ANNA MARIE MARCUM
I was reading over on “Gracegivens” web site about her sweet little Sarah and her bug situation, and it sounds to me like another little girl I know. Eldest Daughter has never outgrown her aversion to crawly things. We have some priceless stories about this peculiarity, believe me.
But it also brought back a bittersweet memory of something that happened at our house a long time ago. It was summer. We had just adopted Eldest Daughter, we had two foster children, and I was pregnant with Middle Daughter. I had alot to learn. And I was, unfortunately, a very determined woman.
One Sunday afternoon our foster daughter, Anna, who was 11, came out of her bedroom, very upset and insisting that I come and kill a brown spider for her. I was napping, I think, and I told her to take the flyswatter in there and kill it. It was no big deal.
She said, “But Mom, it is so big!”
I said, “Anna, for pity sakes, just go kill it!” She cried, protested mightily, and finally I decided that I would go in there and “help” her kill it even if I had to hold her hand over the flyswatter to do it. Back the hall we went, loaded for bear.
“Where’s this spider, Anna?” She looked around.
“It was there, on the bed,” she whimpered. I marched the two of us over there, and lo and behold, there was the biggest spider I had ever seen. It was humongous. It really took me aback! To be honest, it was formidable. But then, I had a dilemma on my hands. What should I do? I had said that she had to help me kill it. I was determined that she would. So while she closed her eyes and pulled back, I held onto her hand that was on the handle of the flyswatter, and we began flailing away. What a sight we must have been!!! She was wailing, and of course, our aim was off, and the last thing I saw of that spider, it was disappearing between the bed and the wall into some mysterious crack somewhere, never to be seen again.
Then I really had a dilemma on my hands. Guess who didn’t want to sleep in her bed??? And guess who was starting to feel really sympathetic about that strong preference? It took some working through, believe me. But eventually, we did get it settled to everyone’s apparent satisfaction.
You know what? I learned alot about myself as a Mama from that experience. First of all, in matters of spiders and crawly things and such, which are neither “right” nor “wrong” it is best to err on the side of mercy. I have wished a thousand times that I would have just gone back there, killed that spider for my Anna girl and been done with it. I wanted to teach her courage and I wanted her to have the confidence that she could take care of herself. My intentions were not necessarily bad.
But I believe that what she saw was a Mama who needed more to be “right” and “the boss” than one who cared about her deepest fears. I have always been so sorry. And this was one child that I haven’t had the chance to make it up to over the years. She was adopted to another family and we lost touch with her.
Sometimes I wonder about what she remembers of the sixteen months that she spent in our home. I hope she remembers riding behind Certain Man in the wagon part of the lawn mower while he mowed lawns. I hope that she remembers that, for those months at least, she had a Daddy who was never inconvenienced by her, allowed her to tag along in whatever he was doing, whether gardening, building something, or just cleaning up the yard, and always treated her with respect and love. I hope that she remembers bedtime prayers, new clothes for school, hugs and family trips. She may. But I bet she remembers a big brown spider that got away, and a Mama who really didn’t understand what was in her heart.
Anna-girl, wherever you are today, and where ever life has taken you, I wish you love. I hope that there is someone who kills spiders for you and understands why you are so afraid of them. I hope that you have a little girl that looks just like you with freckles and red hair and that she has a Daddy who loves her and loves you and is never inconvenienced by you. I pray that you remember that you gave your heart to Jesus, and in all the paths your life has taken, I pray that you have never let go of this One Friend who will always understand you, never leave you, never forsake you. Today, you are a woman of 36, but to us, you will forever be 11 years old, sitting in our hearts in that Anna-shaped hole. Ah, girlie, what we wouldn’t give to see you again!