TITLE: For the Love of Jack
By Betty Castleberry
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It was early. Very early. Rebecca would have slept much longer if her father hadn’t gotten up just before five. He sat at the table, dressed in only his pajama pants, and a tie.
“Where is Minnie?” He had asked several times. Rebecca had long ago given up trying to explain that her mother had passed away six years ago. It didn’t seem to matter anyway. He still asked where she was every day.
The tea kettle sang out loudly, startling the old man. “Incoming!” he shouted, grabbing at the spoon in front of him.
“It’s okay, Daddy. It’s the tea kettle. I’ll fix you some pancakes, okay?”
He seemed a bit calmer, and began to fiddle with his tie.
Rebecca’s husband came into the kitchen, and took his place at the head of the table. “Well, good morning, Jack.” He smiled at the elderly man sitting next to him.
“Where is Minnie?” was his only response.
Breakfast was over quickly, and Rebecca began cleaning up the dishes. She stole glimpses of Michael, her husband, interacting with her father. He was good with him, and very patient, really more patient than she was at times. Of course he didn’t spend the entire day with him most days, either.
Often, Jack decided he was going “downtown”. Rebecca had to cajole him into staying in the house. Nothing frightened her more than imagining him wandering the neighborhood, lost, trying to find his way “downtown”.
Caring for her father was a big job, but it wasn’t one she really minded. He had been there for her when she was little, and now, she was determined to be there for him when he needed her. She prayed diligently for more understanding and the emotional strength to care for her father. In the end, she knew God was in control and would never give her something she couldn’t handle.
Michael kissed her good bye and left for work. Rebecca settled herself at the table next to Jack. His brown eyes were soft, but vacant. Surely the strong, kind man who raised her was still behind those eyes. “Daddy, do you want more pancakes?”
“I’ll wait for Minnie,” he said. Rebecca felt tears forming in her eyes. One spilled onto the place mat in front of her. Her father looked at her curiously. “Do you want more pancakes?” he asked.
“No Daddy, I’m fine.”
He dumped the entire sugar bowl onto his plate. “Minnie makes the best pancakes.”
Rebecca kissed her father's whiskery cheek, and steadied her voice before replying, “I know she does, Daddy. I know she does."
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