Family Non-Fiction posted August 6, 2023 Chapters:  ...22 23 -24- 25... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Tom learns how to be a Daddy and gets rewarded with love

A chapter in the book Angels Unaware

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

by forestport12

From a broken home, Tommy searched for meaning in his scarred life. As a teen he turned to God and set out to live a life of purpose and one day have a family of his own without the brokenness.

I gained a wife and a daughter when I woke up New Years day, 1984. Our little two-year-old was all I needed for Christmas. My little Miss Malissa was the best gift of all.

We turned our humble two-bedroom apartment into a home living in the heart of the metroplex. I started a new semester in ministry school, and then I went to work the 2nd shift as a janitor for a school district. Mary didn't mind staying home in the first few months to give her child an adjustment to a new home and life. She wanted to help pay the bills, but I didn't mind doing double duty, so mother and daughter could feel loved and spend quality time together.

I was taught early on in church, before you leave your family, tell them you love them. No one can be guaranteed tomorrow. I also loved a song I heard called, "Love is something you do, not just something you say." I believed Mary appreciated the early sacrifices in our marriage I made. It made us closer.

My mother and half-sister came to visit us when we had our first apartment. I could never understand how they couldn't make it to my wedding a few hours away, but they suddenly wanted to spend time with my new wife. Alone. I was in my mid-twenties but new their intentions weren't pure. Once my mother found a bruise on Mary's arm and got excited and told my wife, "If he's hitting you, tell me."

Mary tried to honestly explain that it was from moving some furniture or boxes or something ridiculous, and she couldn't understand why my mother was so upset. As I explained in earlier chapters, my mother was nearly beaten to death by my father, and it appeared my half-sister and mother expected me to follow in his footsteps. I was never happier to prove them wrong. I never felt loved by them, only rejected for looking like my father. They didn't care to know what was in my heart. I wasn't worried, I had Mary's family who loved me unconditionally as my main motivator to take care of my family.

One night after a long day, I'd come home and kiss my young wife. Malissa would usually be fast asleep in her bed. On this particular night less than a week after we'd been married, Mary told me of a wonderful moment when she had little Malissa in the laundry room and there was another elderly woman tenant doing her laundry. She enjoyed my wife's company and that of our spry daughter. She couldn't get over the dimpled smile and how happy she seemed. She stooped over and asked our girl, "What did you get for Christmas this year sweetie?"

With a bursting smile and my daughter's eyes aglow, she said, "I got me a Daddy for Christmas!"

In the late evening after a long hard night at work, I was held captive to Mary's words, as she told me what happened in her day. Tears stung my eyes. But they were tears of joy!

As the weather improved with spring, Mary was ready to work a few hours at a hair shop within walking distance. On my open days from school or Saturdays, I was psyched to be my new daughter's babysitter.

It was the first time I recalled Mary trusted me for the day with a spry and spunky two-year-old. If there had only been a manual on what to expect. Maybe it was the kid in me, but I thought it was going to be easy. Malissa was bouncing around on our bed like it was a trampoline. No problem. I kept a close watch. I was athletic; I could catch her.

The phone rang or something distracted me for a moment. I rushed to the next room over something. As I motored back into the bedroom, my daughter's face was pressed against the window screen of our 2nd story apartment!

I yelped. "Malissa no!"

The screen pushed through to the sidewalk below. I dove across the bed and managed to grab an arm or leg, some kind of limb. She nearly tumbled head-first! I shouted at her, scared her stiff, then hugged her. She must have seen the fear in my eyes and cried, not realizing she could have died.

My wife could have come home to see a dead daughter or one in the hospital with a skull fracture. Lesson learned. Never, ever, ever let a two-year-old out of your sight or more than an arm's length. It was the grace of God that for one instant, your blessed life could have been altered forever.

It wasn't many more days after the incident in spring that my wife would share more news with me on one of those late evenings when I would come home from school and then work. She told me with a glow and smile, "I'm pregnant. We're having a baby!"

During the summer months we discussed baby names. We hoped for a boy, since we had a girl. Mary wanted to name a boy after me. She wanted a little junior. I countered and said, I wanted to start a new tradition. I wanted him to have a strong Bible name. She warmed to the idea as the months passed, and it became settled in her heart. Nathan was Hebrew for, "Gift from God."

Mary's due date was ten days before Christmas. We were getting close to the time when we should have had a name for a girl too. One day I crowed, "We need to have girl's name picked out already."
Mary fired back, "I'm not doing it! I just know he's a boy." I shook my head and backed away.

Our child was due ten days before Christmas. The days toiled by the expected date. Then, lo and behold, on Christmas day, Mary went into labor. I rushed her to the hospital. With pain that can only be described as a curse, she delivered a healthy baby boy!

After the pain came the blessing, as I heard a lovely healthy cry from the delivery room. My wife was right. God must have been in it all along. How does someone name a child, "A gift from God," and then have him born on Christmas? That stuff just doesn't happen on its own.

We marked our first year together as a family, and another gift that keeps on giving.

"Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we ask or think..." KJV Eph.3:20

We were happy and blessed to have a boy and girl. We never tried to have more children, but as I got older, I wasn't as good at what we called the timing method, and neither of us had an operation. So you guessed it. More children flowed from our loins.

Our third child, we saw the sonogram and knew it would be a girl. We decided on the name Amanda, because it meant, "Worthy of Love." I joked with the doctor and had a good laugh when I suggested he should help us have her be born about seven days earlier than the due date so she could be born on Valentine's Day. Without help from the doctor, she was born on that special day, perfectly matching her name, like my son's birth on Christmas day.
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