Mr. Baker and Mr. Dozen began quietly dating and soon Saturday nights were their date nights. They were taking things slow, but more and more friends and family were seeing them enjoying dinner out or attending a showing at the museum, or out at the movies. Often on a Sunday afternoon, the two of them could be spotted riding the trails on horseback and there would sometimes be Darrin and Norm riding with them. Many times, in the Spring there would be a picnic lunch involved and Jake and Alan would join them all for lunch.
Alan and Jake were working on a new novel during this time and they were being rather closed-mouthed about the subject matter. All anyone knew was that it was somewhat biographical. At the end of May, as school was due to be out for the Summer months, Jake and Alan announced there would be a book launch party at their house and all the family and friends were invited. To make it a fun time for everyone they had hired the usual caterer and arranged for a pavilion to be erected right outside the kitchen and Mr. Baker was entrusted to coordinate everything with the caterer and the publisher and the press. It was a festive affair on a bright and clear Saturday afternoon. There were a hundred copies of the book handed out to the guests and Jordan was the first, with Frank and Stan a close second, to determine that it was a story based on their lives before and after Frank and Stan came into their lives. The publisher announced that the film studio had made inroads with Uncle Rich and Uncle Sean into buying the rights to film the movie version of the new novel and if all worked out well, the movie could be released as a Summer release the next year.
By the end of June, Mr. Baker had asked everyone to call him Jeff and Mr. Dozen was to be called Bob. They had discussed this and realized that by requiring the use of their surnames they were inviting a distance they didn't want between them and others. They realized that back home in England this practice would be frowned upon in all but the more modern households. Both men had been residents of the States for many years now and wanted to live over here for the rest of their days. They also announced at a family dinner that they were a couple and looked forward to being married by the end of the summer, they didn't know exactly what their living arrangements would be, but Bob felt, if it was OK with Jake and Alan, that they'd live in his house near the great-grandparents, and Jeff would drive to work each day. Jake and Alan had two other possibilities they wanted to discuss. One was to finish off the basement into separate living quarters for the two, and second was adding on to the house off the kitchen area, providing a comfortable home big enough for the two of them, or more if they thought they might want their own family.
The engaged older couple looked at each other and smiled, knowing that was what they had wanted to do eventually, but Bob's house was tiny, and he bought it not knowing he was going to get a second chance at love. He said if they would allow it, they wanted to go with option two, but they both had money and they wanted to pay for their own housing. Jake said there was always option three, and that there was plenty of room on the property to place a prefab house in the fenced in area and they'd only be steps from the main house. It could be almost any style or size they wanted, and if they agreed they could go up to my office and look at what was available. They thanked the guys and said they'd go see me or Uncle David as soon as they could.
Jeff called the next day and I invited them up to look through what we could offer them, and he agreed to pick up Bob and come in in about an hour, after he had time to clean up the kitchen after preparing "his" family's breakfast. When they arrived, I showed them plans that were not on the prefab company's website first and then set them up in front of a monitor and showed them the website.
They both liked the three-bedroom cottage, all on one floor. The exterior shown would blend in perfectly with Jake and Alan's house and we all thought it would be their best choice. I checked the availability on it and found out they had one on their storage lot in Northeastern Pennsylvania and delivery could be made within two weeks and finished on the proper foundation in three. They liked the whole thing and asked when they could pay and get the slab foundation started. I explained that the next day a crew would show up and begin the prep for the foundation and the concrete was to be poured before the end of the week, and fully cured by the time the house arrived in two sections the following week. There was no deposit or payment required, the whole job was to be their wedding present from Jake and Alan.
Bob and Jeff protested, saying they had planned to pay for it themselves, and I felt their frustration, but I explained that Alan and Jake felt that Jeff had provided a much-needed service to their family, helping them to bring order out of mounting chaos, and providing them the opportunity to continue in their novel writing hobby, which by the way, provided the funds to be able to provide the lavish gift they really wanted to provide the couple. Plus, their next alternative was to provide a house on adjoining land, but this way they were safe on the gated property and close enough that they felt comfortable leaving the boys with them should they have to travel without them.
I gave them some advice they wondered about, I'm sure, but I had been let in on a secret and I thought it would make their special day even more special for them, so I suggested they marry before the end of July, if that would fit in with their current plans, and to make sure they had up to date passports. They peppered me with questions, but since I had been sworn to secrecy, I had to leave almost all their questions unanswered.
The next day a survey crew was dispatched to the site and later the foundation foreman and his crew arrived to begin excavation for the massive slab and positions for drains and electric service were laid out after. By the end of the week, the slab was poured with the proper drains and plumbing laid in it along with the conduits for electric and cable service. The fiancées announced they had contacted the Justice of the Peace who they wanted to conduct their service and had received permission to use the gazebo for their nuptials on the 15th of July and that the caterer had agreed to Chris and Noah's offer to set up by the pool house and that invitations had been sent to everyone in the neighborhood. Bob had asked Darrin to stand up with him and to carry the ring he would present to Jeff, and Jeff had done likewise to Norm. The two boys who had made them feel alive again would be part of their happy day.
The boys insisted that Jake and Alan practice with them at the gazebo and by the day before, the time of the official rehearsal, they were perfect and confident in their roles. The actual ceremony was flawless in its actual execution, and at the pavilion held a reception after, Jake and Alan handed them a deed for the house and the acre of their former land it sat on, and airline tickets to England for the entire month of August.
They explained that they had been invited to appear at the London premiere and wanted the first two weeks of August to be a "family" vacation, including them, and the last two weeks would be by themselves for their honeymoon. The newlyweds were beyond thrilled at this further present and thanked Jake and Alan profusely for their generosity. They stated they couldn't wait to show "their family" London and whatever else they could in the time they were all over there.
It was fun to see how Darrin and Norm prepared for their transatlantic trip. They watched a lot of PBS shows and soon were trying out their British accents out on anyone who would listen. They tried to get Jeff to pinpoint on a London street map just where Grace Brothers department store was and where Midsomer was on the country map, so they could avoid that as there were too many unnatural deaths there. They did want to visit the village of Dibley and they wanted to visit a loo, everyone on the TV shows was always going to one. Jeff thought they were hilarious, and he set the record straight on several of their misconceived notions and directed them to some of the more enlightening shows available for them to watch.
He did contact the representative for the studio that Jake and Alan dealt with and was able to set up private tours for several of the places the family would enjoy seeing and he discussed this with Jake and Alan when the boys had gone to bed. It was a night Bob was staying over and the four adults had a good laugh at the boys' attempts to learn about England from the mysteries and Britcoms they had been watching. Jeff explained they prearranged private tours of Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, and maybe a few more, he wouldn't know until they had arrived over there, and that wouldn't be for a few weeks.
During the time from the wedding until their departure was hectic for all in that family. The boys had horseback riding lessons with Marty at the old barn with several of their friends from the lanes and also Jose, Matt and Kevin's son, and the newlyweds were busy getting everyone's clothing ready for traveling. Jake and Alan were doing promotional work for the movie and the book but were staying close, within a 3-hour drive in any direction. They took the boys on one of their trips to Boston.
Jeff and Bob rode along and took the boys on a tour of some of Boston's more famous sites. When they were at the main branch of MMOMA (Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art) Darrin used his complementary membership card at the entry and a guard was at their side in nanoseconds, asking for another form of ID as another guard was on the phone. It all scared the lad, and then Jeff and Bob, with Norm at their sides, were escorted to Darrin and then the director of the museum arrived at the scene and shook Darrin's hand, welcoming him and his guests to the main branch and to please extend his greetings to his great grandfathers who were old acquaintances of his. He personally guided them through several galleries they had expressed an interest in and along the way he explained that when Darrin had used his pass there was a notation on his file to detain until a senior member of staff could interview the cardholder, in Darrin's case it was so the director could extend his personal thanks for the loan of his paintings and to possibly do the same for this branch in the future. Darrin explained he would like to and gave the man his Dad's e-mail information and explained they would be out of the country in August. The director then treated them to lunch in the museum's dining room and they were all ready for that! After a delightful lunch, they continued on their adventure while waiting for the dads to call on their cell, letting them know where and when to meet for their drive home.
Jake and Alan reported they did receive an e-mail from the director and, if Darrin agreed, they would like to borrow his paintings for the months of December and January. It was OK with Darrin, so they emailed their response before the troop left for England.
The studio had again supplied a private jet, this time to transport the group to England, and they all left in the first week of August. For the boys, the high lite of their trip was a private tour of parts of Buckingham palace conducted by one of the Queen's butlers, who was a first cousin of Mr. Dozen. The tour ended with them being able to watch the changing of the guards from a great vantage point and they got to meet some of the guards who had been relieved of duty for the day. Their guide had arranged for a car from the palace's motor-pool to drive them all back to their hotel and as they gathered around Bob's cousin, thanking him for the great time they had had, there was an interruption as the Queen's unmarried son came running up to them, asking to be presented to Jake and Alan, two of his favorite authors, and telling them before they departed that he would be seeing them the next evening, as he was going to the premier, representing his mother, but also for his own entertainment. All of them were chuffed at meeting His Highness and how nice he had been. He had allowed the lads to take selfies with him and had even posed as his mother's butler took several photos of him with the group and then the Prince and the butler changed places, so the visitors would have some pics of them with their tour guide. Their trip back to the hotel was special also as the limo from the palace wove it's way back to their hotel as many people recognized it by the bumper flags and the doorman at their hotel almost lost his cool as the palace's limo pulled up and the six American visitors emerged. He then remembered that two of them were British expats and he remembered hearing one of them talking to the other about his relative at the Palace. The rumor mill started with him and for the rest of their stay, the whole group was treated like royalty.
The premier the next night was a lot of fun as the gang was treated like royalty by the film studio's representative and his press corps. They did the red-carpet thing and only Bob had to be coached on the proper protocol, but after the viewing, they were invited to a private room to chat with the Prince and to meet the others who had occupied the royal box. They hadn't been prepared to meet the others of the Royal family they did, but it sure made for some interesting talk on their way back to the hotel, and when they got home. No matter how many museums and cathedrals they visited, or how many road trips to quaint villages, that night at the movie premiere in London was their best memory. The four family members left on the studio jet after their two-week visit and Jeff and Bob were there for two more, enjoying themselves on their official honeymoon.
By the time they had returned their new house was ready for them, furnished with the items they had selected and put in place by their new family for them. Within a week Jake and Alan and the boys had two caretakers as the newlyweds settled into their new routine together.
By the end of that year, Aunt Helen had played stork again.
Dick and Drew, our family's dentist and brother to Rob, and his partner Drew, the local representative for the prefab home company, were called on by her the week before Halloween. Dick and Drew were approaching their tenth anniversary when Helen called on them. Their house was across the lane from Jake and Alan's and a few down from Phil's and mine. They loved visiting with all the children on the lanes, and of course, it made the children more comfortable when they had appointments with Dick in his office on the second floor of the medical practice building. They especially liked when Norm first started wandering outside the fence and riding his bike on the lane by himself. He always stopped to talk to one or both of them if he saw them outside and at family gatherings, he always sought them out and chatted with them. As he grew and started accompanying his dads on trips, he always sought just the right thing to bring back to the Great Grands and his grandparents and his friends and cousins, but he always found just the right things for Drew and Dick, his big buddies. Both of the men towered above him, and the rest of us too, those guys are both six feet, five inches and lean in a swimmer's way. They had not taken Aunt Helen's class in fostering when they first married as Dick was so involved with starting his practice and Drew was spending a lot of time on the road representing his company all over the East coast until they finally settled into a routine a few years ago when Drew was given the New England territory and Dick and his dental school partner felt established enough to take on an associate to help cover the multitude of appointments.
Helen had stopped by to invite them to an "open house" at the dormitory in Springfield for boys in the system but not placed yet in foster care, or too old for most to consider taking into their home. It was a chance for prospective foster parents to meet children and the children to meet prospective parents and for both to form an unbreakable bond that would lead to adoption. Dick and Drew had not attended one of these yet, so they were thrilled to be asked and they, in turn, had plenty of questions for Helen about the way these things worked and if she had someone in mind specifically for them. Helen admitted she did, but she didn't want them to get their hopes up, she wasn't going to steer them to any particular child, she wanted to see if the child and they could find themselves on their own first.
Two months earlier, while Jake and Alan and their troop were in England, there was a big upheaval in a Springfield neighborhood as buildings were cleared of their tenants and the buildings demolished to make way for a large casino complex. Tenants were paid good sums to vacate and be relocated and just before the demolition of one building, as a crew of workers went room by room to ensure the building was vacant a worker found two young boys locked in a closet of one apartment. The boys were barely hanging on as they had been abandoned several days before and they had eaten the crackers and drank the bottles of pop that had been left with them in the closet. They were in pretty bad shape but after a few days in the hospital they were released into the custody of DCFS and sent to the dormitory.
The boys were individually appealing, but they were brothers and one was of mixed race and the other wasn't. They refused to be separated and when staff had tried, they both reacted so violently that they decided to leave them together. The boys were seated together on a sofa when Dick and Drew arrived and were greeted by the staff and name badges attached to the sweaters they had worn under their outer jackets. They mingled for a short time, visiting with Helen and some other couples from their class and then Dick spotted the two, huddled in a corner of the sofa, staring wide-eyed at the adults in the room, one of them trembling and his brother looking defiant. The other couples glanced their way, but moved to the boys who were mingling. Dick nudged Drew and they made their way over to the couch where they could see the boys' name tags: Marcus and Darius. Marcus looked at the two men and asked if they were lookers or takers. Dick asked what he meant, and Marcus told him that some people always came, but never took anyone home for a visit, and then there were those who took someone home but only once, they never settled on one boy and kept coming and taking boys home, but only for one visit. Dick looked at Drew and they both laughed and introduced themselves to the boys. The scared one, Darius, spoke next, saying he wouldn't leave his brother, it was both of them or nothing. Drew assured them that would not be a problem and they then started engaging in conversation, as much as you could with a six and seven-year-old. They all had a good time, with both Dick and Marcus getting up and each gathering appetizers from the buffet table and bringing them back to the sofa to share with the other two who were busy talking a blue streak. In the end, it was arranged that the boys would both come for a visit, starting Friday afternoon, when they returned to the dorm from school. Drew would pick them up and drive them to pick up Dick who should be done with his last appointment by then.
After Drew and Dick had left, after an enjoyable visit for all four, Darius asked if Marcus was sure the two big guys were going to come for them on Friday. Marcus told him he wasn't sure, but it would be best if they were ready after school if they did show up. If the truth was to be known, Marcus liked the two men, he felt safe with them, a feeling he wasn't that familiar with, but he had heard of others who had been promised home visits and nothing ever came of those. Plus, there was the fact that it was two men who wanted to take them home, he'd have to talk with Miss Helen when he saw her for their weekly talks the next day, maybe she knew some more about them. He didn't want to get Darius' hopes up, but if these guys were on the level, they just might have found a forever home.
Friday after school the boys rushed off the bus, they only had 15 minutes to get their bag from the dorm and get to the reception entrance if that guy really was going to show up. They went and used the restroom and grabbed the shopping bag they had packed the night before and rushed downstairs to the waiting room at reception and waited. And Waited. After about 25 minutes the woman from the desk called to Marcus that their ride was on the way, he had encountered heavy traffic and was running a little late. He thanked her and sat and told Darius, and then tried to relax. He had been watching the wall clock and had started to get upset that they were not getting picked up, and how he'd explain that to his younger brother. Drew rushed in and raced over to the boys and told them how sorry he was that he was late and that it wouldn't happen again. He then took the boys to the desk and signed them out for the weekend.
He realized they were a bit upset, so he decided on a treat for them on the way home. He stopped and ordered three milkshakes from the drive-thru and each boy thanked him before slurping up the shakes through their straws, as Drew did as they drove to pick up Dick. When they arrived at the medical office building Drew took the three empty cups and threw them in the trashcan on the curb and then took a boy's hand in each of his and they walked to the entrance. The automatic doors opened and the receptionist, Beth's assistant, greeted them as Drew led the boys to the elevator for the ride to the second floor to Dick's office. They met Dick in the hall and Marcus wondered aloud if Dick was a doctor. Dick laughed and said he guessed the white coat gave him away, but he was a dentist, not a regular doctor. To put the boys at ease, somewhat, he took them on a tour of the now empty office and then asked if they had ever been to a dentist, and Darius spoke up and said yes, he said when they went to the home, they had to see a bunch of doctors even after the hospital and one was a teeth doctor. After closing up and locking the doors for the night the four went to the car and drove the long way home, with the men showing them the highlights on the way and the boys asking a hundred questions along the way.
Once home Dick and Drew took the boys through the house and gave them a tour of the place and a choice of rooms they could use. The boys chose to share a room and Dick helped them get their bag unpacked and showed them the attached bathroom and how to operate the shower. Once that was done, he took them downstairs again and there was Drew in the kitchen trying to decide what to start for their dinner. After the two men consulted, they asked the boys what they would like to eat and they all agreed on pork chops and mashed potatoes with a salad. They worked together to make their meal, with the adults doing the cooking and the boys ripping up salad lettuce. After their meal the men took the boys for a walk, pointing out who lived where along the lane and when they reached Terry and Helen's house they stopped for a short time, so the boys could say their hellos to the only other adult they knew here. Helen spoke privately with Marcus for a minute and he returned with an even bigger smile on his face. He whispered something to Darius and they both seemed much more at ease. They then continued on and when they reached the end of the residential lane they turned around and started back.
While they walked back Phil and I, with Pedro and Brady were coming home from eating out and when we pulled in our drive, we all saw the four walking toward us. We adults all greeted each other, and we noticed the boys had done the same. Pedro and Brady took the little ones in hand and told them how cool it was living here and all the things they could do here, especially the horses and ponies and the swimming. Darius and Marcus told the older boys they didn't know how to do either, but our boys assured them they would be doing both soon and they would love learning from the big guys, just like they had, and all the other kids who lived on the lane. They said their goodbyes and left for home where the big guys had selected several movies for them to choose from and while the first one started on the family room TV, Dick started popping some popcorn which they all shared as they settled into an evening of movies and munching.
The boys slept in the next morning and when they awoke in the strange room, they were a little confused at first, but they soon remembered where they were and the smell of something good cooking got them up and about really quick. After enjoying the omelets that Drew had prepared, they all went to do Saturday chores, like dropping off the dry cleaning, grocery shopping, and dropping off the recycling at the town's recycling center. After the errands, the big guys took the boys to the swim center and bought them swimsuits and gave them a tour of the place. They told them they'd come back after lunch and start them off with beginner swim lessons. The boys were in awe of the place with its huge pools and all the almost naked people in and around the pools. A lot of people seemed to know the big guys and there was a lot of introductions to the boys and they realized that the big guys were well known and well liked as they saw a lot of hugging going on.
After lunch, and letting it settle on their stomachs, the big guys told the boys to go to their bathroom and exchange their underwear for their new swimsuits and they'd all go swim for a while. They all walked over to the swim center and there were a lot more kids around for the afternoon lessons. After they all shared a locker for their outer clothes the boys saw the big guys for the first time almost naked, with just their swimsuits on. Little Darius asked Dick if he would get big like him someday and Dick gathered him up and told him if he ate well and did some exercise, he would get bigger and stronger, but maybe not as tall as him, but you never knew, it could happen.
Darius clung to him and Drew took Marcus' hand and they all went to find the beginner's class in the shallow end of the first pool. They got to meet a lot of other kids and their instructors were really good and once the boys were comfortable there Dick and Drew moved over to the other pool where they warmed up and tackled the diving platforms they had originally trained on with me. They were both really good divers and soon had their own rooting section and they found themselves really showing off a little, hoping to inspire their two young charges. Marcus noticed them first and nudged Darius and they both watched them contort themselves into some great dives and they were proud when someone asked if those weren't their dads up there. Darius said he hoped they were, and Marcus told the other boy that they were visiting those guys for the first time that weekend.
Jose was the other kid and he looked at the two new boys and said he thought he knew what was going on and he told the new boys how he came to be there and how he had gotten his new Dads and he even pointed them out to them. Like most kids, the boys wanted to try what Drew and Dick were doing so when they came over to see how the boys were doing Darius asked when they could dive like that. Drew told him that when they could swim properly across the pool, side to side, properly, and then go back and forth underwater, they could try diving off the diving boards, but only if there was an adult there with them. Jose agreed, telling them his own fathers had told them the same thing.
The boys protested when it was time to leave, but Dick told them they could come back the next day if they wanted, to practice what they had learned that day. That appeased the boys and they happily followed the big guys to the shower to rinse off before dressing. Again, the boys were impressed by the musculature of the older guys and were proud to be in their company. They walked home, and Drew remembered to tell the little guys to go upstairs and put their underwear on after hanging up their swimsuits on an empty towel bar, so they would dry before they needed them the next day. That evening they took the boys to Dick's brother's restaurant for dinner and there the boys met Rob and Glenn, the owners and Rob's husband Steven and their boys Anton and Bryce who were the same coloring as Marcus and Darius and just a bit older. The four fathers and their boys all shared a big table where the adults could visit and the boys got to know each other, exchanging their shared experiences at the dormitory and how they met the older guys, and how they were all scared at first but now they knew these guys would never hurt them or put them in danger, even when they were swimming or riding the ponies. They each ordered something different off the "young person's menu" and they agreed to try some of everyone's dinner.
The adults continued visiting until their dinners were served. Glenn and his lover Jeff came over when they were ready to leave, and they stayed a few minutes to visit and then it was time for everyone who didn't have to stay and close up to leave. Dick and Drew walked with Glenn and his boys walked with their new friends and they all said their good nights as Glenn and his boys took the shortcut through the woods to their house part way up the lane and Drew and Dick took their small visitors' home for the night.
The next day Dick and Drew woke the boys early and took them to church with them and they all pitched in on making breakfast when they got home. They all walked over to the old barn, so the boys could meet the ponies up close and an instant bond was formed between the boys and their new four-legged friends. While in the barn Marty and Mike arrived and saddled up two of the ponies and Marty took the boys out in the enclosed ring and gave them a first lesson in horsemanship. After an hour of watching the boys and helping Mike with some of the morning farm chores, they took the boys around back and showed them where they gathered the eggs they had eaten for breakfast. The boys had never seen a live chicken before and they had a lot of fun helping to gather more eggs, being careful to heed Dick and Drew's instructions on how to do it without being pecked. The boys shared their bounty with Marty and Mike before leaving and they described their riding lessons in detail on the walk home to Dick and Drew, in case they missed anything while they were helping Mike in the barn.
After they were home for about a half hour Dick asked the boys if they wanted to go swim for a while and the boys rushed upstairs to change into their swimsuits just as they had the other day and the four then went to the swim center where the boys showed the old guys what they had learned in their beginner swim class the day before. Before leaving the pools, the boys begged to see Drew and Dick dive again, so they set themselves up at a table near the diving boards and Dick and Drew performed for them. They cheered and clapped for them as they did, and the guys got a big kick out of having their own personal cheering section. They all rinsed off and re-dressed after that and they all walked back to the house to prepare dinner together.
The boys helped by shredding the lettuce and the men fried chicken and prepared the mashed potatoes and vegetables for their feast. About five they sat to eat, and the boys talked about their two days with the men and told them they each had a great time and Dick asked them if they wanted to do the same next weekend. The boys got really quiet and then Darius asked, in a small voice, if they really meant it, they got to come back? Drew told them of course they did, didn't anyone explain that they wanted them to come live with them all the time, that these weekends were required by the state, so everyone could make an informed decision later about their living here for good? The boys were really quiet for a while and then Marcus told the big guys that they were kind of new and they hadn't understood how everything worked. Did he understand right that Dick and Drew really wanted them to live with them all the time? That there would come a time when they wouldn't have to go back to that place? Dick got down between them and held them close as he said they were right, there would come a time soon when they wouldn't have to go back, and they could stay with them until they were old men like them. He kissed the tops of their heads as he said that and the boys both returned the hugs and said they were really happy about that, and they'd like to do that, stay there with Dick and Drew forever. Their parting at the dorm later was difficult for all four and there were hugs and kisses all around as they signed the boys back in for the week and they made plans for the big guys to pick them up after school on Friday again.
The four of them had their required weekend visits and the week before Christmas Drew and Dick were granted custody of the boys as their permanent foster parents and Uncle Rich had filed their adoption paperwork with the family court the same week. The boys were moved permanently to the house and they were feted at a party the great grands threw for their annual open house. This combined the great grands favorite kinds of parties, welcoming new members and hosting holiday get-togethers. Christmas morning was quite hectic at Drew and Dick's house that year as the boys were there for it and the guys admittedly went a little overboard. After many articles of new clothing were opened by each boy there were new computers for each and several different games and sports equipment and gear to unwrap. The fun didn't stop there, the boys presented Dick and Drew with a professionally done portrait of the two of them, and a coupon they had received for a "family" portrait to be taken later. Aunt Helen had helped the boys with this gift just the other day and had paid extra to have it completed so soon so the boys had something to give their new dads on Christmas morning.
By the end of February Marius and Darius were the adopted sons of Drew and Dick. They had started at Miss Loretta's and would enter the school system as first graders together in the Fall. Dick would walk them to the daycare on his way to his office, and Drew would pick them up each afternoon and continue their riding lessons and swimming lessons until it was time for them to go home and clean up before they all prepared their evening meal when Dick arrived home. The new dads always had something for them to all do after dinner, either riding the horses or swimming at the swim center. There were nights spent with some of the other kids on the lane and most of all, time spent with each other. Many of their activities were spent with Jake and Allan' s boy Norm and our boys Pedro and Brady. We three families seemed to congregate most often, and we always were swapping sitting duties if the adults needed a "date" night or if someone had to be out of town for one reason or another.
The following year my dad's retired. They both had successful businesses which they were willing and able to turn over to some of their equally qualified and successful children(though they were defiantly adults and fathers themselves by now).
At their retirement party, attended by over two hundred family and friends, it was Ben who stood before the crowd and charmed the entire group with his recollections of being raised by these two unique men, and the family of 10 boys they had raised. Ben went on for about 30 minutes and when finished he handed both dads iPads which he had set up for them, and as he handed the one for Dad Noah to him, he said, loud enough for all his brothers to hear, "You've got mail Dad".