Recovery of a Hero Ch. 14byRoadbug©
Birthday for Two
Special thanks to Desert Pirate for his editing.
This story is a work of fiction only. Any chance resemblance to actual people or events is purely accidental.
As the days until my birthday went by, Janny made me take it easy. She said that I'd overextended myself too much since Uncle Dar had gotten home. I didn't argue much. Having Uncle Dar and his daughters around made it easy to sit back for awhile.
Having Ellen and Nancy around was a big change for me though. I'd had friends over several times, but they always went home eventually. Ellen and Nancy were home and that took getting used to. I loved them dearly and was grateful for their help but it was still hard.
I think that what was hardest was the fact that they'd be running around doing house hold tasks that I usually did and when I tried to help, I'd get told "No, Our turn now." That phrase was coming back to haunt me, it seemed.
I couldn't even fix my own food if they saw me. I'd start making a sandwich, and next thing I know, I'm being told that I'm supposed to rest and either Ellen or Nancy would take over. I was beginning to understand how hard it was for Uncle Dar at times. If you're used to doing for your self, and suddenly you can't and someone else does you feel a bit lost at times.
We did have fun though. They were both practical jokers of very high skill. I was never a target, but not even Uncle Dar was safe otherwise. I'd still like to know how they got whip cream into a shampoo bottle though. That might be a handy skill some day.
Since I wasn't allowed to do much and had two watchdogs who made sure of it, I took to watching TV with Uncle Dar. We'd snuggle up on the couch, and he'd let me choose any program I wanted. I don't know if he liked what I did, but he'd sit there for hours and just hold me.
Every now and then, either Ellen or Nancy would sit on his other side and he'd hold that one too. More than once I fell asleep like that, and when I woke up he'd still be holding me.
I remember asking him why he was so patient with us girls, and he said, "You three have had too many hurts for being so young. You need time to heal just like I did. You gave me that time, so now it's my turn to give it back. Friends do that for friends."
After thinking about that for awhile, I told Ellen and Nancy what he'd said. Nancy said, "He's more than a friend. I don't know of anybody else who would have done what he did for you. Then he spent all that money so he could adopt us and he's only known us for about a month."
Ellen said, "Yea, did you know that on his rent agreement he's paying about $1000 a month? And he paid a year in advance."
I was shocked. I hadn't known that he was paying that much. I told them, "I really didn't know how much he paid us for rent. How did you find out?"
"His bank book on his computer. He left it open one night after looking at it. The list for expenses included $12,000 for one years rent here, and he had other things for us. He spent over $40,000 total to get us. I didn't know he had that much money, but he didn't seem to care about it either."
That shocked me even more. Uncle Dar had once told me that he had plenty of money from working in Iraq for two years, but I didn't think that he'd made so much as to just spend $40,000 and forget it. I wondered how much he really had.
We talked about it for a bit, and then Ellen said, "I don't really care how much he has left. If he was broke, I'd still love him and would want to be his daughter. He's always there if you need him. Always has time to talk if you want to talk. "
"I know," I said. "He always has time for us and he's always honest too. I have never known him to lie to me. If he doesn't know or can't answer he says so. I just didn't know that he'd spent so much money for you. I didn't even know he had that much."
Ellen said, "He told us that he makes more in interest than he's spent so far, so he must have a lot somewhere. I don't care though. Like I said, if he was broke it wouldn't matter. I love him for him and not his money."
We talked for awhile longer, and then they went to the game room in the basement. At least I was allowed to sit with Uncle Dar. That was about the only thing I seemed to be allowed to do around here.
The day of my birthday party arrived, and I was so excited when I woke up that morning. I wanted to get a shower before Uncle Dar got up so I jumped up and grabbed my robe and the clothes I'd set out the night before. I ran to the shower and jumped in before even turning on the water.
It was cold when it started, but I didn't mind. I liked cold showers in the morning because they woke me up fast.
I took my shower and dried off. Using the hair dryer, I dried my hair and then got dressed. Putting my PJ's in the dirty clothes hamper with the towels I'd used, I finished up by brushing my teeth and then going out to the kitchen.
When I got there, I was surprised to see Uncle Dar already there with Janny, George, Ellen and Nancy. Uncle Dar didn't usually get up this early and George was almost always gone to work by now.
I went to the fridge and got myself a glass of orange juice and asked, "Why are you all here now? I thought you worked today, George, and you usually sleep later than this uncle Dar."
George smiled and said, "I took the day off. I didn't want to miss today because we have a special birthday girl coming over in a bit. She should be here in about half an hour."
Uncle Dar said, "I wanted a bit of time with the other special birthday girl before too many people got here." He handed me a small package and said, "Happy birthday special girl."
I opened it and found a jewelry box inside. I opened that and saw a gold pendant. I gasped and picked it up to look at it closer. It was engraved on both sides. One side was just my name, Sally R. Brandt. The other side said, "To the daughter of my heart, know that I will always be with you."
I opened it up and saw a picture of a young Uncle Dar without the beard and wearing a military dress uniform.
I looked at him and started crying. All I could do was put it on with the medal I still wore and then I ran up and hugged him. It's beautiful, Uncle Dar, " I said.
He hugged me and said, "I guess that means you must like it."
I said, "I love it. I wouldn't care if it was just cheap aluminum with gold paint half worn off. I love it and I'll wear it and always remember you."
He hugged me again and said, "Well I'll have to remember that for next year then. That way I won't have to spend as much."
We all laughed at that and I let go my hug. "Thank you Uncle Dar," I said.
Ellen said, "Mine next." She handed me a similar package and I opened it. It was the same kind of jewelry box. I opened it and found a pair of ear rings that were the same stile as the pendant. Good thing I had pierced ears already.
I looked her in the eye and smiled at her as I put them on.
Nancy said, "Now it's my turn." She handed me a bigger box that was flatter. I opened it and found a framed picture of her and Ellen standing with Uncle Dar in the middle.
It looked like it had been taken the day of the court hearing when Uncle Dar adopted them. They had on the same clothes that they'd worn that day but Uncle Dar was standing with an arm around each of them as they all smiled at the camera.
The frame was gold colored and from the weight, I thought it was real gold. It could have been cardboard for all I cared. I loved it for the picture, and not the frame anyway.
I hugged it to my chest, and with tears in my eyes I looked at the three of them and said, "I'll always treasure this. I love you guys and I'll always keep this with me no matter where I go."
Janny said, "Now it's my turn." She handed me a package that was a lot bigger. I opened it and found a beautiful blue dress. I held it up. From the feel of it, I thought it was real silk. I very carefully folded it up and hugging her I said, "It's gorgeous. I've never had such a pretty dress before.
She said, "I saw it when we took Ellen and Nancy to get their new clothes. It was your size and I just had to get it. They promised me that they wouldn't tell and I'm glad to see that they didn't."
Erica said, "Now it's my turn, little sister." She handed me a box that was like the one Nancy had given me but was much heavier.
I opened it and saw that it was a plaque like the ones that dad had gotten as awards when he was on a bowling league.
I picked it up and turned it over, and saw that it had a picture mounted on it of her, Janny, George, Uncle Dar, Ellen and Nancy. I didn't know when this one had been taken. Below the picture were the words: To Sally from all of us with our love and best wishes. Your family.
By this time, the tears were really coming down and I couldn't say anything at all. I just reached over and hugged her.
Something like that was a treasure. I knew that Erica had made it herself in George's little work shop beside the house. Erica liked to make things like that and did really good work. But it was the picture and the words underneath that got me the most. I hadn't felt so happy since my last birthday with mom and dad when I turned nine. That had been four years ago now.
While I was hugging Erica and crying, she said, "I think she might like it."
I said, "I love it. Thank you for such a beautiful gift. Now I have some real treasures that I'll always keep."
George cleared his throat and asked, "So, is it my turn yet?"
I said, "Well you're the last one so I guess so.
He said, "Then come with me."
We followed him out the back door and I saw a small motorcycle with a helmet hanging from the handle bars.
I looked at it for a second then ran up to George and hugged him too saying, "You remembered. You promised to get me one when I turned fourteen and you remembered. Thank you so much."
I walked over to the bike after the hug and looked at it. It wasn't very big, but since I'm not either, I didn't care. I just wanted to be able to go with him and Janny when they went for rides on our property.
George said, "When the doctors and Janice OK it, I'll teach you to ride it. This one won't be hard because it's only a three speed, but I'll make sure you know how to ride it safely."
I looked at him and said, "Thank you for remembering, I know that you promised me a long time ago and I even forgot about it. I'll wait until I'm better, but then I want to learn."
Ellen and Nancy said, "We do too. Please teach us too."
I said, "You don't have to wait for me. Whenever George wants to teach you how you can ride it. I'll wait."
Ellen said, "It's your bike so you get to ride it first. But I'd really like to learn how too."
Uncle Dar said, "I think you need to ask someone else if you can first, but if you really want to, I have no problem with it. I just wish I could join you."
"You can if you want, uncle Dar," I said. "My dad had a 4 wheeler and we still have it in the shed where George and Janny's bikes are."
I asked George, "Do you think it still runs?"
"I had it running a few days ago while you girls were at dinner with Dar," said George. "I think it ran OK and it shouldn't be hard for Dar to ride if he wants."
"I'll wait awhile before I try," said Uncle Dar. "I don't think I want to risk a wreck on it yet."
"It isn't a fast one," said George. "Jack got it to roam around the property, not to race. It's a four wheel drive but it doesn't have a lot of speed. More of a tractor than a ATV."
I've driven it a few times, myself," I said. "It isn't hard to drive. Almost like a golf cart."
"I'll still wait awhile," said Uncle Dar. "I don't want to push it right now but if you girls want to, and George and Janny OK it then go ahead."
Ellen and Nancy looked at him and both said, "Really?"
"Really," he said. "I don't see any problem if you kids are careful. Just remember that neither of you are race car drivers and go from there. If you really want to drive the thing and the owners say OK, then I won't stop you. Besides, it's probably a lot safer than the go cart I built when I was your age."
"Go cart?" asked George. "What did you use for a motor?"
"!25cc Honda motorcycle," said Uncle Dar. "We got it off an old bike we found in an abandoned house that was going to be torn down."
"Better than what we had," said George. "We used an old 50cc chain saw motor. Didn't get much power off it but it did run for awhile."
"Cops confiscated ours," said Uncle Dar. "One of my friends took it out on the highway and passed a cop car doing about seventy-five. When they caught him he got taken to the precinct and his father had to come get him. They kept the go cart though. I bet one of them took it home."
"Seventy-five, huh?" George said. "Not bad for a home built cart."
"That's what the cops said," Uncle Dar said. "That was back before radar guns but I wouldn't be surprised. We mounted the motor and the tranny on the cart and used the chain on an old bicycle sprocket. It worked and it was fast. I just don't know how fast. Kinda hard to set up a working speedometer on it."
Laughing at Uncle Dar's story, I started pushing the bike around to the shed where the other bikes were. Ellen and Nancy helped me and we got it put away.
We went back and joined the others. I told them, "I don't care what else I get. I've already got the best presents I've ever had. Thank you all."
We went back inside, and I started fixing something to eat. Erica said, "Already done, sis. We fixed a nice breakfast and we were waiting for you to get up."
What did you fix?" I asked.
"French Toast," she said.
I said, "Goody. I love French toast with strawberries and whipped cream," I said. Uncle Dar shuddered at that.
"I hate strawberries" he said.
"Well too bad cuz I like em," I said.
"Blah," he said. "I'll stick with blueberries."
Erica took a big pan of French toast out of the oven and put it on the counter while Janny got a bowl of fresh strawberries out of the fridge.
Uncle Dar looked at the bowl and shuddered.
Janny said, "Well you don't have to eat them."
She reached back in and took out a bowl of blueberries and said, "How does this look?"
Uncle Dar looked at them and said, "If you ever get tired of the bum you're married to, I'll take you in."
She said, "If I ever get tired of him I'll boot him out and maybe you with him, old man."
Uncle Dar and George both laughed.
"Remind me never to get her mad at me," Uncle Dar said to George. "I don't think I'd survive it."
"You remember on your own," said George. "I'm too busy not making her mad right now, myself. She didn't want me to get the bike and I had to remind her of what her mother said and my promise to Sally. I don't think I'm safe yet."
"Better believe it," said Janny. "The only reason I let you at all is because you did promise her and mother said when. Otherwise you'd have been sleeping with it instead of with me."
"Now that might be something to see," said Uncle Dar. "A beat up has been Marine cuddled up to a kids dirt bike in an old shed. I'd love to get pictures of that."
We all laughed at that thought and George said, "I don't think you have enough money to pay me for that kind of picture."
"What if I said please?" asked Uncle Dar.
"No," said George. "Not a chance. Not even if you said pretty please."
"Pretty please with sugar and whipped cream on top?" asked Uncle Dar.
George said, "No. Hard enough with Janny being mad at me. Isn't a chance of me doing that with you and that fancy computer you have. I can just see you posting them pictures on the net."
"I wouldn't do that to you," said Uncle Dar. "Posters and such, maybe. But not on the net. You can sell posters."
George asked, "So is that how you made all that money you have stashed around?"
"No," said Uncle Dar. "Blackmail. Works much better."
We all laughed again.
After we finished breakfast, I got chased out of the kitchen and told to go do something useful, like watch T.V.
Later on as my friends started to arrive, I went out back again. It was a nice day, not to hot but the sun was out.
The party went real well. I didn't even have one of my dizzy spells. Megan told me I looked much better, and maybe I should consider coming to practice again. I told her that I had to ask Janny but if she said I could, I'd be at the next one.
Megan said, "I hope so or at least real soon. We've all missed our tumble weed."
"I've missed it and all of you too. I know that Uncle Dar stays home to be with me when Ellen and Nancy go so I don't feel totally left out, but he misses it too. I'll try to come even if I can't join in."
"That would be good too," said Megan. "I need someone to do the towels any way."
I said, "I'd do it just to be there. I really miss the fun. You're all my friends and it gets lonely being stuck here so much. It was easier when Uncle Dar was so weak, but now I can't do much either. Now I know how he felt now, though."
"Some lessons come harder than others," said Megan. "We don't appreciate what we have so much until we loose it. I learned that the hard way when my father died. Then loosing my husband and your mother. It felt like the world had ended. I learned to appreciate what I have now even more than ever before when you almost died too."
"I know what you mean," I said. "I lost mom and dad, then Uncle Sammy. Then when Uncle Dar got sick with the leg, I thought the world was ending it hurt so much. Now I know what really matters and you are part of it too. I don't want to loose you and my other friends."
Megan smiled at me and said, "Thank you for that. You really are special, ya know?"
I hugged her and said, "You are too."
She walked over to the small group of adults there after that. I watched her walk away and thought, "She really is a wonderful person."
I wondered around after that, and talked to my friends. I was so happy that day and wanted them to know that they were the reason.
We had lots of food from the BBQ and stuff that others had brought. Even a cake, and it was huge. Only fourteen candles with a big one on top, but they were so far apart that I asked Shelly, the other birthday girl, for help.
She agreed and we blew them out. Then they all re lit. I'd never seen candles do that before so Shelly and I tried to blow them out again. And they re lit again.
That's when I heard Ellen and Nancy chuckling with Uncle Dar.
I turned around and asked, "What did you do to the candles?"
Ellen said, "Nothing. She pointed at Uncle Dar and said, "He bought them."
I glared at him and said, "Mister, you are really going to get it now. I won't say how or when, but you are really going to get it."
"Really?" He asked. "Can I have it on a plate with some of that ice cream?"
Every body was laughing by that time, including me as it really was kind of funny. I just wondered how we were supposed to put them things out.
George solved that by just wetting his fingers and pinching them one at a time. Then he pulled them out of the cake and handed me a knife.
I grabbed Shelly's hand and made her help me slice the cake up since this party was for her too.
When we were done, every body clapped and started singing "Happy Birthday" to us. While they sang, I hugged Shelly and said, "Friends forever."
She said it too and we smiled at each other as the song finished.
After that, she and I were busy for quite awhile opening gifts. I got a lot of jewelry that year, and it wasn't cheap either. I thanked each person as I opened the package then put it on the table George had brought over for me.
Shelly got mostly the same kind of gifts that I did, although they were somewhat different. The best, though, was the matching jewelry boxes. I looked at them and then at Erica. She was smiling at me so I started putting all those ear rings and necklaces into it. Shelly did the same with her goodies.