“I know, but I thought of one that you haven’t mentioned, and I really like it. What do you think of Riley?” She scans my face for my reaction.
“Riley? Riley Rogers? Hmm,” I purse my lips together and pause.
“Stop it, daddy,” she whines. “Tell me what you think. Do you like it or not?”
“I love it, princess. If you like Riley, then Riley it is.” I pat her tummy and say, “Hello, Riley. Daddy loves you.”
Five Years Later
My last graduation ceremony behind me, I close the door on a decade-long career. My secretary hands me a box filled with cards and well wishes from students and faculty members.
“On to bigger and better things. I’m very happy for you, Mr. Rogers. Congratulations,” she shakes my hand.
“I know you and I haven’t always agreed on things, but I want you to know that I’ve always appreciated your help and guidance through the years,” I tell her.
She smiles. “If someone told me ten years ago that you, the hot headed young man that you were, would be on the board of administrators one day, I would have said they were crazy. You’ve done an excellent job here, and I’m proud of the caring professional that you’ve become.”
Her words touch me, but I know that if I wasn’t that hot headed young man, I might have never taken the risk of dating Rose, and I wouldn’t have the perfect life that I have now.
The memories of my career wash over me as I drive home for the last time. I remember the first time I saw Rose sitting in the outer office and how stricken with her I was. I think that I knew at that moment that she would be the love of my life. Now, five years later, there hasn’t been a single shred of doubt.
The garage door is open when I inch into the driveway, carefully looking for abandoned toys or stray children. The sound of laughter trails over the backyard fence, and I smile thinking about how nice it will be to start summer vacation and spend more time with the kids.
Rose is in the kitchen and puts her finger to her lips when she sees me enter. Reagan is asleep in her swing, and she doesn’t want me to wake her. I slip silently past the baby and pull Rose into an embrace. She leads me out to the patio where her mother is watching Riley and Ryan color on the concrete with chalk.
“How was it? Were you sad to leave after all this time?” she asks me.
“Bittersweet, I guess. I’m happy to be moving on to new things, and the extra money will be great but there’s a lot of memories there.” I wrap my arms around her and continue, “I was just thinking about this one day when a beautiful senior got called to the office. I didn’t know how it was possible that I’d never seen her before. It was almost as though she just dropped out of thin air. Did I mention how beautiful she was?”
“You better be talking about me,” Rose threatens.
“Of course, I’m talking about you, baby,” I kiss her cheek just as the kids realize that I’m here.
“Daddy, daddy, daddy,” Riley shouts as she and Ryan rush to wrap themselves around my legs.
“How’s life treating you, Ryan?” Mrs. O’Connor asks.
“Better than I could ask for,” I reply.