Saturday, I woke around 6:45. I had Lincoln using me as the bed, as his head was on my chest, and his body covered my right side. I just looked at him, he was such a beautiful kid. I loved him more and more each day. His brownish blonde hair was getting longer as some started to cover his eyes, and I noted that the boys could use haircuts. I pushed his hair to the side and kissed his forehead. It was early, and I didn’t want to wake him, so I carefully removed myself from underneath Lincoln.
I headed for the bathroom and then went to check on all the other boys. Everyone seemed okay, so I turned my direction towards the kitchen as I was craving my morning coffee. No one was up yet which allowed me to have some free time. Since we were going to the hockey game tonight, I went through stats of both teams. It should be a good match, both Pittsburgh and Columbus are jockeying for the lead in the division for the number 1 spot. February is the time when hockey starts to heat up because playoffs are closing in as teams are making the final run to try and get in. This wasn’t the case for Pittsburgh and Columbus, as both have almost secured a spot in the playoffs unless something drastic happens. However, both still need and want to finish first because the higher you finish in the standings, determines home ice advantage in the playoffs. It should be a high energy game, and I am so pumped for it.
I went to turn the TV on when I heard a person’s footsteps coming down the steps, it was Clayton, and he was crying.
“Hey what’s the matter?” I said as he reached me.
“I had a bad dream, I was scared and-and you weren’t in your room, so I got scareder,” Clayton replied miss speaking.
“Bad dreams are the worst… Come up here,” I said and picked him up to place on my lap. “Wanna tell me what the dream was about?”
“I was being chased by angry monkeys, and they wouldn’t stop looking for me.”
“Monkeys?” I tried not to laugh.
“Yeah monkeys, I couldn’t get away, and one even bit me on my arm.”
“Where on your arm?”
“Right here,” Clayton pointed to his left forearm.
“Well let’s take a look at it,” I said. I fake studied the arm for a few seconds and kissed the spot where Clayton said he was bitten. “Well Clay, now no monkeys are going to be biting you anymore. I just took them away with that kiss.”
“Would I lie?” I said.
“Exactly, come on let’s watch some TV and see if you can get some more sleep,” I said as I wrapped him in a hug.
“Okay,” Clayton replied as we laid down on the couch together. I laid on my side giving him plenty of room, but apparently, he wanted to be as close to me as possible. I didn’t mind, I loved the closeness feeling, and getting to cuddle with my little angel was something I would never pass up. He used my arm as a pillow, and I wrapped my arm around his chest. I kissed him on the back of his head, and we put ESPN to watch highlights from the sports world.
“Love you, Garret,” Clayton said.
“Love you too buddy,” I replied which put a smile on his face. He fell asleep rather quickly, and Rita made her way up from the basement soon after. It was around 7:10 and she started to prep breakfast for everyone.
My mom and Lucas came down soon after, and I made the “shh” noise to warn them not to be loud in the family room. My mom went to help Rita and Lucas grabbed a cup of coffee and came back to sit In the family room. He was joined by his middle son Ashton who was barely awake but jumped on his lap and watched highlights with us.
More and more kids started to make their way downstairs. It was 7:30 and I woke Clayton up and told him to go brush his teeth. Rita just started putting food on the table, so it was perfect timing, the only ones still asleep where the older boys. I guess that’s what they get for staying up late and playing video games.
I went into my room and woke Lincoln up first. Once he was awake, he was good to go for the day and usually didn’t fall back asleep. I woke him up and gave him a hug, then he headed towards the bathroom. I walked into Lincoln’s room where Christian and LJ were sleeping.
“Hey, boys, time to get up. Rita made some French toast. Everyone is up beside you two. Let’s get a move on,” I said.
“Huh, what time is it?” Asked Christian.
“7:30, time to get up.”
Christian sat up quickly and looked worrisome, “where’s Lincoln?”
“My room, well hopefully downstairs now.”
“Oh I’m gonna head down there,” replied Christian.
“Alright,” I said to him and turned my attention to LJ. “Hey bud, breakfast is ready.” I sat down and started scratching my nephews head. “Come on.”
LJ is always a bear to wake up. To put it in the simplest of terms, he wasn’t a morning person.
“Can you carry me down?” Quietly asked LJ.
“Alright let’s go spider monkey, hop on my back.”
LJ got up from the bed, and I turned so he could jump on. We were down in the kitchen in no time. Everyone was finished eating beside the older boys and myself. I sat down, and Christian started the conversation, “When does my mom get here?”
“Umm… party starts at 12, so I would say around that time.”
“You guys excited for the hockey game?” I asked.
“Yeah! Pittsburgh is gonna crush the Blue Jackets,” commented LJ.
“No they aren’t,” said Jacob walking into the kitchen from the family room.
“We have the best player in the world.” Said LJ.
“So,” replied Jacob as he came to sit on my lap.
“So, he is gonna score like 10 goals on your team.”
“No he is not,” said Jacob.
“You guys are too funny,” I chuckled. We finished eating our breakfast, and we had about 4 hours before the party started. My parents ran out to grab a few things, and most of the kids went upstairs to go play video games. Lucas and Katherine were upstairs watching over everything, so it gave me some time to go get some exercise in the basement. Ryker joined me, and we followed the same routine we did the first time we worked out together. Ryker was still mastering the technique, I figured it was more critical for him to get the technique down and not worry about building muscle. We finished our workout which was around 45 minutes and then sat on the bench again to talk before heading upstairs.
“Good job today,” I started.
“You’re welcome bud, so do you have any interest in sports or anything?”
“Umm, I don’t know. I never thought of it.”
“Well I could see you playing soccer, you already have the soccer player hair cut.”
“Soccer would be fun, I like basketball too.”
“Yeah? We can look into those sports if you want to play.”
“Really?” Asked Ryker.
“Yes really,” I laughed as I tussled his hair.
“Oh my gosh, that would be so cool. I love you, Garret.”
“Love you too Ryker.” I said, “any other sports you would like to play?”
“Hockey would be cool, but I never been ice skating.”
“You have never been ice skating? We are gonna have to fix that soon.”
“I don’t think any of us have been.”
“Well, we can add that to our bucket list.”
“What’s a bucket list?” Asked Ryker.
“Umm, just a list of things you want to do or accomplish.”
“Yeah, so how have you liked meeting everyone?” I asked.
“Umm it’s good, I like everyone a lot. Sorta wish it was just us though, it’s a lot of work entertaining everyone.”
I laughed at his response, “yeah I know what you mean, you and your brothers are doing an amazing job though. I’m proud of you buddy.”
“No problem,” I said as I gave him a hug. “Whew, we need showers.”
“Yeah, can I shower with you?” Asked Ryker.
“Umm, you have your own shower though.”
“Yeah but Jacob and Ashton are in my room playing, and I don’t want to shower while they are in there, so can I shower with you please?”
“Uhh, yeah sure let’s go.”
“Yes,” he said, and we went upstairs to my room. I went to turn the shower on and began to undress Ryker. I pulled his shirt over his sweaty head and put my finger in the waistbands of his underwear and shorts. In one swift motion, I pulled them down, and he stepped out of his clothes. I got undressed, and we stepped into the shower. My shower was massive, it was all tile from the floor to the ceiling, and I had 3 shower-heads. One of the left wall, another on the right wall, and one over the top which acted like a rainfall shower. I also had a tile bench along the back wall of my shower without any shower heads. I don’t know why I had the seat installed, I never used it until today while showering with Ryker. We let the warm water hit our bodies, and we were chatting about life.
“Ready for school to start back up on Monday?” I asked.
“No, not really. I don’t do good in school.”
“Yeah? Why not?”
“I don’t know, my mom and dad never helped me… I don’t think my teacher liked me either… I don’t know… I guess I’m stupid.”
“What? I don’t ever want to hear that again, you hear me, buddy? You are not stupid Ryker, and don’t let anyone convince you that you are.”
We began to wash ourselves. Ryker cleaned the front of him, but he asked me to clean his backside. I started at his shoulders and worked my way down his legs, skipping his butt. I cleaned both of his feet and put my hands on the inside of his legs. I worked my way back up and then finally went over his cute butt really quickly. Ryker turned around to rinse the soap off, and he was sporting a full-on erection. He was at the age where he didn’t know what it meant and didn’t think anything of it, so we were still chatting about school.
“If you do struggle… then come to me, and we will work nonstop together until you improve, but I don’t think you’re going to struggle,” I said.
“I don’t know,” he said as he lowered his head.
“Hey,” I said as I bent down to be face to face with him. “You’re gonna do great. I believe in you.”
“Thanks, Garret,” Ryker said as he hugged me as his erection poked me in the stomach.
“Alright buddy, my turn to get washed. Take a seat on the bench.” I said while standing up and went under the water.
“Nothing, this seat is really cold.”
I laughed so hard, “sorry didn’t even think about that. Let’s move this shower head to hit you with water.”
“Yes please,” Ryker returned.
I turned the shower head on him to let the warm water hit his body and then I began washing myself.
“Why do you have this seat thingy in here?” He asked.
“Umm that’s a good question,” I said as the water ran over my head. “I honestly couldn’t tell you. It’s to sit, but I’ve never sat on it. You’re the first one.”
“Hmm… I sorta like it, but it did make my booty cold.”
“You’re booty?” I laughed.
“Yeah my booty,” he giggled.
“Yeah, well it’ll be your seat from here on out since you claimed it with your booty.”
“Cool,” Ryker said. I finished showering, and we stepped out of the shower. I grabbed a towel to dry myself and then I helped Ryker get dry. He was still sporting an erection when I dried his penis which actually made it easier to wipe. I wrapped the towel around him and sent him to go put underwear on. I put his and my dirty laundry in my hamper and got dressed. I thought and realized that none of the boys had had showers since Christian arrived, so it would be a good idea to have them all get clean.
I went into Clayton’s room, and Katherine was with Jackson and Clayton. I mentioned the idea of a bath, and Katherine said she would bathe the two youngest. I agreed and went to Ryker’s room. Ryker had just exited his bathroom with his underwear on, and I told Jacob and Ashton it was time for a bath or shower. I gave them a few minutes to decide and went to Lincoln’s room.
“Boys time for a shower, you guys haven’t had one since Christian arrived,” I said.
“Okay,” the three said.
“Which bathrooms are open?” Asked Christian.
“Lincoln’s and mine.”
“Who wants to go first?” Asked Christian.
“Why don’t we just shower together in Garret’s bathroom, his shower is huge,” said Lincoln.
“You guys can do that but, don’t feel forced into that idea,” I said.
“Umm… I don’t know,” commented Christian.
“I don’t care,” said LJ.
“Come on Christian, we can all shower, and it will be quick,” pressured Lincoln. I could tell Christian was uncomfortable and was looking for answers, so I stepped in.
“Lincoln and LJ, you guys go use my bathroom. We will give Christian your bathroom because he is a bit older.”
“Okay,” said Lincoln. “Let’s go LJ.”
“Okay,” agreed LJ and the two left for my room. I walked into Lincoln’s bathroom to place a towel on the counter for Christian. I exited the bathroom and saw Christian sitting on the bed in his underwear with his pants and shirt crumbled up on his lap and saw him looking down.
“What’s up kiddo?”
“Yeah…. something is wrong.”
“Umm… will they still like me?”
“Why wouldn’t they?”
“because I didn’t make up my mind about showering, then they went off without me.”
“What? Seriously? Of course, they will,” I said. “Just cause you didn’t want to shower with them, won’t make the boys dislike you. You’re being silly.”
“I know… I wanted to shower with them, but-but I was afraid I would… uhh never mind.”
“Yeah,” Christian said.
“Alright,” I said turning to head out of the room but realized what he might have been fearful of. “Christian?”
“Are you afraid of popping a boner in the shower with them or with you being ya know, gay?” I asked as I walked back over.
“Yeah… I already have one, see?” Christian said removing his clothes from his lap. He was forming around a 4.5-inch tent in his underwear. “I started to get one when Lincoln asked me to shower. I don’t want them to think I’m weird, and if they find out I’m gay, they won’t like me.”
“You got excited, and that’s okay buddy. I will say that they won’t care if you have an erection. You might get a few comments about the size cause I can see you’re bigger than them, but they won’t make fun of you. Hell, they probably both will have one. As for the gay comment, I think you’re overlooking the situation. They are 11 and 10, they barely know what that means, and I promise, they won’t care. They might even surprise you with how accepting they are,” I lied to Christian about Lincoln’s knowledge on homosexuality to reassure Christian even though Lincoln has told me, that he might be gay. It wasn’t my place to share either one of their secrets to people, mainly lincoln’s, because it could be a phase he is going through.
“Yeah I don’t know, I guess I’m overthinking” Christian said.
“It is okay buddy. Do you want to shower with them or in Lincoln’s room?”
“I think I am going to shower in here though, it’s probably too late,” Christian said standing up.
“Alright, sounds good. Next time, don’t overthink things,” I said as I wrapped my arm around him for a half hug.
“I won’t next time,” chuckled Christian as he stood up from my hug and dropped his underwear, revealing his boyhood.
“What are you doing?” I asked
“Not overthinking things, plus you already saw a photo, so I guess it doesn’t matter.”
“Well, I guess I was right… It is a bit small,” I joked.
“Wait really?” Christian said as he grabbed it with one hand.
“No I was joking, your penis is a perfectly fine looking circumcised penis. Perfect size for a boy just entering puberty.” I said
“If you say really one more time, I’m gonna throw you out that window.”
“That’s it,” I said and got up to chase him to the bathroom. he reached the door first and locked it.
“Yeah… You stay in there.”
“Love you uncle G,” commented Christian.
“Love you too, kiddo. Get in that shower.” I said and walked back to Ryker’s room thinking I have seen way too many naked boys in the past 2 weeks. I entered Ryker’s room and asked.
“Alright you two, what is the decision?”
“Umm, we are gonna shower,” said Jacob. “I’m going first and then, Ashton.”
“Alright buddy, go get started, and I’ll be in to help after I check on Lincoln.”
“Okay,” he said as he started stripping his clothes on the way to the bathroom.
I walked into my room and heard laughter coming from the shower.
“Everything okay in there?” I asked.
“Yeah!” Came a voice, ” can you bring us towels though?”
“Towels aren’t in there?”
“Yeah, but they are soaked.”
“Okay,” I said and walked to grab two towels from the sink cabinet. I would normally walk in without warning if it were Lincoln cause I know he doesn’t care, however since LJ was in there too I asked, “I’m coming in, you guys ready?”
“Yeah,” came from both.
“Alright,” I said and walked in to see the two giggling boys mooning me. “Ha, funny,” I said while lightly slapping both of their bottoms and dropped off the two towels. The two were howling with laughter and so was I as I walked out.
I was on my way to Ryker’s room to finish Jacob’s shower and ran into Katherine.
“I finished both boys, and I’m gonna help Ashton with his,” she said.
“Oh awesome, LJ and Lincoln are in my shower,”
“Yeah? Is that a problem?” I asked concerned.
“Oh yeah, it’s fine. Actually, that’s awesome! LJ is just really shy, like really really shy. We’ve been trying to get him to be more comfortable with his body because he has a little extra weight. He normally doesn’t do that stuff,” said Katherine.
“He just has the baby fat still,” I laughed.
“I know, but he is just concerned with his weight and image.”
“Yeah that’s okay, Ryker is constantly concerned with his image.”
“Really? That boy is drop dead gorgeous.”
“Tell me about it, he has already started to work out with me,” I said.
“Oh that’s hilarious, that boy has nothing to worry about.”
“I know,” I laughed. “Was Clayton any trouble?”
“Oh heavens no, he was an angel. I think he is in there with Lucas and Jackson playing some games,” Katherine said.
“Alright, I got to go help Jacob out. I’ll cya on the next round,” I joked.
“I know, who would have thought we’d have this many kids running around here.”
“I love it,” I said.
“I can tell Garret, you’re amazing with these boys.”
“Well thank you, Katherine,” I said. Katherine has always been an older sister figure to me, ever since Lucas and her started dating in 10th grade. I was in 6th grade, and she was always kind to me when she was at my house. During my freshman year of high school, she even saved me from getting my face punched in by a bully senior, so I always felt close to her.
I walked into Ryker’s room and entered the bathroom. Surprisingly, Ryker was in the bathroom sitting on the toilet talking to Jacob. I recently started realizing that these two boys have a strong and healthy relationship, and for being so close in age I never saw them fight much.
“What are you boys talking about?” I asked as I closed the door.
“I was telling Jacob about the sports you told me about earlier,” Ryker said.
“Oh yeah, Jacob if you’re interested in participating in some sports program, just let me know.”
“Really?” Jacob said poking his head out from the shower curtain. “Could I play hockey even? Or soccer? Or what about baseball? Or umm….”
“Easy bud,” I said. “Any sport you guys want to try. I’m willing to sign you up and support you.”
“I sort of want to play hockey,” said Jacob.
“Well, hockey signups won’t be around until September. Umm, if you guys want to start learning to skate, we can sign up for skating lessons soon.”
“That’d be sooooo cool,” stated Jacob.
“I don’t know if I want to play hockey,” said Ryker.
“What do you want to play?” asked Jacob
“Umm, I would like umm… to try soccer and basketball?”
“Well soccer starts in the spring, so that’s pretty soon! So I’ll look into it,” I said
“Cool,” said Ryker.
“How’s it coming in there, buddy?” I asked Jacob.
“Good, can you wash my back?
“Yeah,” I said and pushed the curtain aside. The same thing I did for Ryker, I did with Jacob, and he rinsed off the soap. Jacob stepped out of the tub as I wrapped the towel around to dry him.
“Your scar thingy is looking better,” commented Ryker.
“You think?” Asked Jacob who moved the towel to the side to look at it.
“Umm,” Ryker sat up on the toilet to get a better look. “Yeah, it doesn’t look as red no more.”
“I agree,” I said.
“Thanks,” Jacob spoke.
“Yeah,” mentioned Ryker as he stood up to give his brother a hug. “Love you, Jake.”
That about melted my heart when I saw that, and I had to check myself for tears.
Ryker released the hug and gave me one next and said, “love you too Garret.”
“Proud of you kiddo, love you too,” I responded and let him go out the door.
I was finishing drying Jacob’s body when he spoke, “Do you really love Ryker?”
“I wouldn’t say it unless I meant it.”
“Oh,” he said. An awkward few seconds passed as I dried his hair. “So umm, you uhh… do you love me?”
I stopped drying his hair and looked him in the eyes, “well what do you think?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, I’ll give you a hint. It starts with a Y and ends in an S if that helps you.”
It took him a few moments to figure it out, but when he did, a huge smile popped on his face, and he jumped into my arms.
“I love you too Garret!”
“I love ya too bud,” I replied as I rubbed his bare back and embraced the hug. I once again almost shed a tear as he was the last boy to tell me that he loved me. It was now 4 out of 4.
“You okay? Why are you crying?” I asked.
“Because, uh… because no one has ever told me they love me besides my brothers, and I’m really uhh… I’m just really happy.”
“Awww buddy,” I said and kissed the side of his head. “I am delighted as well, I love you kid.”
“Thanks,” he cried.
“Come on let’s get dressed,” I said and released his hug and wiped the tears away from his face.
“Okay,” he said and gave me another quick hug.
“Thanks,” I chuckled. We walked out to an empty room as Jacob and I were the only ones in there. I smelled fresh baked cookies, so the rest of the boys had to be in the kitchen area. I was putting Jacob’s clothes on him, and I was curious to know if Jacob had told Ryker about his past with his dad.
“Hey bud, so does Ryker know about your past with your dad?”
“Umm, yeah, is that bad?”
“No no, it’s perfectly normal. He is your brother, I’m glad he knows.”
“Oh! I told him after I talked to Lincoln.”
“What did Ryker say?”
“Nothing much I guess. Just gave me a hug and I told him that’s how I got my scar thingy.”
“Oh okay, well that’s good,” I said as I pulled a shirt over his head.
“I told him not to talk about,” Jacob said.
“Well that’s okay, it’s your personal story, and you have the right to tell or not tell people.”
“Yeah? You ready for some cookies?” I asked as I lightly tickled his stomach then put his underwear and pants on.
“Alright, head downstairs. I’ll clean up your dirty clothes.”
“Thanks,” he said as he ran out the door.
“Don’t run down the steps,” I yelled and went over to pick up his clothes. I walked out of Ryker’s room and saw two naked boys bolt past me and into Lincoln’s bedroom. I went downstairs, and everyone else besides LJ and Lincoln were chowing down on some freshly baked cookies.
We had about 30 minutes until more people started arriving and I was watching TV with my dad, Lucas, and Jacob. Jacob was over cuddling with my father and Lincoln walked down into the family room and sat on my lap.
“Hey bud, what’s going on?” I asked.
“Nothing, just excited to meet more people,” Lincoln said as he leaned his back into me.
I wrapped my arms around his stomach and kissed his cheek, “having fun?”
“Good, so I was talking to Ryker and Jacob about joining a sports league or something. You think you would have any interest?”
“Umm I don’t know,” he said in a dejected tone.
“Doesn’t have to be sports.”
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“Well, what are you interested in?”
“I don’t know,” Lincoln giggled.
“You don’t know?” I said as I tickled his stomach causing him to squirm.
“Stop stop stop, I think I’m gonna pee.”
“Okay okay, we don’t want that,” I laughed.
Lincoln calmed down and was watching TV when he asked, “Uncle Lucas?”
“Can you guys come back next weekend?”
Lucas laughed, “I don’t know about next weekend, but we can set something up for the future. Have you had fun?”
“Yeah! Christian and LJ are like my best friends.”
“Well, I know all of us would love to do something again.”
“What’s that?” Asked Katherine walking into the family room
“Lincoln was wondering when we would be available to have the cousins meet,” Lucas said.
“Only if you start sharing some of those cuddles with me,” joked Katherine as she sat down.
“Okay!” Lincoln said as he hopped off my lap and with to Aunt Katherine.
“Hey?” I jokingly said. “What was that?”
“I wanna see my cousins more,” commented Lincoln as he hopped on to Katherine’s lap and gave her some cuddles.
“Alright,” I said. “I got Jacob right?”
“Nope, I’m comfortable with Grandpa.”
“Alright,” I laughed.
“I’ll cuddle with you little bro,” commented Lucas.
I patted my lap and said, “come on in.”
Lucas got up from his seat and came over to sit on my lap.
“Oh boy, you need to lose some weight bro. You’re heavier than I expected,” I said which caused the whole room to laugh.
“Awww, now that’s the next Christmas card,” said Katherine. “Someone take a picture.”
“Oh no no no,” Lucas and I both said as Lucas jumped off my lap causing everyone to laugh harder. We have always hated pictures, ever since we were little as well. We just didn’t like photos being taken.
The 30 minutes passed in no time and I heard a knock on the door.
“Girls!” I said as I opened the door. “How are two of my favorite nieces?”
“Uncle Garret! Nice to see you again,” said Ashley as she gave me a hug. Ashley was Kelly’s oldest child, and she is a beautiful woman, I may be a bit bias cause she is my niece, but she is lovely with long brown hair and tan skin.
“Hey Kim! Good to see you,” I said as I released my hug from Ashley and gave one to Kim. Kim is the second oldest of Kelly’s kids, and she is a little on the heavier side with brownish red hair. I don’t want to be mean and say that the two sisters were completely different looking, but they were. However, Kim has one of the best personalities and kindest person I may know.
I released my hug and went to shake Kelly’s husband’s hand, Tom. I wasn’t a big fan of Tom as I didn’t think he was around enough to help Kelly with the kids. However, when Tom was around, he was a great father, so I couldn’t dislike him that much.
“Where is Kelly?” I asked.
“She has a last minute phone call she has to take in the car. She’ll be in shortly,” said Ashley.
“Kim, did you get the cake from the car?” Asked Tom
“Oh no, I’ll go get it really quick,” she said and walked back outside.
Ryker must have heard voices because he came down the steps to see what was going on and stopped halfway down the steps.
“Hey Ryker, come on down. I’d like you to meet some more family,” I said.
“Oh…. my….. goodness, you are such a cutie!” Said Ashely.
“Uh… umm thanks,” Ryker said as his face blushed. It was the first time I have seen him flustered. “You’re um… you’re pret, you’re pretty too.” He said, and his face turned to a brighter shade of red.
“Why thank you,” Ashley said. “My name is Ashely, I’m Christian’s big sister. Can I get a hug?”
“Umm yeah sure,” Ryker said and sprinted down the steps.
Ashley just laughed and gave Ryker a huge hug.
“I can see you already brainwashed him with the Hamel hugs,” laughed Ashley. “You are such a cutie,”
“Thanks,” Ryker spoke.
“The double H’s, Hamel Hugs, it happens to everyone,” I joked.
Ryker released the hug and shook Tom’s hand and said, “Hi, I am Ryker, uhh nice to umm meet you.”
“Hi Ryker! My name is Tom, its a pleasure to meet you. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Uhh thanks,” he returned.
Kim walked back in and saw Ryker.
“Hi, my name is Kimberly, but you can call me Kim. I’m Christians older sister,” she said.
“Hi, I’m Ryker.”
“Nice to meet you, Ryker,” she said and shook his hand.
“Hey Ryker, can you go upstairs and tell everyone to come down please?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied and took off upstairs.
“Everyone else is inside the family room, I’m going to wait for Kelly to come in, so I don’t have to walk back and forth. Call me lazy, but Kim, you can put that cake on the kitchen counter, Rita will take care of it,” I said.
That crew went in and greeted everyone in the family room. I trusted Lucas, and my dad to introduce Lincoln and Jacob to everyone. 5 boys came sprinting down the staircase and bolted past me to the family room, and soon Kelly was at the front door.
“Hey sis,” I said.
“Hey, how are you?” She asked as she gave me a hug. “Here, these are yours.”
She handed me a tan folder, “what are these?”
“More documentation papers, I believe the boy’s birth certificates are in there, as well as past school records.”
“Excellent, let me just place this on my desk. Hey did you find anything out about the case?” I said as I walked away and placed the folder on my desk.
“Ohh yeah, forgot to tell you. The police are closing the investigation, the police do have a name of the other guy who died, but they don’t have any correlation with him and the gang.”
“What’s his name?” I asked.
“Gabriel Murphy, he was reported missing a month ago and was last spotted in Oregon until he showed up dead at the Barnard’s house.”
“Hmm, interesting. Gabriel Murphy, you said?” I asked as I typed his name into my phone to save for later.
“Just wondering, by the way, Christian has been phenomenal. The boys love him,” I said.
“Oh awesome, how’d the girls do?”
“I think Ryker has a crush on Ashley or at least thinks she’s charming. He was quite flustered when he saw her.”
“Oh boy, wouldn’t be the first one” laughed Kelly.
“Come on in, Calvin and his crew should be here soon,” I said. We entered a crazy house as a few boys were play wrestling, while others were chatting. I think 3-4 different conversations were going. Ashley was talking to Ryker who was beside her. Tom was chatting with Jacob and my dad. My mother was conversating with LJ, Kim, Jackson, and Clayton. Finally Christian and Ashton were wrestling on the ground, with Christian easily winning. It was a madhouse, but I loved it. I took a step back and into the kitchen to see if Rita needed anything.
“This is crazy,” I said.
“Yes it is, crazier than any previous Christmas. I’m enjoying it so much,” she said.
“So am I… so do you need help with anything?”
“Nope, the steak tartare and beef sliders have another, uh… I would say another 15-20 before ready.”
“You know… it’s not against the law to ask or receive help,” I joked.
“In my kitchen, it is, now go enjoy some family time,” Rita said but as soon as she finished her sentence, I heard another knock on the door, and I walked over to let them in.
“Hi guys!” I said.
“Hey Uncle Garret, where is everyone?” Asked little George. George is a 7 years old boy with an Italian skin tone that he gets from his mother. George has short black hair that is combed to the side and has a skinny body build.
“They are in the family room,” I said as I gave him a quick hug.
“Cool,” he said and took off for the family room.
“Savanna! What’s up?” I asked.
“Hey,” she said as I gave her a hug.
“You’re getting so big now.”
“Thanks,” she replied and followed her brother into the family room. I walked out to the minivan and began to give my assistance.
“Hey Charlotte, hey Giovanna, you guys can go inside. I’ll help Derrick!”
“Oh you don’t half to do that,” replied Charlotte.
“I don’t have to, but I want to. I barely get to see my nephew,” I said.
“You’re a saint,” replied Charlotte who looked exhausted. Charlotte is my brother’s wife, and Giovanna is their oldest child.
“Hey Uncle G,” Giovanna came over and gave me a hug.
“Hey girly girl, how have you been?”
“I’ve been good, just got my license so if we want to take that Ferrari for a spin, let me know.”
“Hmm let me get back to you on that,” I said.
“I’ll be waiting for a response. How are the boys doing?”
“They are doing good, excited to meet everyone.”
“Awesome, can’t wait to meet them,” she replied and walked towards the house.
“Hey brother,” I said to Calvin.
“Hey man, everything going well?”
“Yeah couldn’t be better, what about you guys, Charlotte looks exhausted.”
“Yeah, we had a rough morning with Derrick. He wasn’t cooperating today,” replied Calvin.
I opened the van’s sliding door and stuck my head inside.
“Hey buddy!” I said to Derrick. Derrick was diagnosed with severe CP or better known as Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a disability that affects the brain and causes a loss of body movement, muscle control, and in Derrick’s case a loss of oral skills. He can speak, but his speaking skills are limited to that of a 4-year-old. Derrick also has a minor case of autism which affects how he interacts with people.
“Unkie!” Derrick replied. Unkie was short for uncle.
“How we doing today?” I said tickling his stomach. It put a smile on his face, and that always brightened my day.
“So Garret, if you want to go on the other side of the van and undo the straps that would be great,” commented my brother.
“Yeah no problem,” I said as I walked over to the other side and opened the door to undo the strap. We got Derrick moved to the van door, and we had to let the ramp settle.
As the ramp was deploying, Lincoln came outside looking for me, “Garret?”
“Over here bud,” I said.
“What are you doing?” He asked as he walked over in his bare feet.
“Just helping out, go back inside I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Can I help?” Lincoln said. “Whoa who’s that?”
“That’s your cousin Derrick,” I replied as Derrick was rolled down the ramp.
“Is he okay?” Lincoln whispered.
“Yeah, he has something called Cerebral Palsy. It limits some of his brain functions. Wanna go say hi?”
“Umm yeah sure.” He said as I took his hand and we walked over to the van.
“Derrick, I want you to meet a new family member. This is Lincoln,” I said.
“Uh….hi,” Lincoln said not sure what to do. “Can I give him a hug or something?”
“Absolutely,” said Calvin. “He loves hugs, just be careful he might pull your hair slightly.”
Lincoln slowly went in and wrapped his arms around Derrick.
“Hi, I’m… I’m… I’m de… I’m Derrick.”
“Hi Derrick, nice to meet you,” Lincoln said while releasing his hug.
I put my hand on Lincoln’s shoulder to reassure him he was doing great.
“Want to go inside Derrick?” Calvin asked, to which Derrick nodded his head. Luckily to enter my house, there were no steps as the sidewalk was off of the driveway, led directly to the front door.
We walked back in, and everyone was having a wonderful time. Chatter filled the house. All my boys came over and greeted Derrick, and we had no problems. After everyone was introduced, the kids started splitting up and going in different directions. Christian, LJ, and Lincoln went to Lincoln’s room to play Madden. George, Jacob, Ryker, and Ashton went to Ryker’s bedroom to play Minecraft. Clayton and Jackson were eating up the attention from Savannah, Kimberly, and Giovanna, as they were downstairs in the basement, playing with action figures or something. I was on the main floor setting the table with the help of Ashley.
“So any idea where you are going to college?” I asked.
“I’ve been accepted into a few schools, but I’m not sure. It sorta depends on how much tuition is. If I stay in the state, I think I get some sort of discount because my mom works for the state.”
“Let me guess… Ohio State?”
“Yeah I know, I don’t really want to go there though. I want to experience something different. Did you hear? I got into USC?”
“What? That’s amazing, congratulations. Where else did you get accepted?”
“Ohio State, USC, Miami of Ohio, and Clemson.”
“All great schools, any idea what you want to study?” I asked.
“Umm… I would like to become a veterinarian, I just have a passion for working with animals,” Ashley replied.
“I think that suits you well Ashely, keep me updated on the process of everything,” I said.
“I will uncle Garret, how’s life since becoming a foster father?”
“It’s awesome, I love every second of it.”
“Well I think it suits you as well,” said Ashely.
“Thank you,” I chuckled and went into the kitchen to gather more plates. Ashley and I continued to talk for another 5 minutes, and we both went on to different conversations.
Everyone was happy, Derrick even though he wasn’t with the other kids, was thrilled as my mother and dad gave him plenty of attention. Before we knew it, appetizers were ready, and we were calling down the boys. In my family, we used appetizers as the food to get everyone to come to the table, so as people join, they could eat a few bites, until the main dish. Plus, it kept people around the table and not wandering about.
One by one people started arriving at the table with my parents being the last ones and my dad began speaking, “Before we dig into the main course prepared by Rita, I just want to say a few words and formally welcome our newest members to the family. Umm… first thank you, Rita, for cooking this delicious meal, we know these family gatherings wouldn’t be the same without you, so thank you… Lincoln, Ryker, Jacob, and Clayton, as a family, all of us wanted to officially welcome you. In the short time, we have spent with you boys, we have come to appreciate you all and your amazing personalities. No matter what happens, you always have a family in us, and we are pleased that you guys are in our family. I know the past two weeks have been extraordinarily tough, and we want to send our condolences to you all once again. We are sorry for your losses, but we are so happy you guys are part of our family.”
The boys were starting to get a little emotional, especially Lincoln who was sitting next to me, so I wrapped my arm around his shoulder, and my father continued, “Once you join our family, you never leave, and we are here to celebrate the joining of four new people. One of the ways we celebrate a new family member is by giving them a necklace with a number on it. The number signified when you joined the Hamel family. So for example, Garret has a necklace with the number 5 because he was the fourth child in the family as grandma and I are number 1. Christian is number 13 and Ashton is 16. So you get what I’m saying, once you are a part of this family, you get a necklace with a number. On the back of the numbers is the words engraved ‘Family Forever.’ We want to officially welcome you boys with your own necklace to show, that you have everyone that is around this table, to count on and support you now and forever on. We love you boys, and we can’t wait to know you more. Lincoln,” my father said as he walked over behind him.
“Lincoln, you are number 19,” and put the necklace on him. “Ryker you have the number 20. Jacob, you are number 21, and Clay, you’re number 22.” As he put the necklaces on each boy and walked back to his seat.
“So a toast, please raise your glasses,” my father spoke with a tear. “Lincoln, Ryker, Jacob, and Clayton welcome to the family. I know it hasn’t been easy for you boys, but I hope we can help ease the pain of your loss. We are so grateful to have 4 new additions to our clan, and like I said, once you join our family you never leave. We are here for you now, forever, and always. To family,”
“To family!” Everyone said.
The boys were just at a loss for words with Lincoln even shedding tears of joy. He just kept looking at the necklace in disbelief. Before I knew it, he stood up and started going around giving everyone hugs. Ryker, Jacob, and Clayton followed their older brother’s lead and started giving people a hug and their thanks.
I was shocked by the gesture of my family because I actually forgot about the numbered necklace. It wasn’t something I wore as I kept it in my jewelry box for fear of losing. I mostly used it when I was in college and got homesick, and it would remind me of the support my parents and older siblings had for me. It is a family tradition, and even though the boys were not actually in the family, it meant they could count on anyone for support if they needed it.
With the necklace ceremony out of the way, everyone began digging into the food Rita had made. As always, it was amazing, everything tasted delicious. We finished eating around 1:30, so it gave us time to about 4 and a half hours before we had to leave for the hockey game. The boys helped clean the table and put everything away while Katherine and Charlotte set up a family fun game where we could get to know each other more.
The game is simple, everyone has two pieces of paper, and everyone writes down 2 likes on one paper and 2 dislikes on the other paper. Everyone puts their paper into a bag, and we shuffle them up. You then pass the bag counterclockwise, and you pick a one piece of paper. You have one guess to choose the person, and if you get your guess wrong, you pass the paper clockwise until someone guesses the correct person. Once someone guesses correctly, they save that piece of paper and whoever has the most at the end of the game wins! It is a simple concept where everyone of all ages can play. We formed a circle in the family room, and everyone was handed two pieces of paper each. To make it easier for the little ones, one “like” had to be a color and one “dislike” had to be a fear of something.
On my “likes piece of paper” I wrote down, the color green and I like to travel. On my “dislikes piece of paper” I jotted down my fear of spiders and my dislike of bananas.
Katherine was about to kick the game off but stated, “oh, by the way, if your dislike or like happens to come back to you, just act like it isn’t yours and guess someone else’s name…. so who wants to go first?”
“Me, me, me,” echoed all the boys.
“How about Rita picks first,” I said.
“I like that idea,” Katherine said. “Rita you’re up, pick one piece of paper, and read it out loud to everyone.”
“Okay,” Rita said shuffling her hand in the bag and chose one. “Okay, so this one here is a like paper. It looks like some sloppy handwriting, so I’m gonna say it’s a male. It reads ‘I like red, and, I like movies’…. oh boy this is gonna be difficult,” she said causing everyone to laugh. “I am going to say this piece of paper belongs to LJ.”
“Nope,” he giggled, and Rita passed the paper to her left which was Katherine.
“Hmmm, likes the color red… I’m gonna say this is Ryker.”
“Not me,” he said, and Katherine passed it to Lucas.
“This is an easy one,” he said. “It’s George!”
“How’d you know?” Asked George.
“You gave it away when you laughed when Rita read it first.”
“Oh, darn it,” George said as Rita passed the bag to her right.
“Alright,” spoke my dad. “This one is another like paper. The favorite color is purple, and they like history.”
“Oh you cheated dad, that’s so easy,” joked Calvin.
“I’m just a lucky person, this paper was written by my lovely wife Linda, and speaking oh her, you’re next,” said my father handing the bag to her.
“Okay let’s see here…. this is a dislike. This person has a fear of rats and does not like to fly. Hmm, is this you Katherine?”
“Nope,” she said as my mother passed the paper to my dad.
“Umm… this is, Savannah’s dislike!” Said my father.
“Yeah, how’d you know?” She asked.
“I’m your grandfather, of course I know that stuff,” he said. Even I was surprised by my father knowing that one. My mother passed the bag to the next person.
“Okay,” Tom said. “This is alike. And it says I like the color red, and I like my new family…. well I don’t want to say that narrowed it down to four people, but umm it kind of did. I’m gonna say this is Clayton.”
“Nooo,” he laughed.
“Oh rats, I thought it was for sure you,” he said passing the paper to my mom.
“I know this one, it’s Ryker!” My mom said.
“Yeah, I guess I did give it away a little,” he laughed.
I won’t bore you with this game anymore as the game went for two hours and we all had some excellent laughs. By the end of it, my father was victorious with 6 pieces of paper, and Katherine came in second with 5. We had a three-way tie for third place between Calvin, Ashely, and Lincoln who each guessed 4 correctly. However, I didn’t fare well and only got 1 correct.
We called the game officially over, and Rita started to prep for desserts. She brought out the ice cream and baked apple crisp. If you blinked, you might have missed how quick the desserts left the table as everyone wanted some.
Time flew by, and it was getting near, where people who weren’t coming to the hockey game were leaving. I know none of Calvin’s family was going as they made plans for tomorrow morning, I understood, but I’m not sure if George did. As for Kelly’s side, I think only Tom, Ashley, and Christian were going and I was planning to drop them off on the way back from the game so Kelly and Kim could drive home when they wanted. Of course, all my boys were going, and all of Lucas’s side was going. My pops was going as well, but my mother was staying back because she wanted to chat with the girls and she felt tired. In total we had, 14 people going.
The Mercedes could fit 7 and Lucas’s Expedition could fit 8. However, that would be one cramped car ride, so I’m giving my dad the keys to the truck, and some people can ride with him.
Everyone said there goodbye to Calvin and his family, and I walked them to there car and thanked them for coming out and making this party a special event. I walked back in, and my primary mission was getting my four boys dressed and ready to go.
I went to Lincoln’s room and laid out his jersey and jeans as they were playing some FIFA game. I guess Lincoln wasn’t in this match and came over to me.
“Hey guess what,” he said with a cheeky smile.
“Oh boy… what?”
“I haven’t had a bad flashback in a while, isn’t that good?”
“I’d say so, you doing anything different?” I asked.
“I don’t think so,” Lincoln said.
“Well hopefully it stays like this,” I said as I kissed the top of his head.
“Love you,” Lincoln whispered as he hugged my stomach.
“Love you too,” I said. “Go get dressed.”
“Okay,” Lincoln said stripping down to his underwear.
“Hey boys, make sure you are ready in 30 minutes,” I commented to the two playing video games.
“We,” Christian said turning around to see Lincoln half naked. “Umm… we, uhh yeah… we-we will.”
“Do you have a jersey, Christian?” I asked bringing his attention back to me.
“No, I was just going to wear this hoodie with khaki pants, is that okay?”
“Yeah that’s perfect,” I said and turned to walk out. I think I had an idea of why Lincoln wasn’t having his flashbacks, and it’s because he was so distracted by meeting new people and constant playing with his cousins. He didn’t really have time to reflect on the past, which I guess was a good thing. I walked into Ryker’s room, and we went through his regular routine of picking clothes. This time he knew he was wearing a jersey, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to wear a hoodie underneath or not. He ultimately decided to go with khaki pants, a hoodie, and the jersey on top with the hood sticking out the back. He pulled the look off pretty good, and I was onto the next room. By the time I finished dressing all of my boys, it was time to leave. I quickly threw on a pair of jeans and my jersey.
I headed downstairs, and it was like the battle of the family’s. My side was decked out in Columbus blue jacket gear while Lucas’s side was dressed head to toe in Pittsburgh gear. Then you had the neutrals who weren’t dressed up in anything, as they didn’t have jerseys. Each family jumped in their vehicles while Christian, Tom, and Ashley rode with my father. I backed out of the garage and proceeded down my driveway with Lucas and my father following close behind. The game started at 8, and we were about an hour away, and we left at 6:30. We wanted to get to the arena early because we had box suite tickets, which meant we had food and visits from Columbus’s mascot. Usually, the mascot would come to each suite and greet people to show a kind gesture, and the boys didn’t want to miss that.
On our way there, every kid in my car fell asleep. I could tell this weekend has taken a toll on them, because as soon as we got onto the highway, they were out. The drive seemed to fly by, and we pulled into the parking lot for ticket holders with box suite tickets. I woke each of my boys up, and Clayton was still sleepy, so I decided to carry him into the arena. We made it to our seating area with about 30 minutes before the puck drops, and everyone started digging in on the food. They had nachos, burgers, pizza, basically a buffet of food with unlimited drinks for the kids. To say they were in heaven, would be an understatement. Clayton was still tired, so he came over and sat on my lap and cuddled with me until the game started.
The puck dropped on time, and the game started. It was endless amounts of fun throughout the whole game. Our box suite got a visit from the team mascot, and the boys were even put on the big screen as they danced to some whacky song. They were all having a blast.
Unfortunately, Columbus lost 5-3, and LJ didn’t let us live it down. However, that didn’t bring the mood down as that was a great night to spend with family. We exited the arena around 11:30 and made it to our cars.
I didn’t want to make my father drive back all alone, so I decided I would take Christian, Ashley, and Tom home and my father could take the boys home in the SUV. I kissed each of my boys and told them to get to bed, once they get back. Only Lincoln really put a protest to the idea of not traveling with me, but I assured him everything would be fine. I got in the truck with Kelly’s crew and began the drive to drop them off.
“Hey Garret, thanks for taking us to the game. Man, that was a blast,” Tom said.
“Yeah thanks, Uncle G,” said Christian and Ashely.
“No problem guys, thank you for accepting my boys into the family and making things so easy. I really appreciate that, and Christian. Thank you for helping out this weekend, I know it was a lot, but thank you for helping. You are welcome anytime bud,” I said.
“Thanks for letting me stay. I had a lot of fun, all of them are really cool especially Lincoln,” replied Christian.
“Yeah they are all good kids,” I said. Luckily Kelly’s house was around 15 minutes away from the arena, so it wasn’t a significant detour to take. I dropped them off and headed home as I was exhausted.
I listened to my voicemail on the way home. My phone said I had one from Keith Watson. It stated, “Hey Garret, I just wanted to update you on the process. So the name just got approved, and we are working on building the website for it. We are probably going to have to start campaigning to some of our friends for money. Are donations will be good to start the organization, but we can’t keep funding it ourselves. Give me a call back when you have a chance. I’m available anytime this upcoming week for a call, so give me a ring. Bye, talk soon.”
Well, that was good I thought. The name was approved, but I am not sure if I’m in the position to start campaigning for money. Usually, that calls for me to go out of town for a night or two. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to start leaving the boys at home with someone but thought I would address the issue when I needed to. No sense worrying about it now.
I arrived home at 12:45 and no one was up on the main floor. I made my way upstairs and checked on the boys. With Christian staying back home, it freed up some room. In Lincoln’s room slept Lincoln and LJ. The two were cuddling with each other, and I wanted to take a picture but didn’t want to wake them, so instead, I gave them each a kiss on the forehead. I went to Clayton’s room next, where Clayton and Jackson were sleeping. I finally stepped into Ryker’s bedroom and saw Jacob and Ashton sleeping in his bed. I started to worry but realized Ryker was most likely in my bedroom.
I proceeded to my bedroom and saw my angel boy sleeping in the middle. I stripped down to my underwear and jumped in bed. Ryker must have been exhausted because he was asleep in his jersey and underwear, he usually sleeps in just underwear, so he hit the bed and fell asleep. He was in the middle of the mattress, so it gave me plenty of room, and I fell asleep quickly.