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Rogue & Kitty get kidnapped.
Just then there was a light knock on my office door. I looked up to see an older, brown-skinned woman with gray hair and large glasses. Tom's voice continued on the phone, but I didn't even hear what he said. She said, "Hello, my name is Regina, and I understand I need to speak to you about my son."
I put the phone back up to my ear and said, "I'll have to call you back later, I have a visitor."
"Good luck!" I heard as I hung up the phone.
I rose and walked to the door. "Please, come in," I said, indicating the couch and wincing at the thought of making out with her son on that same couch.
"Actually, it might be best for us to go out," she said. She clutched her purse with both hands and looked up at me. I was surprised that Tom would have a mother who was barely 5 feet tall.
"Of course, let me grab my bag," I said. I led us down the block to a simple restaurant that I knew didn't do much business during lunch. Regina was silent during our walk, and I tried to fill the silence by pointing out some of the local sites of interest. It was awkward.
Once we were seated and had ordered our lunches, she began. "Obviously, you understand that we're a little concerned. The way Thomas is talking about you...and talking about a future together...it's a little surprising. We trust his judgment, we really do. And he's certainly a grown man. But can you please indulge an old woman and help put a worrying mother's heart at ease?" Her voice was a little shaky- she was at about 15 years older than me- but her mind and her gaze were sharp and unyielding.
"Of course," I said, "anything."
"We've heard a lot about you, but I'd like to hear it from you. Can you just tell me your story?"
I felt like I was being tested. How much had Tom told her? In such cases, I default to total honesty. I told her briefly about Jimmy and about my incarceration. I told her about Glen and my teaching career. I told her about the growth of Hope's Advocate and about how my relationship with Thomas began. She listened silently, and our food arrived just as I finished.
She asked if she could pray over our food, which surprised me. I suddenly felt a little embarrassed that I had always assumed Thomas' family was Hindu. I wisely held my tongue, learning later that they came from an area of southern India that had been Christianized for over a thousand years. Tom had been named after the Apostle to whom they traced their religious heritage.
After we had a chance to eat a little, she said, "Now please tell me what you know about my son." That was a difficult question. I told her the facts that I knew- his educational and professional history, his interests, influential moments from his past. I told her about his character, highlighting the many qualities I admired.
"And his future plans?" she prodded. I recounted to her the gist of our conversation about his hopes and plans for the future. She seemed satisfied with my answers, and the tone of our conversation softened. We talked about Canada and her family in India. She told me some stories about her son, including a few embarrassing ones I would need to remember for later. As we prepared to leave the restaurant, she said, "I'm sure it's no surprise to you that Thomas is speaking of marriage. Please understand that, especially in his case, we want to be very cautious about that, especially since we had never met you."
"I understand. And I hope you see that this isn't something he's being tricked or pressured into. It's taken me almost by surprise."
"Oh, I imagine it has, dear. And that it will continue to surprise you, I have no doubt. A woman your age doesn't often expect such things...but is probably better able to appreciate them. Now, one last thing. Could you please give me a tour of your shelter? I would like to understand what you do. And bring Gina, too, if she's available."
I did as she asked, and Gina was just as surprised as I was by our visitor.