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An old man slowly stirs in the dark. He shifts and looks at the cloak next to his bed. It reads 7:00 A.M. in big, bold figures. He slowly rolls over at his sleeping wife. Her grey high seems to shimmer in the moon’s light and she snores softly on her side.
He kisses her gently on the cheek and slowly rolls out of bed.
Today is a special day.
He winces as every joint in his body decides to creak this morning but he makes it to his feet. He breathes heavy and worry crosses his winkled face. Worry that he might wake his bride.
She still sleeps, a thin woman underneath thick blankets. He slips on a rob and slowly pads his way out in lion king slippers. He walks down the hall from his bedroom and towards the kitchen at the end.
To the left hangs a large number of photos of three babies, two boys and a girl. To the right are seven photos of more babies, this time four girls and three boys. Both sets of photos are held in custom wood frames with the date carved out of the wood on top. As the man proceeds down the hall, the children in the photos slowly change from infants to adults. Awards are generously sprinkled throughout the images that represent one year of their lives.
On the left, one boy ages into a young man with dark hair and a bright smile. He plays a number of sports and scored well academically. In nearly every photo is some sort of sport icon or object. Ralph is carved into each of his photos.
The other boy has a toothy grin and freckled face beneath a bushy head of hair. A chemistry set is never too far and half of the photos are him covered in soot and an innocent face next to a black crater or scorched appliance. The name Jacob is attached to the bottom of his photos.
The young girl, from five years old to twelve, is wearing some sort of ballerina outfit. When she turn thirteen, she switches from playing dance to learning how to dance for real. Her name is marked as Emily.
Ralph is followed through grade school as a sports play and soon graduates and leaves for college as a football player. However, after his twenty-first photo the next photo is of him at a church alter with an older man in a suit kneeling next to him in a photo dated to be his twenty-eighth year. A simple wood cross in the back stands serenely as the young man weeps into his father’s shoulder. The photos resume their normal cadence of a photo each year. Both men have lost the rich blackness in the hair but their smiles grow even brighter. The son is soon joined by a beautiful young woman. Three photos later they are at the alter. One photo later and they are joined by a baby boy. Another photo later and they have another boy in their arms. On his thirty-second year, Ralph stands on stage with a business degree in his right hand, a wife in his left, and massive grin on his face. Attached below this photo is a small wooden signs with the words ‘He never gives up on you’ burned into it. Another photo passes and he has a daughter in his arms. The last photo is of him in front of a brick house. His hold family is helping hold up a sign with the words ‘We finally bought a house!’ in blue lettering. [2 boys / 1 girl]
Jacob flies through grade school with mostly burned labs and a smoking high school. Several speeding tickets are famed next to several awards for the best science projects. He graduates and enters college as a chemist major. In his second year of college, he is standing outside a building that ends halfway up its third floor. With him is a young girl with red hair. Both are covered in ash and breath through oxygen masks but their eyes are twinkling. Next to the photo is a new clipping explaining how Jacob saved the lives of twenty students when he noticed several harmless chemical containers were broken and their contents were slowing mixing together in a store room. Apparently Jacob had accidentally discovered the explosive properties of the combined chemicals when he mixed using only spoonfuls of each of the substances as a small child. Eight photos later, he and the redhead were married. Two photos later and a baby girl joins them. He graduates and begins working as a special affects for Hollywood soon after graduation. However, six photos after that, Jacob’s wife passes away. Underneath this photo is another wood plaque with the words ‘Hold on to Jesus.’ Jacob then leaves the Hollywood scene to enter grad school to acquire a teaching agree, which he does in his fortieth year. Two photos later he is holding hands with a woman about his age. He is carrying his daughter on his hip while the woman’s free hand rest on a young girl hiding behind her. Six photos later and the two are standing before a paster and kissing. He wears a black tuxedo and she wears a white dress. Their children stand as brides maids. Three photos later they surround the crib of a baby boy. [1 boy / 2 girls ]
Emily sweeps through most of high school without trouble. Slowly, after her fourteenth photo, she stops smiling. Each photo shows her a little less confident and little more introvert. Upon her graduation, her diploma shows that she graduated in the lower part of her class. She enters a dancing school but a photo later she changes to a music major. However, one photo later she switches to an art major. In her graduation photo, Emily has a paint brush in her mouth, a guitar in her left hand, and her diploma in her right hand. She is lifting her foot up to reveal that she is wearing her dancing shoes. Her diploma shows that she graduated at the top of her class with a triple major. Underneath this photo are the words ‘The only thing stoping you is you.’ She quietly goes through life alone until her twentieth photo. She pregnant but she smiles. Underneath this photo is the words ‘I have not abandon you.’ A photo later and a baby girl, distinctly darker in skin tone, is in a swimming pool with Emily. Both are happily smiling and laughing.
The old man reaches the end of the hallway with misty eyes. He stops a moment and thanks God for the seventy years He has given him and thanks him for each of his children and his seven grandkids.
He quietly enters the kitchen breathing hard and praying to God to give him strength for today. He smiles happily and begins pulling out pots and pans out of cupboards. From the fridge he pulls bread, butter, toast, and eggs. He whistles as he scrambles the eggs, toasts the bred, and begins to make coffee, black and strong, for himself and tea, light and sweet, for his wife. He glances at the calendar.
Today’s date is circled in red with the words ‘Doctor’ printed on the little square. He frowns but shakes his head. He can’t worry about that right now because this is today.
And today is a special day.
Soft feet patters behind him as he finishes assembling the food onto waiting plates. He turns slowly around and sees his wife standing in her bathrobe with a surprise look on her face.
“What are you doing!”
“Um… making breakfast.” He answers sheepishly.
“Breakfast? It’s nine o’clock!” She scolds him, “Howard, you know what the doctor said– stay off your feet and keep up your strength. Not going banging through the kitchen knocking pans and plates together.”
“Right.” He smiles bright and big, “But I wanted to make you something special for today.”
“You can’t eat that stuff!”
“I know but this is for you.” He waves for her to take a seat at the kitchen table.
She looks at him confused, “Why did you make me breakfast?”
“Because today is a special day.”
“Why is that?”
“Because its another day that I get to spend with you.”