A group of boys rushed us as we left the airport. Chris’s eyes grew wide as the boys circled him. They started to shake his hand, all talking at once. Maria had done her job. I knew she’d have all of the boys organize a welcome for Chris. I loaded our luggage in the boot of the limo. The boys climbed in; I choose to sit upfront with the driver. We had to roll up the window. The noise from the back was loud.
The drive home was a little over an hour. As soon as we pulled in front of the house, the boys took Chris, and they were gone. I just smiled. He was going to fit right in. I tipped the driver. The limo service was on a monthly contract. Judy, my secretary, had been telling me I should buy a limo and hire a driver full time. I probably should heed her advice.
Maria met me at the door. “I’m always surprised at how these boys adopt the new boys so quickly. I guess they know the type of boys you bring home. You saved another one.”
“I wished I could save more. Maria, I‘d like a cup of coffee. Is there any dinner left?”
“There was, but I’m not sure now. The boys hit the kitchen, but I’ll see what I can fix for you, might be a sandwich. Is that okay?”
“That would be perfect.” I took my luggage to my room, dropping off Chris’s luggage in what would be his room. Then I headed toward the kitchen.
As I walked into the kitchen, the boys were sitting around the breakfast table, talking, and eating. I looked at Chris. He was laughing. They all were laughing. I sat down at the breakfast bar. Maria poured me a cup of coffee, sat a plate in front of me with a large sandwich on it. Maria makes her own bread. One slice is equal to two slices of store-bought bread. I was eating when I noticed it got very quiet. Looking around, I laughed; the boys just realized I was sitting there and eating.
“Dad, we’re sorry for not welcoming you home. We were excited about our new brother coming home, we forgot about you. You aren’t mad, are you?”
“No, I’m not mad. I’m glad that you made Chris feel welcome. I had told Chris about all of you. I knew you would welcome him home.”
One by one, the boys came and hugged me. I kissed them on their head while saying I love you. The last was Chris. He looked at me. I saw tears in his eyes. Pulling him into a hug, “Don’t cry, you’re home and safe.”
“I’m sorry for not believing you. I almost decided not to come. It would have been a big mistake. You were right. Thank you…..Dad.”
I grabbed him and hugged him, “Just remember you are and always will be, my son.”
I don’t remember who, but one of them yelled ‘group hug.’
I looked at Maria, and she was laughing. I don’t think I could have accomplished my goal of saving these young boys without her help. She was the loving grandmother in my household. Maria never had any children. Her husband had been killed in one of the many conflicts our country was involved in over the past 20 odd years. She was lonely when she applied to my advertisement for a housekeeper. Reminding me of my mother, I hired her on the spot and never regretted my decision.
I finished my sandwich and had a second cup of coffee. “Thanks, Maria, I think I’ll go to bed. Chris, one of the boys, will show you to your room.”
The boys came and gave me a good night hug. “Dad, I think I’ll go to bed as well, at least take a nap.” Chris had slept on the plane. I think he wanted me to show him his room, and maybe there was something on his mind.
With my arm around his shoulder, I led him to the bedrooms on the second floor.
Opening the door to his bedroom, “Chris, this is your bedroom. I put your suitcase on your bed. You’ll have to unpack it. There are pajamas in one of the dresser drawers along with some clothes that might fit you. My room is at the end of the hall if you need anything. Sleep well.” I left and headed toward my bedroom.