Jason Lawrence Bell
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01-07-19 The Apron


Sam was a strapping man in his early 40s. Throughout his life he welcomed playing all the parts that life had to offer him. He was the baby, then the boy, then the young man and now he is a mid-aged man. But thru those years he was a son, a brother, a boyfriend, a husband and a father. And he loved the many roles and it gave him the feeling of having lived a complete life and used it to the fullest. But there were other roles not selected and not welcome that were forced on Sam.

He became a widower when his wife died suddenly in her early 30s. Then he became a single parent and tried his best filling the role of mother. This was his hardest role. Somehow, he must replace the mom for their young kids. He felt completely inadequate and unprepared, for his wife was a natural mother. And being a mother was her favorite role in her short life. She seemed to sense what made a good mom and loved the challenges and rewards that were part of it. But none of this was natural to Sam.

Shortly after his wife’s passing, he noticed the children in their deep sorrow were clinging to him and looked to him for comfort. But he was still overwhelmed in his own sorrow and the blur of his pain left him feeling helpless and incapable. When he looked at his children, he could see them broken with loss, but he sat empty with answers and strength. His mind was confused. He could not decide which shirt to wear much less how to meet the needs of the children. He walked into the kitchen. Thinking the kids must be hungry, he saw his wife’s apron on the hook and knew she would always put on the apron before preparing food.

He tied the apron on. Somehow, he felt a warm comfort. He became focused on the task of food. The kids had different preferences in food and that became clear in his mind. Once completed he took the meal to each of the kids. At first, they said they weren’t hungry, but once they saw the food just as they liked it, they accepted the meal and devoured it. It was comfort food to them and the children relaxed and fell asleep in Sam’s arms.

Sam could see he did something right that helped. And in his mind he began finding answers to how he could lead the kids thru this new life. He carried the kids to bed and walked to the kitchen and put the apron back on the hook. Immediately his mind became blinded by sorrow and confusion. His mind was no longer clear on helping the kids. He stood frozen in the kitchen. Somehow instinctively he reached for the apron. Once it was tied on again, he relaxed and became focused. He didn’t understand how, but he decided he did not care to know. He just felt better and more capable with the apron on. He wore the apron whenever he was home. He even slept in it.

On his first day back at work, he, of course, didn’t have the apron and he was miserable and his boss worried that he wasn’t ready to return. After work he hurried home to the relief of the apron. Once he was relaxed again, he knew that he must wear the apron at work. So, every day he wore the apron under his clothing and he successfully handled his work demands.

With time the children slipped back into their young worlds of school and friends. And through Sam’s continuous love and understand with the help of the apron, the children thrived. Sam still wore the apron every day, and would not consider giving it up.

One day Sam was sorting thru the old photo albums, and found a stack of photos of his wife. He sadly reviewed them, until one photo stopped him. It was a photo of his wife standing at their open front door waving to the photographer. He couldn’t decide if she was waving hello or goodbye. But he could clearly see she was wearing the apron. The apron he was still wearing. He slipped his hand into the apron pocket and felt a piece of paper.

On the paper was a short “to do” list in his wives hand writing. There were three items. The first item said “love your children” and it had a check mark next to it as if to say item completed. The second said “love your husband” also had a check mark. The third item did not have a check mark. It said “return apron”.

Sam knew what he had to do. As he fought inside all efforts to resist, he walked to the kitchen and returned the apron to the hook. To his surprise his mind remained clear and focused, and the overwhelming sorrow was gone. He stood back and admired the fateful apron, and decided that the hook was the perfect place where the apron could be enshrined for him to see whenever he needed and wanted. Peace.***