Keldren's Quarters

A mother looks back on her athletic, popular son's life and his journey to a place with officers and limited visitation.

by Cheryl Shiver • More.com Member { View Profile }

The 1970s. A bouncing baby boy. 7 pounds, 5 ounces. His name? Keldren.

Fast forward. It's a sunny day in May. Kids are playing in the park, and nearby, a Little League game is underway. A young mother anxiously watches as her son swings the bat. "Strike two!” the umpire calls. She stands and shouts, "Keep your eyes on the ball!" Next pitch, he gets a hit and runs for first base — “Safe!” She is so proud of her Little Leaguer, her one and only son, proud of his athletic abilities. Maybe someday, he will be in the majors, perhaps the LA Dodgers! He is soooo cute in his little Astros uniform.

It’s often a stretch to pay for it all — the uniforms, cleats and other accessories necessary for her baby to participate in Little League baseball. But, she has a good job and a supportive family, so … Astros win 3-2! Sweaty and thirsty and wanting to go get a treat from the snack shack with the other boys, her young son looks at her and implores, "Mom, I need a quarter!"

My, how he has grown. Eighth grade, that oh-so awkward age for boys. He’s a little chunky. Big Macs, Quarter-Pounders and large fries are his favorite meal. But he’s still popular with the girls! Being still young herself, she knows how cruel children can be. So, despite plenty of resistance from him, she puts her son on a diet! She doesn’t want anyone picking on her precious baby boy.

It's time for high school. She worries about him going to the local school. Growing up in their town, it can be challenging for young men. But she is in a great neighborhood, right? Is she just being paranoid? She doesn’t even allow him to take the trash out at night. Many think he’s spoiled. But she has her reasons. She felt more comfortable when he was in the suburbs with her parents. In his room, there were jars full of dollar bills, tokens and quarters. He needed the stash for his rides on the Metro to get to and fro. 

Second quarter at the local college, where he majors in communications, he pumps it up like no other. Always the ground breaker, the rule breaker, the risk taker, always taking things to newer heights, doing the never-done-before. He introduces rap to the local college community via the school’s radio station. At first, the administration resists, but he persists. And by bringing many of the top local up-and-coming artists to give interviews at the station, he is a hit!

Big Town, Calif. He's on his own. He's got a job, a girl and rent to pay. He's now over a quarter of a century old. What a handsome young man he has grown to be. Popular, loved and called “friend” by many. They are very close, the young mom and her son. He cooks for her, buys her gifts and speaks with her every day. He welcomes her into his world, and she does the same. His friends are her children, too. He loves her and she loves him. Life is good. She is so very proud of her one and only son.

Today, she is packing for a flight. Going home to Big Town, Calif. She needs to leave by a quarter till to get the to airport on time. She is very excited about the trip. She has her hair done, and she picked out all the appropriate clothing — the right outfit, the right color. She hasn’t seen him in months, her one and only son, but she communicates with him often. She is very, very excited! After all, on this trip, it will be his birthday when she arrives! But the only gift she has to bring is her smile, a kiss and a big bear hug. He is so much bigger now, no longer that tall, slender young man she worried about seemingly so long ago.

She arrives, signs in, but before she takes a seat, she reaches in her pocket and takes out two 20-dollar bills. She goes to the change machine and puts the bills in to exchange them for quarters.

She waits for her name to be called. At last, finally, it is, and she is escorted into the visiting room. She only has to wait a few minutes before he arrives. All smiles, dressed in his well pressed visitor khakis. Sooooo glad to see her — his Mom! He gives her a big bear hug. She gives him her best smile and a kiss, and melts into his loving arms.

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