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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Magic of Ray's Ordinary Days

When the sunshine broke through the curtains, Ray was already awake. He had found it difficult to sleep lately, even though he was exhausted. He used this time early in the morning to pray. Who knew a year ago that the only time Ray Singleton would have time to pray would be early in the morning. Before Ray's feet ever hit the floor in the morning, he thanked God for his many blessings. A year ago Ray's constant prayer was to have a wife, a companion, to share his ordinary life with. A wife to come home to in the middle of the day just because he missed her. Until Rev. Case came over that Saturday to talk to Ray about his friend's daughter that became pregnant out of wedlock, Ray thought that his prayer was only a dream. Ray still could not believe that Livy had come into his life and brought such joy, comfort, and company to him. Ray truely did not care how Livy came to him, but that she was still there with him today. He remembered everyday to thank God for her and Daniel. When he was through praying and thanking God, he leaned over to give Livy a kiss on the cheek. She turned over towards him and took his hand as he got out of the bed. Sleepily, Livy asked,"Do you have to get up now? The baby is still sleeping." Ray said with a smile, "I have more reason today than ever before to get up."
Ray made his way to the bathroom to shave and wash up. He had never shaved everyday but with Livy's skin so smooth and delicate, Ray never wanted to give her reason not to want to kiss him. As Ray was shaving he thought about Livy asking him to stay. He had never lingered in the morning, always right to work. But now he wanted to lay in bed and hold Livy a little while longer and to smell her perfume and powder one more minute. Ray laughed to himself about the way Livy cuddles up next to him at night to warm her cold feet. Ray opened the bathroom door after washing up and could smell bacon cooking. Ray remembered how his mama cooked bacon on cold January mornings before he and his dad went out to get the fields ready for that years crops. Ray checked in on Daniel to see if he was still sleeping. He gazed down at Daniel and thanked God again for the miracle of Daniel.
Ray entered the kitchen just as the tea kettle whistled. Livy announced "Perfect timing." Ray nodded in agreement and said, "Yes, our meetings are perfecting timing." Livy smiled with pleasure as she knew what Ray was referring to.
Ray and Livy ate breakfast together, bacon, eggs-plain as Ray likes them-and toast with coffee. Ray told Livy that she did not have to get up and fix him breakfast every morning. It had only been four weeks since Daniel was born, and she needed to get her rest. Livy insisted that she did and she enjoyed eating with Ray and talking with him before he left for work. Ray told Livy that he would be out in the south field getting it ready for the crops if she needed him. He would also be home around lunchtime to check on them. Ray leaned over to give Livy a peck on the cheek, but Livy took his face into her delicate hands and moved him to her lips. Livy kissed Ray like a wife kisses her husband. When their lips parted, Livy playfully said, "That's so you'll renenber to come home at lunch time-I have a surprise for you." Livy rubbed Ray's face and commented on how smooth and tender it was. Ray smiled and wondered how he was ever going to get any work done with kisses like that..
Out in the fields, Ray kept thinking about the kiss that morning. He and Livy kiss quite often these days, but there was something different about that one. Maybe it was because Livy made it to be more than Ray had intended. Not that there was anything wrong with what Livy did. Besides, they were man and wife. What was the surprise? Martha and probably Ruth would be at the house when Ray came home at lunch. They had been pretty much since Daniel was born. Ray was glad because the fields took alot of care these days and Ray did not want to leave Livy that long by herself with a new baby.
When Ray pulled up the long road in front of the house, he noticed that Hank's truck was not there. They have probably come and gone already he thought. When Ray came into the house, he could smell a familar aroma, but could not quite decided what it was. He found Livy nursing Daniel by the fireplace in the living room. Livy said, "I had hoped that he would have been finished before you got back. He'll be through in a minute." Ray smiled and asked where Martha was. Livy replied that Martha had called and said if there wasn't anything big that needed to be done that she would stay home today. Martha had invited them to go to her house for supper. Martha realized that Livy needs to get out. She hasn't left the house since Daniel was born four weeks ago. Ray agreed. Ray asked Livy if there was anything she needed him to do. Livy told him about the diapers in the washing machine. They needed to be hung out. Ray went upstairs to the bathroom, that was where the washing machine was. He took out the diapers and went back downstairs to the side yard to hang them out. He did not understand why Livy insisted on hanging the diapers out because they only froze. She would eventually bring them in to the fireplace to thaw out. She said something about them airing out and smelling better.
When Ray came in from hanging out the diapers, Livy had already put Daniel in the craddle asleep. Ray was a little disappointed that Daniel was always asleep when he came in for lunch, but he knew that he had been up all morning with Livy. Ray washed his hands at the kitchen sink and thought about what the surprise would be that Livy mentioned this morning. Livy came into the kitchen and asked Ray to sit down for lunch. Livy told Ray that her surprise was Ray's lunch. It was his favorite. Ray could not believe that Livy had cooked Ham casserole. Could it be the same recipe as his mother's? Livy proudly marched over with the casserole from the oven. Ray excitedly asked, "How did you know?" Livy remarked, "Martha, and it is your mother's recipe. I hope it is as good as hers." Ray smiled as the words echoed in his head from the first day they met,"I really don't know how to cook....I can get a book at the library." What a lifetime ago that was. Ray and Livy ate lunch and it was as good as his mama's. Livy smiled as Ray ate the casserole, she never thought joy would be brought to her in an ordinary lunch. But so it was.
After they ate lunch and washed up the few dishes they had, Ray asked Livy if there was anything else that she needed. Livy replied "No". Ray went upstairs to use the bathroom and to check on Daniel. When he came back downstairs Livy had made him a thermos of coffee. Livy commented that she would get the nack of being a wife and remember to give him one in the mornings as well. Livy walked Ray out onto the porch and kissed him goodbye. Ray sheepishly asked, "I don't get another kind of reminder to be home early so we can go to supper?" Livy chuckling, swats at Ray and says, "I have to keep those reminders for special occasions." Ray would have to remember that for future encounters.
Livy was hanging the last diaper up in front of the fire, when she heard Ray pull up at a little before four o'clock. He was always on time. He came in the front door and immediately looked to the living room. Ray knew that he would find Livy there-either nursing Daniel or hanging diapers. Livy greeted Ray with a big hug and kiss. She told him that Daniel was asleep and would probably wake up with in the next fifteen to thirty minutes. Ray decided that was plenty of time for him to get his shower. He ran quietly,as Livy reminded him often to do, to the shower. Ray emerged from the bathroom without a shirt on because he had not wanted to go into the bedroom and chance waking the baby before his shower. At least that is what the ladies at the church told him-never wake a sleeping baby. When he started into the bedroom, he heard Livy talking to Daniel as she was changing his diaper and dressing him for their first outing. Ray felt that he had eaves dropped, but that was not his intention. Livy was telling Daniel about the supper at Aunt Martha's house when his daddy talked about Troy. Livy told Daniel that that should have been the time his daddy won his mama's heart, but she was just too stubborn to see it. But his daddy is a very patient man and he kept trying and finally his mama came to her senses. Livy ended by saying, "Daniel, it is God's will that we be here with your daddy."
When Ray came into the bedroom, Livy was laying Daniel down in the craddle. Ray immediately began saying why he had no shirt on and all Livy could do was laugh. Ray being a little uncomfortable in what she was laughing at, began plundering for his undershirt. He grabbed one and turned around, Livy was right in front of him. He hadn't heard her come up because he was so intent on trying to decide what she was laughing at. Livy reached out and touched Ray's chest; she moved her hands over to his arms and commented on how strong Ray was. How he was her protector. Ray then realized that Livy was not laughing at him but at his rambling on in an awkward situation. Livy took Ray's hands and asked, " How many fields had they plowed?" Ray put his hands on Livy's waiste and drew her in to him. As far as Ray was concerned, Martha could wait. She'd understand if she knew. Ray took Livy's face into his hands and kissed Livy like she deserved to be kissed-ever so soft and gentle. Nothing forcefull or unsolicitated. Ray wanted to do so much more, but it had only been four weeks since Daniel. Ray did not want to force anything that would render this a mistake as well. Ray whispered in Livy's ear how he wanted more but that he would wait for the doctors okay. Livy whispered back to Ray that there was more than one way to make love. She took Ray by the hand and led him over to the bed. It was there that Ray whisked Livy off of her feet and laid her on the bed. There they kissed and held each other. Ray agreeded with Livy-there is more than one way to make love.
Ray, Livy, and Daniel arrived at the Stewart house a little past five o'clock. Daniel was hungry. Livy sat in the kitchen with Martha and Ruth to nurse Daniel while supper was being finished up.
At the supper table there was talk of the north wind blowing in, snow, beans, and exotic places that everyone wished they could go to get out of the cold. Livy sat there thanking God for the ordinary family that made room for her in their lives and love her extraordinarily. During clean up from dinner, Livy made the comment that if Martha kept spoiling her and not making her clean up that she may take to having babies every year. This drew Ray's eyebrow and brought a smug smile to his face-because he knew how babies got to this world.
On the ride home, Ray and Livy didn't talk much. Daniel was getting fussy for his last feeding of the day. Livy looked over at Ray and saw a smile that she had seen before. Yes, Livy remembered that smile. It was there on Ray's face the night they ate supper at Martha's and Ray had shared his knowledge of Troy. It was a proud smile. Ray was feeling proud. Proud of his wife, his son, his family.
When they got home, Ray carried Daniel in. Livy turned off the downstairs light and remembered the night that Ray had his proud smile on and how he tried to kiss her and she ran off. Livy has kicked herself a thousand times for that. How could she have ran away from a man who was truely giving her everything? Livy leaned over to kiss the baby. Livy really wanted to kiss Ray,too. Ray leaned over and kissed Livy. He said with chuckle, "I was wondering if you were going to take off up the stairs again like you did last time." Livy replied without hesitation, "Not a chance".
Ray put Daniel on the bed to change his diaper and put on his night clothes. As he was doing this, Livy begins to change her clothes. Ray is unaware of Livy unbuttoning her clothes. Ray puts Daniel in the craddle and takes his suspenders off of his shoulders and pulls out his shirt. He sits on the edge of the bed and takes off his boots. Livy has walked over to the dresser to lay her earrings down and to give Ray a chance to see her. She notices in the mirror that Ray is looking at her. Ray mumbles to himself that maybe he should spend the next two weeks in the bunk room. Livy giggles and says, "you just wait-you think you're tired now-you haven't seen anything yet."
Livy changes into her nightgown and Ray changes into his night clothes. In bed Ray and Livy talk about how many children Livy really wants and how often. Soon Livy is fast asleep and Ray holds her.
Ray ends his day as he begins it-thanking God for his many blessings. Ray takes one more look at the magic of his ordinary days as they lay fast asleep. Ray then drifts off to sleep with a proud smile on his face.