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Flowers for mom

Three young brothers head to the local store for a Mother's Day gift that will last forever.

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I wave goodbye to my sons from the front step.

"Hold hands," I tell them. "Be careful crossing the street, especially when you get to Osco. That's a busy parking lot."

"Have a good time," I add as they begin their trek. I'm nervous about this venture, but I want them to think I have nothing but confidence in their abilities to take care of themselves.

Mike is in charge. He turned 9 last month and this shopping trip is his idea. It's Mother's Day; he's leading his little brothers on a shopping expedition to buy me a gift. Just the three of them. By themselves. With their own money and all the way to Osco Drug, four blocks away if they follow the back way to the parking lot.

Mike takes Pat's hand. Pat is 5 – "and a half" he informs anyone who asks. Pat takes Luke's hand. Luke won't be 4 until summer; he still has his toddler belly and chubby cheeks and baby-plump hands.

They turn at the end of the drive for one last wave. I watch until they march around the corner, tripping over their feet as they attempt to keep their hands connected without pushing one another off the sidewalk. I don't cry.

I pace. From front step to kitchen. From kitchen to back yard. To basement, to garage, to front step again.

It's warm. I pace until I sense my deodorant is losing oomph. Now I have an excuse to pour a glass of iced tea and plant myself in the shade of the front step where I can first glimpse three little boys rounding the corner for home. I'm not hovering. I'm cooling off.

I wait. I pour another glass of tea. I think about the possibility of lost or kidnapped children. I go to the fridge and drain the last of the iced tea into my glass. I wait.

They round the corner still holding hands, Mike carrying a large brown grocery bag. Spying home, they run, banging into one another, hollering.

"We got you a present, Mom! It's for Mother's Day! You'll like it!"

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