This is Chapter 5 of the Return of the Prodigal Foster Son
Waited 20 years and 16 days for the reunion with my foster son. The last time I saw him, he was walking away because I had taken away his truck and driving privileges. The reasons were as varied as the wrecks but the overriding reason was he simply did not have the judgement and reaction time to drive safely. Reflecting upon our five years together, I felt great remorse that I made it possible for him to get his driver’s license. Fast forward 20 years and I was picking up my son at a truck stop. He proudly holds a CDL and he drives a semi truck for a living. Only God could orchestrate this.
He Still Keeps Me Waiting
He was 48 hours late from the third attempt to reconnect face-to-face for a home visit. The detours, delays and derailments were over. And then he kept me waiting another half hour because he wanted to shower before he got in my car. “Mom, I did not even shower yesterday with all those delays and then I was filthy from the tire blowout. I know better than to sit my dirty butt on those custom leather seats in your car. Plus first impressions are everything and I have too much respect for you to show up nasty, dirty and smelly.” This is how he has gotten by in life, he is a complete charmer. We loaded a ton of dirty laundry and bedding into the back of the Subaru. He remembered how he liked my blackened chicken alfredo, so I had it waiting when we got to the house.
Only Two Days to Move Heaven and Earth
We had much to accomplish and had only two days to move heaven and earth. Over lunch we reviewed my list. “Robert, we need to go to the bank and get you set up with a savings account. As an independent trucker, you must withhold your own taxes. Next we need to go H&R Block to see how to come clean on the fact you have not filed taxes in three years. We will need to go to Social Security on Monday to get a replacement social security card you lost. We need to order a copy of your birth certificate. We need to write a resume so you can be ready to work for a company who does not put your life at risk every day and you will need a social security card and a birth certificate to work for a reputable company. We need to set you up to pay your child support electronically. You need a banking app installed on your phone. It is ridiculous you are calling the bank to get your balance and they charge you $2.50 for each inquiry.”
Let’s Go for a Steak Dinner
“Mom, I want to go out tonight for a wonderful steak dinner and I am buying. All those years you and Paul took me to all those restaurants, it is now my turn to treat you.” This stopped me in my tracks. I had never considered a time when this boy would be treating me to dinner.
Googly Eyed Over Old Photos
He sat next to me at the computer while I tried to find his passwords to his Gmail account, Facebook, the login to the tablet he just bought and tried to figure out how to find his case number for his child support account. He sat with a lap full of pictures that kept him enthralled and entertained. “Mom, look at all these people who came to my 18th birthday party. Wow I sure got a lot of presents. I remember telling Paul how I needed to get a new mirror for my truck and he told me Christmas was coming and I got all sorts of car parts that year for Christmas. What ever happened to that ’87 gray Saab convertible you taught me to drive at Central State. Boy we were something else driving around the grounds of that mental hospital. I am so glad you got me out of there. I remember how they pushed you just a bit too far and you went to court to get me out.” …and this monolouge continued for hours. He remembers every car we ever had (and we had many) and pretty much every little detail about what we did as a family. He cannot however remember ANY password.
The Most Important Thing I Lost
He searched his wallet in vain for the documents we needed. Nothing was found. He did have high level security clearance for the naval air station and the port in Jacksonville. He pointed out to me that his driver’s license had a red star and he looked at mine and it did too. “You know mom, this means the state has done a high level background check on you.” I laughed as I remembered it took me two years to prove to the state of Indiana who I was after moving back from Florida. “Mom, I think it is time to get a new wallet. You got me this wallet for Christmas the last year I was with you.” “Well Robert, looks like you have learned something about quality and I believe this is the only thing you have left from 20 years ago. How on earth did you lose all you beloved pictures, cowboy boots and hats, not to mention your social security card and birth certificate.” “I don’t know Mom, but the most important thing I lost was you. The worst thing I ever did was leave you and I have been looking for you for 20 years.”
In Like Flynn
So we went to the mall and I gave a lesson on leather. He opted for the cashmere soft leather and most likely this will last another 20 years. Off we went in search of a computer repair store who would do a reset on the brand new tablet he just bought and set up with a password he could not remember. Just as we arrived, I sensed a nudge from the Holy Spirit and I said Robert try this password. Yippee, It worked! We were in like Flynn. “Mom, did you get that password written down?”
House of Plastic Cows
We were off to dinner until we found a two hour wait at Outback. We opted for Bynum’s and the plastic cows. There was even a wait there, so we opted to wait in the bar. I was shocked when Robert said he would have a Corona. Well ok them, I guess I will have a glass of wine. He said “Mom, I never drink alcohol when I am around the truck, but tonight is such a special occasion and since you are the one driving, I think I will have a couple beers. And all of a sudden, it hit me, the kid had finally grown up. We laughed and joked. Our table was ready and as he opened the menu he said “now Mom, I want you to order us an appetizer. You know how you and Paul always started with an appetizer. We asked the server for her recommendation and she suggested either the bang bang shrimp or the loaded tater tots. Before I could say a word, he said “we will have both.” And for the next two hours we were friends and equals having the time of our lives. When the check came he looked at me and said “you never could get it through my head how to figure out a tip. I want to leave a nice tip for this waitress because she was so nice. Mom, can you just figure it out for me. Just tell me what to put and then will you add it up.” I grabbed the receipt, added a nice tip, brought down the total and then signed my name out of habit. We burst out laughing and he took the other copy and filled it out just as I had done and then he signed his own name and he treated me to an amazing night on the town.
God is Working in Overdrive
On Sunday we went to church. “Robert, everything that we have and everything that we are comes from God. As much as we have to get done this weekend and even though two of our days were stolen by commercial trucking delays, we must stop and thank God for His many blessings. I have been asking Him to protect you and believe me when I tell you, this is a full time job. God protected you in the mountains when you lost your brakes. God answered my prayers when the repair shop called DOT and cited your employer with 17 citations. We have God working in overdrive right now.
Lost His Job When He Chose Christ
On the drive to Franklin, I asked Robert what he knew about God, about Adam and Eve, about Jesus, about Jesus’ death on the cross and about Jesus coming back to life. Robert did not know much at all. I know Robert told me that he believed in God, but did he really have an understanding of what it means to invite Jesus into your heart and let Him lead your life. And before I could even ask him what sort of church it was, he said “I went to a Baptist church with some friends cause I didn’t have anything better to do. The minister started meeting with me. I was going to church every Sunday. The minister asked if I wanted to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I told him that I did. He told me next Sunday I would come before the front of the church and do that. Mom, I got fired from my job because of that. I worked for a Muslim wrecker company and they wanted me to work every Sunday. I told them I had a very important event at church on Sunday that I had to attend. So I went and I accepted Jesus and I lost my job…but it was worth it.” All I could do was cry the rest of the way to church. There was no question, Robert had put Jesus in charge of his life and this is when everything in this boy’s life turned around.
Demonstrating the Love of Christ
Everyone at my church loved on Robert and treated him like a rock star. He talked their arms off. No one left without feeling the effects of Robert. Pastor Gary gave Robert his business card and invited him to call anytime he needed to talk. Poor Pastor Gary, he knew not what he had done! As we walked to the car Robert said, “that was the most wonderful experience I have ever had.” I truly don’t know if he understood anything that was said in the service, but I know Robert felt the love of Jesus as all my church family loved and accepted Robert in exactly the same way Jesus took Robert in 10 years ago when a pastor paid attention to a troubled kid and shared the gospel with him.
A New Sugar Free Leaf
We went to Walmart to buy sugar free, chemical free, drinks for Robert to take on the road. I introduced him to Stevia and lemon. “Robert, Coke and sweet tea and orange juice are history.” We read the labels on every drink only to learn that sugar was the number one ingredient. If it was diet, then it had artificial sweetener that was just as dangerous as sugar. We bought him an organizer portfolio and a notebook and a plastic chest to put his clean clothes in. We went to the health food store for ginger ale with stevia. He will probably drop 20 pounds by the next time I see him.
In What State Was Your Social Security Card Issued?
We worked on a resume and extracted 15 years of work history. I searched the basement for the many things that would make life more comfortable on the road. And in an instant the weekend was over. Up at the crack of dawn we were going to the truck stop first to get the truck started and to load it with all his stuff. The truck started but would not run. The oil was low and he went off for more as well as antifreeze. It was too cold to stand outside and it was still dark. I got in the car and realized I had forgotten to get a replacement birth certificate. It was an elaborate process on a cell phone. I kept running back and forth to the truck asking him pertinent questions to answer in order to establish his identity. The final question was “what state was your social security card issued in.” He barely knew the state he was issued in, much less the social security number and besides, he had already lost it. So on his phone we googled his social and we were able to pass the birth certificate test. I ordered a backup copy of the birth certificate as well as expedited delivery service. Just as the system shouted success, the diesel truck fired up.
My First Lesson in Trucking
And we were off and running to the social security office (not in the semi, but in my car.) I dropped him at the door, told him to go to the 6th floor and I would find a place to park and be right in. We successfully ordered a new social security card to be sent to my address. We had just enough time to get some breakfast and then he wanted to give me my first lesson in trucking. He demonstrated moving the trailer on the rear wheels. He removed the trailer from the truck. He insisted I ride with him to get fuel and he insisted I fill the tank on the passenger side. He gave me complete instructions on how to key in everything at the pump. He gave me a lesson in DEF diesel fuel and it came as no surprise that his truck did not require it because it was so old. He showed me his dream truck which was a tricked out Peterbilt. When he came back with his receipt, he said “Mom, I told the guy with the Peterbilt that you loved his truck and wanted one just like it.” Hmmm….
Really Impressed With How Fast You Caught On
And with that, I watched him look back up to his trailer and do a test to insure it was completely hooked on! I gave him a hug and told him I loved him and off to work I went. On my lunch hour I talked to a trucker friend for advice. I put all the suggestions in an email. On the way home I checked in with him. “Mom, I am really impressed with how you just took charge of things this weekend. I just know you are going to get me turned around and out of the hole I am in. You know, I have the potential to make $6000 in a month. I will get those back taxes paid and get the child support paid and start saving the taxes out of every check like you told me. If I just follow everything you tell me to do, I will really be somebody. When I am debt free, then I think I can buy us a truck. You have caught on to this dispatching and you are good with directions. You really understood my log book and all the research today that you did tells me you are would be the best person to run my business. You can quit that job you have and just work from home. You can get my loads for me and I will work for you. Then we can go on vacation and I will take you to see some of the prettiest spots. But first I want to go to Las Vegas and to the mountains in Nevada and then to the Grand Canyon.
I started to cry again. I had just made a list of all the places I wanted to go for a road trip for my 60th birthday (long before Robert ever came back on the scene) and these three were at the top of the list. Our birthdays are in November. Would not surprise me a bit if he was an owner/operator by that time. Nothing is impossible with God.
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is a storyteller connecting people and the stories they tell.
Twenty years before this series was written I took Robert in and taught him to drive and made all his dreams come true. He is the cause of my gray hair and he also was on the scene throughout both of my divorces, hmm.
He resurfaced twenty years later to give me a glimpse of the impact we had. It was a lot of impact.