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EJ

 

 

Memories Of Birthdays Past

 

 



December 23, 1870

An exhausted Murdoch sat in his leather chair by the fireplace while savoring an aged scotch; a gift from Paul last Christmas. He sighed in relief, it had been a hectic day making sure all the work was done so everyone would be home in time to celebrate Johnny's first birthday at Lancer. No, he ruefully shook his head, it was his boy's third birthday.

The rest of the family had retired early leaving Murdoch to enjoy his drink and the quiet. When the Grandfather clock chimed, Murdoch turned toward the sound and smiled. In seven more minutes it would be the exact time Johnny had come into his life.  

******

December 23, 1849

An agitated Murdoch paced the floor waiting for Sam or Maria to come for him. “Why does it take so long for a baby to be born?” he complained to himself. At the sound of a door opening then closing, he rushed to the foot of the stairs. 

Maria flew past him without saying a word. “Well, what's happening?” He called after the woman but she ignored him and continued toward the kitchen. He started to follow her when Sam called to him from the top of the stairs.

“Murdoch, I need to talk to you.” Sam waited for Murdoch to turn toward him. “Maria is having some trouble—”

“Maria… the baby?” Murdoch started up the stairs but Sam put up his hand and stopped the anxious father.

“No they will be alright, it just going to take longer than expected.” When Murdoch opened his mouth, Sam continued. “This happens sometimes with the first baby. Now go back to the Great Room and we will let you when the baby's here.” Sam turned and headed back to the bedroom leaving the soon-to-be father standing on the second step.

“Patrón, move, el médico needs this water.” 

Murdoch stepped to the side as Maria brushed past him. He waited till she safely reached the top of the stairs before he returned to his pacing in the Great Room.  

******

Finally after what had seemed hours to Murdoch, Maria carried a small bundle to the new father. He awkwardly held the boy while the Mexican cook scolded him to support the baby's head. Sam stood by and watched his friend enjoy those first moments of a father meeting his new-born son.

When Sam and Maria finally left him alone to care for the new mother; Murdoch sat down in his favorite leather chair. Grateful for the quiet time with his son, Murdoch looked down on the small boy and savored every part of him. The blue eyes  were his bother's eyes; there was only one child in each generation with eyes that vivid blue. The black hair and fine features were a gift from his mother. Murdoch whispered, “I wonder if you will have your mother's temper?” He felt such love the child he held protectively in his arms. 

“Someday Johnny I will bring your big brother, Scott, home. I will watch the two of you grow up together. I'll teach you to ride and love the land as much as I do.”

The tiny boy wiggled in his father's arms and smiled up at the large face looking down on him.

Murdoch spent the rest of the night telling his new son about how wonderful his life will be growing up on Lancer with his big brother.

*******

December 23, 1850

One year later a harried father was chasing a very active one-year old around the Great Room. When he finally caught the boy he lifted the squirming child over his head and teased, “You are getting to fast for your old man.” Then he lowered the boy into a hug. 

Murdoch sat Johnny on the floor and looked down on his son, “Do you want to go for a ride with Papa?”

Johnny clapped his hands and bounced on his toes in excitement. He was nodding his head so fast that his hair fell over his eyes.

“Guess that means yes.” Murdoch laughed and brushed the hair from his son's forehead. He picked up Johnny and headed for the barn.

During the ride Murdoch pointed to the ranch hands and told his son that someday he would be old enough to work the land. “And I will give you a palomino pony for you to ride.”

******

Murdoch looked into the fire and wiped the tear rolling down his cheek as he thought about that last birthday with his toddler.

 

December 23, 1951 

Johnny was two-years old and talking non-stop. Murdoch and Maria were kept busy with an ‘in constant motion' boy running through the house. 

On that day, Murdoch was sure he was going to have a heart attack when he caught Johnny trying to get into to corral to see his birthday present. 

“Papa… caballo.” Johnny excitedly pointed to the palomino pony.

Murdoch scooped up his son and carried the squirming boy to the pony. “What are you going to name him?”

“Oro, he's oro.” Johnny wiggled around to face the pony so he could reach out and pet the soft nose. 

“That's a good name, Johnny.”

“Ride Papa?”

“No not yet, he's to little.” Murdoch turned to leave the corral.

Johnny struggled to get down, “No Papa, ride.”

“Johnny he's to young to ride, how about you ride with me till Oro is old enough?” Murdoch had hoped the ploy would calm his son and thankfully it had.

“Sí, Papa, ride.” Johnny relaxed in his father's arms; content that he had won and would get a horseback ride.

Together they  went into the barn and after the horse was saddled the two headed out for a birthday ride.

******

Later that year the worst moment a father could face came true.

Every morning when Murdoch woke he would go into Johnny's room. There he would dress his son and the two would head downstairs to eat breakfast together before he had to head out for the day.

When he entered the room it had seemed so quiet, Johnny was usually up and standing in his crib waiting for Papa. Murdoch moved to the crib, surprised to find it was empty. However, he wasn't worried since Maria was already up and he figured she had taken the boy down for breakfast.

Upon entering the kitchen he called out, “Good morning, Maria.” He looked around but noticed she was alone, “Where are the Señora and Johnny?”

“Patrón?” She looked up from the eggs she was cooking on the stove.

“Didn't Maria bring Johnny down?” Murdoch was getting worried.

“No, Patrón, Señora Maria is still upstairs.”

“No, Maria was gone when I woke up and Johnny's not in his crib.” 

Frantic, they looked through the hacienda but Maria and Johnny were nowhere to be found. 

When Murdoch had checked his room he discovered that Maria's valise and some clothes were missing, and in Johnny's room some of his clothes and a few toys were missing.

Murdoch, Cip, and Paul saddled up to hunt for his missing wife and son.

They never found them, and Murdoch's world had collapsed. Again. 

******

December 23, 1870

Murdoch sighed, all those years, all those lost years. Now, at last, he had his lost boy back. The promise he had made to Johnny about growing up with his big brother had never come true. He smiled in contentment, his sons were home, home where they belonged.

This year was going to be a very special Christmas for the Lancer family. Scott and Johnny had formed a strong bond despite their differences. Murdoch still had difficult times with trying to be a father to grown sons, but the struggle had been worth it. They were slowly becoming a family.

There was one last thing he needed to do. 

Murdoch rose from his chair and moved to the French doors. He opened them and stepped out onto the patio where a cold breeze caused him to pull his jacket closer around him. Looking up he saw the North Star, so many times had he wished upon that same star.

In the silence of the night he looked up and uttered, “Thank you.”

 

 

 

~end~
Merry Christmas Lancer Lovers, may all your hopes and dreams come true. 
And to James ‘Johnny Madrid Lancer' Stacy I wish you a very Happy Birthday.
Elin “EJ” December 23, 2014

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