PRETEND MOM

Wendy and I had to go to Tyler to pick up a new dishwasher.

Wendy called Zoe after she was off work, and they talked on the phone for a little more than an hour, telling of stories of God’s miracles at the church they are about to join, the coming 4th of July vacation, the last weekend trip to Waco to try out her new kayak, more stories of her new church.

“Is Evan working late?” Wendy asked. “Why don’t you eat dinner with us?”

“Oh, I’m cooking tonight. He get’s off at 8:00. But, I’ll meet you and talk for a while.”

You know what I was thinking…you have been talking for a while.

But, she didn’t want to go to a restaurant, so she just went to the next errand with us.

I was so hungry, and, in a few more minutes, the restaurants were gonna be crowded.

We talked her into going to Panda Express, just to talk while we ate.“Okay, but just for a little while. I’m cooking tonight.”

We were there for around two hours.

Zoe had so much to tell. Her eyes sparkled, moving back and forth between Wendy and me, filling us in on the life she is living in Tyler.

At 9:00, after a little more conversation in the parking lot, she headed home.

She didn’t cook dinner…Texas Roadhouse did.

One of my favorite stories she told:

She had just told us how someone had thought two of her little cousins, Harper and Carter, were her daughters when she had taken them to the zoo and to Starbucks.

“I had loaded up this purse with changes of clothes, and extra diaper, hand sanitizer, snacks…everything that I would possible maybe need for them. I even hung water bottles on the strap. It was so heavy.

“So, when they needed to go to the bathroom, I went to Starbucks, and the three of us crowded into the bathroom. There was a line forming after us. So, I locked the door, and Harper started taking off all her clothes.

‘Harper, put your clothes back on.’ I said.

‘Zoe, pull up my pants,’ Carter said.

“No one was talking softly.

“I realized that all these words were being heard by those waiting in line.

“We walked out, and someone smiled and said, ‘I know, I have kids, too.’

“I nodded, sort of smiled, and didn’t correct her.

“One time someone thought Addi was my kid.

“A few years ago, when I was in the first apartment at Bullard Crossing, Addi (her cousin, Jenny’s daughter, probably 8 at the time) was spending the day with me.

“I took her to McAllister’s, way before Evan was working there.

“Anyway, we ordered, and I got out my debit card, and it was rejected.

‘No, that’s not possible, there’s plenty of money in there. I checked. there’s plenty of money.’

“They ran it again. Rejected.

“I only had five dollars.

“They looked at me, in pity, and said, ‘That’s okay, we’ve already got it started. You can have it for free.’

“I tried to argue, ‘ I don’t know what’s going on…I have the money…’

“They smiled and said, ‘ That’s okay…things happen.’

“That was the day I called you, Pappy and asked what was going on…you found out that there was some suspicious activity on my card and the bank’s fraud center froze the account.

“I told Addi, ‘You are NEVER to tell your mom about this…NEVER.’

“There was a carnival in the mall parking lot, so I told Addi, ‘I have five dollars…only five dollars. You can ride one ride.’

“She picked the one that was like swings, they go round and round and swing you out wide.

“I got her a ticket, she went in and I was helping her pick a swing.

‘Now, you be in this one, on the outside so I can see you every time you come around. Don’t move to a different one, I have to be able to see you.’

“The Carnie guy was listening, and he said, ‘Why don’t you take that swing next to her?’

‘Oh, no. I only have enough money for one ride.’

‘Oh, that’s okay. I know what it’s like. I have kids, too.’

“I didn’t correct him…I thanked him, forced a smile.

“I DID NOT WANT TO RIDE THAT RIDE!

“When it started to swing us out wide, we were really, really high, and, you know how that parking lot has a high wall that drops down to the Starbucks parking lot? I was swinging out over that, and it seemed even higher, and I knew that my swing was gonna break off, I would fall to my death, and leave Addi all alone.

“We survived.

‘DON’T TELL YOUR MOM ANY OF THIS!’ I told Addi one more time.”

I asked Zoe if I could share this story…She hesitated…It’s really a good story I tell her..I’m sure Addi kept that promise…well, maybe…but, she is Jenny’s kid…Jenny tells everything.

Oh, Jenny will never see this.

Oh, yeah, Wendy and I both got fortunes from the fortune cookies about gratitude.

True, again.

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