\ Motherly Love

By Diane Klepper

(Author's Note: Annie Blaisdell accompanies Peter to a visit to his Mother's grave.)

Annie Blaisdell stood by her stove stirring a pot of tomato sauce. The house was quiet with Paul at a police conference and Kelly spending the weekend on a ski trip with friends. Even Carolyn was away. She was accompanying her new husband, Todd on a business trip. Annie would never admit it but she sometimes missed the chaos of having a house with three active kids. When the Blaisdell's took in an orphan teenage boy, most of her friends and family thought she was crazy. Why would a blind woman want a teenage boy in the house when she was already raising two daughters?

Annie was about to put the sauce in the pot with the spaghetti when she heard a car drive up. Annie smiled. She could recognize the sound of Peter's car anywhere.

A minute later a voice called. "Mom you home?"

Annie smiled. "I'm in the kitchen sweetheart."

Peter walked into the kitchen and to the stove. He kissed her on the top of her head. "Hi Mom .I know I should of called but I wanted to take you out to dinner,"

"I already have spaghetti up why don't you join me. Did Paul ask to come and check- up on me?"

Peter frowned."How did you know?"

Annie laughed. "I know your father with the girls away I thought he might ask you to check-up on me."

Peter laughed. "I could never get anything past you when I was fifteen I guess some things never change."

Annie patted Peter on the arm. "Set the table. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes."

Thirty minutes later Peter put the last forkful of spaghetti in his mouth and smiled. "Dinner was great."

Annie smiled. "I'm glad you liked it Why don't you help me clean up and then we can have coffee or would you prefer tea."

Peter smiled. "Coffee will be fine . Last night I had dinner with my father He gave me a new blend of tea he is working on . It tasted awful."

Annie laughed. "I'm sure it had some medicinal purpose. How is your father doing? I haven't seen him for a couple of weeks."

"Pop and the Ancient went into the woods for a few days to gather some herbs. They left this morning."

"You okay with both Paul and your father being out of town?".

Peter took Annie right hand in his and kissed it. "I only get upset when they leave and don't tell me when they will be back. Besides I get some quality time with you."

Annie smiled and caressed Peter cheek. "I love spending time with you too sweetheart. Do you have any planes for tomorrow?"

Peter frowned. "Tomorrow is my Mother's birthday. I was thinking about visiting her grave."

"Would you like some company?"

Peter looked at Annie. "You want to come with me?"

Annie smiled at him. "I remember when you came back with the temple with your father. You told me that you never went with your father to visit her grave when you were a boy I would like to go with you to meet your other mother."

Peter stood up and picked up his and Annie's plates. He bent down and kissed Annie on the head. "I can't think of anyone I would rather go with."

Early afternoon the next day Peter parked his car in front of the old temple. Annie turned to face him. Her head was covered with a long brimmed black hat and she was wearing her dark sunglasses. She smiled at him. "Sweetheart are we here?"

"Yeah .this is where I grew up." Peter smirked. "When I came here with Pop I told him everything seemed smaller."

Annie smiled. "I remember after Paul and I were first married we took the girls to visit his hometown. Paul said the same thing about everything looking smaller."

Peter took Annie right hand in his left and squeezed it. "Thanks Mom you always know what to say. It's funny I don't really remember my birth mother You are the only mother I remember."

"Peter .she will always be a part of you Your father always told me that you take a lot after her .I don't want you to ever forget her She will always be a part of you like Carolyn and Kelly's birth mother will always be part of them."

Peter smiled. "Mom you are amazing I love you."

"I love you too Why don't we visit your Mother and then you can take me to lunch."

Peter got out of the car and helped Annie out. They started to walk towards his mother's grave when Peter stopped. "Mom can you stay here a minute I forgot something."

Annie waited while Peter ran to his car and took something out of the trunk. He walked back over to Annie carrying a bouquet of flowers. Annie smiled at him. and said. "Honey those flowers smell beautiful."
Peter smiled at her. "Jasmine was my mother's favorite scent. Pop use to make her perfume out of these flowers."

Annie reached for Peter's arm and smiled. "I'm sure your Mother will like her birthday present."

Peter led Annie to his mother's gravesite. Peter let go of Annie's arm and kneeled down under the gravestone that had the words "Laura Catherine Caine," .written on it. Peter smiled. "Hi Mother it's Peter I came to wish you a Happy Birthday. Pop would be here but he had to go to gather herbs with the Ancient. He turned to Annie and smiled. He turned back to his Mother's grave. "I brought somebody for you to meet. Annie Blaisdell is my foster mother She and Paul took me in when I was fifteen. I call her Mom .I hope you don't mind." Annie walked up to Peter and put her hand out towards him. Peter took her right hand and squeezed. "Hello Laura We both are lucky women We have a son who makes us very proud." Annie turned to face Peter. "Honey can you please go back to the car and get my sweater."

"Mom :if you are cold I can take you back to the car."

Annie smiled. "I just want to have a little talk with Laura .Mother to Mother."

Peter frowned. "Mom "

"Please sweetie .Paul and your father had quite a few interesting conversations .it's mine and your mother's turn."

"Okay I'll get your sweater I'll be back in a few minutes."
"Take your time Peter." Hearing Peter's footsteps going to the car Annie smiled. "Now that Peter's gone we can us some girl talk .My husband Paul and I are Peter's foster parents. When Peter was twelve the temple was attacked and Peter and Caine became separated. They both thought the other one had died. One of the surviving priests sent Peter to an orphanage. He was there for three years. That is where my husband found him. I remember like yesterday the first time Paul told me about a lost, angry orphan boy he met at the orphanage...

Annie was in sitting on the living-room couch reading a Braille book when the front door opened. Paul came into the living- room and said, "Hello, Babe."

Annie smiled and put down her book. "Hello Sweetheart I left your dinner in the oven."

Paul walked over to the couch and bent down to kiss Annie on the lips. "Where are the girls?"

"They are in the family room watching television. How was your visit to the orphanage?"

Paul sat down next to Annie. "There was a boy there I met smart mouth unusual background but there was something about him .I talked to him by the gym I asked him to come to my police lecture."

"What did he say?".

Paul smirked. "At first he said he wasn't interested but then he said he may come to get out of Math class .But he did come and he asked some really good questions.".

"I feel so bad for those kids .I know they get a warm bed and three meals a day but they can't give them what they really need They can't give them the love and security of a family."

Paul hugged Annie and kissed her on the head. "I know but most people who want children want little kids I saw this kid when I came in and I asked the Orphanage Director, Bob Murphy about him."

"What did he tell you?"

Paul smiled. "The boy's name is Peter Caine. He is fifteen. He mother died when he was two and his father raised him in a Shaolin Temple."

Annie looked perplexed. "I didn't know there were any Shaolin Temples in the United States."

"This one was in Northern California .three years ago there was a mysterious fire there and Peter's father was killed."

Annie frowned. "What happened to Peter then?"

"There. was an elderly monk there who had guardianship over Peter. He sent him to an orphanage because he was too sick to take care of him."

"That poor boy .it must have been some culture shock to go from a temple to an orphanage."

Paul frowned. "What made it worse was that Peter first arrived he was bald .You know how kids are anything that is different the others will make fun of."

Annie smiled at Paul. "You want to help this boy don't you?"

Paul laughed. "Sometimes I think you can read my mind."

"Don't tell Carolyn and Kelly I can't I got them believing I can .It helps to have something up your sleeve when your are a blind chick."

Chuckling Paul, "Babe you are amazing .I was thinking about taking Peter out of the orphanage for the day maybe take him to the police station and after that a movie."

"Why don't you bring him here for dinner .I would love to meet him."

'"Are you sure some of these kids can be pretty rough .I don't want him to say or do anything that would hurt you or the girls."

"Paul I trust your instincts I have a feeling there is something special about this Peter In all the years you visited the orphanage I don't remember another kid getting to you like this boy has .I would like to help him also."

Paul frowned. "He might reject any kindness we give him."

Annie frowned. "I know Paul .but he have to try."

Annie found herself in the present next to Laura Caine's grave. "He didn't reject us. At first he was very shy .We didn't want to push him so we started with visits for the day. After that we did weekends and after a few months we all felt like he was part of the family .I knew right away that I wanted him to be part of our family. The first night Paul brought him over I hugged him goodbye. He held on to me for a few extra seconds and I go the feeling that was the first time he received a hug since his father's death. I didn't want to send him back but Paul and I both knew we had to give him time to get to know us and the girls. Also Carolyn and Kelly had to get use to another person in the house."

Annie took off her glasses and wiped away a few tears. "Peter is a wonderful person I am sure you would be as proud of him as I and both of his father's are. I guess the real reason I came here was to thank you. I know some how you are responsible for Peter becoming part of our family. I know you are in heaven watching over him and you gently pushed him in our direction .Kwai Chang once told me that if you and he had to hand pick parents to take of Peter you would of picked Paul and I. When he talks to Paul about Peter he often refers to him as our son. I like to think you and I would have had a similar relationship. Kwai Chang tells me you wouldn't mind that Peter calls me Mom because he doesn't mind when Peter occasionally calls Paul Dad."

Annie smiled at Laura's gravestone. "I want to tell you something that I never told anyone . Even though I love Carolyn and Kelly like they are my own .I always felt like something was missing from my life. When Peter became a part of the family I felt like I finally had a child of my own Even though I know Peter loves you .I will always be Mom .I just want you to know I will always be there for our son."

As Annie heard Peter's footsteps approach her she wiped away the last of her tears and put her glasses back on. Peter walked over to her and said, "Mom I've got you sweater."

Annie let Peter drape the sweater over her shoulders and smiled. "Your mother and I had a nice talk."

"You did?"

Annie smiled. "Yes and one thing I know is that both your mothers and fathers love you very much and we all wish you wouldn't take so many dangerous risks and get hurt so much."

Peter smiled. "Okay I'll try but I can't promise I'll never get hurt It's part of the job."

Annie hugged her son and said, " I know you will try How about that lunch you promised me."

Peter turned to his mother's grave and said. "Goodbye Mother Hopefully next time I come I'll bring Pop with me."

Peter held out his elbow and Annie took it as they slowly walked to the car. "You know Pop always says that Mother would not approve of me calling his Pop."
Annie laughed. "I don't know about that .I think you Mother would have been very amused."