Written by Christine Sutton
Published with Permission


Sam’s mom opened the “get well” card he’d made her and smiled. He had cut out pictures of lots of summery things: blue sea, a big yellow sun, a sandy beach, and some pretty shells, and stuck them around a picture of a glass of iced lemonade, with silvery trickles running down the side.

“Oh, it’s lovely, Sammy,” she said. “I can see you’ve put a lot of thought into that; thank you. I’m sorry we won’t be going to see Auntie Laura and Jack tomorrow after all. You must be so disappointed.”

He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. Dad phoned Auntie this morning, and she said we can go at Christmas instead.”

Mom sighed. “It will be cold then, though, won’t it? You won’t be able to go on the beach with Jack—and all because your silly mommy slipped on the stairs and hurt her leg.”

Sam gave her a hug. “It’s okay,” he said. “You just get well soon and come home.”

Mom’s smile was sort of wobbly as she kissed him good-bye.

All the way home, Sam couldn’t help thinking how much he’d been looking forward to going on their summer vacation. He always loved visiting his auntie and playing with his cousin on the beach near their West Coast home. Now he’d have to wait another whole year to build that sand castle with Jack.

“You’re very quiet, Sam,” Dad said, unlocking the front door. “Mom’s going to be fine, you know. She’ll be back before you know it.”

“I know,” Sam nodded. “It’s just . . .” He stopped.

Dad put a hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay to be upset for yourself, too, Sam. I know how much you were looking forward to going to your auntie’s again. That was a real nice thing you did, by the way, making her that card. Where did you get the idea?”

“I was looking at pictures in a magazine of all the great things you can do on vacation,” Sam told him. “I just thought, as Mom isn’t going to do them for real this year, I’d put them on a card instead.”

“Well, she loved it,” Dad said. “Good work, son. Now, I guess I’d better get dinner started.”

Up in his room Sam knelt on his bed, looking down into the garden. Dad had been busy digging out the area for the new patio when Mom had taken her fall, and his tools and equipment were lying where he’d left them. Over by the fence were the two big bags of sand he would need to put under the paving slabs and, beside them, a bag each of ornamental rocks and shells to decorate the flowerbeds. Gradually, a scene began to form in Sam’s mind.

“Dad,” he called, scrambling off the bed and running downstairs, “I’ve got an idea!”

Two days later Mom came home from hospital. As Dad pushed her through the door in a wheelchair, her plastered leg stuck straight out in front of her. Sam was waiting.

“Right this way,” he said, ushering her straight through the house and into the yard.

“Oh, my!” Mom said, gazing about her. Their little square of patchy brown grass had disappeared under a layer of golden sand. In the middle sat a brand new paddling pool surrounded by ornamental rocks and coral-pink shells. It looked just like a rock pool on a beach.

“We’ve got waves and gulls too,” Sam said, turning on the CD player. Sure enough—the air was filled with seagull cries and the soothing sound of tumbling waves.

“Oh, this is lovely,” Mom cried. “It’s just like your card, Sam.”

“Almost,” he agreed. He opened the kitchen door and out stepped Auntie Laura holding a jug of iced lemonade, followed by Jack with the glasses.

“Laura!” Mom exclaimed in delight. “What are you doing here?”

Auntie Laura laughed. “You didn’t think I was going to let my little sister cope all on her own with a broken leg, did you?” Setting down the tray, she wrapped her arms around Mom and hugged her. “Isn’t this fabulous?” she said.

“Sam’s worked really hard setting everything up.”

“Jack helped too,” Sam said loyally, draping an arm around his cousin’s shoulder.

“It was fun,” Jack grinned. “I wish our garden was like this.”

“But you’ve got a real beach at home,” Sam protested.

“Not in the backyard,” Jack said enviously.

“Mm, this is heavenly,” Mom sighed, as Laura poured her a glass of lemonade. “It’s not the ‘break’ I was expecting, but I think I’m going to enjoy my virtual vacation just as much!”

Sam smiled. Me, too, he thought happily, helping Jack scoop sand into a bucket.


Christine Sutton has been a writer for twenty years and has had work published in magazines all around the world. She lives with her family in a small town called Hornchurch, just outside London. Interestingly, the parish church, St. Andrew’s, is thought to be unique in having as its emblem a bull’s head instead of a cross. This dates back nearly nine centuries to the time when the church was affiliated with the Monastery of St. Nicholas and St. Bernard of Montjoux, in Savoy, Switzerland, where the emblem was also a bull’s head.

 Copyright 2012, used with permission.  All rights reserved by author.  Originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine.  Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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