Mina Fields was a fantastic mother and Kris Fields was a fantastic father. Though he was adopted, Charlie Fields couldn’t have been more loved by anyone. Not once in his entire life did he ever feel like his parents didn’t love him as much as they would have loved a birthed child.
Charlie had a large extended family. His mom, Mina had a twin sister who had three kids. The Tragedys lived across town, but Charlie saw them often. Kenny, the oldest boy, was someone that Charlie liked to play with, but he was closer in age to his two girl cousins, Emma and Shelby.
He also had an older cousin, Sophia Fields, who was the teenaged daughter of his mother’s oldest sister. She lived on his grandparents’ farm with his aunt Sydney and uncle Calvin, his aunt Melinda, and his grandparents. Charlie got to visit them whenever he wanted.
He had another aunt and uncle, too, but they lived in Bridgeport. His aunt Kindra worked for a big corporation there called the BBBC and his uncle Ronald was a semi-famous musician.
Charlie learned to walk and talk. And his parents, Mina and Kris, were extremely proud of him. He was exactly the son they wanted to have. He was well-behaved, learned quickly, and seemed to like all of the things that they both liked.
Even when Charlie’s grandmother died, he didn’t know that things were wrong in his life. His parents sheltered him from the tragedy. Though it had only been days after the funeral, they threw him a huge party for his birthday and the entire family came. As a gift, they bought him a large out-door play set including a slide, jungle gym, and and swing set.
It was the best birthday party ever and the best gift an out-door loving boy like himself could ever want. And he was raised right, so he made sure that his mother, Mina, knew how much he appreciated all that she had done for him.
Mina was proud that her son was so respectful and polite. So many of the children she worked with (she was a school principal) were not.
Since he was old enough to travel, Mina and Kris decided to fulfill their desires to work abroad. Mina got a job teaching Simlish in China and Kris worked for Doctors Without Borders bringing medical care to impoverished areas of SimAsia.
Charlie was proud that his parents were such good people. Even though he didn’t fully understand the importance of what they were both doing, he did understand that they were doing something good.
However, his parents didn’t spend all of their time in China working. They both made sure that they spent some time with Charlie. His mom taught him how to fish and they spent hours at the pond fishing for koi. His dad took him around to all of the historical sights, showing him the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army.
When the family returned home, Charlie invited his cousins over to play so that he could tell them all about the trip. Kenny seemed interested, but he was a teenager so he had to act like he didn’t care. Emma and Shelby weren’t interested in his tales of adventure in the least. They mostly played together until Charlie coaxed them into a game of tag.
After they returned from China, the Fields family started preparing for their next humanitarian trip. Kris studied new medical techniques and Mina donated both money and time to various charity organizations. However, they soon discovered that their next trip with Doctors Without Borders would take them into war-torn Africa. It would be too dangerous for Charlie to go with them.
Charlie was disappointed, but he knew he would get to stay on the farm with his grandpa and aunts. Melinda was in medical school, so she’d hardly be around, but Sophia would be there. Maybe his uncle Calvin would let him go with him to the fire station and maybe his aunt Sydney would let him help her fertilize the plants. He knew his grandpa Les would let him listen to his uncle Ronald’s new album from his band called ARC.
Charlie didn’t know that it would be the last time he saw his mother and father alive. He didn’t know that they would never return.
Grandpa Les was the one who found out the news first. Charlie wasn’t sure what happened when his grandpa started shouting for his aunt Sydney. Sydney came running and took the phone and pretty soon she was crying and carrying on, too. Finally, when she had hung up, she looked at Charlie. He knew. Somehow, before she even said anything, he knew that his mom and dad were gone.
Sydney told him it was an explosion. An accident. Charlie was in shock.
Even with all of his relatives around him willing to hug and comfort him, Charlie felt alone for the first time in his life. His only comfort was the bear that his mom had gotten him in China. Charlie didn’t break down until he had Ting Po in his arms. And then he couldn’t let the little bear go. He just cried and cried.
At the funeral for his parents, Charlie used all of his self-discipline to be a good boy. He didn’t cry. He talked to his cousin Kenny who tried to cheer him up.
“How’s it going little dude? You hangin’ in there?”
He talked to his cousins Emma and Shelby who seemed to be just as confused as he was. They really didn’t know how to act at this party. Were they supposed to play or just sit quietly. It was difficult when all of the adults were so upset.
Charlie heard whispers and snatches of conversations around him. He knew he was going to be staying in his house again…his aunt Sydney had told him. And he knew that he was staying there with his aunt Kindra and uncle Caleb and his uncle Ronald and aunt Alana who were using the guest bedrooms.
What he didn’t know was who he was going to stay with after this night. He wanted to stay in his house. He wanted his bed and his bear and his toys. He wanted his mom and dad, too.
Then he heard his aunt Sam talking to aunt Kindra.
“I’m so sorry, Sam,” aunt Kindra said. “Mina was too good to die! I don’t know what we’re going to do without her.”
“She’ll watch over us,” aunt Sam said. “Take care of Charlie for her. That’s what Mina would want.”
Charlie was confused by this exchange, but he didn’t try to figure it out. Eventually everyone left and he told his aunt and uncle that he was tired. Then he went to bed.
He let himself cry before he fell into an exhausted sleep. Charlie didn’t know what was going to happen to him. He desperately wished his mom would come into his room to tuck him in.
The next morning, Charlie decided that he should go to school even though his aunt said he didn’t have to if he didn’t want to. He knew that his mom would have wanted him to. He thought that maybe he would feel better if he was in the school where she had worked.
But being at school didn’t work. When he got home, Charlie spent the whole afternoon outside sitting at the top of his elephant slide. That’s where his aunt found him.
“Charlie, what are you doing?” she asked him.
“Nothing,” he replied and then burst into tears.
“Oh, you miss your mom and dad, don’t you?” Kindra asked.
“Yeah. They’re not coming back.”
“No. It’s going to hurt for awhile,” she said, “but then it will fade. You’ll remember all the good things about them after that. But you’ll still miss them.”
“I miss them so much,” Charlie wailed and then threw himself into his aunt’s arms. She held him awkwardly, but she did hold him until he was done crying.
“Let’s go inside,” she said after he had wiped his runny nose on his sleeve. Charlie nodded and followed her in. She sat him down at his mom’s chess table.
“Do you know how to play?” When he nodded, she said, “Good.”
So they played. Kindra told him about his mom and dad’s will and how she would be his guardian. Charlie didn’t know what to think about that. He didn’t know this aunt of his. Why had his mom wanted her to raise him? Why couldn’t have stayed with his aunt Sam and his cousins?
The next day Charlie asked his aunt if they were going to take him to Bridgeport to live. He didn’t really want to go, but he didn’t know how to tell his aunt. She was the adult. Adults always made the decisions.
“Would you like to live in Bridgeport?”
Charlie shook his head. “I want to stay in my room,” he said. It was the only thing he could really say so that she’d understand. He didn’t want to leave his house, his yard, his memories of his parents.
“Well, your uncle Caleb and I were talking about this the other day. He says the band can play from anywhere. And he says your uncle Ron and Alana don’t really want to raise your new cousin in the city. You knew they were going to have a baby, right?”
“Well, we’ve been thinking about staying here. Your mom and dad left the house to you. We can live here and you can stay in your room and keep going to your school. Would you like that?”
Later that night, Charlie sat on the sofa watching his favorite cartoon, Daredevil Dan, and he asked his aunt again if they were really going to stay in Twinbrook. His mom had told him how much his aunt’s job meant to her. Mina had said that Kindra was like the president of the company or something like that.
“What about your job in the city?” he asked her.
“Oh, don’t worry about that. Caleb reminded me that I’m the Chairman and I can work anywhere, too. I’ll just transfer my offices to Twinbrook.”
“That’s cool. Is Chairman like the president?”
“No, but it’s close. Maybe someday I will be president of the company and then I can do whatever I want.”
That night when Charlie sat down to talk to Ting Po, his bear, he felt better than he had since his parents died.
“We’re not moving,” he whispered to his confidant. “Kindra says we’re staying here.” He hugged his friend as tight as possible and wiped the silent tears that always fell into the little panda’s fur.
“Night Mom. Night Dad. I miss you,” he said instead of his prayers. Then he climbed into his bed to sleep for the night.