Human beings are born with methods of perception. Among them are sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. From these methods come judgments, assumptions, likes, dislikes, rights, and wrongs. Perceptiveness is an important ingredient in the success of two-person interactions. Understanding, patience, consideration, and altruism are necessary attributes if a relationship is to remain lasting and healthy.
Shared senses become blended. You can see without looking, hear without spoken words, and feel without touching. When individuals are unable to see the pain they’ve inflicted on others, hear requests for change, feel love that keeps the connection warm, read between the lines of fake and real, taste bitterness and resentment, or sense distress and frustration, relationships become weak, susceptible to contamination from outside forces, and destined to wither and die. Senses can be used as tools to build upon the foundation of love and commitment, and couples should embrace the power realized with a higher degree by using their senses to push the boundaries of relationships to new heights—each unique and rare—just as God created each person as a distinct being.
Humans do not always use senses to their greatest advantage. Until they do, commitments and marriages will continue to falter because individuals refuse to take the first step, stretch themselves, or run the extra mile to attain greater heights and receive and share simply by sharing senses.
Chapter 1: Family Reunion
“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction,
the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.”
On a warm evening at the end of October 1997, Chalice Crawford stood at her kitchen sink rinsing vegetables and fruit while her best friend, Brenda, sat at the kitchen table playing with Chalice’s ten-month-old daughter, Claire. The kitchen was bright and modern. A black granite counter with four bar stools in black and ivory leather separated the kitchen from the great room. Black and ivory ceramic tiles diagonally covered the kitchen floor and the exposed walls were yellow. Sunflowers of different shapes and sizes were placed on the kitchen counters in black and yellow vases, and the cabinets were painted ivory with glass doors. In the center of the kitchen was a huge, two-level island complete with a vegetable sink, disposal, and small stovetop, as well as four chairs where people could enjoy a meal or snack. She had a gourmet kitchen made for a chef that included top-of-the-line appliances such as two sub-zero refrigerators, a six-burner stove, and a warming drawer. The microwave oven was installed under the cabinet and the kitchen was complete with a double convection oven, dishwasher, trash compactor, and wine cooler in the same stainless steel finish as the other appliances. The double sink looked out onto the patio and was stainless steel, as well. A dining table for six was placed in front of the French doors leading to the lanai. Chalice took pride in maintaining a home for her family and Brenda often visited after her shift at the hospital while Chalice cooked.
Pretty as a picture, Claire was well on her way to becoming a beauty queen in Brenda’s mind. “I don’t understand why you won’t put her in commercials—she’s the prettiest baby I’ve ever seen, and being a nurse, I’ve seen more than my share of babies. She could be a millionaire before she turns five.”
“As usual, Brenda, you’re exaggerating,” Chalice chided. “Besides, I don’t want my baby handled by a lot of strangers, let alone being exposed to germs unnecessarily. I want her to have a normal life as long as possible. God knows she’s already doomed to be in the spotlight with Jackson as her father.”
Brenda threw her hand in the air and flicked her wrist. “Fame and fortune haven’t ruined Jackson one bit, and I’m sure they won’t affect Claire. She’s got you to keep her grounded.”
“Just the same, she’s my baby and I want to protect her from that world as long as possible. It’s the reason we’re here alone and Jackson’s thousands of miles away working. I can’t wrap my mind around his way of living and I intend on delaying any knowledge of being in his life (outside of my family and close friends) as long as possible, so you’ll have to be content with seeing Claire in person and not on screen.”
“You’re torturing that man,” Brenda insisted. He’s only human and I’m sure women throw themselves at him all the time. If he were mine, I wouldn’t be content to remain thousands of miles away from him for six months out of the year.”
Chalice turned to her friend and smiled, knowing she only had the best intentions for her. “Thank goodness he’s mine and not yours—you’d smother him to death. Quite honestly, you sound like president of the Jackson Crawford fan club instead of my best friend.” She walked over to Brenda and wrapped her arms around her. “Everyone should have a friend like you. I just wish you would see my point of view for once. My husband doesn’t need a chaperone—he’s working, and when he’s not working—he’s home.”
After returning Chalice’s hug, Brenda stood up. “I’ve got to go—hot date.” She leaned over and kissed Claire on the forehead, “Aunt Brenda will see you soon.”
Turning to her best friend, she said, “So I’m jealous. Sue me.”
“I wouldn’t call being widowed at twenty-one and celibate for fifteen years good luck. But I will agree that I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and life, in spite of hard times.” Waving good-bye, she said, “See you soon!”
Chalice continued preparing dinner and Claire sat in her high chair playing with the new toy Brenda had just given her—a large ball on the end of a stick with colored objects rattling inside. Claire was a precious gift from God to her parents. She had her mother’s dark brown hair, light complexion, and hazel eyes. Brenda always made her laugh and showered her with toys and clothes since she had no children of her own. Gospel music was playing in the background and Chalice sang along with the melody
Out of nowhere, Claire began saying, “Da-dee, Da-dee,” and Chalice told her she would get the picture of Jackson and place it on the table, as she did many nights to remind her that she was always in Daddy’s heart. Claire was dissatisfied with her mommy’s response and repeated, “Da-dee, Da-dee.” When she heard the man’s voice with the soothing Australian/British accent state, “I think she wants me to pick her up,” she smiled with the reassurance that everything was right with the world. She turned slowly to see the vision of her nightly dreams: Jackson in the flesh, looking fine, like wine in the summertime, as her grandmother would say. Just looking at him gave her goose bumps. Tall and lean with light brown hair and green eyes, it was easy to see why he was a successful actor, if looks were the determining factor. Charisma was evident in his stride, voice, and demeanor. When they first met, she asked him where he was from since his accent was different and he chuckled, “I was born in England and moved to Australia with my family when I was eight years old. My acting roles have me performing as an American, Spaniard, Frenchmen, and Englishman … so many different accents, I sometimes mix the lot of them together. What country are we in now?” he laughed heartily. “It can be confusing, but I generally speak the Queen’s English with an Australian twist.” Chalice never quite understood why he was drawn to her, but was thankful he was. After marrying him, her life felt complete for the first time in fifteen years, and she questioned whether it had been complete before that. As he walked toward Claire, he turned to Chalice asking, “May I?”
Struggling to keep from grinning, Chalice responded, “She won’t be satisfied until you do.” Jackson moved with great speed to hold his little angel in his arms, almost gliding across the kitchen floor as if he were carried by a cloud. Claire stretched her arms to the sky while Jackson pulled out the highchair tray. He picked her up, held her over his shoulder, and hugged her. She pulled up and looked into his eyes, kissing him on his left cheek, his forehead, his right cheek, and finally on the lips. In the tune she had heard everyday on Barney, she sang, “I Luv You.” This was definitely a Kodak moment and Chalice hated that she didn’t have the camera rolling. The look on Jackson’s face was beyond astonishment as he held his little girl tightly in his arms, and at that moment, never wanted to let go. Hearing his daughter say “Daddy” for the first time was overwhelming and he fought back the tears. “Not only does she recognize me, she calls me Daddy and kisses me like she’s been doing this every day. Daddy loves you too, my little Chick,” he told her. Her full name was Claire Isabella Crawford, but he fondly called her Chick.
She knows a good thing when she sees it,” Chalice told him as she walked over to him. “What about me? Don’t I get a turn?” He wrapped one arm around her and planted a lingering, gentle kiss on her sweet lips—a kiss he had longed for incessantly for the past five months.
Chalice resumed the task of cooking dinner and Jackson stood next to her in the kitchen watching her every move as he held Claire and kissed her repeatedly. He took turns gazing upon Chalice’s beauty, then Claire’s charm, and felt blessed they were in his life. Chalice was petite, but built like a ‘brick house’, as the Commodores sang. Claire was vying for his attention and proving to be quite an actress as she played peek-a-boo with her daddy making different facial expressions and noises of delight. The two ladies in the room need only ask to receive from him. They sat down at the kitchen table and Jackson offered to feed Claire. Before leaving for California, he’d taken pride in learning as much as possible about caring for her and was at ease bathing, feeding, and dressing her. He had dearly missed those precious moments during their separation. He could have taken Chalice and Claire with him, but Chalice refused to live out of a suitcase in a hotel room and without any family while Jackson worked all hours of the day and night. She persuaded him it was better for them to remain in Austin while Claire was young. Being an insecure person, Jackson wasn’t pleased with her decision, but neither could he deny her anything, unless it would bring her harm. Most of his insecurities diminished when he was with Chalice. They were so connected and she understood him to such a degree his insecurities couldn’t flourish.
After dinner, Chalice suggested that Jackson play with Claire in the family room while she cleaned up the kitchen. He sat on the plush, fur rug lying by the window that looked out on the lanai and Claire showed him how to put the triangles, squares, circles, and rectangles into the correct slots on her red ball. Jackson was in awe as his ten-month-old baby placed the toys correctly, and when Chalice joined them he said, “I can’t believe I’ve missed all of this. She’s so smart.”
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