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Gratitude — A Child Safe In His Mother’s Love.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

A quick google search rendered this common definition for gratitude:

grat·i·tude
/ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
noun: gratitude
1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
2. “she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support”
3. synonyms: gratefulness, thankfulness

Whether Merriam-Websters, Dictionary.com, or Cambridge, every definition was similar. I felt like something was missing. For definitions that I found, gratitude is always a reaction to a kindness from another person. I think it is more than that. I will save my expanded definition for another day.

Gratitude as a response seems to come naturally to a small child. Without years of pain coupled with a fettered mind, adults become too preoccupied and often overlook opportunities in which to be grateful and to show gratitude.

They are so plagued by the negatives that many miss the positives.

Young children are not so. They may not be able to label gratitude but they can feel it.

Gratitude — A Child Safe In His Mother’s Love.

The dark gray light of a December afternoon crept through the curtains. In the background, Ricky’s unstoppable crying.

“Daddy! Wake up! Ricky won’t stop crying.” Billy Danville pleaded and shook his father vigorously. The drunken stupor had a grip on his dad. Lying passed out on the couch, still wearing his Air Force fatigues, William Danville Sr. was lost in a state of unconsciousness.

William pulled the pint of Imperial Whiskey out of the paper bag, broke the seal then made short work of it. To the neglect of his two preschool boys, William was soon too inebriated to care for his two boys. Wiliam Jr. was four and Richard was one and a half.

The Whiskey numbed William’s emotional pain, but only temporarily. Frequently, he returned to the bottle for consolation.

A four-year-old did not understand the complexity of adult emotions and addictions. He saw his hero; his dad transformed from a strong man to a staggering drunkard.

Billy’s world of bright colors quickly turned to grayscale.

Mom was working. It seemed like Billy’s dad was unconscious forever. All Billy could think, “When is mommy coming home?”

Time to most four-year-olds is immeasurable. The hands on the clock had no meaning.

Ricky had cried and cried until the well ran dry. Billy did what he thought his mother would do. He changed his brother’s cloth diaper. Trying to get a one and a half-year-old to be still for a diaper change is a challenge for an adult let alone a four-year-old.

The angels watched over Billy for the diaper pins pierced neither a buttock, thigh or a finger. Though when Ricky stood up the clean diaper slid off his butt, down his legs to the floor.

Billy set a baby bottle on the floor and poured milk into the bottle and all over the floor. He managed to get the nipple screwed on and gave his little brother the bottle. The bottle pacified Ricky for the moment.

Anxiously, Billy stared back and forth between his unresponsive father and the door. Fear, anxiety, and the sense of abandonment had wrapped their icy tentacles around the four-year-old squeezing the innocence out of him. A four-year-old should not bear such adult responsibilities.

Watching his father’s chest rising and falling, again Billy thought, “Where is my mommy? When is she coming home?”

Like a dog waiting for the return of its owner, Billy stood in the kitchen surrounded by the dull grayness, staring, waiting, anticipating the opening front door. He watched for that one person who could calm his worries and restore stability to his world.

When Billy’s mother, Rebecca Danville walked through the door a load fell off of Billy’s heart. He knew everything was going to be okay.

Leaving dad to sleep off his drunk, Rebecca and grandma took Billy and Ricky shopping. The reds, greens, whites, blues of Christmas decorations flashing and lighting up people’s homes and in business’ windows, brought color back to Billy’s soul.

Stepping up to the truck, immediately, the scent of blue spruce, Billy’s inner lights turned back on, excitedly he thought, “We are getting a Christmas tree!”

Going up the steps into the truck, Rebecca grabbed Billy’s hand. Smiling, Billy looked up at his mom. Gratitude overflowed his heart. He was safe in the hands of his mother’s love.

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Don Feazelle

Don Feazelle

Writer, philosopher, humorist, observer of life, an all-around lovable guy.

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