh quickly and was happy he got to see his father.
.... There is more of this story ...