Ira Jenkins watched Sammy, the little brother he’d been assigned from Big Brothers, Big Sisters, run to the front porch of his home where his mother sat, waiting for him. He couldn’t wait to show her the new laptop he’d gotten. Ira always took him somewhere special every Saturday. They often went to the movies and then out to eat. Sometimes, they went shopping. Rarely did they buy anything this expensive, but Sammy was a smart kid. He was starting middle school this fall, and Ira was determined he’d do well. So was his mother.
Mrs. Lawrence was a good mother, struggling to raise a son on her own. She worked long hours, and Ira was happy to give her a day to herself once a week. They’d decided on Saturday, because she and Sammy were active in their church on Sundays. Now, she pushed to her feet and came to talk to him through his car’s open window.
“Are you sure?” she asked him. “I was saving the money to buy him a computer when school started.”
Ira smiled. “I can easily afford it. You can’t. I enjoy your son. Let me do this for him.”
She blinked away tears and laid her hand on his shoulder. “Thank you. I’ll use the money to buy him new clothes instead.”
“He has his eyes on a new pair of gym shoes. They’re not cheap.”
She stepped back and shook her head. “We’ll see about that. We can’t afford brand names like some of the kids. And don’t you go and buy him those.”
“I won’t. My parents struggled with money, and it taught me to respect hard work and education. Not having everything you want builds character. But a laptop’s an investment in his future.”
“Thanks again, Ira. And bless you.” She started back to the porch and Sammy pulled up a chair next to hers, opened his new toy, and pressed keys to demonstrate its wonderfulness.
Satisfaction trickled through Ira as he pulled away from the curb. Being a big brother was exactly what he’d needed after his wife died. That and his other volunteer work. The act of giving had lifted him out of his grief and loneliness.
He smiled, remembering, on his drive home. He’d taken Sammy to his company’s softball game and party on Friday night. A few of his other retired friends were there, too, and they always made a fuss over him. They were all too slow to run bases anymore, so Sammy did that for them.
On a whim, he stopped at the Fresh Market on his route and bought himself an almond croissant to have with his coffee Sunday morning. It was a splurge. He had to watch his carbs since he’d been diagnosed with diabetes.
Once home, he chuckled at himself. Eating out with Sammy always meant he’d need an extra shot of insulin. He couldn’t resist stopping at the ice cream stand before he took the boy home. They both enjoyed it too much.
Before settling for the night, he changed into his pajamas and did his evening round of checking doors, making sure the stove was turned off, and flipping off lights. Then he clicked on the lamp beside his bed and picked up his book. He only made it a few pages before he yawned, switched off the light, and pulled up his blankets.
He smiled again as he drifted to sleep. Tomorrow, he was meeting two old friends for brunch at one of their favorite restaurants.
But tomorrow never came.