Jackie Lawrence was in what she considered the best part of her life. The various struggles of the past were simply that, in the past. She could name them, chew on them, if she wanted, or allowed herself but these days she simple didn't bother.
She'd grown up with a name that she hated, Samantha Jacqueline. She'd often chided her Mom about where they came up with that name. Her Mom only ever smiled her soft enigmatic smile and said her usual: "Oh I like that name." Jackie surely didn't like it. She hadn't wanted to grow up known as "Sam", which was inevitable. But there it was, until she got into college and shed the "Sam" and the image that went with it, and fashioned herself as 'Jackie'.
And, of course there was the image. She'd been sort of heavy in high school. She wasn't really fat but she was 'she's only material to be a friend' heavy. She lived with that, sobbed about it personally and privately until a few things happened. Firstly, in college she discovered the track team and a love of running. She became a work out devote. She also grew an astounding two inches. The end result of her efforts was that Jackie Lawrence was a willowy 5'10" with raven black hair.
But that all changed with what she called 'the Brad incident'. Her athletic nature brought her into contact with various others with the same pursuits. Brad was one of those. He was an athlete. They did the normal; they 'fell in love' and got married. He promised to see her through school, since at an early age Jackie had aimed herself toward medical school.
But Brad turned out to be a whiner. He complained lustily and frequently that she was a millstone around his neck and that all his money was going into her schooling. He actually, to Jackie's immense relief, bailed out, when she was just beginning her med school education. He was the last of her 'Sam' friends before she turned herself into her present 'Jackie'.
So, Brad was gone. He was gone with great relief, when she agreed with him that they mutually foreswore any kind of obligation, financial obligation from each other. It pleased him to shut off what he saw as the flow of money to her education. She continued it then, with a little help from her parents. Of course, he never was able to work through the issue far enough to be able to see that in the future she would probably be the source of the money but for Brad 'that train had left the station', so to speak.
Jackie was a surgeon. It had become her dream and one that she followed with all the intensity that she'd put into her running and track career, or put into refashioning herself as 'Jackie', and not 'Sam'.
In the long process of getting that done, she shut down any thoughts of romance. She simply didn't get involved. She would often enough say to girl friends and those who prompted her to date that she'd been 'entertained quite enough by that kind of idea in her life', thank you.' It was her standard comeback for such suggestions.
She'd worked excessively hard and got to her goal. She was now a staff surgeon at a significant medical center. Once she was established in her practice, she allowed herself to buy an old home in a section of lovely old homes in the near suburbs of her city. She loved the old place and made it super comfortable for herself and her lifestyle.
Jackie took very good care of herself; she continued her exercises and continued running. She dressed with élan and was extremely popular around the hospital. She certainly had had date offers. She remained aloof from them. Her 'Brad Days' had, she thought, cured her of such romantic ideas and she just wasn't interested.
At her present age of 35, Jackie Lawrence was extremely pleased with her life, her practice, her appearance, and especially her home. It all pleased her. She also lived these days for those occasions when she was visited by her Mom or her Dad.
It was being a lovely and fairly rare day off for Jackie. She had decided on a late cup of tea on her patio behind the house. It was her favorite Irish Breakfast tea with sugar and evaporated milk, a true comfort drink. She was just enjoying the early morning sun and the sound of the birds when she was interrupted by a voice:
"Hi there!" came a small almost squeaky voice.
Jackie looked over and all she could see was a small blond head. The head of a little girl. Before Jackie could acknowledge the girl, the little girl spoke again:
"This is Mr Twig," she said, holding up a raggedy brown bear, "And I'm Sam, that's short for Samantha. I was named after my Mommie!"
"Well," Jackie said, both surprised but also completely taken in by the little tow headed, blue eyed girl and her Mr Twig bear, "I'm Jackie, and I'm afraid that I don't have a Mr Twig, so he's welcome here, and you are too."
"Thank you, Jackie," the little girl said with a winning smile that showed a gap where she'd lost her two front teeth.
"In case you're wondering," Sam continued, "Mr Twig and I are here with our Poppa. He' next door now doing some work on Mommie's house."
"How nice for all of you!" Jackie said.
"My Mommie's in heaven with God," Sam continued, "She had the cancer they told me; she got sick and went to God. Mr Twig and I miss her. I think that my Poppa misses her too. There are times when he's sad and has tears in his eyes. Mr Twig and I try to comfort him but he's still sad. Poppa says that he bought the house for my Mommie; it was her dream house and now that Mommie's with God, we'll fix it up and live in it. What do you do?"
Jackie was a bit taken back by the complete switch of topic at the end of the sentence but just smiled and said:
"I'm a doctor, Doctor Jackie is my name."
"Mr Twig and I are pleased to meet you, Dr. Jackie," Sam said then, making sure that the bear bowed to her new friend.
Just then a voice called out: "Sam! Sam!"
"Oh," Sam said, "That's my Poppa; he told me to be sure to not go toward the road and stay where he could see me. But then I saw you setting here and having such a nice morning that I thought that Mr Twig and I would come and say 'hello' to you."
Just then a man with dark curly hair and some gray at the temples came around the side of the house. He was wearing a pair of tan cargo pocket shorts and a tool belt.
"Sam, where'd you get off to?" the man said, just a second before seeing Jackie, who that morning had on a pair of running shorts and a tee shirt.
"Poppa," Sam said politely, "Mr Twig and I were just talking to our neighbor Dr Jackie." Sam smiled her toothless smile, obviously suffused with love for her Poppa and then went on: "Poppa this is Dr Jackie."
The man gave Jackie a smile and said: "Sorry to have the ambassador at loose; she was supposed to stay where I could see her."
"And away from the road, she tells me," Jackie said.
"Exactly," he said and advanced a few steps. "I'm Walt Williams, you already know Sam, Samantha and Mr Twig."
Jackie smiled a broad smile and said: "Pleased to meet you, Walt; I'm Jackie Lawrence. Sam and I are already fast friends."
"Don't you just love my name?" Samantha asked enthusiastically. "It's really Samantha, my Mommie's name, but I got to be called Sam. Mr Twig prefers just 'Sam', though, when I'm in trouble, it's usually 'Samantha'.
Jackie laughed at that and Walt joined her in the laugh.
"Sorry to have your morning disturbed," Walt said.
"Not at all," Jackie said, "I'm always 'in' to my friends; I'm having a day off, and just am lounging here over my tea. I was just going to invite Sam and Mr Twig to join me for tea and cookies. May she?"
Walt looked at Sam who got a huge grin on her face and said: "Poppa, oh, could we? Mr Twig would like it ever so much."
"I'll watch out for her, Walt," Jackie said.
"Thank you," he said, and then "Yes, honey, you and Mr Twig may visit with Dr. Jackie."
"Send her over, if you don't mind, when you need to, " he said to Jackie.
"I'll bring her, if I may," Jackie said.
"Perfect," Walt said and before turning to go, bent to give Sam a hug.
The little girl threw herself into her Poppa's arms and then presented Mr Twig for a hug. Jackie tinkled into laughter and Walt grinned at her and walked back to the work that he was doing on the house.
Tea With Mr Twig
"Well what about milk and cookies, while I have my tea?" Jackie asked.
"Super," Sam said, "Mr Twig and I really like milk and cookies; it's a favorite."
"Good," Jackie continued, "Would you like to come and help me or do you want to wait with Mr Twig?"
"I'd love to help you," Sam said, and went inside with Jackie.
"Your house is very nice," Sam said, as she looked around the kitchen area, with it's breakfast corner, where a round breakfast table was surrounded by a wall of windows that looked out onto the rambling back yard and the woods beyond.
"Thank you, Sam, I'm glad you like it," Jackie said.
"Mr Twig will like it also," Sam said with certainty in her voice.
"Oh, good," Jackie said, "I'm pleased that he would."
"What kind of cookies does Mr Twig like?" Jackie asked.
Sam went over to the walk in pantry where Jackie was and looked at the variety of cookies that were available.
"I like cookies," Jackie said, "Although I try to not eat too many; I watch my weight."
"Well, you're certainly not fat," Sam said again with certainty.
"Why, thank you," Jackie answered, as they picked out a few kinds of cookies to put on a decorative plate to take out to the patio.
"Will it be milk for you?" Jackie asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Sam said, "And I'll share mine with Mr Twig."
.... There is more of this story ...