Liberty’s first day of class was early in January, so early that the Foster Retirement Center was still ablaze in Christmas décor. An old plastic crèche sat just to the left of the front doors, the three main characters weathered but determined. The Christ-child looked stable enough, but someone or something had rendered Mary and Joseph flat; the blessed Virgin flat on her face and righteous Joseph flat on his back. As man and boy carefully reset the scene, Davis Walton spoke in pastoral tones: ‘Most of the people here are like this, Onceuponatime…they’re old but beautiful, life keeps knocking them over…we’ll just try to help them back up.’ The smile and nod of his grandson’s face was sufficient, a word the good reverend had learned to live by. Davis Walton offered his hand to the little boy he loved the most and in they went.
Jenny Parker, Foster’s 'Activities Architect', was on the front desk phone as they walked in. She waved them past, silently mouthing ‘they’re waiting for you.’ The words were not lost on Onceuponatime. Some mothers would have overcoached this experience, trying to prepare their child for any and all contingencies. But not Liberty. She believed her son belonged to these Fridays with his grandfather as sure as rain is wet. Liberty had read stories to her son since his birth; she knew now he would begin living them. Before driving away earlier that morning, she kissed her son’s forehead once and nose twice, then simply said ‘its waiting for you.’