On Sunday we all went to church together, and many of our friends came over to say hello to Elliot and ask how he’s been doing. He also got to meet Becky at church, since he wasn’t with us when we picked her up. He’d ridden down with Dad and Pop, and Ryan and Noah rode with Dion and Trey, while the rest of the boys rode down with us in the SUV.
Once all of the boys had taken off for their Sunday school classes, I took the opportunity to speak with Becky. “I hope you’re planning on joining us tomorrow for the cookout.”
“Yes, and I’ll be bringing something to add to the menu.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I know, but I don’t like being a freeloader. Besides, your dad inspired me at Easter, so I wanted to do this.”
“I’m intrigued, and I’m happy you’ll be there.”
“I almost have to come, if I want to see my son.” I looked at her skeptically. “While you were saying hello to all of your friends when we first arrived here, Revin told me he also wanted to spend tonight at your house. He said he’d packed an extra change of clothes before he left on Friday, so I hope he already asked you if you’d mind if he did this.”
“He didn’t happen to mention it, but it’s not a problem, as long as you don’t mind.”
“What choice do I have? I could make him come home with me after church and then watch him pout and be miserable for the rest of the day, or I can let him spend the night with you and your sons. He seems to enjoy it more being there, rather than being stuck at home with me. Besides, I’ve got other things to do while he’s gone, and that way I’ll be able to enjoy myself tomorrow.”
“Ok, as long as you don’t mind.”
After our Sunday school classes ended, we all met up again for the church service. Revin sat next to his mother, with Tristan on his other side, and the twins had Wyatt sit between them again. It was almost as if they had assigned seats in the pew.
When the sermon ended, we made our way over to the diner for brunch, and then we dropped Becky off at her place on the way home. “Bye, Mom. Are you comin’ to the cookout tomorrow?”
“Yes, I’ll be there, and I want you to behave.”
“I will, and I hope you’re not mad that I want to stay with them again, but there’s a lot more stuff to do and more boys to play with at their house.”
“No, I’m not mad and I understand. Just be a good boy.”
After we got to the house and the boys had changed out of their church clothes, they went to watch the next Harry Potter movie. Elliot went with them again, and after it ended they went outside to play. They did that until it was time to eat again, and after they washed up we sat down at the table together.
“What time is our mom comin’ tomorrow?” Hunter asked in between bites.
“We told her we were going to eat around noon, but we suggested she should arrive a little before that so we could show her around the house before we ate.”
“So will we be ridin’ back with them afterward?” Hayden followed.
“If Mrs. Rivera has room for you in her car, otherwise we’ll drive you home.”
After dinner, the boys went to the family room to watch the next Harry Potter movie, so Brandon and I checked with Dad to see if he needed anything.
“You can help clear the table, but everything else is pretty much under control.”
“Isn’t this the weekend you usually fill the pool?” Brandon asked and Dad nodded. “So what if we do that for you?”
“I’m going to take care of it,” Pop answered. “I’ll start filling the pool early tomorrow morning, and then I’ll add the chemicals before we eat. That way it should be ready for next weekend when we have Noah’s graduation party and when Holly and the twins will be moving in.”
“Damn, what would we do without you two?” Brandon asked rhetorically. “You take care of so many of these things so we don’t even have to think about them.”
“Only for now, but we won’t be around forever,” Dad answered. “You’ll get your chance to do all of these things soon enough.”
When the Harry Potter movie ended, we sent the boys upstairs to get ready for bed. Before they left, however, they made sure we knew that Wyatt would be sleeping in the bottom bunk with Hayden, and Hunter would be in the top bunk this time. I think we already knew that was going to happen, but the boys told us anyway, and then we sent them up to shower.
When Brandon and I went up to tuck them in, Dion and Trey were already in the twins’ bedroom and saying goodnight to them first. “I guess we can give Wyatt’s room away to another needy boy,” Dion joked after we entered. “It seems as if he’s moving in here with Hayden and Hunter.”
“Yeah, let’s do that!” Hunter shouted from the top bunk.
“Yeah, we can all share this room,” Hayden agreed.
“Let’s see what it looks like after we move the rest of your things in first,” I suggested. “There are already two dressers in here, and we’d have to move Wyatt’s dresser in here too, and I’m not sure if there will be enough room in the closet for all of your other things.”
“If it’s too crowded, I can still sleep in here with you, but I’ll leave my stuff in my old room,” Wyatt offered. “I can change in there, or I can just grab my clothes and bring them in here to change.”
“That works too,” Trey agreed. He was trying to make sure Wyatt didn’t get discouraged, seeing he was getting along so well with the twins.
“Yes, and that will probably give you more room in here,” I concurred.
Now that this had been settled, we went to say goodnight to the other boys. After we finished making our rounds, we went to chat with Dion and Trey.
“Are you two ok with Wyatt spending so much time with the twins?” I asked.
“Yes, I think it’s great and it’s exactly what I was hoping for,” Trey responded without hesitation. “Now that he has the twins to hang around with he doesn’t feel so out of place. It’s about the same as Joshie having Benny”
“I hope it’s not exactly the same,” Brandon teased, since he knew the older pair was also engaging in oral sex.
“No, it’s just that he doesn’t feel left out any longer, because he has someone closer to his own age to hang out with,” Trey clarified.
“And they’ll all be attending the elementary school in the fall,” Dion added, “so Wyatt will be able to show them around and have someone to hang out with after school as well. I was worried about that, seeing Tristan and Revin will be moving up to the middle school.”
“I hadn’t thought about that,” Brandon mused, “and they’ll have a couple of years before the twins graduate to the middle school.”
“Yes, Wyatt will be in second grade in the fall, and the twins will be in third, so they’ll have one more year after the upcoming one before they’ll be separated again,” Dion confirmed.
“The good thing is, it will only last one year before he moves up to the middle school too,” I observed.
“And seeing he’ll be one of the oldest kids at the elementary school by then,” Trey added, “he shouldn’t have a problem with not having any of these boys with him.”
“Unless, of course, one of us ends up with another son,” Brandon countered, which caused all of us to glance at each other and laugh.
“Yes, I suppose that’s a possibility too,” Dion agreed.
The four of us turned in shortly after we finished our discussion, because tomorrow was going to be a busy day.
When we went downstairs for breakfast the following morning, we discovered Pop was already outside filling the pool, although Dad said he would be coming in shortly to eat. “He’s fastening the hose to the ladder so it won’t fall out of the pool once he turns on the water. He’ll let it run while we’re eating, because there’s no need for him to watch it the entire time.”
We set the table while Dad fixed our breakfast, and Dion and Trey came down a couple of minutes later and joined us. “Damn, I guess we don’t get any worms today,” Trey quipped when he saw all of us downstairs already.
“Yes, those are reserved for the early birds, so you’ll have to settle for scrambled eggs, home fries, and toast.”
“And I’ll fry up some sausage links and bacon for those of us that want meat and didn’t get any worms,” Trey offered.
“That will work too, and I should be done with one of the burners by the time you are ready to fry them,” Dad confirmed.
Pop came in to join us a few minutes later, and then the six of us sat down to eat. We were just about finished with our meals when the first of the boys came downstairs, so Dad and Trey offered to fix their breakfast next. That process continued as the other boys sauntered downstairs as well, and only ended when all of their bellies were full.
After they finished eating, the boys decided to watch another Harry Potter movie. They were only halfway through it when we made them pause it so they could go upstairs to get dressed before the others began to show up, seeing they were clad only in their underwear or a pair of shorts. Once they were presentable, they resumed watching the movie again, and they’d only been doing that for about fifteen minutes when I heard a car pull in the driveway. When I looked out the window to see who it was, I discovered it was Mrs. Rivera with Julie and Holly.
“Dang, we’re gonna miss the rest of the movie,” Hayden grumbled as he came out to the foyer with Hunter.
“No, you can go back with the others and I’ll explain the situation to your mother,” Brandon assured him.
The twins raced into the family room again as Brandon and I headed outside to help bring Julie into the house. After we greeted each of them, we informed Julie that we told the twins they could continue watching the movie while we showed her around.
“Yes… I suppose… that is… more important… to them,” she said with a little giggle.
I then wheeled her up to the front door, turned her wheelchair around, and pulled it backwards onto the stoop. After Brandon opened the door, I continued pulling the wheelchair over the door sill and into the foyer.
“Wow… this place… is big,” Julie gasped once we were inside.
“And you’ve only seen a small part of it,” I replied.
I then introduced Julie and Mrs. Rivera to Dad, Pop, Dion, Trey, and Elliot, because he came out to meet her as well. I then took Julie and Mrs. Rivera on a partial tour of the house. I showed them the living room, dining room, kitchen, and Dad’s bedroom first, and then I took her to the family room next. The boys were still watching the movie, but Hayden and Hunter turned around when we entered.
“Hi, Mommy,” they both chirped after taking a momentary break from what they were doing.
“We’ll introduce you to the other boys later,” I whispered to Julie as the boys turned back to the TV screen. “The movie should be over by the time we finish showing you around, and Holly you’ll want to go with us so you can see how we fixed up your room.”
“You mean it’s done already?”
“Yes, Dion and Trey helped us get it ready for you.”
On the way back to her bedroom, I let Holly show her mother the bathroom she’d be using first, and then we took her into the rec room. “Now I… see what… the boys… were talking… about. There is… a lot… for them… to do here.”
“Yes, there is, and there’s also a PlayStation hooked up to the TV they were watching in the family room, and there’s a lot for them to do outside as well.”
After she’d had time to examine the rec room thoroughly, I spoke again. “And right over here is Holly’s room.”
Holly let us wheel her mother into her bedroom first, and then she gasped when she finally saw it. “It’s even nicer than my room back home. It’s perfect!”
“And we put up a few extra shelves too, because we thought you might have some additional items you could put on them.”
“Yes, I can put up even more things than I have at home, and I love the unicorn.” She was referring to the unicorn wall decal that we’d applied to the space above where the headboard of her bed would be placed.
“Yes, it’s just a little something we saw and thought you’d like.”
“I love it, and thank you for doing all of this for me.”
“It’s… very nice,” Julie added as she grasped her daughter’s hand and smiled at her.
“I wish I could take you upstairs and show you the twins’ room as well, but I’m afraid of having an accident if I tried to take your wheelchair up the stairs.”
“No… that’s fine.”
“But we can do something that’s nearly as good,” I said as I walked over and picked up the iPad that I’d placed on the pool table earlier. “We recorded the upstairs before you got here, so I could take you on a virtual tour of what it’s like up there.”
I then started the video which took her up the stairs and to the twins’ bedroom so she could see it. Hayden and Hunter were even in the bunk beds and happily waving at me as I walked into the room.
“They must… love that.” Julie said when she saw them.
“They do, and I’m sure they’ll tell you all about it later.”
We then continued the virtual tour and showed her the rest of the second floor, including the bathroom her sons would use, and then we took her up to the third floor as well. When the tour ended, she looked at me and spoke.
“The house… is very… large and… lovely. I’m sure… my children… will be… very happy… here.”
“We hope they are.”
When we got back to the foyer, we saw that Dad, Pop, Dion, and Trey were busy taking things outside for the cookout, so Brandon went to help them while I wheeled Julie out to the picnic table. I sat down and chatted with her once we got there, and then some of the other family members began showing up. Kevin and Vinnie arrived first, and Julie was amazed as she watched Vinnie motor around on his crutches.
“I didn’t know… you had a… disabled son.”
“Vinnie grew up here with the rest of us, but he’s actually our brother-in-law. Judge Shay, whom you’ll be meeting in a little while, adopted him so he and Kevin wouldn’t be related.”
I then introduced them to Kevin and Vinnie, and then Becky pulled in next. Revin and Tristan ran out to greet her, and after giving each of them a hug she opened the rear door to her car, pulled out a couple of items, and gave them to the boys to carry.
“I brought the dessert,” she announced as she got closer.
“Oh, and what would that be?” I asked.
“Two cakes, a pineapple upside down cake that is in the pan Tristan is carrying, and there’s a chocolate cake with fudge icing in the cake carrier that Revin is holding. I told you that your dad inspired me when I joined you on Easter, so I dug out the handwritten notebook that my mother kept her most cherished recipes in so I could make them for today.”
“They sound delicious.”
Aunt Sally showed up next, followed by the Shays. Shortly after that Jesse joined us, and then Cole and Beth, and Dustin and Katie arrived. We introduced each of them to Julie, Holly, and Mrs. Rivera, and as soon as the movie ended, we introduced the other family members to them as well.
“Talk about two peas in a pod,” Uncle Steve quipped when he saw them.
“Yes, they’re definitely identical twins,” Aunt Mary added.
Brandon and I then went to take over the duty at the grill so Dad and Pop could also spend some time with Julie. Once everything was just about ready, I returned to ask Julie what she wanted to eat.
“We have hamburgers, hot dogs, and barbeque chicken breasts, and there’s macaroni salad, potato salad, and Watergate salad too.”
“I’ll have… a hamburger… and Holly… can give… me some… of the… salads. They’re easier… for me… to eat.”
I then had Holly and Mrs. Rivera grab plates and follow me back to the grill, and after we gave them what they wanted, I asked Mrs. Rivera a question. “Should I put Julie’s hamburger on a bun?”
“Yes, she can eat it that way, as long as she takes small bites.”
“I’ll carry her plate then, and Holly can add the salads when we get to the other picnic table, because each of you has your own plate to carry.”
“And she likes ketchup on her hamburger,” Mrs. Rivera added as we moved to where the condiments and salads were located. “Give her some pickles too.”
After getting their salads, adding the condiments, and taking a napkin and some silverware, we carried the plates over to the picnic table where Julie was waiting. I set the plate down in front of her and asked what she wanted to drink. Holly and Mrs. Rivera followed me to the coolers to grab something as well, and after I gave Julie her drink, Holly sat next to her on one side and Mrs. Rivera on the other.
I left them once they started eating, and then I went to spend a few moments with the others before I went to fill my plate too. I carried it over and sat down in the same spot that Holly had been sitting, seeing she’d finished and was busy chatting with Noah and Elliot. Brandon sat next to me as we ate and chatted with Julie.
“You have… a very… nice family,” she told us.
“Yes, we do, and this is just a small portion of them.”
“You mean there’s more?” Mrs. Rivera gasped in shock.
“Yes, this is only the family members who live locally. Those living out of town usually only come here for major events, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Dad’s birthday.”
“How many more are there?” Mrs. Rivera pressed.
“Let me see,” I answered as I quickly counted them in my head. “I’d say there are thirteen more, not counting their better halves and their children.”
“Oh my, that’s even more than are in my family, and I have seven brothers and sisters.”
“Yes, Dad had four biological children and then adopted the rest of us.”
“And that’s… how I knew… you’d be… good for my… children too,” Julie added.
“Thank you and we’ll do our best to take very good care of them.”
“I know… you will… and I’m… going to see… my lawyer… tomorrow… to sign the… paperwork… to make this… official.”
“I’m glad you’re satisfied with what we’ve done for your children so far.”
“Yes and… I’m not… worried about… leaving them… now. They seem… to be very… happy here,” she added as she looked over and watched the boys playing kickball in the side yard.
After the boys finished their game, we had Becky’s cakes for dessert, and the kids polished off most of the chocolate cake, so the rest of us opted for the pineapple upside down cake.
“Damn, this is even better than the one I made at Easter,” Dad commented after taking a couple of bites.
“Thank you. I used my mom’s personal recipe that she kept secret from everyone else while she was alive.”
“I can see why,” Dad concurred. “I wouldn’t want to share something this good either, except to have others enjoy eating it.”
“The chocolate cake was really good too,” Noah added. “And I loved the fudge frosting.”
“That was another of my mother’s special recipes,” Becky confirmed.
As the day wore on and it started getting late, the other family members began to leave. We said goodbye to each of them and thanked them for coming, and then we helped Julie get into Mrs. Rivera’s car.
“Mrs. Rivera, do you have room for the twins too?” Brandon asked.
“Yes, they can sit in the back with Holly.”
We had the boys get their things to take with them, and after we placed Julie’s wheelchair and the twins’ suitcase in the trunk, we waved at them as they drove off.
“I think that went well,” Brandon stated as they were driving away.
“Yes, it went very well, and I think it gave Julie some peace of mind after watching her children and seeing how happy they were here.”
“Yes, I’m sure it helped to take a big load off her mind.”
Before we started to clean up from the cookout and take everything inside, we offered to fix whatever the boys wanted so they’d have enough to tide them over for the rest of the night. While Brandon and I were busy taking care of them, Dad, Pop, Dion, and Trey started carrying whatever we weren’t using inside. When the boys were sated, we sent them upstairs to get ready for bed, because they still had four more days of school remaining.