(Slice of Covidity - February 2021)
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - February 2-28, 2021
Written: March 21,26, April 17, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, and it's one that assists in a major decision for one of the Jackson-O'Neill brood.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): "Ten Months," "A Christmas Miracle," "The Most Expensive Christmas Ever," "It's Time," "Changes," "Dig for Justice," "Great Gobbly Gooks," "Change Comes Curiously," "Expansion," "Remembrance," and "Legacy"!
Slice of Covidity - Samaritan
Almost a year after a pandemic was declared, the deadly COVID-19 virus still reigned over the United States and the rest of the world. There was more hope now since two vaccinations were approved on an emergency basis by the Food and Drug Administration. Colorado was easing up restrictions, though remaining cautious since new cases of the virus and hospitalizations were stalled. Life was still very uncertain where one wrong move could initiate another surge throughout the land. For the Jackson-O'Neills, that meant their own private shelter-in-place orders were ongoing with outings limited to essential ones only.
Early in February, Aislinn wandered into her dad's study, just to see what was up. Basically, she was bored and looking for something to do. Entering the room, the girl saw her father at the computer.
"What are you doing, Dad?"
"Oh, we received several donations recently for Operation Justice for Slaves, so I'm doing the 'thank you' bit."
"Dad, can I do it?" Aislinn asked eagerly as she walked over to the desk. "Please. I won't send anything until you read it first, but I'd really like to write the acknowledgments."
"Go ahead," Jack permitted, rising from his desk and more than happy to turn over the job to the Munchkin.
Aislinn sat down and read the note that came with the first check. It included an email address, so she entered the email and began to respond. She continued until all fourteen donations were acknowledged.
The teenager sat back, feeling good about having participated in some way with Operation Justice for Slaves, a co-op non-profit that helped to locate burial sites of slaves, identity them through DNA with the cooperation of ancestors hoping to find their heritage, and then giving the slaves a proper burial. She was remembering the very first slave her family discovered in South Carolina. His name was Kunto. Then she heard it: the sound of the drum and the chant that accompanied it. She smiled.
"Ash?" Daniel asked when he walked into the study. The archaeologist was coming from the garage and was simply walking by the room when he noticed his daughter at Jack's desk. "You look happy."
"I was listening to Kunto," Aislinn confided. "I never told you about it, but when I was little and we removed Kunto's bones from the grave, I heard the drum and a chant. I heard again later. Remember the play we did, about the Presidents?"
"Well, Kunto was there. After we were done, the drum played and I heard the chant. This is the first time I've heard it in years. Do you believe me?"
Daniel approached, smiled, and answered, "Of course, I do, Sweetie."
"No one else hears it, but I do, Daddy. I know it's Kunto, sometimes saying hello and sometimes saying, 'thank you'. It's him, Daddy." Aislinn sat up straighter and explained, "Dad let me write the notes to people who've donated to Operation Justice for Slaves recently. I think Kunto approved and he wanted me to know."
"I'm sure he's pleased with what we're doing," Daniel responded. "You might want to know that I received a phone call just this morning from one of the firms in the co-op. They've been able to match up five more slaves with their ancestors."
"We have a long way to go, but one family at a time," Daniel put forth.
"Well, I guess I'll go see what everyone else is up to," Aislinn said as she stood up. "Tell Dad everything is in his mail folder as 'send later' so he can read and make any changes he wants to."
"Okay, Sweetie. Thank you for helping out."
Aislinn exited the study and Daniel sat down in the comfortable office chair to peruse her notes. Curiosity was center to his perusing the emails.
About ten minutes later, Jack returned to his study.
"Babe, you need to read these," Daniel advised.
"Ash's responses to the contributors. She's personalized every thank you she wrote. Gawd, I'd be writing a second check, if I received something like this."
Daniel stood up to allow Jack to take his place in his chair. The general started at the beginning and was equally impressed.
"Danny, look at this one. It's from a little girl in Alabama and she sent all she had, seven dollars and fifty-two cents."
"Look at what Ash wrote," Daniel advised. "She broke it down to tell that little girl how her money helped. How does Ash know the costs?"
Jack glanced around his desk, picked up a paper that he handed to his lover, and said, "Maybe because she figured it out using her best guess and whatever she's picked up over the years."
The paper was full of mathematical calculations that the parents recognized as including the salary of probationary staff at their company, the cost of a single DNA being identified, the price of markers, and other appropriate pricing relevant to the slaves.
"Look how she found a way to give that girl something concrete," Jack stated. "She broke all of this down until she could tell this girl that she personally has paid for the removal of a femur so it could be identified. Danny, that child is going to think she's responsible for a slave being identified."
"And she'll believe correctly, Jack. The femur is one of the main bones according to Bibi that they use for identification and that they submit for DNA. Okay, a whole bunch of other stuff happens, too, and labor costs, but when you get down to it, taking that femur out of the grave; well, that's what makes it all possible."
"Way to go, Ash."
Jack hit 'send now' for all the emails, not having one complaint or making a single change. He and Daniel were extremely impressed with Aislinn's sensitivity and ability to make each one of the benefactors feel like their contribution was vital and, as she did with the Alabama child, she wrote in such a way that they could envision exactly how their money was used.
"I understand now why Kunto would approve," Daniel commented offhandedly.
"Kunto? What are you talking about?"
"Something Ash told me earlier," Daniel said. "Why don't you ask her about it yourself."
"Which means you don't want to tell me."
"No, it means it's special to our daughter and I think it should come from her."
A couple of days later, Aislinn was walking from the garage where she'd just started a washing and was headed towards the projects room where she knew a few of her siblings were having fun with arts and crafts. As she walked through the entranceway, she saw the mail had been delivered, so she opened the front door and retrieved it. She detoured from her intended destination and headed for her daddy's den to give him the bulk of the mail, pulling out a few cards addressed to various members of the brood.
As she walked and sorted the mail at the same time, Aislinn stopped and stared at a piece of communication. She didn't recognize the name of the sender, but her gut was telling her this was something important.
"Daddy, the mail is here," the teenager informed as she entered the den.
"Daddy, who's this?" Aislinn asked about the intriguing mail piece.
"Uh, well ..."
"Ash, I'm in the middle of something."
Aislinn went to door, paused to look back at her father briefly, and then went on her way. Her daddy was definitely hesitant to tell her about the sender. Ultimately, she decided not to push it. Everyone was entitled to their privacy, including her parents.
Daniel opened the envelop and pulled out the letter. He read it carefully, instantly becoming upset.
**Jack, den ... now!**
It was unusual for Daniel to be not only cryptic but forceful in his mental communications with his husband, so Jack didn't question it. He simply put down the hammer he was using and hurried upstairs.
"Lock the door," Daniel stated calmly once his lover was inside the den.
"Okay. Let me have it," Jack said as he sat down into the recliner near Daniel's desk."
Jack took the letter and quickly became incensed.
"If this is bull to get out of their commitment, I'll shut them down."
"That was my first reaction, too," the archaeologist admitted. "But we are in the middle of a pandemic, so maybe we should have Mark check into it."
Jack wasted no time in calling their trusted family attorney, Mark Kingston. Actually, Mark did it all for the Jackson-O'Neills, though for purviews not quite in his areas of expertise, he often brought in other lawyers or handed out reliable references. This, however, was a situation Mark was heavily involved in.
"I haven't heard anything from them at all, Jack. I suspect the letter you got should have come to me first."
"Oh, so they messed up ... again," Jack spat angrily. "Mark, we let them off the hook. We could have sued them and they would have gone out of business back in '06. I want the truth."
"I'll find it. You have my assurance on that," Mark said as he hung up the phone.
An assurance from Mark Kingston was the same thing as a promise, so Jack and Daniel knew he would dig and keep digging until the truth was known.
That Saturday, Mark engaged in a three-way video call with Jack and Daniel. The conversation took place in Daniel's den, the door once again closed and locked.
"I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, but I wanted to make sure my facts were correct. I checked the records myself, but I also brought in contacts more in the know about the clinic."
"What's the verdict?" Jack inquired.
"They've been on the decline for the last five years," Mark reported. "COVID has put them under."
"Legitimately?" Daniel questioned.
"Some may think it's odd, but there have been significantly less births than in 2019. Look, you two know what it costs to use a clinic of this kind. People are having babies the natural way, or not at all."
"So, they are shutting down?"
"Yes," Mark answered. "Now, we can go after them for a breach of the settlement, try and force them to pay you the balance of what you would have received from a lawsuit, or on a lesser front, the amount of the scholarship going forward 'x' number of years. That would take an accountant to determine, and we'd have to sell the court on the number of years we chose."
"Do they have the money?" Jack asked.
"The owner has two nice homes, one in Denver and one in Florida. He has a few fancy cars, but my investigation shows he's in debt himself."
"Kids?" Jack questioned.
"Two grown, one teenager, and a seven-year-old daughter. Same wife, by the way."
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look and the archaeologist shook his head.
"Mark, Daniel and I have to discuss this further, but I don't see us going after the owner and putting another family in hardship."
"I understand," Mark replied. "Just so you know, I applied some pressure, and the clinic did agree to one final scholarship. That would give you time to set up something with another clinic, if you were so inclined."
"Thank you, Mark. We'll be in touch," Daniel replied as he ended the call. "So, what do you think?"
"Hard times are everywhere, Danny. I guess we have to accept that the clinic is about to be history."
"What about the fund?"
"We created it for a purpose, but that was fifteen years ago now."
"I've always liked knowing it was there," Daniel admitted. "It's like, through our children, we're helping people be better nurses."
"You're thinking Mark knows us too well," Jack responded.
The younger man chuckled, "Well, he did get my attention."
"He put the idea into our heads."
"Yes, he did because he does know us. We can't let this go, Jack, even if it means we fund it ourselves from now on."
"I have an idea," Jack advised. He made a call to Mark, who was fortunately still available. "Mark, put out a few feelers. See if there's a similar clinic that is willing to go in halfsies with us on a scholarship. That way, they benefit with staff, and we get to share the costs."
"I've already made a list of some of the places I think you'd approve of. There's one I'm fond of myself."
"Jack, it's one of the low-cost clinics. Their clientele are mostly Hispanic. They do have a couple of good benefactors, and I believe I can convince them that working with you and Daniel on a scholarship would be a great thing for all involved."
Jack stood up in anticipation of continuing on with his day, only Daniel called out to him.
"Babe, Ash saw we had a letter from the clinic the other day. She was very curious."
"So, I think it's time we tell the Munchkins the truth."
"I'm not sure they need to know."
"You mean you're not sure how to tell them how it was going to be, but they are the reason for the scholarship. I think they'd like to know about it."
Jack didn't say anything. He simply left the den to go for a jog around the neighborhood.
Opting not to put off the serious conversation that needed to be had, Jack and Daniel called the Munchkins into the study the next day. The triplets knew they were summoned for something serious once Jack locked the door.
With Aislinn in between her brothers, the triplets sat down on the sofa that was against the front wall, while Jack and Daniel scooted over a couple of chairs to sit in front of them.
"First, we thought about having a family meeting to talk about this, but we decided that the three of you had a right to know first. When we're done, you're free to tell your siblings whatever you want, or not," Daniel stated. "We can talk about with the rest of the brood in a family meeting, if they want to do so."
"You look so serious," Little Danny observed.
"Ash, do you remember that letter you were curious about, the one I didn't want to talk about with you?"
"Yes. It was from a clinic, but I don't know what it is."
"That clinic is the one Dad and I used with your Mommy so that she could get pregnant and give birth to our children."
"Why were you so upset when I asked about it?" Aislinn wondered. "We know you had to do something. We didn't just grow out of the cabbage patch."
There were a couple of light chuckles at the remark.
"It's the plan," Jack interjected. "Kids, originally, we had a plan. The first child was supposed to be Daddy's. At least, the first attempt would be with his sperm. Then they were supposed to use mine. To put it mildly, they screwed up and only discovered it when they realized they didn't have as much of Daddy's sperm on the shelf as they were supposed to."
"What does that mean?" Jonny questioned.
"It means our plan was shot to Netu. When the three of you born, we had no clue whose DNA was in who," Jack stated clearly.
"Listen to me," Daniel urged as he leaned forward and clasped his hands together. "In the end, it was an incredible gift. We do not know, nor do we want to know, whose sperm created who. Doctor Preston knows, and she has that information. She's tried to convince us to take it, but we've refused every single time."
"That's because it doesn't matter squat to us who your technical father is. We love you, all of you, equally. Do you understand?"
Aislinn giggled, "Well, I do, but, uh, come on." She took her hands and touched her brother's faces. "I'm sorry, but, <she laughed loudly>, "it's a little obvious here. I'm the question mark, and I think it's a tossup on Ricky and Jenny, too, though Jenny's red hair may lean towards our Irish ancestry, but these two. Oh, puleeeze."
"Maybe," Daniel replied softly, "but environment is a big part of who we are. Without going into details, think about Noa and Lulu and how far they've come, most likely due to their home life with us than any facts of their birth."
The youngest triplet sighed, "I'm really sorry, Daddy. I didn't mean anything bad, but we all know about Jonny and Little Danny. I guess it's possible their biological dad isn't who we think, but I'd say the odds are against it."
"But that's not really why we're having this conversation, is it?" Little Danny queried, wanting to switch the subject anyway.
"No, it's not," Jack agreed. "Again, the clinic made a mistake. We considered suing them, not for our benefit, but because the mistake was egregious. Mark Kingston became involved and eventually, we agreed on a settlement."
"Money?" Aislinn asked.
"No," Daniel refuted. "We made sure they made changes so that this wouldn't happen again, but in addition, we insisted they fund a scholarship. The nurses would go to work for the clinic for at least two years. For the last fifteen years, The Baby Jackson-O'Neill Scholarship has helped fifteen men and women become better nurses and have a job when they graduated."
"That's cool," Jonny responded. "We have a scholarship."
"That's the problem," Jack returned. "That letter was to advise us that the clinic was shutting down in three months. Mark checked into and discovered it was legit. We looked into our options, and the one we've decided on is to hook up with a similar clinic that helps a lot of our Hispanic community. We've made an agreement with two of its main benefactors to continue The Baby Jackson-O'Neill Scholarship."
"It will operate basically the same as it has been, funding the nursing education of one person per year. That person agrees to work for the clinic for two years. We supply half the funding; they do the rest. The clinic also agreed to make some of the changes we required of the original clinic to ensure they don't ever have a mistake like we experienced," Daniel informed the triplets.
"We think it's awesome," Aislinn advised.
"One more thing. When you're eighteen, we are going to give you an envelop that will have the DNA results of who your biological father is. We'll do the same with Ricky and Jenny. You can do with it whatever you want, but we believe you should have access to it in case something medical pops up in the future that would require knowing for sure. Open it when we give it to you or save it in case an emergency occurs. That will be your choice," Daniel stated.
"Just remember, we don't give a flying fig which one of us is responsible for you, or you, or you," Jack stated strongly as he pointed at each one of the Munchkins. "We're not blind, Ash. Yes, it's most likely that Jonny is mine and Little Danny is Daniel's, but we don't know for sure, and we don't care one iota. We don't want to know because it doesn't matter to us. We love you."
"We love all of you, so much," Daniel added.
The parents and children hugged, and before the Munchkins left, Aislinn turned and spoke, "Thank you for telling us about the clinic and the scholarship. I guess it changed your plans, but like you said, maybe it was a blessing that none of us know for sure. I know Ricky and Jenny don't care, either. We've all talked about it in the past. You're our parents, and we love you, and it doesn't matter to us, either, whose sperm did the job for us individually."
"Thank you, Sweetie," Daniel replied, smiling as the Munchkins left the study.
"No. They're very mature. I'm so proud of them."
The lovers embraced for a minute, shared a quick kiss, and then moved on to the next thing on their list for the day.
The following afternoon, some of the children were watching the news that featured a story about families in line for food at one of the local pantries. Car after car was seen for over two miles. The reporter talked as they'd done throughout the pandemic about how those who never thought they'd need help from a food pantry were now accepting food in order to feed their families. Waiting for hours was not a deterrent. Their children needed to be fed.
"They should just take the food to the people instead of wasting all that gas," JD sighed as he fidgeted with his Major Matt Mason doll, a gift from his Aunt Sam for his birthday this year.
Aislinn turned and looked at her little brother with wonder. It was so simple, or was it.
Having focused on her idea for most of the last twenty-four hours, Aislinn presented her plan to her parents.
"That's ..." Daniel began.
"Ambitious," both Jack and Daniel said at the same time.
"But it would work," the Munchkin insisted. "And I know how to raise the money."
The parents listened, intrigued, and, in the end, were unable to deny Aislinn's longing. A more detailed analysis was done, needed preparations made, and then it was up to the Munchkin as to how successful her idea would be.
With a webcam attached to her computer, Aislinn turned it on and went online.
"Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. My name is Aislinn, and you may remember me because I used to record a lot on YouTube, but I don't do it much anymore. I like to sing to make people happy, not to make money, so you won't find me asking for patreons or anything like that. I really dislike the concept anyway, but if you do it, that's fine. I'm only saying it's not for me.
"Anyway, here's the reason I'm here tonight. My family loves to give and so many people are in need right now. Recently, my little brother was watching a news story with us about one of those crazy long car lines full of people in need of food. He asked why we don't just take the food to the people instead of using all that gas in these lines. It was a good question.
"The answer isn't as simple, though. To me, when you give, you do it because you feel it's right. I remember hearing a story about something on TV several years ago. A woman paying for her groceries didn't have enough money, so the woman behind her offered to pay, but the next customer, also a woman, objected. She asked the second woman why she would pay for the first woman's bill. In her opinion, that first woman was probably a scammer, but the second woman responded that she was doing what she believed was the right thing, and God knew it, too. She said that if the first woman was a scammer, that was okay. Her gift was her intent, that being to help someone in need. It didn't matter what that first woman ultimately needed or did. To the second woman, what mattered was being a good Samaritan. God would know. That's what she said.
"I agree with that giving woman, so this is what we're doing. We're creating a big box."
Just then, Jeff walked in with the box and placed it on a table that was put there specifically for the demonstration.
"That's my brother, Jeff. Thanks, Jeff. Let's look inside the box." Aislinn took out item after item so the webcam could clearly show the contents. "Canned spaghetti, tuna, a loaf of bread, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, a gallon of milk, and on it goes." She smiled. "There are also some other things. Here's a coloring book that a very young child would love. This is novel appropriate for a high schooler, and this novel is for an adult. Here's a tee shirt and a pullover sweater to help keep folks warm. There's also a notebook, some pens and pencils, and a few other things.
"My family has a lot of contacts and some of our friends have offered to include really cool extras. For example, this is a voucher for one of our favorite restaurants. Listen close because what they've done is truly awesome. One voucher will go inside each box and it's good for twenty-dollars. Delivery is free. If you're an individual, buy more than you need and warm it up later. It tastes just as good. Also, I wanted to point out that we're including more than just those healthy fruits and veggies. Kids love candy; so do adults, and we all need a treat sometimes, so each box will contain a bag like this, full of candy miniatures or pieces. Two candy bars of different varieties will also be included.
"This is the plan. We don't have the information or the time to figure out does this neighbor need a box and this one doesn't or who has little kids or who has read what book. It's a guessing game, so this is the plan. One box is going to each home, whether or not they need it. What we are making sure of is that there is a variety. For example, maybe you don't have a child who wants a coloring book, but your neighbor has one. Pay it forward and give them the coloring book. Maybe you detest canned spaghetti, but your neighbor loves it. Trade your spaghetti for something they don't like. Don't throw out the tee shirt because it doesn't fit. Pay it forward, giving it to someone in your neighborhood who would appreciate it. Be safe. Follow the COVID guidelines, but it's not that hard to figure out how to make an exchange.
"Okay. We're calling this The Box Fund, and if you're willing, you can go to the fund page listed in the description and donate to make it a reality. I'd love to give a box to every home in Colorado Springs, though I know that's not really realistic. If you don't live here, maybe you could do this yourself in your own neighborhood.
"Okay, that's enough chatter. Thank you for listening to me, and now for my promise. For the next thirty minutes, I'll sing for you some of my favorite romantic songs. I hope you enjoy them. Have a wonderful evening and take care."
Aislinn actually sang for forty-five minutes before stopping the live feed.
"Beautiful, Ash," Jack praised.
More compliments followed.
"Maybe we'll get a little bit of money," Aislinn sighed. "But I had fun singing again, and I feel good."
No one checked the funding page for a couple of days, but Jack finally figured he should take a look.
"*Daniel!*" the general shouted.
"What's wrong now?" the archaeologist asked from the study doorway.
"Remember when we thought Ash's broadcast would bring in a few hundred dollars?"
"You'd better come see this," Jack said as he backed away from his computer.
Daniel walked over and stared at the page that showed the total donated and how many donated to The Box Fund. His mouth opened and his eyes widened in shock.
"Twelve ... thousand ..."
"... five-hundred and ninety-seven smacaroos as of now."
"That's, uh ..."
"... incredible," both men said together.
Look at the hits of the live stream," Jack noted. "Over three-million."
"She's a YouTube star," Daniel stated.
"I would have figured they'd forgotten her since she hasn't posted in so long."
The couple left the study to find Aislinn, who was with Jenny outside at the pod. They told her the news.
"You're kidding? Really?"
"Ash, that's fantastic. That means you can make," Jenny paused for a quick second as she did her mental math, "at least two-hundred-and-fifty boxes."
"I thought I'd be lucky to make fifty," Aislinn agreed.
"I'll bet we can get some stores to contribute and then we can make even more boxes."
"The total might increase, too, since The Box Fund is scheduled to continue for another week," Jack reminded.
Soon, the home looked anything like a home. In an organized manner, the rec room, main hallway, living room, and garage were turned into assembly areas with rows or boxes neatly lined up. A cheat sheet was affixed to each box and when the required items like the restaurant voucher or a bag of candy was placed inside, the item was checked off the list. Once everything was accumulated, the boxes were sealed. A note of explanation that included the pay if forward concept for unneeded or unwanted items was included. Aislinn's first name was on every box along with a link to the YouTube video if people wanted to learn more about The Box Fund.
With the boxes ready for distribution, a map of Colorado Springs was used to determine the distribution areas. Some financial considerations had to be made. For example, the family opted not to consider the more well know wealthy areas of the city. After all, they didn't have boxes for all of the approximate five-hundred-thousand citizens of their hometown.
That said, the final tally on The Box Fund page when it was shut down was sixteen-thousand-four-hundred-thirty-dollars and twenty-six cents. Per Jenny's suggestion and the local notoriety of Aislinn's music fame and box idea, several retailers did agree to donate. This took the average box cost down to less than fifty dollars each, which meant the total number of boxes stacked all over the Jackson-O'Neill home numbered three-hundred-thirty-five. The leftover change was being donated to one of the food pantries that gave out food to all in need and not just low income families.
The family intentionally chose some of the low income areas as well. They tried their best to reach as many people as they could. They knew first hand that many in their own suburban neighborhood were struggling, so they couldn't exclude it from receiving boxes.
The destinations set, Jack enlisted several friends with trucks to assist. It wasn't a quick and easy job, but every one of the boxes was handed out.
Of great joy to the youngest Munchkin was the feedback she received. Her pay it forward request was being honored, with neighbors giving away or trading items as needed. She shared the joy with JD, who she credited with having the idea that made The Box Fund a reality.
Some days later, the family had a meeting to start discussing March First Day. This day was intended to make life easier for the homeless living near Monument Creek, which was where Jack found shelter while suffering from amnesia many years back. Since then, the Jackson-O'Neills always took food and shelter items to the homeless as their 'thank you' for caring for Jack, who was a stranger to them.
Aislinn, as usual, was eager for the day to come. Even with COVID, her family would not be stopped from helping those in need.
As the days passed, Aislinn found herself remembering many things her family had done over the years to assist people less fortunate than themselves. They were lucky. They had everything they needed, but they never took it for a granted.
The teenager reflected on the trip the family took to India where they witnessed unimaginable poverty. Oftentimes, they sent school supplies to a teacher they'd met there. The experience was life-altering. The brood discovered a new appreciation for basics, like light. The trip was made as part of a promise to Kayla Armentrout, the birth mother of the triplets and the twins. One of her last wishes was for Jack and Daniel to take their children to India. When they did so, it opened eyes and touched their hearts.
Aislinn giggled slightly when her mind turned to the Oliver family. She and her young brothers and sisters met a woman and her children in a grocery store and then plotted to get them to a children's shelter and once there, it was magic. The Olivers adopted two sisters about to be separated. To this day, not even their parents knew how the Munchkins and Spitfires were vital to this joining. In fact, one time, the entire brood worked together to get several children adopted by their neighbors; and they succeeded. That, too, was something only known to the children. No one needed to boast about it as what mattered was finding forever homes for their friends at the shelter.
The girl thought about Little Danny's passion for saving wild turkeys. He was just a young kid when The Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill Turkey Sanctuary was created in the countryside of Colorado Springs. Then just last fall, hearing about hunters intending to kill a flock of wild turkeys, her brother set up another sanctuary in Montana. He loved all animals, but he was dedicated to saving the turkeys for some reason.
Aislinn thought about all the contributions her parents made at Pam Lawrence's vet hospital. They helped out from time to time, with Aislinn's personal favorite donation happening in 2013 with the creation of the Strawberry Shortcake Laser Fund that allowed the veterinarian to purchase advanced laser medical equipment that would aid all animals in her care and not just the guinea pigs that highlighted the need for the equipment.
Stroking Katie's body as they sat on her bed, Aislinn smiled from the goodness she was feeling while remembering these special times. She thought about all the trips to nursing homes the family made, befriending residents, giving them presents, spending time with them, and singing Christmas carols. Her mind drifted to Ralston Place, an area once plagued by the homeless that was now a built-up center. She remembered how David refused to call them homeless. He said they were the seekers because all of them were only looking for a place to live, a place to work, or a place to learn. She remembered Little Danny teaching one of the boys there how to read. She reflected on Jennifer buying food warmers with her own money so they could continue to give out food to those without.
Aislinn thought about how Jennifer in the present day gave out her bottled peaches and other foods to front line workers and often just to anyone asking for a handout.
As she contemplated the recent past, she remembered learning how, just like her older father did, her Grandpa O'Neill loved helping neighbors. He did so eagerly and never accepted a penny for anything he did, even if he had to go shopping and buy items for plumbing, roof, and lawn fixes. She also thought about Jeff and how he was standing up for Asian Americans being attacked for no reason. He was regularly taking new friends in the Asian community shopping, to the doctor, and to run other errands, ensuring their safety from ignorant thugs. She even thought about her Aunt Janet and the stories she'd told the brood about her experience in the Peace Corps when she went to the South African country of Malawi.
Her heart singing and her soul happy, Aislinn sighed. She looked over at a picture of her mother that was on her wall. Next to it was a photo of her parents. She considered how generous the three in the photos were. That's when she knew. For the first time, she knew.
Determined as to her future, Aislinn requested a meeting with her parents. The three sat together on the gazebo to talk.
"It's been no secret that I've had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, but lately, I've been thinking about the story of the Good Samaritan, and my mind keeps remembering all the things we've done as a family to help other people," Aislinn began. "I've thought a lot about the example that you've set for us and how Mommy loved nature so much and how she felt about India and the poverty there."
Jack and Daniel listened intently, but never interrupted Aislinn, who appeared to them to be passionate about her beliefs.
"This may sound crazy, but I want to be a philanthropist, someone always seeking out charities to help, people to make whole, animals who need care. I decided to start taking courses at UCCS. I'll major in business like Jen did, and I'll have two minors, one in entrepreneurship and the other in sustainability. Bri's talked so much about the environment and I believe the more I know, maybe the more I can help."
There was a pause, but the parents remained silent, sensing their daughter was only gathering her thoughts.
"I had an idea that one day, we can take all of the little foundations and things we have as a family and put them under an umbrella foundation, so we can keep track of them easily and maybe share a little, if needed. Little Danny's turkeys, the nursing scholarship, the co-op for Kunto's people. It's just an idea and I don't know how exactly it would work, but it's something that popped into my head the other day. What do you think?"
"Sweetie, it's wonderful. I have a hunch your Mommy would be extremely proud of you, and I know Dad and I are. To make a lifetime of giving to others: that's, uh, that's beautiful."
"I'm overwhelmed, Princess. I think you'll be great, and I love your idea of going to college and getting that business degree."
"I don't want to blindly giveaway money. I want to really help groups or people to make positive changes. I can't do that solely from heart, as much as I wish I could. I think I should learn about finances, too, so I can invest it wisely and be as efficient as possible when helping others."
"That would be a good idea," Daniel agreed.
Aislinn was enthusiastic about her future now. Though the triplets graduated from homeschooling aka: high school, almost two years ago, she'd felt a bit lost. She actually continued participating in homeschooling regularly so was constantly learning, but now she had a path for herself. She began to dream and envision how her life could be one of service and bring her great personal satisfaction. She searched for ways to save the environment from climate change, to bring together her love for animals, to use knowledge of the in and outs of business, and to follow her heart in helping mankind. Could she do it? No one was betting against her. Confidence was high. Aislinn Elizabeth Claire Jackson-O'Neill was truly going to make the world a better place and in doing so, she would forever be honoring the parents who raised her and the mother who gave her life.
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