“Christmas Cradle” part 1 (2011)
Page 5 of 5
Lauren set one ladder on the front of the home and the second on the back both extending over the top of the roof. He went inside and plain as day could see straight through from the inside of the house to the sky above. Ms. Kitty had placed tarps over her family heirlooms and furniture and a squeegee was leaning in the corner previously used to move the rain water out through the front door with no real damage left to the flooring or the walls. Very smart he thought! The first step was to remove the old oak tree still bent against the side and the top of the roof. Lauren climbed the roof with chain saw in hand and went to work sawing one limb then another eventually working his way down the entirety of the tree to the base. He cut the branches into smaller and smaller parts eventually reduced to the size of wood that would burn nicely in her fireplace. He stacked the entire tree into a neatly laid wood pile and finished just as the sun was setting on this the first day. He accepted the offer of dinner and a hot drink of spiced rum in front of the fireplace and then excused himself when he started to nod off while engaged in polite conversation with Ms. Kitty and her other dinner guests and female friends who enjoyed a game of late night poker once in awhile. He retired to a back bedroom and shower and proceeded with the job the moment the sunlight breached the horizon the following day. The second day was spent assessing the remaining studs for structural integrity and when necessary building new supporting crossing beams off the existing frame with the two by fours loaded for the trip. By the end of day three the inside of the roof was rebuilt and the roof was sealed from the outside. On Thursday he cleaned the entirety of the old shingles off and started to lay the new heavy clay fire and wind proof tile donated to the priest and delivered to his home by an anonymous source. He finished late Friday just as the drizzle started to fall.
Lauren was anxious to commence the trip home but heeded the advice of Ms. Kitty and stayed on one more night to a delightful catfish dinner served with coleslaw, made from the cabbage grown out back in her summer garden, fried potatoes and homemade wine.
They commiserated in front of the fireplace that evening with her two most trusted friends and companions joining them for dinner and the subsequent nightcap and small talk.
Ms. Kitty sat down in her rocking chair and pulled a comforter over her waist. She broke the silence by saying: “You know Mr. Lauren, I prayed for an angel to help me as if my roof was not repaired I certainly would have caught my death of cold this winter and it hasn’t even started yet.” Her friends nodded in quiet approval. She continued: “and Mr. Lauren I remember the saying that if God gave me everything I ever prayed for I would have certainly shortchanged myself as you have done more with less than any person under these extremely difficult circumstances could have expected.” I have heard about your situation on the home front and the little ones that you and your precious wife have taken under your guidance and hopefully if its Gods will as their new parents, and as for me I can never ever repay the kindness you have bestowed on an old woman from the poor side of North Little Rock as you have not only made my home new again but you have piled the wood high and deep to keep me warm this year and the next one too. But Mr. Lauren most importantly you have raised the hope of the people up and down the street and due to your lead other donors have agreed to assist some of my most needy friends and neighbors. You know we used to be hot stuff in this neck of the woods with our fancy clothes and nice cars but then we got old and so did our neighborhood. Now we’re each and every one fading into the black waiting for death to guide us to our maker; but until that day we will continue to preserve and thank the good Lord for every day we remain above ground.” Again her friends nodded in approval.
“And I want you to have this” she leaned forward and palmed him a key. “This is to my little chateau up north in the Lake of the Ozarks near Bull Shoals. I have no use for it anymore so I want you to have it. Please accept this small gesture as a token of my appreciation. Her friend Thelma leaned forward and said: “Please go ahead and take it”. He accepted the gift and became teary eyed. Ms. Kitty said: "Oh no don’t go soft on me now." The women belted out a hearty laugh and clasped hands. Her other friend Rita retrieved a jug of hard cider from the kitchen and poured each one a glass and then said: “Let’s have a toast to good friends and to Christmas!” They all agreed and drank the basement fermented white liquor. Rita tossed the jug over her shoulder and took a straight pull.
He stumbled into his bedroom while they laughed and told stories for the rest of the night against the backdrop of warm friendship and green hickory logs crackling and sparking in the fireplace.
As he departed for home early the next morning he found the key and directions to the cabin placed on top of his gym bag. He left quietly and locked the door behind him. The storm had passed, the air was pure and the sky was blue. He drove most of the way home at half speed due to the icy conditions from the previous night’s precipitation. H finally turned the corner to see his home surrounded by cars for blocks and blocks making it impossible to park in his own driveway. He pulled up and entrusted his truck to the valet service that he had contracted. As his truck slowly pulled away he stood viewing the inflatable Christmas animals all in their proper places and the luminaries lined walkway a New Mexico tradition he learned as a child of the lighted candles in lunch bags stabilized with sand led the way for the Christ child to enter the home. He also remembered how when in Santa Fe he had toured the church now a museum and home of the Loretto Chapel with the winding staircase with no supports as constructed by a visiting carpenter rumored to be St. Joseph  and how viewing this work completed without nails or glue motivated his desire to make a difference in the lives of others through carpentry and woodworking emulating the great craftsmen and more specifically St. Joseph.
He opened the door and stepped inside to a full house of guests. Katy ran over and kissed him and the entire party applauded. The DJ slowed things down and couples young and old held each other tight and swayed to the music a contingent of balloons now tangled in the top of the Christmas tree and turning in unison with the centerpiece of the party. Not for its beauty and glowing tranquility but for the toys stacked around it from floor to the top of the stairwell.
Later that evening he toasted the Marines in attendance and the Captain then presented Lauren and Katy with a citation for this and their previous years of service signed by a Lt. General of the Corps.
Their dear friend Nancy started singing the Marine Corp Hymn and everyone joined in as the Marines in dress uniform stood at attention, followed by several Christmas favorites including Oh come all ye faithful, Silent Night and the First Noel.
Lauren ducked out back and shared a private toast with the Marines and thanked them for their service as Katy appeared and handed him some envelopes stuffed with cash that he pressed into each of their hands. Each wished the other a Merry Christmas and the Marines loaded the gifts destined for local tots into the waiting rental truck and departed. Their other guest slowly drifted out front and then waited for the valet to deliver them into the comfort they were used to driving. Finally it was just Lauren and Katy and Katie’s mom and some of their extended family who showed up to help when it was first learned that Lauren would be late. They added the finishing touches to make this evening so complete.
Lauren looked into the eyes of his wife and said you know I was listening to Laura Ingraham while in my woodshop on the Friday evening of this last Labor Day and she devoted the last hour of her show to adoption. I always thought that it would be great to be parents no matter who conceived the child. What do you think? She jumped into his arms and said: “Really” and he carried her over the threshold into the bounty of love and life awaiting them. Her mother was spying on them from the upstairs bedroom but she wasn’t the only one as two little boys were also watching closely. She turned to them and said: “I think we’re going to seeing a lot more of each other as she led them back downstairs to tuck them into bed.
Lauren led Katy to the tree where she first viewed the cradle that Lauren had managed to dig out of the shop attic and with the Marines had placed under the tree while moving the toys. She leaned over to view a key taped to the side. She inquired: What’s that” and Lauren replied: "It’s a place I need to check out and get ready for you and our children to follow next summer." Katy replied: “You mean a cabin on the lake” He responded: “No not a cabin; a chateau.”
"But first we need to commence the adoption proceedings which are not a sure thing. Are you ready of whatever outcome this journey will yield? " “Yes” she replied now teary eyed. "Are you also ready to invest the time and money necessary to refer our daughter to a craniofacial surgeon to enhance her beauty?" “Yes” again was the reply as tears now streamed down her face. “Very well then pay the chefs when they’re finished cleaning the kitchen and after I shower, since I’ve been in these clothes all day and all night, I will meet you in the den for a nightcap and Katy your Mother is welcome to join us as I want to thank her for filling the void while I was away.”
Later that early morning now Sunday the three of them conversed into the wee hours and the protection of the lord was with them as death was to take Katy that very night but the eldest of the three robed figures diverted the angel to a lone sick coyote in the field across the way.
They celebrated a great feast later that December on Christmas day with friends and family who came pouring in like the sea. Their table seating almost fifty persons as they carved the Turkey, Rib eye roast and prayed in a circle while holding hands each and every one thankful for the others and for the Lord who emptied himself out to be born in a cave to parents whose only possession was their love for each other and for he their child The King of all Kings.
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Last revision: 12.24.2010/ 12.29.2010