At three feet tall, long brown hair, freckled face and teddy bear, Charli Jo has her grandfather wrapped around her pinkie. "I'm your sunshine?," he asks her. "I hope I can still be your sunshine," said Dave Aycock.
Wednesday, he and his wife Martha were trying to keep the clouds from moving in. "Try to keep from crying," he said. They were engaged in a custody battle. And like many, it was messy, and scary, and painful. "We have been raising Charli for a while. She's become our family," said Aycock.
After Charli Jo's mother was incarcerated in a substance abuse facility, her grandparents took responsibility since her father was also in jail. But now he's free, living in Wisconsin, seeking custody. But grandma disapproves. "He has some violence charges and I don't want her living with that," said Martha Aycock.
As the custody hearing got under-way there was testimony of criminal histories. But not just of Charli Jo's parents, but her grandparents as well, a history of drunk driving and bad checks. "I'm doing my life entirely different," said Martha. "I go to church regularly," she added.
No one had a clean slate, but everyone wanted Charli Jo. But then, after a three hour recess... "We were totally surprised," said Dave Aycock. Charli Jo's father concedes custody for visitation rights. "Just glad we came to a mutual agreement," said Charles Race, Charli Jo's father.
It was not a fairy tale ending, but it is, for now, the best case scenario for a little girl called Charli Jo. "It's mostly what's best for Charli Jo," said Charles, getting a kiss on the cheek from Charli Jo. "Thank you," Charles said smiling.