Roger left home under the worst of circumstances; an argument with his mother and father ending with him saying, “I hate you and never want to see you again.” As soon as those words were let out it was as if a bomb had been detonated. You can’t un explode a bomb. The look on his mom’s and dad’s faces could have not been any more painful.
Twenty years had passed. He now had a son the age he was when he left home.
Roger was careful but firm in the rearing of his son. He was a good son and Roger was more than proud.
Roger now lived more than 2,000 miles from his boyhood home. He, with his son, returned to his hometown and drove down streets familiar only to Roger.
“See, right there,” Roger said pointing to a vacant lot overgrown with weeds and neglected by time. “That’s where me and my buddies played ball; football in the fall, snowball fights in the winter, and whether the field was dry or not, baseball in spring and summer.”
“See the warehouse?” Roger said. “That window at the top, I put a baseball through it.”
“Is that the one your dad made you pay for?” Jordan said.
“Yeah,” Roger said, “that’s the one.”
“And you said the only lesson you learned was not to hit to the opposite field,” Jordan smiled.
“Yeah,” Roger said, “and a few more.”
“Remember the kid I told you about called Dick the Bruiser?” Roger said.
“Yeah,” Jordan said, “the neighborhood bully.”
“That yellow house on the corner was his,” Roger said. “We’d walk a block out of the way to avoid that house.”
Roger made a left onto a tree-lined street and slowed.
“This is your street isn’t it?” Jordan said. “Maybe you should call”
“I’m returning the way I left—sort of,” Roger said. “I got a lot to make up for. I was so wrong.”
“Maybe it’s best you do this alone,” Jordan said.
“From the moment you were born I raised you for this moment,” Roger said.
“What if they say no?” Jordan said.
“You don’t know my parents,” Roger said. “They are good people.”
“See the house with the rose bush in front of the porch,” Roger said. “Jimmy Z.”
“Your best friend,” Jordan said.
“Yeah,” Roger said, “he knows things about me that I hope no one else finds out.” Roger smiled broadly.
The car slowed to a stop. Roger and Jordan climbed out. The walked up to the house. Roger heaved a deep breath.
Jordan grasped Roger’s shoulder. “I’m with ya, Dad.”
Roger rang the doorbell.
Sandy, a tall thin woman with gray hair pulled tight in a ponytail came to the door. Her chin quivered. She opened the door wide and stepped back slowly.
Roger and Carl solemnly walked in.
“Carl!” Sandy called out toward the kitchen. “It’s Roger he’s home!”
She rushed to Roger and embraced him with tears.
Roger’s father, Carl, stopped at the entrance to the living room.
“It’s Roger,” Sandy said waving her arm to beckon Carl. He rushed to Roger’s arms.
“This is our grandson,” Sandy said embracing him. “He looks just like you.”
“It is so good to see you, my son,” Carl said.
“And better for me to see you,” Roger said. “Mom, you look wonderful.”
“I’m old,” she blurted from her joy.
“Mom,” Roger laughed, “you were always old.”
“Hey, Pop,” Roger said. “Do you still have a fastball,”
“I haven’t picked up a baseball, well it’s been a long time,” Carl said.
“Why didn’t you call?” Sandy said.
“I, I thought there just might be an outside chance you would not want me to come.”
“Your mother has always kept your room ready,” Carl said.
“How long can you stay?” Sandy said.
“I can stay for a week,” Roger said, “but I want Jordan, my son, to stay for the summer.”
“Sure,” the father said, “but that seems strange.”
“Dad said he wanted me to give you back the summer he should have given you 20 years ago,” Jordan said. “And I really want to.”
“All is forgotten, my son,” Carl said. “It was forgotten long ago.”
The emotional explosion that occurred twenty years early seemed to implode in an instant to its natural state as if never detonated in the first place.