Florence paused at the door, “what the hell did you just say?” Florence couldn’t believe it. After all this time and effort, she was a failure. Teenagers–can’t live with them, can’t live without them!
Flo was a single mom and devoted to her two children, Jesse, 15, and Joe, thirteen. Her entire life revolved around them. It was obvious to her, not just this morning, something was missing. Of course it was Harry, she thought sadly. Since Harry had ended up missing in action in Vietnam, she had tried her best. The boys, especially at this age, needed their dad.
They used to be the perfect family, doing everything together, able to pose for the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post”. That’s how everything had seemed at the time, perfect. Then Harry was called to serve in the Army. They’ve been alone since finding out he was missing. Hope for ever seeing their dad again dwindled as time went on. The boys took their disappointment and anger out on their mother in different ways. She tried to explain it was not anyone’s fault, they could be strong together, but as they grew into teens, they proved to be more resistant.
This morning Florence was answered to, “be careful!” she said every morning, with a grumbled, “bug off”. Florence shut the door and settled into the kitchen table to finish her coffee. Reluctantly, she got up, took a shower and readied herself for her volunteer job at the VA hospital. It was not the cheery place it should be at this time of year, but she and a couple of other Army wives were determined to decorate as much as possible.
As she opened the door for the driveway to leave, she spotted a taxi on the street. She started crying immediately as she saw her husband step out of the cab. He was just as she remembered him on the day he left, except he had a little grey in his black hair and was leaning on crutches.
“The best Christmas present ever!” Florence ran down the driveway to embrace her husband.