She stood in the middle of my kitchen. From the moment she and her little sister came in from the dark where they had been swinging, she had smiled and tried to be so very grown up and complimentary. I was troubled by the fact that there were only two girlies. There should have been four.
“Is it just you and Miriam?” I asked her. She nodded. “Where are your sisters, honey?”
Her chin jutted out, and she heaved her shoulders. “Well,” she said slowly, “I’m not sure that I’m supposed to repeat this, but –” She looked around cautiously. “We think they are with our mama.” She looked then like she was going to cry. I walked over and wrapped her up in my arms and held her.
“And how does that make you feel?” I asked gently.
Her voice was high pitched, and tight. “Sad.” She said simply.
“Oh, Honey-girl.” I hugged her tight and rocked. She took a deep breath.
“Our family is just having a really tough time right now,” she said in a voice that belied her mere eight years. She and her sister played a little, but kept straying back to the kitchen. I finally got to thinking. They had been riding about most of the day, looking for someone to take them in.
“Are you girlies hungry?” I asked them with as much cheerfulness as I could muster. Their eyes brightened, and even though I have reason to believe that the six year old already is dealing with her mother’s anorexia, they both insisted that they would love something to eat. I had one can of spaghettios on the shelf. It was enough for two little girls. There was applesauce in the cellar. I got the spaghettios cooking while the oldest of the two hovered at my elbow.
“Did you know,” she suddenly said, “that I can cook and I can clean? I’m a really good help in the house.”
“You can cook?” I asked her.
“Yep, I can do toasted cheese and if I could get to Wal-mart for some cornstarch, I can make vanilla pudding.”
“That sounds wonderful, Honey. I’m sure you are a big help around the house. But you know, Darlin’ you are a little girl and little girls need to play sometimes.”
“Oh,” she said airly, “I do play, too. But I like to help.”
Supper was eaten, and the two darlings played tenuously. The oldest came back to give me compliments.
“You are a good housekeeper.”
You are a good cook.”
“You make good home canned things.”
“You have a big house.”
I sensed that there was a bid being made for being allowed to stay, and my heart went out to these little girls and their desperate situation. A mother who doesn’t live with them, two older sisters who have run away to live with the mom, and a dad who is ill — physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. His sordid tale went on and on into the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere along the way, I told him that the little girls could sleep in the spare room if they could sleep together. They had gone into the living room and crashed onto the la-Z-boy recliners and fell soundly asleep. It was then that we realized that what the dad really wanted was for someone to take the three of them in. Indefinitely.
I looked across the room at Certain Man who had put setting up chicken house on hold to listen and to try to understand. I thought about our girlies, due in any minute from their trip, and my heart rebelled at the invasion. I didn’t mind the little girls sleeping at my house, but the thought of their daddy spending the night was really uncomfortable for me. Certain Man told him that he could sleep on the couch, and he jumped at the chance. I went to change the last load of laundry and then motioned to Certain Man. “What’s going on?” I queried. “Did you really tell him he could sleep here?”
He was as troubled as I was. “Hon, what can we do? I can’t turn him out with the girls, and he isn’t going leave without them.”
“You’re right, of course,” I said. “But there are a few things I need to tell him.”
I met him in the kitchen and decided to get it over with. “You heard me say that there is an upstairs spare room, and I know I did say that the girls could sleep there. That was before I realized that you were staying too. With sleeping arrangements the way they are upstairs, I cannot allow you to sleep up there. Our single daughters are coming home tonight, and I am not comfortable with you being up there.” He took that really well and seemed to understand. “Furthermore,” I said, “Mornings at this house are especially busy. Daniel leaves early for work, and I have my ladies to get up and ready for the bus. Daniel leaves at 7:00. I think it would be best if you weren’t here after that time. I’m not making any accusations, but it just doesn’t look good for a man to be here when my husband is gone.”
“Oh, sure, sure.” He said. “I 100% agree with that. That is how I would do it, too. Just to have the couch is good enough, and we get up early and we’ll try to get on out of here.”
“I would really appreciate it,” I said. “It just seems awkward.”
“Right!” he said. “I understand.”
I got some sheets and made up a bed on the couch. Got him a pillow and some blankets. In less than ten minutes, he was snoring gently. The girlies hardly seemed to move. We left a light on in case they got awake, and once our girls got in from Guatemala, we went to bed. And after a time of trying to think and pray, I eventually went off to sleep.
This morning, there wasn’t much stirring in the living room until right after Daniel left for work. Then the bathroom I use to shower and dress my ladies was suddenly taken over. Thankfully, it didn’t last too long, but I still played “catch up” until the bus arrived, actually ten minutes early. Nettie and Cecilia both rode on the same bus today, so they were actually out of the house before the two little boys that Rachel babysits for put in their appearance. As the morning wore on there were no serious attempts at getting out of here. The Youngest girl hollered from the top of the steps. “Hey! Do you have some clean clothes? I peed myself!”
“No, I don’t have any little girls, so I don’t have any clothes your size.”
She scrunched up her cute little snoot and tried to think of a solution. “You don’t have anything? I need a t-shirt. Do you have a t-shirt for me? No? Well, could you knit one quick?” (uh, no!)
Eventually they drug in a huge suitcase that had clothes and some necessities, then had some breakfast, and everyone continued to mill about. I don’t know what is wrong with this old grey mare, but this morning almost got the best of my good humor. I finally fired off a message to the church e-mail group, asking for prayer and I guess people must have really taken it to heart because it was only about 20 minutes later that I saw him putting light jackets on the girls and he decided to head on out to see what he can find today.
My heart is a kaleidoscope of emotion tonight. How very much I wonder where they are. I wonder what their day was like. I spent a long time talking to Youngest Son today, and he is adamant that the girls are in danger. He had many, many things to say, but I hardly know what to do with them. I know it isn’t the best situation, but I have never seen the dad do anything that would physically hurt the kids. But everything is so mixed up tonight, and I am more than a little worried. I know that I’ve not given many names, but if you could, please pray for this family tonight. I don’t see things getting much better, in fact, I believe that they are “sitting on go for disaster.”
God has a plan, here. There is a best thing for this family to do. How sincerely I hope and pray that where ever they are tonight, the girlies are fed and secure.
Thanks for listening!