This is for the Thanksgiving Challenge

A Wonderful Thanksgiving Filled With Miracles

By JeanneZ84

This was going to be McCormick's 5th Thanksgiving at Gull's Way and he awoke looking forward to the entire day.

He got out of bed and found the best pair of jeans he owned and a light yellow t-shirt. He then decided to go over to the main house to see what Hardcastle was doing.

McCormick entered the main house and headed for the den where he knew

Hardcastle would be. "Hey Hardcase, are you ready for the up and coming events of later with the big turkey dinner festivities?" McCormick asked as he walked into the den and sat down in his favorite chair. "I know I sure am."

"Yes, McCormick I am. There's just one thing."

McCormick looked at him and asked, "Yea, judge. What might that be?

Do you think we oughta get little turkeys and dress them up in little judge's robes?"

Milt answered "No, McCormick, that isn't it at all." Hardcastle waved that away, dismissing it.

"Well then, judge, what is it?"

"Frank just called and wants me down at the station so dinner will have to wait till I get back." Hardcastle said with a growl. He got up out of his chair behind the desk and said "I'll be back as soon as I can McCormick," then he headed for the front door and got in his GMC truck and drove off, leaving Mark to finish up the dinner preparations.

McCormick was wondering what was going on at first but he soon forgot about it and headed back in to the kitchen to check on the turkey dinner.

As soon as Hardcastle got to the police station, he let himself

into Frank's office. Sitting down he faced his friend.

"Alright,Frank I'm here. Now what is this all about?"

Frank was startled at first by the sound of Milt's voice because he

had been very deep in thought with the information he was reading and never heard the judge enter the room.

Frank finally looked up and said "Milt, I hope you came alone. I need to talk to you privately about something you had me look in to a while back. Nothing turned up 'til now, believe it or not."

Milt leaned forward in his chair and said "Well ok, Frank just tell

me. I don't have all day."

"Well, do you remember you came to me about McCormick awhile back, and you originally had thought his mother was dead because of the fact he grew up in a foster home or two and then later he left and lived totally on his own?"

The Judge said "Yea, Frank I do. McCormick had been looking at his mother's picture and moping around on the holidays all the time and I finally got a little out of him after the Atlantic City thing. That's when I caught him just staring at her picture again and I asked him to talk about it and I said I'd listen. That was a few years ago though Frank."

Hardcastle then leaned back in the chair and got comfortable and then he continued on."McCormick told me he was taken from her, mostly because since Sonny had walked out she did the best she could,but,since they were pretty poor,he got taken from her because she just couldn't support a growing boy."

The judge said "Frank, what is this all about now? Has something shown up?"

Looking up at Hardcastle and putting the papers down on his desk, Frank answered "Well Milt, I think we do have something. That is why I called you."

"Well,Frank?" Hardcastle said in a bit of exasperation.

"Going by the copy of the picture you gave us,I do believe we've found her,alive and well."

"Where,Frank? Where is she? Just tell me what you have for crying out loud."

"She was spotted in Bayonne, New Jersey. Our guy spotted her in some type of diner. Milt, do you think she is working double or maybe triple jobs like when Mark was still with her?"

Milt scratched at his chin and said "Probably. Or just maybe now she's working a lot better than then. We just don't know."

"Milt,should we tell McCormick or," his voice trailed off for a bit.

"Or maybe we shouldn't get his hopes up just yet."

Suddenly Frank came back on track with his thoughts and spoke,"No we

can't. We don't even know what's what yet."

"I know. Maybe she is used to being without the kid now. We don't know how she feels and why they lost contact with each other. Let's not raise his hopes just yet till we have some idea of what's going on."

"Yea,Milt,you're right."

Hardcastle got up from his chair and said "I gotta go. I told the kid I wouldn't be long."

Milt opened the door and headed back to Gull's Way. He walked in and said "Hey Kiddo, you here? McCormick what do ya have cooking in there? Smells good. Kiddo?"

McCormick yelled,"Yea, Judge, in the kitchen."

Hardcastle walked into the kitchen and as he did, he knew right away that something was on McCormick's mind. Finally he spoke up "Sorry I'm late, but Frank just needed to vent a little about something because of the holidays."

"Oh yea. Did you help him straighten it out?"

"I think I did."

"Good. I'm starving. Geez, Judge life isn't fair you know. You are over talking with Frank and just leave me here and you know after slaving away all day at this all by yourself can make a person really build up an appetite ya know. So, let's eat already!"

Hardcastle answered with a grin,"Good idea!"

Mark carried the mashed potatoes in plus the noodles as Hardcastle grabbed the gravy and cranberries and set them on the dining room table. They also set out a green bean casserole,sweet potatoes followed by corn, cooked apples with cinnamon, and they also had Stove Top stuffing. Finally the main dish, a fine young turkey was brought out and put on the table. Mark poured them each a tall glass of nice cold iced tea. Desert was large slices of warm pecan pie with vanilla ice cream.

They were just about to be seated when they heard a knock at the door.

Judge Hardcastle said "I'll get the door there, kiddo."

He went to the door and through the window he saw one of the man Frank had hired to try and locate Donna McCormick.

The judge opened the door and when he did,he not only saw the man Frank had working on to locate Donna McCormick,he also saw a very pretty lady with brown hair past her shoulders and vivid blue eyes.

She was older of course than the picture he had seen of her, but he could tell who she was. He just stood in silence for a bit, then found his voice and invited her in after telling the gentleman thank you.

The detective told Judge Hardcastle that Frank said he was to go back to the station as soon as he had escorted the lady to Gull's Way.

Milt nodded his understanding and said "Sure and thanks again."

Milt just stood in silence again for a brief moment then finally said "Sorry for staring at you. I just am so surprised you're here."

In a very soft voice Donna McCormick said "It's quite alright, Your Honor."

He said "I'm Judge Hardcastle, nice to finally meet you."

Donna replied "It's nice meeting you as well,your Honor."

Milt turned his head toward the dining room and yelled,"Hey kiddo, I think you need to make another place at the table.

You have someone who is wanting to see you in here."

McCormick called back from the dining room."Aww Judge, who is it?

Can't you just tell me instead of playing twenty questions?"

In a bit more of a growling voice, Judge Hardcastle said "McCormick!

Just set another place at the table and then get in here will ya?"

Donna McCormick and Judge Hardcastle could hear Mark from in the dining room."Gee, judge. What the hell is going on that I can't catch a break even on a holiday?" Mark paused, then continued, "Alright Judge,you wanna call all the shots,fine. I'll set another place at the table and come in there, but this better be good Hardcase."

Donna smiled up at Judge Hardcastle and she said."It sounds like he is having a bad day today."

"No,he is really like this a lot," he said, smiling back at her.

A few seconds later they heard foot steps coming from the dining room in their direction. As McCormick was getting closer, he said "Alright Judge, I did what you told me to do, I set another place at the table. Now would you please tell me what is going on in here?"

As he walked into the hallway he saw Hardcastle talking to someone, some woman. He couldn't see her face as her back was

turned to him.

She finally turned her face towards him and as he got closer he came to an abrupt stop, shocked to see who the stranger was.

Finally, after a long moment of silence he asked. "Momma? Is it really you?"

She gave a bit of a nod and said in a low tone "Yes Mark,it's really me, baby."

Mark was very stunned. He went over to his mother and they embraced for a long time. Both Mark and Donna McCormick were very emotional and happy to be reunited again after so many were each speechless and Donna's eyes glinted with tears.

Mark finally got his voice back and asked, "Momma, how did you find me?

I looked all over for you for years and nobody was able to find any leads or so they said. Then I ran into some legal problems and was in prison for a few years."

Donna said, "Mark, honey I didn't find you. I did try and when I finally found the last foster home you were in I was told you had taken off."

Mark said, "Momma, I don't understand. You must have found me, you're here."

Donna replied, "Yes, Mark honey, I am but someone found me and brought me here."

Mark looked up at the judge with a genuine smile,"Thanks judge."

Hardcastle replied,"I wish I could take credit for all of it but I can't."

Mark gave him a quizzical look and asked "What do you mean, Judge?"

"Well, kiddo, I just gave a copy of the picture I saw you staring at to Frank and asked him to get his men to locate her and here she is."

Mark suddenly said "Oh, Momma by the way, this is Judge Hardcastle. Judge I would like you to formally meet my mother, Donna McCormick." Mark and Donna still had their arms around each other.

Hardcastle smiled widely, "Kiddo, your momma and I already met".

Mark grinned shyly,"Oh yea, well ok."

Mark suddenly remembered,"Oh! Judge! The food,it's gonna need re-heating."

Donna spoke up and said "Don't worry about a thing."

Mark spoke up and said "No, momma I can take care of it. You and the judge go get to know each other better. I can handle it."

Donna shook her head. "Nonsense, I'll do it."

Mark said "Momma you just got here. I shouldn't put you to work like this."

Donna looked at Mark. "Well, Mark we've got to eat so I'm doing it and you can help me."

Mark looked at his momma with a huge smile on his face and replied,"Sure,momma anything you say."

After the food was re-heated the three of them sat down to a fabulous Thanksgiving meal filled with special memories and now the beginnings of new ones to come. Later they had pecan pie with ice cream on top and a cup of coffee in the den.

They talked about Frank's search for Donna McCormick and how they decided to bring her right to Gull's-Way.

Mark and Milt also told her how they had met,and how they teamed up as partners to catch the bad guys.

They talked far into the night, catching up and sharing pieces of their lives.

When Hardcastle noticed Ms. McCormick yawning,he invited her to stay in the guest bedroom. Mark claimed the second bedroom and an hour or so later they had all retired for the night.

Mark lay there in bed thinking just how very thankful he was for everything that had came his way today and he would always be thankful for it all.