“And that’s what happened.” Jason finished speaking. It was evening now, and he and Whit were sitting in their living room as Jason recounted the day’s events.
“It sounds like you had quite a day.” Whit chuckled.
“Yeah. I certainly did.”
“So then, how did your meeting with Mr. Burton go?”
“Yeah, he couldn’t wait any longer for me at the shop, so it didn’t happen.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, son. I know how important it was to you.”
Jason shook his head. “Nah, it’s okay. In fact, I’m glad it didn’t work out.”
“Well, yeah. Because of it, I was able to connect more with Morrie and Suzu, as well as learn a valuable lesson.”
“And what might that be?”
“Ah.” Whit gave a knowing look.
“I always knew that being a parent required a lot of patience. But it wasn’t until today that I realized just how much. Even when everything started going awry I thought that I could keep my emotions in check. And then I just…”
Jason gave a light laugh. “Exploded would be more like it.” He then sighed. “How do you do it, Dad? How do you manage to be understanding all the time with me, your friends, the kids at Whit’s End, Everyone? How do you do it?”
Whit chuckled. “First off, I’m not patient all of the time. The pressures and stresses of the day get to me just as much as they get to you. The question is what do we choose to do with that frustration? Lash out at those around us, or take a moment to pray to God to give us the strength to let go of our anger.”
“It also helps to see things in perspective. Remember what’s truly valuable. Is it a business deal or the people that God places in our lives? I…I can’t tell you how many times I wish I learned that lesson sooner. When I think of all the times I chose to spend my time working on my research or on UPF business instead of being with you, Jana, Jerry, and your mom…” Whit sighed and looked down, tears filling his eyes.
Jason reached out and touched his Dad’s shoulder. Tears were now beginning to fill his eyes as well.
Whit swallowed and continued “Treasure the people in your life, Jason. Always. Even when they do things that are upsetting or test your patience, you never know how much time you will have with them.”
Jason looked into his Dad’s tear-filled eyes and softly spoke, “Always, Dad. Always.” The two of them embraced and held each other tenderly.
Meanwhile, Morrie and Suzu sat on the stairs, observing the tender scene between father and son. “That was so…sweet,” Suzu said softly.
“Yeah, I guess it was touching enough. We best get going though before they see us.”
“Yes. You are right.” The two of them stood up causing the floor to creak beneath them.
“Uh oh,” Morrie said.
They tried to hurry up the stairs but heard Whit call after them.
They stopped in their tracks. Slowly, they turned around and headed back downstairs. They now stood at the bottom of the staircase.
“What are you two doing out of bed at this time of night?” Whit asked.
“Um,” Morrie began, “we were going to get some…water.”
“Really?” Whit continued. It was clear to Morrie and Suzu that Mr. Whittaker knew they weren’t being honest with him. Morrie looked from Whit to Jason and back to Whit again.
“Umm…well, actually, we heard you two talking and wanted to hear what you had to say.” Morrie paused for a few seconds and continued, “I’m…I’m sorry, Jason for what happened. I knew better, and my behavior was uncalled for.”
“As was mine,” Suzu replied, “I apologize.”
“Morrie, Suzu,” Jason began, “it’s alright. I forgive you. I shouldn’t have behaved that way towards you guys no matter how frustrated I was feeling. I promise to be more patient with you two going forward. And, if it’s alright with you both, I was thinking that we could start over.”
They paused. Morrie spoke again.
“With our relationship. I haven’t been there for you the way I should. Right now more than ever you need to see God’s love through those around you, and I’ve shown the exact opposite. And I want to change that by promising to support you, guide you through your life here, and be a shoulder to cry on whenever you need it. If that’s what you want, of course.”
“Yes, I would like that” Suzu softly replied, visibly touched by Jason’s words.
“Yeah, I suppose I would as well.”
“Good,” Jason replied. “Now that that’s taken care of, can you two please stop with all the apologizing? It’s making me feel weird.” They all laughed.
“Come here you two.” Jason outstretched his arms toward Morrie and Suzu. Suzu walked toward Jason and they shared a loose side embrace. “You too, Morrie,” Jason said.
“I’m not big on physical touch, so…hugs really aren’t my thing.”
“Morrie,” Suzu replied in that tone of voice she used when she was persuading him to do something.
He rolled his eyes. “Fine. I will join in this act of affection. But reluctantly” Morrie gave in. He walked over to where Jason and Suzu were standing and was soon embraced in both of their arms.
Whit smiled to himself at the sight. “Mind if I join in?”
Jason chuckled, “Sure, Dad.”
Whit wrapped his arms around Jason, Morrie, and Suzu, joining them all together in a group hug.
“Um…guys? Is it just me, or am I the only one being smothered in here?” Morrie exclaimed.
Jason, Whit, and Suzu laughed. “You better get used to this Morrie, because this is what we Whittakers do” Jason responded.
“What? Suffocate each other?” Morrie joked.
“No,” Jason laughed. “Give the best hugs on the planet. Well, that and love each other no matter what.”
And the Rydell children couldn’t agree more.