Little Tommy lived with his mama in a small but well-kept house at the end of Still Shadow Lane. It was a little blue cottage style house with yellow and green trim. His daddy had run off with another woman right after he was born and it was just the two of them but laughter and smiles were abundant.
His mama had carefully hand painted the number 38 on a board and it hung over the front porch from a piece of chain she found on the side of the road.
Mama was always finding interesting things and she was blessed with vision. She kept a book made of cloth pages and she carefully sewed and labeled her treasures to the pages. Her findings ranged from smashed real gold earrings to antique pop-beads to a tiny rusted locket. Her motto was “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Little trinkets weren’t the only thing mama found.
One day Tommy came running home and said “mama, look what I finded!” In his little hand was a badly scuffed, hardly recognizable coin. “It’s just a penny,” he said.
His mama said “that’s okay. Pennies make dollars and it doesn’t matter if they’re brand new or a little worn. Let’s go put it in the found money jar.” For as long as Tommy could remember, mama had what she called a found money jar.
It was an old “Tom’s Cookie Jar” from the early fifties and it had come from one of the stores that her grandma and grandpa had once owned. Although the lid had long ago been broken, it was a treasured possession.
Any time money was found, it would go into the jar and it was never to be taken out until the end of the year. When the end of the year arrived, they would take it out, count it and then buy something special with their free money.
Tommy dropped the penny into the jar and then said “I saw a dog today!” Mama smiled and said “you did!? What kind of dog?” Tommy said “um…the kind that goes arf-arf.” Mama giggled the way she did so often when Tommy said something cute.
Mama also kept another kind of book. In that book she wrote down all of Tommy’s sayings. She wanted to write them down and when he grew up, he could read it to his own little boy. Once when he asked her what she was writing, she said “sometimes, men grow up and they forget that they were once little boys. I don’t want you to be one of those men.”
For the next several days, Tommy came home and told his mama about seeing the dog again. His mama said “I’m sure he belongs to somebody in the neighborhood. You know dogs. They like to roam around and protect their territory.”
Mama asked Tommy if the dog was wearing a collar. Tommy said “I don’t think so.” Mama said “well, we’ll ask around the neighborhood and see if anybody has lost their dog but I’ll bet he lives somewhere close.”
Tommy looked at her optimistically and said “if he doesn’t belong to anybody, can we keep him?” Not wanting to get his hopes up and not wanting to disappoint him by telling him that they really couldn’t afford a dog, mama said “we’ll see but like I said. I’m sure he belongs to somebody.”
The next day, Tommy came home and said “that dog isn’t wearing a collar, mama.” She asked him if he was sure and he said “yes’um. I looked.”
He looked at his mama and said “mama? Is it okay if I pretend he’s mine and call him my dog? Just for now?”
Mama smiled and said “just for now but you know it’s just pretend, right?” Tommy looked down and shuffled his feet. Then he said “okay. It’s pretend, just for now.”
Mama tried to change the subject and asked “what does he look like?” Tommy thought for a minute and seemed to perk up a bit. He said “he has grey hair, sort of like grandpa.” Mama laughed and said “grey hair? He must be an old dog.”
Tommy said “um, I don’t think so.” When mama asked him why he didn’t think so, he said “he can run faster than grandpa.”
To be continued_______________