The sale of my parents' farm in Nebraska was a done deal and the closing was set. They had decided to sell the majority of their furniture too. However, there were several antique pieces of furniture that Mom wanted to keep. This would require either hiring a mover or renting a truck. I offered to fly up to Nebraska and drive the rental truck back.
Cameron overheard Tanner and me talking about my trip to Nebraska and announced, "I'm going too." This was Cameron's manner when he was determined about something, he'd made a statement rather than ask. I knew it would be hard to get him to understand that the trip would be too long and boring for a little four year old boy.
"I'll be good, I promise," Cameron sincerely promised.
"Son, you're almost always good, but that's a long trip and it'd be next to impossible for a four year old to sit still that long," I countered.
"But, Dad, I want to go see Grandma and Grandpa in Nebraska," he said.
"You do know that they're moving here and you'll see them anyway," I argued.
"Yeah, but I want to see them in Nebraska," Cameron contended. "Please, Dad."
I looked at Tanner for help, he just grinned and said, "He's your son, too."
Cameron took that for a yes and said, "See, Daddy Tanner said I could go. Don't you want me to go?"
"Cameron, I'd love for you to go and keep me company. But remember how you thought it was a long way from Omaha to the farm? Well, this will be even longer, "I said.
"But, Dad, that was when I was three, I'm four now," Cameron rationalized. "And I could keep you company."
I looked at Tanner and asked, "What do you think? Would the long drive be too much for him?"
"You have to decide," Tanner said. "You would be the one that would have to put up with his 'Are we there yet?' Doesn't your uncle live in Wichita? You could stop there and give him and YOU a break."
"Okay, you can go," I said. I immediately had a lap full of Cameron and was smothered with little boy kisses.
When we arrived in Omaha, it was all I could do to manage the carryon luggage and keep an anxious four year old under control. When we saw my parents' smiling faces, I released my grip on Cameron and let him run to them. Although it had been less than a month since they'd last seen each other, one would have thought it was months. Mom had tears, and Cameron was hanging on tightly to her and kissing her cheeks. Dad managed to get some hugs and kisses in, too.
I got a sad feeling when we arrived at the farm. I knew that I could never go back to live there, and Mom and Dad would be living in Oklahoma now. But still, there was a strange and empty feeling about the farm where I grew up during my boyhood days. I recalled how dad had told Chuck and Walter how I'd done a man-size job when I was a boy on this farm.
My thoughts were interrupted when I heard Cameron screaming, "Grandpa, I thought you sold the horses."
I too noticed that the horses were still in the pasture. When I looked at Dad, he explained, "Your uncle also bought the horses, but agreed that my grandson could ride them while he's here."
"That's me. That's me," Cameron yelled excitedly as he jumped up and down. "Daddy, take me riding. Please! Please!"
"I suppose we have time to ride before your grandma has dinner ready," I said. Cameron was a happy little boy as we rode around the pasture. I knew he would miss visiting his grandparents in Nebraska, but would enjoy having them close in Tulsa even more.
"Are you sure it's okay for us to live in your apartment until we find a house?" Mom questioned as we ate our dinner.
"Of course it is, Mom," I assured her. "It's not like I'm living there. The lease still has a couple of months to go and I'm sure that you could stay there a little longer if needed. Do you have any idea where you want to live?"
"I have a job offer from an auto dealer in Broken Arrow," Dad said. "I think we should look in that area first. I wouldn't mind having a few acres, so we could get this little guy a horse."
That statement took Cameron's attention away from Mom's homemade spaghetti. He immediately jumped on Dad's lap and was giving him spaghetti sauce kisses. After Cameron had thoroughly painted Dad's face with sauce, he went back to enjoying his dinner.
After dinner, I could tell that Cameron was becoming tired from the trip and was fading fast. I barely managed to bathe him and get him to bed. He was asleep almost as soon as his head was on the pillow. I couldn't believe how much I loved the little guy. I then realized that I hadn't called Tanner. "Hi, Baby, I miss you," I said.
"Well, it's about time you called," Tanner said. "I thought maybe you'd found one of your old boyfriends."
"Like I could get away with that with your son and mother-in-law around," I laughed.
"Let me talk to him before he goes to bed," Tanner said.
"He's out like a light already," I said. "He ate and was almost asleep before I got his bath done."
"Then I guess I'll just have to talk to you," Tanner teased.
We chatted for several minutes and then said, "I love you," and hung up. I promised that I'd have Cameron call tomorrow.
When I awoke, Cameron was apparently already up. I got up, took a good long piss, then made my way to the kitchen, where I found Cameron eating pancakes and bacon. "You'd better hurry and eat before Cameron eats up everything," Mom joked. Cameron giggled and then continued his business at hand.
"Hurry, Dad, so we can go ride the horses," Cameron commanded as I helped myself to a second cup of coffee.
"Remember, we're here to help Grandma and Grandpa move," I reminded Cameron.
"Oh, yeah," Cameron said with a disappointed look on his face.
"Take him riding," Mom ordered. "We're not ready to start loading the truck yet." Those were the magic words for Cameron as he pulled me out of the kitchen while I was trying to finish off my cup of coffee.
Cameron wasn't ready to end the ride, but I convinced him that it wouldn't be nice to not help Grandma and Grandpa. I also reminded him that he needed to call his dad.
It was late afternoon and everything was loaded in the truck when Cameron decided that we had time for one more ride. After our ride, we drove into town to spend our last night in a motel.
After breakfast at the local greasy spoon the next morning, we were on our way to Tulsa. "Now you stop and let Cameron stretch his legs," Mom ordered before we departed. "I still think he would be more comfortable riding with me."
"No, I want to ride in the truck," Cameron said.
Cameron's company was very much appreciated and I was happy that I let him make the trip with me. He talked almost nonstop. "I get to go to school this year, huh?" Cameron asked, although he knew that he would only be going to pre-kindergarten in the fall. "I can already write my name."
"Oh, you can?" I said with surprise. "Who taught you?"
"Grandpa Chuck," he answered as he took the pad and pen next to me and scribbled Cameron on it. It was a messy Cameron, but one could definitely read the name.
After we had driven for several miles, Cameron looked at me and asked with a mischievous grin, "Are we there yet?"
"We'll stop in the next town and let you get a snack if you want," I said. That of course got Cameron's approval.
By mid afternoon we arrived at Pete and Norm's house in Wichita. They'd taken the day off work and were home when we arrived. Within ten minutes of our arrival, Cameron had charmed his way into Pete and Norm's hearts. Within the first hour, Cameron had a promise of a visit to Tulsa from his two uncles.
The visit with Pete and Norm in Wichita was nice, but I was anxious to get back to Tulsa and Tanner. Cameron was just happy - period. I must admit that he was good company on the trip and he did much better than I'd expected. However, he too was looking forward to getting back home.
We arrived in Tulsa by mid morning. Cameron kept Mom company while Dad and I unloaded the truck and returned it to the rental office. By early afternoon, Cameron and I were back home and waiting for Tanner to arrive home from his office. When Tanner did arrive home, I had to wait my turn with Cameron for a hug and a kiss from Tanner. "I missed you, Baby," he said after we unlocked our lips. Had Cameron not been there, I would've pulled him off to the bedroom and had my way with him. The pleasures of parenthood
Walter and Chuck had prepared a wonderful dinner for us, but they seemed somewhat nervous. I felt that something was up, but when I looked at Tanner for a hint, he gave me this 'I don't know either' look. Finally, after dinner when we were having our coffee, Walter said, "We need to talk to you two about something." Both Tanner and I must have had a worried look on our faces and Walter quickly added, "Don't worry; we didn't sell Cameron to pirates or anything like that." That of course got a giggle out of Cameron.
Chuck continued for Walter, "We've decided that you're now a family and we should get our own place. Don't worry; we'll still be around to help out, and your mom and dad are here to help now, too."
"That's right," Walter said. "Besides, we've found an ideal house just one block from here. One of us will always be around when Cameron gets home from school."
Tanner and I both hugged them and told them that we loved them. We wanted them to know that they were always welcome in our home. Cameron also had to get in on the hugging, although I'm not sure he fully understood what was going on.
Cameron was in heaven having his grandma and grandpa from Nebraska to help his Grandpa Walter and Grandpa Chuck spoil him. He always seemed to know which grandparent to ask to get what he wanted. Of course, each of them loved spoiling him. It was a Friday and Cameron decided that he wanted to spend it with his grandma rather than go to daycare.
After helping his grandma bake cookies, Cameron decided that they should go to the park for a while. Mom loved walking in River Park, so there was a mutual agreement that they go. Cameron was playing on the slide while his grandma watched him from a nearby park bench. Mom noticed that a man was also watching Cameron play. This made Mom nervous and she got up to move closer to Cameron when the man suddenly grabbed Cameron and began to run toward a car that was parked in the parking area. Mom tried to pull a kicking and screaming Cameron from the man, but he knocked her down and jumped into the waiting car with Cameron. A female driver drove away at a high rate of speed down Riverside Drive.
An alert observer who'd heard all the commotion managed to get the license plate number and called 911. Of course the license plate number ended up being stolen. Mom called both Tanner and me to let us know what had happened. Because Cameron was abducted, there was an Amber Alert. From the description of the female driver, Tanner was sure that it was his ex-wife, Cameron's mother.
Mom was hysterical by the time I arrived. Tanner was already there talking to the police and giving them information about Cameron's mother. I tried to tell mom that we would get Cameron back, but she kept saying, "I just wish I could get my hands on that bitch."
By dark we still hadn't received any new information about the location of Cameron. Then about 9:00 p.m., there was a call from a 'private number.' "If you want your kid back, get $500,000 and wait for further instructions," the caller said, then immediately hung up.
"Where are we going to get $500,000?" I asked Tanner.
"I still have money from the trust fund," he said. "But I hope we can get him back before we have to get the money."
None of us got any sleep that night, and we consumed copious amounts of coffee. Finally, at about 9:00 a.m., we got a phone call from the police stating that they had rescued Cameron and were bringing him home. We all were joyous, but weren't ready to celebrate until we had Cameron safely at home.
"How did you...?" Tanner started to ask the police officer when she delivered a very frightened Cameron to us.
"Let's go inside and I'll explain it to you," the officer said. Once we were inside, she explained that the 911 operator had received a call from a young caller that said, "I want to go home." The phone was immediately disconnected. There just happened to be a police car three blocks from the address on the 911 call display. As they arrived, a man and a woman were running toward their getaway car with Cameron. The woman kept saying that she was Cameron's mother. But Cameron insisted that he lived with his dads. The officer then looked at Tanner and me and smiled.
"Cameron said that you taught him to call 911," the officer continued. "That sure helped in his recovery, and both kidnapers have been arrested. You have a very brave little boy there."
"Yeah, I am," Cameron giggled.
We more or less began to settle back into a pattern at our household. Walter and Chuck had moved into their house. Mom and Dad had found a house with ten acres near Broken Arrow and were just waiting for the closing before moving. Cameron seemed to have put the kidnapping out of his mind. Tanner, on the other hand, had become even more protective of Cameron. Cameron seemed to sense that Tanner was smothering him and said, "Dad, Mama is in jail. She can't get me now."
"I know, Son, but I still worry," Tanner admitted. Tanner did begin to relax a little after that.
Tanner came home from work soon afterwards one day and, after giving me a kiss, asked, "Where's the little brat?"
"Our little angel went to the water park with Tim and Jeff," I said.
"You let him go with those two?" Tanner screamed.
"What do you mean those two?" I retorted. "Tim and Jeff are a couple who just happen to be gay. They love Cameron and will take good care of him."
"You had no right to let him go without checking with me first," Tanner argued.
"If I remember correctly, you're the one who stated that he was my son, too," I said. "Also, if I remember correctly, you let him go to the water park with Billy and his parents."
"That's different," Tanner maintained.
"It's different because they are a straight couple?" I contended.
Tanner went storming off to the den and left me standing in the kitchen. Needless to say, we were both angry. This was the first big fight we'd ever had.
When Tim and Jeff returned, neither Tanner nor I were in the best of moods. "Okay, what's up?" Jeff asked.
"Tanner is pissed at me for letting you take Cameron to the water park," I said. "Frankly, I'm pissed at his reaction. He should know that I'd never let Cameron go if I thought you wouldn't watch him carefully."
"Tyler, you also need to understand that it's natural for him to be over protective after the kidnapping," Jeff stated. "Do you think you should all get some counseling?"
"You may be right," I admitted. "I'll talk to Tanner when he's cooled down."
"Let us talk to him," Tim suggested. "You're both too pissed to have a discussion."
After Tim and Jeff had gone home, Tanner came to me and said, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. You have every right to make a decision about Cameron. I should have known that you'd not let anything happen to him. I guess I've become too over protective since the kidnapping. Even Cameron tried to tell me that."
Cameron was getting very excited about starting school in the fall. He insisted that we take him shopping for school supplies. He made sure that everything on the list was purchased and then he decided that he needed a laptop computer to take to school like his dads took to work. Only a promise to take him to visit the horses at his Grandpa Lucas' got him to forget the laptop.
After we finished shopping, we drove out to visit the horses. Cameron was beside himself that he would have horses so close by and wouldn't have to go to Nebraska to ride. I didn't tell Cameron, but his grandparents had bought a pony and saddle just for him. The hard part would be convincing Tanner that it was safe. Another problem would be convincing Cameron that it was cool to wear a helmet and not a cowboy hat.
Cameron saw the horses as we arrived at my parents' place. He was of course excited and bouncing so much I was afraid he'd release the seat belt before we even stopped. "Grandpa, they're beautiful," Cameron declared as he inspected the horses. "I want to ride."
"Come to the barn and help me with the saddles," Dad said to Cameron. I knew he was up to something when I saw the grin on his face.
I saw the surprise on Cameron's face when Dad brought a pretty little gray pony out of a stall. He was already saddled with a saddle just Cameron's size.
"Oh, Grandpa, he's the most beautiful horse I've ever seen," Cameron exclaimed. "What's his name?"
"I don't believe he has a name yet," Dad said. "Since he's your horse, you'll just have to name him."
It took a few seconds for Dad's words to sink in for Cameron. Then he realized what Dad had said and began to laugh and scream, "Thank you, Grandpa. I love you."
"I think I'll call him Buster," Cameron declared. Buster wouldn't have been my choice for names, but he was Cameron's horse. Cameron didn't protest too much about wearing the helmet. We did promise that he could wear his cowboy hat except when he was riding Buster. I could tell that Tanner was a little uptight, but like the good father he was, he allowed Cameron the pleasure of owning a horse. Buster proved to be a very gentle horse and was perfect for Cameron.
Mom had called Walter and Chuck and Tim and Jeff to come out for a cookout. Hunger pains finally won out over Cameron's desire to ride Buster. "I'll be right back," Cameron promised Buster. True to his promise, Cameron was ready to ride as soon as he finished eating. He made sure his Grandpas Walter and Chuck and his Uncles Tim and Jeff went to watch him ride. "Isn't he beautiful?" He asked as he rode to demonstrate his horsemanship. They all agreed that Buster was indeed beautiful.
When we finally got Cameron home and bathed, he was one tired little boy and asleep in seconds. "I have a feeling we'll be going out to Mom's and Dad's a lot," Tanner noted.
"Are you okay with him having a horse?" I asked Tanner as we undressed for bed.
"Yeah, I guess I am," he admitted. "Even if I weren't, I'd have one hell of a fight on my hands if I told him he couldn't have Buster."
"I probably should tell Dad that he shouldn't just up and do something like buying Cameron a horse without talking to us first," I stated as I thought back to the day that I'd let Cameron go to the water park with Tim and Jeff.
"I know I can be like a mother hen," Tanner admitted. "But I'm trying to let go and let him be a boy. I remember the good times we had as boys on the farm in Nebraska."
I pulled Tanner into my arms and realized that I loved him more each day. "How could I have been so lucky to find my boyhood friend, who is now my husband?" I asked. "And I even got a loving, wonderful son out of the deal, too."