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Gregory A. Patrick
Jaiden � Chapters 130
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“Peggy, did Jim and Phyllis see you at the airport?” “They did, Ginny, they”re getting their bags out of the car, and thanks for calling me Peggy; Dr. Reynolds got old to me.”
“You”re welcome. Have you let Jaiden know you are in town?” “Not yet; we thought we would surprise them at the hospital for lunch.” “That will be a welcome diversion for them; they have worked so hard this week, and the week has just begun.”
“Why has it been such a stressful week already for them?” “They have had a couple of emergency admissions and spent all night and the next day with the patients. Thankfully, the children pulled through, and Jaiden called to let me know they would be sleeping at the hospital.”
“Ginny, I am still on staff at the hospital, so I am going over now to see if I can help my boys.” “Peggy, I”m sure they could use the help today; Granny and I will stay with the children. Ain”t nobody gonna keep our babies but us!”
“Jim, Phyllis, I have to go to the hospital; Peyton and Jaiden are working themselves way beyond the norm. They”ve been at the hospital since yesterday morning; I”m going to see if I can help them.” “Peggy, we”re going with you; as stubborn as Peyton can be, I may have to pull rank on him to get him to listen to you.” “Jim, let”s go!”
“Hi, Doctor Reynolds; it”s good to see you again. Dr. Jaiden and Dr. Peyton are in room 399, taking a two-hour power nap; they”ve been asleep for about an hour and a half.” “Thanks for letting us know, Carla.”
“Carla, have you met Peyton”s parents?” “No, mam, I was off the week they were last here.” “Carla, this is Peyton”s dad, Dr. Jim Riley, and Peyton”s mom, Mrs. Phyllis Riley.” “Dr. Riley, Mrs. Riley, it is nice to finally meet the people responsible for raising an incredible, dedicated son and doctor. Dr. Peyton often talks about his family and growing up on a farm. He says he misses the mule but that the mule has taken to loving his little brother.”
“Carla, did Peyton tell you the mule”s name?” “No, Dr. Riley, he didn”t.” “Peyton can be a bit irritable when things go berserk on the farm, and when he gets that way, he can be a jackass, so, I named the mule Peyton the Jackass.” “Of course, you are kidding, aren”t you, Dr. Riley.” “Nope, I really did name the mule that. Ask him when he wakes up.”
“Carla, we”re going to the doctor”s lounge until our sons wake up. I”m on staff here, so if you need something, I can help with general medicine and needs.” “Thanks, Dr. Reynolds. Dr. Peyton and Dr. Jaiden generally always tell the patient”s parents where they”ll be when they go to get some rest. So, chances are that if something happens, the patient”s parents will tell the doctors before they tell us.”
“Really?” “Yes, mam; patients come first in this hospital except for their children and the ladies who care for them. We sometimes threaten to call you if they don”t take the time to eat lunch and relax for an hour or so.” “How did you know to threaten Jaiden that way?” “The redhead behind you?”
Dr. Mom turned around to see Charley standing there grinning from ear to ear. “High, Mom, when did you, Dad, and Mom Riley get here?” “First, give me a hug. I haven”t had a hug from my sons in ages.” Charley hugged the moms and shook hands with Dr. Dad. Carla was in the lounge talking with Dr. Mom when Dale walked in. Hugs and handshakes were the rule of the afternoon.
Dale looked at Charley and said, “Charley, Jaiden wants everybody to meet at B. B. King”s tonight for dinner. He said he wanted some chicken livers for him and the children and that he would get the children some broccoli salad. Carla was surprised when Peyton”s dad said, “Oh no hell he won”t!” Carla looked quizzically at Dr. Dad as Dale explained what happened on their last visit.
“Oh, yes, Dr. Peyton told us about that. We don”t allow broccoli on the floor when he is working. I don”t know how he has done it, but he has gotten children to eat vegetables they wouldn”t otherwise eat. He even has the children eating beef liver to help bring their vitamin B levels up.”
Dale looked at Carla and explained how he loves to cook and that he and Peyton got in the kitchen one day and cooked several foods Peyton thought he didn”t like. When he tasted what Dale cooked, he ate most of each food item � and then some! Then he took the recipes to the hospital”s head chef, and they let the children try a sample of each food. The children raved over the delicious food, so the recipes were added to the patient menus for their enjoyment.
“I wondered how new foods and items were getting on the menus.” Dale said, “Carla, give the credit to Peyton for wanting to do something different that he thought the children would enjoy. On top of that, each food has specific vitamins that help boost the child”s immune system.”
As everyone was engaged in conversation, Peyton and Jaiden walked through the door. Peyton said, “I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN IT!”
“You should have known what, son?” “That you told Carla I can sometimes be a jackass, so you named the mule Peyton the Jackass!” “Dad, I”m not a jackass; yes, I can be irritable. Yes, I get angry sometimes when things don”t go the way I want them to, and, yes, mezitli escort I kick a wall or a door when anxiety starts bothering me, and I don”t know what to do, but I am not a jackass.”
“OK, son, you”re not a jackass; so, tell me what you just described.” “Dad, maybe I need to rethink my claim.” “That might not be a bad idea, son. By the way: touch�!” “I love you too, Dad!”
Dr. Mom helped the guys catch up on general medical exams and notations so they could get off on time and spend some time with their children. Leon would also be moving in later in the afternoon, and Peyton and Jaiden wanted to be home so they could introduce him to everyone. They knew Leon was apprehensive about moving into the house with the parents visiting; however, Jaiden and Peyton knew there was no need for Leon”s nervousness.
About six pm that evening, the doorbell rang. Jaiden and Peyton answered the door, escorted Leon into the den, and introduced him to Mom and Dad Riley and Dr. Mom. Just as they finished the introductions and Leon headed to his room to unpack his clothes, Dale and Charley headed to the airport to pick up Chad and Randy.
Dale was going to hide down the airport”s terminal so Randy and Chad couldn”t see him as they were headed to the carousel to retrieve their luggage. Then, as they got their bags and walked to the parking lot, Dale would step up behind Randy and surprise him.
Charley met both guys at the escalator and took them to the baggage carousel, where he helped them retrieve their bags. They were walking to the car when Dale walked up behind Randy and tapped him on the shoulder.
Randy turned, saw Dale, and said, “NO WAY! So, you”re the Dale who is married to Charley?” “I am, Randy; it”s great to see you. How long has it been since we”ve seen each other?” “Dale, it has to have been at least ten years; I”m not sure how long it has been.”
“It doesn”t matter; I”m just happy you could come to Memphis and reunite with old friends and catch up on the gossip.” “Dale, this is so surreal; I had no idea you were the Dale I would be meeting here.” Charley looked at Randy and said, “Randy, Dale knew who would be coming to visit the family, and he was as giddy as one of our babies with a new toy.”
“Speaking of babies, Randy, you and Chad will probably get tackled by all ten children when we get to the house; they love to meet guests, and they are not shy about making their presence known.” “Dale, I can”t wait to meet the children. Plus, Mom is going to freak when she finds out who Chad and I came to visit; she”s really going to freak when she sees the pictures of the children.” “Randy, tell your mom she”s welcome to come up for a visit too; Peyton”s and Jaiden”s son, Nathan Robert, is a real ladies” man.
“When everybody got to the house, Dale and Charley introduced their friends to everybody in the house. Then, true to Dale”s and Charley”s comments about the children, the babies did their best to tackle Chad and Randy, who wound up playing with them on the floor.”
At seven pm, Jaiden announced it was time to head to dinner. Leon had no idea where they were taking him to celebrate his moving into the house. Chad and Randy had no idea of the elegance of their dinner that night either.
When everyone arrived at the dock, Leon looked at Jaiden and Peyton and said, “Guys, are you kidding me? We”re going on the dinner cruise?” “Yes, we are, Leon; you deserve this experience, and we want you to have it and enjoy it to the fullest.”
The guys escorted Leon, Chad, and Randy to the front of the ship so they could enjoy the breeze and sunset while sailing up the river. Peyton and Jaiden kept an eye on Leon to ensure he was OK since he was having a hard time understanding their kindness; the young man was quiet as he stood at the bow of the boat, tears streaming down his face.
Peyton”s dad went and stood by Leon and asked him what was on his mind. Leon related how he couldn”t understand how Jaiden and Peyton could be so kind to him after the way he acted in the park, the way he attacked Jaiden. “Leon, Peyton, and Jaiden are incredibly forgiving and loving people. I have only known Jaiden since Peyton met him at Wellstone University. But, I can tell you this about him: he always forgives someone who offends him, and Peyton is the same way.”
“Whenever someone enters their lives, they take it as a mission to do whatever is necessary to improve that person”s life in unbelievable ways. You know Richard and Seth, Peyton”s brothers, don”t you?” “Yes, sir, I do.” “Do you know the story behind Richard and Seth being part of our family?” “No, sir.”
“Peyton and Jaiden were in medical school where Richard was a classmate of theirs. He was staying in an apartment near the college because he had taken all he could take at home. Richard”s younger brother, Seth, is gay, and his parents at the time didn”t know it. So, Richard and Seth kept it a secret from their parents because they knew their dad would hurt Seth very badly if he found out his son was gay.”
“One day, Seth”s mother walked into his bedroom without knocking and caught Seth kissing his boyfriend. His dad went crazy and attacked Seth with a few objects. Richard found out about the attack and talked with Jaiden and Peyton at their school. Jaiden and Peyton had qualified to work as licensed physician”s assistants and worked at the Erie hospital. Richard approached them and asked them to talk with Seth because of the attack.”
That evening, Richard took Seth to Peyton”s and Jaiden”s home to talk with them. Less than an hour later, a judge and two police officers met them at the hospital to investigate what had happened to Seth. The doctor, whom Peyton and Jaiden worked for, examined Seth in the hospital and immediately took him to surgery. Six and a half hours later, he got out of surgery and was put into intensive care. A month and a half later, Seth was finally released from the hospital.”
“That night, I was told what had happened. So I called Jaiden”s mom, who is a doctor. She, Peyton”s mom, and I immediately flew to Erie. I am not a little man; you can see that. I was so angry that all I wanted to do was get my hands on Richard”s and Seth”s dad and break every bone in his body. Instead, I walked into Seth”s room the following morning and lost it when I saw him.”
“An attorney who attends the same synagogue as Jaiden and Peyton and lives around the corner from them walked into the hospital room while I was there. He was going pozcu escort to represent Seth and Richard and make sure their dad could never again hurt Seth. So he and I talked, and when we went to court, Seth”s dad received so much prison time that he will never get out of prison, and Seth”s mother won”t get out of jail for forty-five years.”
“The judge knew Peyton”s mom, and I wanted to immediately adopt Seth and Richard and asked the attorney if he had some business with the court. He said he did, gave the judge adoption papers, and the judge signed them immediately. Then we took Seth home with us to Alabama. Richard moved into Jaiden”s and Peyton”s home at my insistence, and the rest is history. We have been a happy family since that day in court.”
“Seth has done so well that he is graduating from high school early and will enter veterinary school on a full scholarship in January at the University of Florida. However, none of what I have told you would have happened had Jaiden and Peyton not stepped in to help Seth and Richard.”
“Jaiden”s mom and I paid all of Richard”s medical school loans and his last year in medical school. I hope you understand Peyton and Jaiden a little better after what I have told you. Their hearts are pure, and they want to help you the same way they helped Seth and Richard � if you will let them.”
“When we get home, I will show you some things on the internet that will blow your mind. Then My wife and I and Jaiden”s mom want to sit with and talk to you about the time you will be at Wellstone University.” “Yes, sir, that will be great; thank you.”
Peyton let everyone know their tables were ready and that they could be seated to eat dinner. When the waiters placed the food on the table, Leon”s eyes almost popped out of his head. He had never seen such a large plate of food, and he had never before had prime rib.
Peyton watched the surprise on Leon”s face and poked Jaiden on the arm, and then motioned for him to watch Leon. Jaiden smiled as he looked up and said, “Leon, I hope you enjoy this meal; you earned it the hard way.” Leon was beside himself and couldn”t say a word.
When everyone got home, Jaiden”s mom and Peyton”s parents took Leon into the dining room to talk to him about what they wanted to do while he was in Wellstone.”
Dad Riley began by saying, “Leon, we know about you living in the tent city in Memphis. That will never happen again as long as you are a part of our family. We are going to help you while you are at Wellstone and after you graduate. We also want to help you with graduate school and help you get settled into your first home after grad school graduation.”
“We are going to set up a monetary account for you while you are attending Wellstone, so you will have spending money to enjoy yourself when you have some off-time, and so you will have some money to fly to Erie and stay with your new family while on breaks between semesters. Peyton and Jaiden should complete their residency in May and return to Erie this coming June. There you”ll have the same set-up in Erie that you have here.”
Dr. Mom said, “Leon, I will be one of your doctors while you are in school, and I will make sure your medical needs are taken care of. Then, when you get to Erie for graduate school, Richard, Peyton, and Jaiden will take care of your medical needs, and I will help if they need it. You have a family now who loves you and will do whatever is necessary to help you any way possible.”
“I know what Jim, Phyllis, and I have said is a lot to comprehend, so sleep on it tonight. We”ll talk some more in the morning while we sit on the deck and enjoy the excellent coffee Dale brews.”
Leon was staring at the ceiling, unable to say a word as tears streamed down his cheeks. Peyton”s mom pulled Leon”s head to her shoulder as she rubbed his back to help calm him � the same way she had done for Jaiden in Orange Beach.
“Jaiden”s mom said, “Leon, go change into something more comfortable; the children are going to want to play with you before they have their baths and go to bed. Then, if you want, you can watch the guys chase their children in the showers to catch and bathe them; it is a hilarious sight to watch. I promise you”ll laugh enough to help you relax so you can sleep.”
Leon started to say, “Dr. Rey…” when Jaiden”s mother stopped him and said, “Leon, I am either Peggy or Mom; you aren”t going to start calling me Dr. Reynolds, OK?” “Yes, mam.” Jim said, “Leon, on that same note, I am Jim or Dad, not Dr. Riley, and you can call Peyton”s mom Phyllis or Mom; it”s your choice.” “Yes, sir.”
When they finished talking in the dining room, they went outside on the deck to sit with their sons and have the cup of coffee they were craving. Charley and Jaiden were in the backyard playing with the children in the grass. Leon joined them, and by the looks of everything and the sound of Leon”s laughter, he would fit in nicely with the family.
Monday night, Jaiden and Peyton got a call from Leon”s counselor asking what had occurred over the weekend. Peyton asked Deborah Till if anything was wrong. She told him it was quite the contrary, that she had never seen a change in any patient like she saw in Leon that day.
Peyton and Jaiden filled her in on the weekend”s happenings. They said that Leon seemed to fit in well with the family, that he enjoyed playing in the yard with the children and spending time with the adults. Peyton told her Leon seemed to sleep well and awaken each morning, appearing refreshed. Deborah was surprised when Peyton told her Leon went to the synagogue with their family on Saturday morning and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Sunday morning, the guys took their children and parents and went for a walk around the neighborhood. Leon asked if he could join them and was told the more, the merrier. Since then, he has been walking in the community with the guys and the children every evening. Deborah was astounded at that news, and by the changes she was seeing in Leon, it was progress she had not anticipated.
On Sunday before, the guys took their parents to the airport to fly home. The parents hugged Leon and told him they hoped to see him soon. He thanked them for the support they had pledged to him, and as Leon watched them ascend the escalator, he softly said, “those are some of the most amazing people I have ever met.” Jaiden and Peyton smiled and put their arms around Leon”s shoulders as they walked back to their car.
On the way home, Leon spoke about how it was hard for him to understand why everyone was so eager to help him. Jaiden said, “Leon, do you know who Dr. Mya Angelo is?” “Wasn”t she a poet who became famous after speaking at the president”s inauguration?” “Partly, yes, but she was famous before that. She said something I have taken to heart and by which I want to be known: `My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; but to do so with some passion, and some compassion, some humor, and some style.”” “Jaiden, you are very successful if that is your aim.”
“Leon, Dr. Angelo also said something I think genuinely applies to you: `My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.””
“When you wonder why people are trying so hard to help you have a better, more prosperous life, think about another saying from Dr. Angelo: `We need joy as we need air. We need love as we need water. We need each other as we need the earth we share.” That is what Peyton and I are trying to say to you. You might think you needed us, but the truth is we needed you in our lives just as badly as you may have needed our family and us. Don”t ever forget that.”
“We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate – thereby making the present comfortable and the future promising. Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold, but so does a hard-boiled egg.” “Something tells me those are more of Dr. Angelo”s sayings.” “Leon, you are correct in that assumption. She was a great lady whom I miss horribly.”
“Jim was right.” “What do you mean, Leon?” “He sat me down in the dining room, and we talked for a long time. He didn”t use Dr. Angelou”s words, but what he said about you and Peyton and about Dale and Charley was pretty much the same thing. He helped me understand why you guys are trying so hard to help me; what you just said was my verification that Peyton”s dad is a right, wise man.”
“Leon, do you see the bird perched on the fence?” “Sure, why?” “That bird, Leon, is a starling who is a lot like you were. He is a pain in the ass that just won”t quit. As long as he is around, we will see him as a pest we wish would fly away. Even a cat won”t try to eat a starling. They are greasy birds with a bitterness that cats hate. However, the reality is that he is not a pest, but rather a teacher, sometimes a bitter teacher.”
“We tend to hate starlings because we don”t understand them, and sometimes we don”t understand ourselves. I think part of the problem you had was that you didn”t understand yourself, which frustrated you more than anybody will ever realize. If you look at the situation you are now in, we, and you, are much like starlings.”
“Starlings work as a couple. They build their nests together and protect that nest together. While most male birds fly away after impregnating the female, the male starling sticks around to help the female feed the babies when they hatch. It is an unshakable commitment between the two birds. It”s the same with Peyton, me, and our families; we have pledged to help you until you can fly and survive on your own, and we are not going to back down from that pledge � EVER!”
My family doesn”t see you as the greasy, pain-in-the-ass starling that nobody wants around. On the contrary, you are a good person, and we could see that from when we first went to court until today. I hope that every morning, when you get up and get ready to go about your day, you look in the mirror and see a good person. You need to tell yourself that you are a creature made by God in his image, that He loves you no matter what. He may not like what you do, but he will always love you! People will love you the same way if you let them.”
“Jaiden, I have begun to understand my anger and the way I was striking out at people. When I was a child, my parents called me stupid and worthless. Eventually, my mother told me I was a mistake that interrupted her divorce from my dad. They stayed together until I was thirteen, and their fighting got so bad that they couldn”t stay together. In the end, they were both running around on each other. Finally, dad caught mom in a threesome with another woman and a man after he kicked in the man”s apartment door. Then he came home and told me all about it! I didn”t need to know that, and I still don”t.”
“After he caught mom with the man and the other lady, he would sit her in a chair in the living room while he slapped her and made her call herself a whore; and all that occurred on mornings when I had to go to school. I was flunking everything in the sixth grade because I couldn”t concentrate or relax at home, read what I needed to read and do my homework assignments. Then, one day, the teacher had enough and made those of us who didn”t do our homework sit on one side of the class and copy the entire history chapter. I thought I resented her for doing that. Dr. Till helped me realize I didn”t resent the teacher because she made us copy the history chapter – I resented her because she never clued in on what I and others were experiencing. Nobody has ever tried to help me until I had my run-in with you and Peyton.”
“Jaiden, that is what is so hard for me to accept � that nobody ever tried to help me except the two people I tried my best to hurt. You have no idea how disappointed I am in myself for doing that; it”s something I don”t think I will ever fully understand.” “Leon, you understand that very well, or you wouldn”t have said what you just did. Either way, you know Peyton, and I have forgiven you for everything that happened. The hardest thing you now have to learn to do is to forgive yourself and let us help you move on successfully in your life.” “That is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, Jaiden; it”s painful for me.”
Leon walked outside to the deck railing and looked toward the mountains. Jaiden walked outside and put his arms around Leon, and said, “Leon, my family loves you because you are a good person, and they see that in you. One day, you will wake up and see the world as a different, happy place, and you are going to feel unlike you have ever felt. You will have a smile on your face, a bounce in your step, and confidence you never thought you would have. Peyton and I will be standing at the door with tears in our eyes as you step into the sunlight because we”ll know we had a small part in helping you to find your incredible self. I have another friend, Keith, who has gone through the same pains in life as you, and I see him finding himself the same way. It”s all in God”s plans for you both; I feel that in every ounce of my being.”
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