For several Sundays I had been meeting with this group of young people. I have not mentioned them before, but I had met them in church. It was a small church but quite active. They had welcomed me in and I felt as though I had truly come home when I was with them.
I especially had my eyes on a lovely young girl named Angela Rae. She seemed to like me, too. Her chestnut hair was cut to frame an oval face; her eyes were a soft brown almost the same color as her hair. I thought her name suited her; when she spoke, it was a soft southern tone that reached my ears.
Smitten was the word that would describe me and I knew without a doubt that she was meant to be mine. I had told no one about my feelings for Angela; not realizing I didn't have to even open my mouth for it to be obvious to others.
Jackson had taken me to the church for a visit the first time I went. After I saw Angela, I knew that would be my church, for sure. Of course, the pastor was very good, as well. It took me two weeks to get up my nerve to speak to Angela.
At first, I just nodded to her. She looked directly at me, then looked away, blushing. That captured my heart. I had seen lots of girls in my day, but seeing one almost as shy as I was, I knew she was the one for me.
When I met Odie around three, I was carrying the picnic basket filled with goodies for the meeting.
"Your Mama Nina sure knows how to fill a basket," Odie said, lifting the lid and peeking inside.
"Now you just keep your paws out a' the food," I chided him, jokingly.
"Tell me something about these people we're picnicking with today," he demanded. "How do I know I'll like them...better still, how do I know they'll like me? Not everybody does, you know."
"Oh, just be nice, and they can't help but like you. You're a great fella, once you stop being a jerk!" I joked.
I knew he was nervous, but I encouraged him to settle down and just be natural. I had realized that one reason he acted like such a jerk sometimes, was that he hadn't had a man to teach him how to behave for several years since his Pa had died. He had been allowed to run wild for too long.
When we arrived at the riverside, we saw the other young people gathered and I noticed some of them had begun a game of softball.
"Come on, Odie; let me introduce you to some of the fellas."
After I introduced him, we joined the game of softball and before long, Odie was enjoying himself. Turns out he was a natural pitcher and was soon being clapped on the back for doing such a great job.
Soon after the game began, I saw Angela Rae arrive with her brother, and I smiled in her direction. She saw me, I knew, but offered little recognition of the fact. Sooner or later, I would get her to speak to me. It was destiny.
(To be continued)