JASON’S STORY

JASON’S STORY

From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

Jason’s Story

Jason always seemed to need extra time with his schoolwork. He came to my attention when he entered my fifth-grade class. He did not seem focused and would often look out the window. When he took a test, he would be only halfway finished when time ran out. His mother was concerned and hoped that he would grow out of it. He made it through the year and was now in my sixth-grade homeroom class and continued to have a difficult time with his work. Jason required a lot of patience, and with so many students, patience was not always available.

I gave my students a project: they were to write their own books. The Nationwide book company gave a book kit for each student. The company would bind each manuscript with a hardcover, making it look like a real library book. Students took the task to heart and created little masterpieces. Each book needed eight pages of text with some pages having illustrations. They could use photos, but they had to be scanned. I allotted them six weeks to finish. Proofreading created a lot of extra work for me.

I set a date to read first drafts and another date when the finished manuscripts had to be packed up and sent to the printer. Jason told me he had a hard time thinking of anything to write. Some students were writing about fantastic space battles in make-believe worlds, and others were writing about their favorite vacations to distant lands. I began asking Jason, on a daily basis, to see his first draft, and the answer was always the same. He couldn’t think of anything to write. I told him to write something that was personal, something he knew about. He looked more confused than ever, and I had run out of patience.

Finally, on the day before the manuscripts were to be shipped out, Jason came up to my desk, holding a stack of crumpled pages—his first draft. I was horrified at the thought of reading it, making corrections, and then getting him to complete it. When I saw that he had glued pictures to the paper and had not scanned them, I took the pages from him and told him it was too late. I scolded him for being so late and sent him back to his seat. With a deep sigh I picked up the pages and thought that checking his story was impossible. No way could I find the time to help him. I dreaded looking through it but glanced at the cover. On it was the title, “The Little Boy Who Lost His Father.” Included was a drawing of a butterfly with a sad frown on its face and a cloud with tears falling to the ground. I stared at it and began to feel a pain in my soul. On the next page he had written “Based on a true story.”

I looked up and saw Jason seated at his desk, looking out the window. As I read it, I did not notice the misspelled words, the incorrect grammar, or the glue oozing from the edge of the pictures. The pictures were of Jason as a baby and one with his father holding him in his arms. Another showed Jason in his mother’s arms, crying and looking at a birthday cake.

He began: “One day a little boy woke up and felt something was wrong. He heard silence in the whole house. He did not understand. His mother was in tears and then he noticed that the one true person who ever meant anything to him was not there. He asked his mommy where was his daddy. She replied, ‘Son, he is in a better place.’ ”

It continued with stories of scary dreams and waking up in the middle of the night screaming out “Daddy!” His mother told him to recite Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (NKJV). Repeating this verse over and over, he was finally able to sleep. He wrote about asking God to allow him to speak to his father, if only for one minute, so he could say things he never got a chance to say before he died, to give a hug good-bye. On his fifth birthday he was so sad that he refused to accept any gifts and would not blow out the candles on his cake or even eat it. Nothing else was on his mind but getting that last chance to be with his father. When he turned eight years old, things began to change, and he started to get used to the feelings of emptiness. He felt that he would always have a hole in his heart, but he tried to make peace with himself. When he looked at his mother, he saw her pain, especially when he misbehaved or didn’t do well in school.

On the last page Jason wrote, “Finally, as the boy grew up and became mature, he knew what to do when someone you love is gone. He knew that one day he and his father would be together again. He also knew that his father watched over him every day and would never leave his side. So the boy never actually lost his father. They were only separated for a little while.”

After regaining my composure, I called Jason. He told me he had written a personal story and had not even told his mother about it. I helped him correct his spelling and grammar, and I scanned his pictures. He had only seven pages of text; he needed to write one more, so I suggested he write a letter to his father.

Dear Father, I wish I could see you for one last time. What have you been doing? I want to ask you so many questions. I am a big boy now, and I am in the sixth grade. I play sports like basketball and football. Mom is doing great so far, and I am being the man of the house and taking care of her. I can’t wait to see you again one day. Your son, Jason. PS I love you!

Few dry eyes remained when anyone read Jason’s book. His mother told me that she did not know he had written the story, and it had caused a profound impact at home. Her husband’s relatives had thought Jason had forgotten his father, but when they read the book, it succeeded in bringing the family closer. The book got the attention of a local TV station, and they asked Jason to read parts of his book on the air for Father’s Day. While his mother and I spoke about how the book had evolved, I noticed the crew had taken him into their hearts. I saw a confidence and joy in Jason that I had not seen before.

Jason has moved on, and although he continues to struggle with his schoolwork, he has improved. And from time to time he still looks out the window.

Carl Ballenas
As previously appeared in

The Boy Who Lost His Father
by Nationwide Learning

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