Today I am twenty-freakin'-eight years old! Praise the Lord! The closer I get to thirty, the more confident I get that I really have earned the name adult. It truly is a pain having averyone and their mom think that you're eighteen...
Here is my birthday gift from my friend Aaron Metcalf. Try to get through it. It's my birthday and I'm worth it!
A Short Story by Aaron Metcalf
Jen slowly takes her seat by the large bay window overlooking the Salmon River and picks up the most recent picture of her third grandchild. She looks lovingly at the photo and places it perfectly on a page of her latest scrapbook. This picture completes her scrapbook, which makes 157,543 scrapbooks to date; some of which have won Jen some prestigious awards in the elite craft world. Jen smiles inwardly as she polishes her, “Scrapbooker of the Year” award given in 2020 from, “Scrapbooking Today” magazine. She chuckles softly to herself as she carefully and artfully glues the picture of Aiden’s firstborn son, Bubbles, to the blue page. “Oh Aiden,” Jen thinks, “Who would have thought you would one day be a father?”
Just then the phone rings. It is Emma. Emma has just finished her law degree and is currently living in Boston with her husband, Reade, and their two boys, Paul (14) and Simon (9). Emma entered Law School when Simon was 4 and is currently using her degree to write a much anticipated law thriller titled, “The Eldest Daughter” –it is a book about inheritance. Emma’s charming voice rings through the handheld phone.
“Hi Mom, I hope you are doing well. I just called because I was wondering…uh…how much are Grandma Brenda’s earrings worth?”
Jen, who has received dozens of calls similar to this from Emma in the past week
answers, “Emma, I just don’t know.” Jen gives a deep sigh, “Listen honey, please paint me in a positive light in this book.” There is silence on the other end of the phone, which is broken only by the sound of a loud toilet flush.
“Oh sorry mom,” says Emma, “I was, ummm, busy. How are you feeling today?”
“I am feeling pretty well,” Jen begins, “Ever since I have begun teaching Yoga I have noticed more flexibility. You know, when I was making those Yoga instructional videos I found that I had to start and stop a lot for the cameras. It’s different when you’re in front of several thousand people showing them new techniques. I’m so glad I made that pilgrimage to Asia to learn more about the ancient undiscovered art of…” Jen’s voice is stopped by Emma’s shouting,
“Paul, do NOT throw that football in the house. I don’t care if you’re the best athlete in your school or if you just won the best award a fourteen-year old can win! Do not throw the ball in the house!”
“Is everything ok dear?” asks Jen.
“Oh sure mom,” Answers Emma. “Paul has just really been acting up ever since his dad won the super bowl.” Emma’s husband, Reade Barber, plays for the football team closest to where they live (Ben, insert some football team or whatever you want, just try to be funny). Reade is a well adjusted, and certainly well built, man who is compassionate and treats Emma like the princess she is.
Jen smiles as she hangs up the phone and glances at the clock on the wall. It is almost 1pm. Ben and Aaron should be home soon. They have been camping again right down the road at Green Canyon Campground. Jen can’t understand why they go camping every single night, but it is frankly nice to have them out of the house. Adam and Aris go with them, obviously, which is nice because otherwise Adam tends to just stay in the Ries’ home and eat their potato chips.
Just then Bubbles runs into the room and hops up on Jen’s lap. Aiden is right behind him and is carrying a fresh diaper. “I just don’t understand it mom,” Aiden says in his high pitch voice, “I just can’t seem to potty train Bubbles. Just when it seems like he is potty trained he goes in his paints again…”
Jen nods her head slowly and pretends to really listen while insight she is dancing and knows that there is, indeed, justice in the world. “Tell me more,” Jen says trying to hide her glee. It is really nice to have Aiden and family visit. Since he has been dancing on Broadway it is really hard to get him to vacation. Furthermore, his duties as a firefighter, preacher and ice skater keep him really busy. Good thing his wife, Ella, is so understanding. Ella has recently won a Pulitzer for her fiction writing and is as patient and as perfect as a person has ever been. Some say that she can walk on water.
“Oh, I’ll tell you about it later mom,” Aiden says. “I have to go watch cartoons.”
Jen holds Bubbles close to her and shows him the scrapbook she has just completed. He squeals in delight at the pictures they took of him in Greece when he was running naked on the beach. The vacation they took with the Metcalf’s in Hawaii years before, likewise, makes him laugh out loud. There is one photo of a dolphin splashing his Grandpa, Ben, who is shouting obscenities because the water nearly splashed in his, “cough medicine.”
“That’s me!” shouts Bubbles at one photo in which Bubbles is riding on Aaron’s shoulders through the current mega-church in which Aaron is serving. Aaron’s line of self-help books and instructional videos has won him international acclaim and regular spot on Oprah as a guest, “self-help artist” (as he calls himself). “Deny Your Cross and Follow Yourself” is his most recent work of “art.”
Chelan has joined him in these efforts by putting Aaron’s work to rhythmic words using African beats and synthesized noises. Her work has earned her two Grammy’s and her own line of perfume. Chelan, in fact, is in the other room watching Tevo’d Oprah and sipping on “cough medicine” waiting for Jen to finish so they can go fishing like they do every afternoon.
The whole family—minus Emma and family who will fly in later today—have gathered for the wedding of Miles and Isabel. The two have been making hit pop songs together for some time and have finally decided to tie the knot. With Izzy’s raspy voice and Mile’s screams they have broken through that fine line that once existed between soft jazz and heavy metal. “It’s Norah Jones meets Metallica” Rolling Stone magazine raved. Some have even said that their union, musically, is the leading cause of the world peace that the world now enjoys. Jen looks at the picture of Izzy and Miles receiving the Nobel Peace prize for their humanitarian efforts and is glad that they have finally decided to hitch up.
Jen turns from her window and releases Bubbles to go watch cartoons with his dad. She looks at her shelves stuffed full of the scrapbooks she has made over the years and feels her heart swell. So many memories. So many stories. She feels blest to be a part of such a beautiful world and thanks God she has received so much. Not just awards and family achievements, she has received love and fullness. Ben comes in the room and Jen walks over to him slowly and places her head on his shoulder (Ben has shrunk over the years from working in the circus—that’s another story) and feels her eyes well. Her life is full. Her heart is jammed pack with memories and fulfillments.
Jen notices a card fallen to the ground out of one of her scrapbooks. She received the card years and years, ago from Aaron and the message inside reads,
Words cannot express how much you and your family have meant to us over the past few years. You have given advice, support, comfort and most of all laughter to our family in our times of need. Thank you. Your life is a blessing to so many and I cannot wait to see what God has imagined for your future. Though our families are separated now by many miles we still feel close to you and we anticipate a day in which we can once again meet daily for TV shows (minus the sound during commercials, please), games (sometimes…agh), laughter, fellowship, and most of all we can meet daily for life. Enjoy your night.