I will cherish forever a particular Saturday in April 1997 with my son.
Torey was five years old and just beginning to adjust to the new arrangement since my divorce from his mother. It was a relatively calm process with each of us going our own way and nothing being contested. I found myself spending more quality time with Torey now. I could see him during the week when I called ahead, and he stayed with me every other weekend. I would not say life was perfect, but I realize it could have been a lot worse. The only worry that still nagged at me was that somehow, the divorce would influence Torey to believe that happy marriages weren't possible, and I didn't want that for him.
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I picked Torey up at school as usual that Friday afternoon. I
told him I had a surprise for him tomorrow, but would say no more.
He was bursting with anticipation and begging for hints. I finally
told him we were going somewhere and that was the last hint. He
then began to guess, like kids do - the park, the playground,
the beach, and on and on. He even guessed that we were going to
see his grandparents, who now lived in Miami, or his best friend,
Trenton Stimes, who moved to California last year. When the barrage
of questions failed to get him any closer to knowing what he was
after, he started his con artist routine. I almost told him at
that point, but instead I said I would give him one more clue.
I suppose he thought that if I figured he would like to have some pictures, then it must be a neat place to go, or maybe he just enjoyed the idea of using the new Polaroid. Either way, he was content until the next morning.
At 8.00 a.m. sharp, he was ready to go. He did not even try to find out where we were headed. He had the camera case strapped around his shoulder and was hurrying me on every step of the way. He was truly anxious to get there, wherever it was.
As I drove, I kept turning my head so I could see his eyes when we approached the sign that said, "Lowry Park Zoo." Torey had never been to a zoo before, but had mentioned it several times. His excitement thrilled me. It was better than watching him at Christmas, or when we brought his puppy Snoop home for the first time.
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There was a small line at the entry way of the park, and Torey displayed his impatience by stepping out of line and stretching his neck to see every possible sight. I looked ahead and saw what was causing the backup. There was an elderly couple walking very slowly. They were side by side, holding on to one another with one hand, and the railing with the other hand, which made passing impossible as they went along the wooden trail.
I was afraid Torey was going to say something about the old couple that might embarrass all of us since he was in such a hurry, so I began talking to him about the animals to keep him occupied. Soon, Torey was completely engrossed in the animals, as he ran from one habitat to the next. Somewhere near the orangutan, he remembered the camera.
"Dad! I have to take some pictures! Will you help me?"
Taking Pictures Part 1 | 2
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