The story so far: Gavin, diagnosed with Legg Perthese Disease, has to use crutches and stay off his right leg for nearly two years! At first he is crushed, but he begins to discover ways he can still be active and have fun.
After a long year and a half, the x-rays showed that the healing was finally complete in Gavin’s hip! To him, it seemed no less of a miracle than when Jesus put his hands on the crippled folks and healed them. He was ecstatic the day he walked out of the doctor’s office with out crutches!
This Sunday afternoon found Gavin over at Granddad’s and Grandma Kay’s. He loved their country home on a dirt road off the busy highway just a few miles from his home. Uncle Jaden, their son was his age, so he was really more like a cousin than an uncle.
“C’mon man,” Jaden urged in a low tone, “you can do it.”
Gavin stared at the sparkling creek below him. With the rope secure in his grip, he ran full speed to edge of the bank and leaped off into space. The soaring sensation brought all the euphoria Gavin had anticipated. Blackberry brambles blurred with the creek below as the wind resistance squeezed tears from his eyes.
“Let go! Let go!” Jaden yelled at the top of his lungs. Gavin did just that as he made a pass over the creek fifteen feet below him, releasing his grip from the knotted rope.
Kersplash! The cold wetness instantly numbed his body, and his head surfaced to
Jaden’s wild cheers.
“Way to go, man!” Jaden slapped his back as he came up the muddy bank. Having the approval of his uncle brought even greater joy to Gavin than the daring leap from the bank.
“Lunchtime!” Grandma Kay was calling from the porch.
“Not now!” Gavin’s face clouded over.
“The creek isn’t going anywhere,” Jaden was already on his way up the hill to the
house. “I’m hungry!”
Gavin shrugged and followed Jaden
After lunch, Gavin wanted to get right back to the tree swing, but Jaden had other ideas. Gavin followed him down the hill.
“Hey, Gavin, have you seen inside the tobacco barn?”
“Not the inside of it,” Gavin looked across the field to the neighbor’s barn.
“Come on, let’s go explore,” Jaden motioned leading the way. The boys ducked under the fence and crossed the pasture of tall grass.
Creeeeeek, the old door moved unwillingly on its rusty hinges. The boys peered inside. As his eyes adjusted, Gavin could see the huge brown drying tobacco leaves hanging from tobacco stakes strung across the joists.
“Cool,” Gavin breathed as he followed Jaden inside. In the darkness light was filtering through the wall boards. Jaden sneezed and Gavin’s nose began to tingle and burn from the potent but invisible dust floating around them.
“Let’s smoke some of this stuff,” Jaden said as he gazed above his head.
Gavin hesitated. Granddad considered smoking a disgusting habit, as did his own father.Gavin had never really thought about it.
“But don’t you need some paper to roll it?” Gavin asked hoping Jaden’s plan would be foiled.
“Well, looky here,” Jaden drawled pulling out a piece of folded paper from his
pocket. With a start Gavin realized Jaden had planned on this all along. What should he do? He was pretty sure Christians didn’t smoke.
In the end, he quieted his troubled thoughts with his stronger desire to please Jaden. We’re only trying it, he finally rationalized.
Jaden shimmied up to the joists and plucked off a two-foot-long tobacco leaf from the bunch. He let it fall down to Gavin.
Tearing off two small rectangles of paper, Jaden showed Gavin how to crush a piece of dried leaf onto the rectangle of paper. Gavin watched Jaden roll the paper and then lick the edge to seal it shut. When they were each ready, Jaden fumbled in his pocket for a lighter, and then lit them up.
“Now this is what you do,” Jaden mumbled through pursed lips. “Suck in,” and he demonstrated with a mighty draw.
Suddenly he erupted into a fit of coughing. Gavin stood with the cigarette poised watching his uncle struggle for breath. Then he doubled up with laughter as Jaden continued to sputter and cough.
“So that’s how you do it?” Gavin asked when he finally caught his own breath from laughing. “Great lesson, Jaden!”
“Ok, ok, so I sucked in too hard,” Jaden said in a raspy voice when he had gained
The boys continued to practice, cough, and choke through their experiment. The
smoke rings they’d seen on TV just didn’t seem to work, and the macho glamour John Wayne had when he let the cigarette dangle on his lip eluded the boys as well. Finally, with watering eyes and screaming lungs they squashed the smoldering cigarettes into the dirt floor.
“Who’d want to suck smoke into their lungs anyway?” Jaden asked as the boys came out into the sunshine. No matter how they dusted themselves off, it seemed that the stinky tobacco smoke followed them. Gavin felt dirty and ashamed.
Grandma Kay was fluting the edges of an apple pie when the boys came into the
kitchen. Jaden brushed by her to get a drink of water at the sink.
“Here,” he handed Gavin the glass and turned to fill another glass for himself.
How cool and soothing the water felt going down! Gavin wondered if his throat would ever be the same.
“Hmmmm,” Grandma began to sniff. “Something smells like smoke,” she looked at Jaden over her glasses. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say someone’s been smoking.”
Jaden was leaning against the counter. He shifted uncomfortably to the other leg. Gavin held his breath.
“Wow, Mom, are we having apple pie tonight?” Jaden asked with enthusiasm.
“Your dad tried to smoke when he was a youngster,” Grandma couldn’t be
distracted. “Yep, indeed,” Grandma turned to open the oven door. She slid the pie onto the shelf. “But he grew out of all that nonsense.”
But Grandma wasn’t done yet. Gavin felt as miserable as a trapped mouse being
tormented by a cat.