After about 10 minutes of crying, she told me that she now has "Stage 4" breast cancer and it has spread to other organs. She has known for quite a while that she has cancer. She had been going for treatments but the cancer kept slowly spreading. They told her chemotherapy might prolong her life but nothing could save her. They told her that she had between three and four months left and maybe six months with chemotherapy. She was not as worried for herself as she was for Billy. She was so scared that when she dies, Billy would end up in foster care or eventually back with his father.
I told her that I made a promise to Billy that I would do everything in my power to keep him safe. I made the same promise to Diane. I promised her that I would figure out a way to keep Billy safe after she is gone. I told her that she does not have to go through this alone. I promised her that I would be right with her until the end. I told her that we would figure out something together.
She wrapped her arms around me and thanked me for being her "guardian angel." I hugged her and reminded her that it was my idea for the boys to dump cold water on her belly and that a guardian angel would not do that. She giggled and playfully slapped me.
She told me that it was as if a huge weight came off her shoulders. She felt as relieved as she did when the officers said Billy was safe. No matter what happens from now on, she has faith that Billy will be looked after. She did want me not to tell the boys about her death until it was necessary. I told her that I could not lie to Davey but assured her that I can tell him only the parts that are enough to answer his questions. I would also make him promise not to tell anything to Billy. I would tell me that it was up to her to tell Billy what she thinks he needs to know.
We started to walk back to the cabins. She held my hand and put her head on my shoulder.
We crept into the cabin quietly. We found Davey asleep next to Billy. I gently picked him up and carried him back to our cabin. He started to wake up when I laid him on our bed. I got undressed. He was still floppy so he did not ask me any questions. He just took of his shorts and fell back to sleep on my chest.
Davey and I woke up with our morning tickle time.
I lay on the bed and just thought about last night's walk with Diane. Davey cuddled up beside me and sensed that something might be bothering me.
"Daddy, are you Okay?"
"Yes Davey, I'm fine especially when I have you by my side." I pulled him close and hugging him.
Then Billy and Diane came knocking on the door. I told them to come in and we would be down in a minute. I threw a shirt and shorts on. Davey looked at me after he just put his shorts on. He giggled and ran downstairs before I told him to put his shirt on.
I came down, gave Billy a hug and gave Diane a longer hug.
"Sorry to come by so early but Billy said he wanted to take his shower over here but wouldn't tell me why." He whispered something in my ear, then grabbed Davey's hand and went into the bathroom.
"What are you guys up to, Doug?"
"Who me?" I said in a playfully innocent voice.
"Yes, You!" She threw a pillow at me.
"This is Billy's idea all the way this morning." I teased and would not tell her anymore until the boys came out.
There was a lot of laughing and giggling coming from the bathroom.
"Do I dare ask what's going on in there?" She giggled.
"Well, I think I can tell you that much. The boys are enjoying what Davey calls a 'tickle wash.' They take turns washing each other's ticklish spots."
"Is that why he wanted to come over here?"
"Well I'm sure that would be half the reason but you will have to wait until they come out for the other half of the reason."
"Doug…I want to thank you so much for last night. I can't begin to tell you how much that meant to me to finally let out all the feelings I've been holding inside me."
I sat beside her on the couch and took her hand. "I meant what I said last night. You do not have to go through this alone. You do not have to worry about Billy. We will figure something out together."
She gave me a hug. We heard the shower turn off. I went back to the chair and she wiped a few tears from her eyes.
Billy came out with just a towel around his waist and stood in front of me.
"You didn't tell mommy anything, did you?"
I just told her why you two were giggling and laughing so much in the shower but didn't say anything else."
"Good, Davey said it was okay if you gave me my 'inspection' first."
"Inspection?" Diane asked.
"You will see Mommy." Billy raised his arms straight up.
"Daddy, can Billy's mommy do my inspection?"
"Sure, that's a good idea son." He stood in front of Diane with his arms straight up.
"How this works Diane is we 'inspect' the boys to see how clean they are. Just do what I do."
I began by tickling behind Billy's ears. She did the same to Davey. We then tickled the boys' necks. I then 'inspected' Billy belly and sides. I slowly was wiggling my fingers along his ribs and finally his armpits. Diane caught on quickly and Davey really enjoyed being tickled by Diane. Davey sat on the couch beside her and put his feet on her lap. Billy pulled up the footstool and put his feet on my lap. We tickled the boys' feet for a good five minutes and then their 'inspections' were over.
Billy came and sat on his mommy's lap; "Did you like the 'inspection,' Mommy?"
"Yes Sweetheart, it was a lot of fun."
"Next time you can inspect me!" He giggled.
She looked at me in disbelief. "Somehow you turned shower time into fun time. I had a hard time getting Billy in the shower."
"That's because Davey and his Daddy make shower time fun." He giggled.
"Okay, go get your clothes in the bathroom."
I told Davey to go upstairs and get dressed for a 'PUBLIC' breakfast at the lodge." He giggled because he knew I meant for him to put a shirt on tooThe boys went upstairs to get dressed. As usual, we heard laughing and giggling coming from upstairs.
The boys came bouncing down the stairs and we went to the lodge for breakfast. Betty came out of the kitchen to ask Diane for a favour. The regular girl in the kitchen phoned in sick and Betty needed help with the baking. Diane said that she was not sure if she could leave her "3" boys alone for the day. Davey laughed at me but Billy did not get the joke. Diane told him that I sometimes act just like him and Davey. Billy giggled. Of course, Betty joined in and volunteered John to watch over Diane's Boys. She mentioned that a truckload of camp firewood and John could use some help chopping and piling it. Betty said that should keep the boys out of trouble while the women did some baking. We all laughed and agreed to help.
After breakfast, Diane went into the kitchen. I really hoped Diane would confide in Betty about her condition. I think it would help a lot to have a motherly woman to talk to at this time.
The boys and I headed around the back of the lodge to find John. The boys ran up to John and gave him a big hug. They announce that they were here to help. I shook his hand and took the axe from him. The boys would take turn putting a log on the block for me to split and run back behind me. After I split the log, that would come around and each grab a half of the spilt log. They would take it to John to see if it needed to be spilt again. If it did not, then he would take it and stack it. We had quite an organized log splitting production line going. John asked the boys if they wanted another campfire tonight. The boys agreed readily without even asking me. John went to get his little tractor and trailer. The boys loaded the trailer with firewood. John allowed Davey to drive the tractor up to the cabin while he and Billy walked along side the tractor. I stayed back to split more wood. Billy sat on John's lap to drive the tractor back while Davey enjoyed bouncing around in the empty trailer. I had a good size pile on either size of the chopping block for the boys to sort out and stack. Davey told me that they had two more orders from campers that needed firewood for tonight. The boys loaded up the trailer two more times and headed off with John to make the deliveries.
As the boys came back from their last delivery, Betty and Diane came out back with a tray of sandwiches, fresh baked cookies and lemonade. The boys and I rinsed out hands off at an outside tap. John and I carried over a near by picnic table. Davey told John and Betty how they poured cold water on Diane up at the hot springs. Billy bragged about pushing me in the pool after I pushed threw Davey in the pool.
As we began to clean up the lunch dished, officers Judy and Ted came around the corner. Billy saw them first. He ran up and gave Judy a big hug. Davey gave Ted a handshake.
"What are you doing here? Billy asked still holding on to Judy.
"Well, we were driving by and thought we would check in to see how everyone is doing." She said.
"Can we talk with Davey's Dad and Billy's Mom?" Ted asked.
John and Betty asked the boys to help them bring the trays back into the kitchen. We walked around to the front of the lodge and sat on the deck. Ted told us that another inmate killed Billy's father while he was in jail. Diane was shocked and Judy comforted her. It seemed word of what Tom did to Billy went through the prison. Prisoners have their own 'code of justice' and child abusers are at the bottom of the scale in jail. Ted asked if Diane would like Judy or him to tell Billy. She thought that might be best. She asked me if Davey could be there to support Billy. I told her I would be there too.
We went to a private corner in the lodge. Billy sat on Diane's lap. Davey and I stood off to the side. Judy knelt down in front of Billy. She explained that his father died in jail last night. Diane held him a bit tighter. I gave Davey a supportive one-armed hug around his shoulder when he heard the news. Judy did not want to go into the details with Billy and he did not ask any questions. Billy said he was okay and asked if he could go play with Davey. Diane was unsure but I said it would be okay. She gave Billy a hug and the boys went outside. Ted handed me a card. A therapist specializing in children's grief in case Billy needs some help dealing with his father's death.
Diane thanked Judy and Ted. She then said that she would not be able to accept the generous dispatcher's job in Prince Rupert. She told them about her breast cancer. She decided to try chemotherapy. The closest hospital was in Banff. Judy says that she could use the rent money for a house anywhere she wanted too. Ted said he could check to see if a similar job was available in the Banff if Diane still wanted one. She thanked him. Judy handed Diane her card and said for Diane to call anytime.
Ted and Judy left. I sat with Diane and put my arm around her shoulder. John and Betty came over and sat down after they saw the cruiser drive down the lane. I told them that Billy's father was killed in prison. Betty came over and sat on the other side of Diane and took her hand. Diane turned and embraced Betty and started to cry in her arms.
I got up and walked to the bar area with John. He asked about Billy.
"Billy just got up and asked to go play with Davey outside. Billy confided in Davey about his beatings so I hoped that he is sharing his feelings with Davey now."
"Do you think Davey can handle it?"
"I think he can. After Billy confided in him the first time, Davey convinced him to come and talk to me."
"It's a shame; Diane and Billy are both so wonderful. Did Diane tell you about her health?"
"Yes, she was crying on the deck last night and we went for a walk in the field. She also told Judy and Ted just now. I guess she told Betty while they were in the kitchen this morning."
"Ya and Betty told me a few minutes ago."
"How are you doing, Doug?"
"What do you mean?
"Doug, last month you were a single guy carefree and traveling across the country. Now you have a great son. Everything was going good and now you have all this to deal with."
"Well Diane's breast cancer came as a shock to me. I shared her concern about what would happen to Billy after she was gone. Right now, I am just going to take it minute by minute."
"You are a good man, Doug. Let us know if there is anything Betty and I can do." John put his hand on my shoulder.
"You and Betty are great. Please feel free to help any way you can think of."
Billy and Davey came into the lodge. Billy went and sat on his mommy lap and Davey came over and stood by me.
"How's Billy doing, Buddy?
"He's not sure how to feel about his father's death. He did not cry. We just walked around and talked."
"How are you doing, Son?"
"Well it was a big shock. I am worried about Billy. I just wish I could do something for him."
"You've already done a lot for Billy."
"Really? How? All I did was walk around and listen to him talk."
"Exactly, that was the most important thing you could have done for Billy. When something bad happens in our lives, we do not want people to 'do' things. We just want to feel loved and for people to be there when we need to talk about how we are feeling. You are probably Billy's best friends and he knew he could count on you. That is why he asked to go outside with you.
"After we talked outside, I told him that it might be a good idea to be with his mommy. That why we came back."
"How did you become so smart, Davey?"
"Well… I just asked myself what you might say and just said it to Billy."
John put his hand on both our shoulder and told Davey that is exactly how to handle a situation. He told him that he is lucky to have such a caring and loving father that is also so smart. Davey said that he wants to be exactly like me when he grows up. I picked him up and wrapped my arms around him.
"I Love You so much, Son."
"I Love You too, Daddy."
Diane walked up and said that they were going back to the cabin and try to take a nap. Billy hugged and thanked Davey and said he will come over to the cabin later. They walked outside with their arms around each other.
I decided to take a walk outside with Davey. As we walked, Davey seemed unusually quiet. We sat down in the grassy field.
"Daddy, when are you going to die?" Davey said unexpectedly.
"I don't plan on dying until I'm very old and you have kids of your own." I gave him a hug.
"Do people know when they are going to die?"
"No, Davey, we don't know when we will die. We just hope that it will be when we are old."
"Mommy always took me to Sunday School so I basically know where people go when the die. If we have been good, we go to Heaven. If we have been bad, we go to Hell. Is that true, Daddy?"
"Yes Davey, that's what I believe to be true."
I did not want to go into a deep talk about spirituality. I just let him ask the questions and I tried to steer him into the best answers.
"So… Billy's father isn't in Heaven because he hurt Billy and his Mommy?"
"Davey, only God knew what was in Tom's heart when he died. If Tom did not make his peace with God, you are right he is not in Heaven. I do not think you should say anything to Billy about where his father is. It may upset him. I think its best if you just let him ask you questions. If you don't know the answer, you can ask him to ask his mommy, me or even Mr. and Mrs. Dorion."
"I'm glad you are going to Heaven Daddy, but only after you are really old. I want you to be with me for a very long time."
"Thank you so much, Davey." We hugged.
Davey had most of his questions answered for now.
We went back to our cabin. Davey uploaded more pictures from his camera to his computer.
"Davey, I want you to do me a big favour."
"Sure Daddy, if I can."
"I want you to take a lot of pictures of Billy and his mommy then save them in a separate folder on your computer."
"Sure Daddy that will be easy. Is there any reason you want me to do that?"
"Well… I'll tell you after you have a lot of photos of Billy and his mommy together."
Billy came knocking on the door. I told him to come in. He came over to me and sat on my knee.
"Mommy and I had a long talk about my father dying."
"Are you ok?"
"I think so. I'm glad I have Davey and you here with us now."
"Billy, Davey and I are not going anywhere. We are going to be around for as long as you and your mommy need us."
"Hey Davey, can we go and play with your 4X4 truck?"
"Sure, at your party, I got a remote-controlled police cruiser. I'll use that one and try and chase you in the truck."
The boys grabbed the toys and headed outside. I took a shower. I guess Davey is rubbing off on me because I just put a pair of shorts on after I got out of the shower.
I would never admit this to Davey; at least not right now, but I have enjoyed the 'Naturalistic Lifestyle' since I bought my camper and hit the open road. The reason I would not admit it to Davey is that I am trying to set a good example for him. Society does not accept certain lifestyles and I do not want Davey to 'offend' some people just because he likes running around in a pair of shorts. I do not want to see him get hurt in the end because some people in society cannot accept a lifestyle different from their own.
I would not go as far as becoming a nudist but I do enjoy the freedom of the lack of clothes to a point. I am modest and do not like being completely nude. I do like only having my boxers on when I am in the privacy of my camper or in the cabin. The conflict is when I put other people's feelings ahead of my own, most importantly, Davey's feelings are now more important, now that I am his father. I will put my own feelings and desires aside for the sake of Davey. I want to bring him up in a better life and lifestyle than I had at his age. I will not stand in the way if I see that he likes a "Naturalist Lifestyle." I will support him in every area of his life. I will support him in all the choices that he makes for his life. I am not looking to mold Davey into another me. I want him to choose his own lifestyle. I am looking forward to watching him grow and develop into his own person. I am just so glad that I can steer him around a few hurts that I have experienced in my own life.
I checked my investments and e-mails on my laptop. After that, I stretched out on the couch to watch TV.
Davey and Billy came bouncing into the cabin when the batteries on the toys wore down. Davey came over, gave me a hug and then went to put the pictures and videos from his camera to his laptop. Billy came over and sat on my belly. He began to try to tickle me by poking my ribs. He was doing it to see if I would tickle him. I turn toward the back of the couch. Billy slipped between the couch and me and he was stuck. I began to tickle poke his ribs. He squealed and began to laugh. His legs were kicking in the air. Diane came in to see what was going on.
"Mommy HELP!" He giggled out.
"How did you get stuck there, Billy?" She teased
"Doug pinned me here."
"Did you start it, Billy?"
"Then since you got yourself into that position, you get yourself out." She gave him a tickle poke and then she went to look at what Davey was doing on the laptop.
Billy went back to laughing and wiggling as much as he could as I tickled him silly.
Davey showed her all the pictures he has taken since he got his camera. He told the story of most of the pictures. I stopped tickling Billy and just held him close in a warm hug. We watched a few cartoons then he said he was hungry. He went back to his cabin with Diane to wash up and change for dinner. Davey and I did the same.
During dinner, Diane told us that she and Billy had a long talk and they are coming to terms with the death of Billy's father. Billy thanked Davey for listening to him talk about how he was feeling. Davey told him to come to him anytime he wants to talk. I jumped in and told Diane the same thing.
Davey told Billy about the "Brother Bear" movie on TV tonight. The boys never had the chance to see it when it was in the theaters. They never rented a copy of it. Therefore, it would be the first time either boy would see it. We bought some microwave popcorn and headed back to the cabin. The boys took off their shirts and socks, grabbed a blanket and some pillows and lay on the floor in front of the TV while Diane and I sat together on the couch. I put my arm around Diane and she rested her head on my shoulder. The boys laughed when every time they saw the two dumb moose.
When the movie was over, the boys looked up and saw that we were holding hands on the couch and started giggling at us. Diane grabbed Dave's bare feet and I grabbed Billy's feet. We locked the boys' feet between our legs and gave them a new reason to giggle. After a few minutes, Diane said that it was time for bed and I agreed. Billy grabbed his shoes, socks and shirt. Diane and I hugged and she gave me a kiss on the cheek, which got the boys giggling again. I reached out to grab Billy but he ran out the door and down the steps. I teased him by saying I would get him tomorrow. I turned to get Davey, and he ran upstairs. I gave Diane another warm hug and kissed her on the cheek.
I sat back down on the couch and thought about how great this night was. It seemed like the perfect family setting. Davey came back down and sat beside me. He put my arm around him.
"Daddy, are you starting to like Billy's mom more than just friends?"
"Why would you think that?"
"Well because you are always staring at her. You cuddled on the couch tonight and you kissed each other tonight."
"Yes, Davey, I think I'm starting to care about Diane as more than friends."
"Do you love her?"
"I'm honestly not sure."
"Billy says that she talks about you all the time when they are in their cabin. She told him that you are a wonderful man and a great father. Billy said that you are a great dad too and he wished you were his daddy too."
"They said all that?"
"Yep, they really like you a lot."
"When I see you and Billy playing together, I think that you boys are just like real brothers."
"I care about Billy just like he was my real brother."
I told Davey to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. I thought about what Davey just said. Then I started thinking about what to do when we leave here. It will be so hard on the boys if we went our separate ways. I know it will be hard on me to leave Diane. Maybe I am falling in love with her. Up until I became a father, I never really opened myself up to love in many years. I got hurt so many times that I had all but given up on having a family of my own. That is why I 'hit the road' and started traveling in the camper. There was nothing left for me in Ontario. My first day on the road, I knew deep inside that this trip would change my life. I never dreamed it would turn out this wonderful or come together this fast. The more I thought about Diane and Billy, the more I wanted to stay with them and have them in my life.
Davey came out of the bathroom, yawned and said he was ready for bed. We turned off the lights downstairs and went upstairs to bed.
The next 3 days, the boys and I helped John around the resort while Diane helped Betty in lodge kitchen. Diane and I went for quiet walks while the boys played together like real brothers. All of us grew close as a family.
On Friday, the boys, whispered and giggled all day every time John and Betty were around. Diane and I knew they were up to something. The boys wanted all of us to get dressed up for dinner. When we entered the lodge, the boys took us to a table in the corner with just two chairs. Diane and I sat down and the boys ran into the kitchen. They wheeled out a table cart with a wine bottle, glasses, two lit candles, and two complete dinners. They went back into the kitchen to eat their supper. They kept peaking out of the kitchen to spy on us. Davey kept snapping pictures with his camera. After we finished the main meal, the boys came out with two New York Cheese Cakes and took the dinner plates back into the kitchen.
As I looked at Diane, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of the time that we have left together. I knew we would not grow old together. She will likely pass away before the end of the year. None of that mattered to me. What mattered to me right now was to make the most of the time we do have together. I spent the last 3 days getting to know Diane and searching my heart. I believe that nothing comes by chance in life.
The boys, John and Betty put this romantic dinner together and now it was my turn to do my part. I got down on one knee and asked Diane to marry me.
Well, that was a good chapter. I can't say I'm sorry about Billy's father. Abusing a child is totally unacceptable on every level. Discipline is one thing but beating a kid and leaving bruises and scars is way beyond tolerable. Anyway, Billy doesn't have to worry about that ever again.
Doug has been quick to sort out his feelings for Diane and now she has to answer 'THE QUESTION' Knowing how short her future is and how unfair it is to Doug will she say, "No?" I certainly hope not, it would be a great way to make Davey and Billy real brothers and with Tom out of the way Doug could adopt and make it 100% official, of course, I'm a Yank and don't know Canadian law so that might be a moot point. Maybe I should ask Fred Clemets he might know.
I found a very nice dramatic pause to end this chapter. I'm so glad Silas has provided such wonderful stopping places for us. They aren't my fault, I didn't write them all I did was use what was there. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. (Actually, it's Silas's story and not sticky at all.)
Well, I'm off (don't say it TSL) to edit chapter 9.
The words you wanted me to say Str8mayb is "my rocker"! I am not sure that letting the Evil Editor work with such a nice guy as Silas111is a good idea but unfortunately I don't have any say in the matter. To make things worse I put Str8mayb together with another wonderful author who is teaching him more evil things!
Silas this is another wonderful chapter and I admit you suckered me in this time. I never dreamed that Doug would pop the question, however, that does give Billy a wonderful and a chance at a new life full of joy and Davey. I think having Billy as a brother will be very good for both boys. Now all I need to do is convince the Nice Author and The Evil Editor to let it happen.
TSL aka The Story Lover.