Posts tagged ‘family’

Painted Pumpkins

by: Rebecca Taylor

Leaves rustled overhead as Tania Hanson and her daughter Mariah walked outside to their pumpkin patch. It was time to choose one and take it inside to decorate it. Tania had several stencils of cats, leaves, witches and other Halloweeny things that she knew her daughter would enjoy. Tania always liked painted pumpkins better than carved ones because they lasted longer.

“This is so much fun, Mom,” said Mariah.

“I’m glad that you like it, honey,” said Tania, “I’m glad we can do it together.”

“Me too,” said Mariah, “I just wish that Dad could be here to do it with us.”

“He told me he should be home next week and we can skype him to show him what our painted pumpkins look like,” replied Tania.

“Alright,” said Mariah, “I want to paint a special one for him.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” said Tania.

Together the mother and daughter duo selected their pumpkins and then they put them in the wheelbarrow to take them closer to the house.

It was moments like this that Tania lived for. She enjoyed creating special moments with her daughter, and with her husband when he was home. He traveled frequently for business and she didn’t get to see him as much as she would have liked. She, however, didn’t let that get her down. Instead, she felt incredibly blessed that technology kept them connected so that she and Mariah could share their everyday lives with him even when he was away. She knew that his face would light up with a smile and that his blue eyes would twinkle with the love that they carried when he saw what she and Mariah had been up to. Painted pumpkins and hot apple cider, what a better way to spend a Saturday in autumn.

All in Moderation

by: Rebecca Taylor

“All the news ever talks about is fat free this and organic that,” complained Monica Moulton to her friends. It was Friday night and they were having their monthly get together, this time at Simone Vien’s house.

“I know, sometimes you just don’t know what you should and shouldn’t be eating. Researchers are always changing their minds, one day you should be drinking milk and then a few days later there is something bad for you in it,” replied Carmen Philips.

“Funny that we’re talking about this now, at our monthly pig out,” teased Simone.

“I think we can all agree that chips, pretzels, and fudge brownies are not something you should be having every day, but once in a while isn’t going to kill you,” retorted Carmen.

“All that talk about putting the nutrition content on the menu and the calorie count, who wants that? If I go out for a meal at a restaurant once in a while, I’m going to choose something that I want to eat, not the item with the lowest amount of calories in it,” said Simone.

“I can make an edible spinach salad at home but I’m no good with those fancy pasta dishes. Macaroni and cheese is about as fancy as I get,” said Monica.

“Well you’re a single mom working two jobs, it isn’t like you have the time to cook, and I’ve had supper at your place before, you manage the four food groups,” replied Carmen taking a handful of pretzels from the bowl on the coffee table.

“Yeah, bagged salad and pizza,” retorted Monica laughing, “some cook I am.”

“Pizza has all four food groups, you probably wouldn’t want to eat it every night, but it’ll do.”

“I hate packing lunches for my kids and I’m home all day and have the time to cook,” said Carmen. “I never know what to make and so many things contain traces of peanuts which aren’t allowed because of the possible food allergies. I’m so glad some companies are starting to put the peanut free symbol on their boxes, it makes shopping so much faster.”

“These get togethers are great because it gives us all a chance to relax and have fun once a month but what we should be doing is getting together and making meals that we can freeze, then our lives would all be so much less stressful,” said Simone.

“It would make things faster wouldn’t it but how much would we cook?”

“We could make enough to last a few weeks, and some nights we could throw things together like we are now,” said Monica.

“Some of those cooking shows say meal planning is the way to go,” answered Carmen pouring herself another glass of wine.

“I don’t know how much more planning I want to do in my life, I seem to be living from my agenda with coordinating all my work shifts, babysitters, soccer practices and piano lessons, to have to plan meals on top of it all,” replied Monica sighing.

“We could get our kids involved and maybe Carmen and I could get our husbands involved too. We could all get together and make the plans and then us ladies could go grocery shopping and then we could cook together and on the nights we aren’t using our meals maybe the kids and husbands could help out.”

“It’s worth a try. It’ll help us all have healthier lifestyles and then maybe the kids will be able to apply it throughout their lives and it won’t be so hard for them when they’re our ages,” answered Carmen.

“We can’t cut out all the foods that are supposedly not good for us because eating should be fun, not all calorie counted, measured portions,” replied Monica between bites of her brownie.

“We can do this, none of us will give up our favourite foods, and I don’t think any of us are going to go overboard and become tofu eating vegans,” replied Simone her blue eyes twinkling.

“To each their own,” teased Monica, “I guess the tofu eaters are entitled to their own opinions.”

“Like my little Charlie’s love for peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. I understand peanut butter and jelly, the thought of PB & mayo isn’t appetizing to me but if he’ll eat it,” laughed Simone.

“Hopefully we can find a way to get my two to stop being such picky eaters. With the little bit of time I have to cook and the fact that they hate any kind of vegetable that isn’t a French fry,” answered Monica.

“We’ll hide the veggies, don’t you worry, and as long as you bake the French fries they’re vegetables,” answered Carmen.

“We can do this, we’ll get it all figured out and we’ll all be eating the things we like in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the taste of junk food occasionally.”

Monica, Simone, and Carmen got themselves organized, they got together more often and planned and cooked together. They got their families involved and learned how to make some fun new dishes like a grilled veggie and pasta dish, rice and meat wrapped in grape leaves cooked in a tomato sauce and a quick and easy stew recipe. They learned how to manage their time, their menus, and their lifestyles while still enjoying their favourite foods. The three friends still got together once a month to pig out and have fun together, sometimes they just talked or watched a movie but more and more they were sharing new recipes, ideas and takes on cooking. They learned how to cook and have fun all in moderation.

Just The Two (Part Two)

Continuation of last weeks post (Just the two (part one))

“Hey, get off me!” the boy cried, trying to push her away. “I said, Get off me!”

She smiled, rubbing her cheek against his like a mother would. A few seconds in, and several curious stares later, she let him go, still smiling.

The boy frowned, but it held much less hostility than before. “What’s that for?”

She wanted to say it was because he looked like he needed one, but she knew his pride would force him to react negatively. Instead, she simply said, “Because.”

Read more…

Just The Two (Part One)

Part one of two

This is a short story I wrote, based on various childhood memories, and lots of creativity. Enjoy~

She came across the young boy at the park, scrapping at the dry dirt with a stick. If this had been years ago, when she herself was his age, she would understand why he was here, alone, and not spending his time with other children on the slides or swings across the way. Then, most of the fun areas had either been neglected or overrun with children much bigger than herself, playing basketball in the courtyard on the side. But years had passed, and the park was once again the perfect place to race around with friends, or hang from the long metal poles like monkeys. So why wasn’t he?

Read more…

L O V E/E V O L

By Christian Sopkowiak

“I love you. That’s all I said. Three words. I am telling you this because, well, you seem to listen. It was a bright day, and we had just walked out of the restaurant. It was our third date; even though she insists it was our second. Sitting together, just us two, doing nothing, counts as a date right? I mean, I like to think dating is that easy. It should be. But it isn’t. It has to be the most painful process of relationships. Stupid gestures, stupid clichés, and even worse: stupid people. I can’t say I have seen it all. Hell, at that moment, I was still pretty inexperienced. But hearing the stories told from others, it always makes me think the best part of love is that it’s just a little different with that person.

See, I could go on a date with a girl, enjoy myself, and call her up again. We could go out for a while, eventually begin to distance, and then go our separate ways. That’s most of the stories I’ve heard and stories I’ve lived. But I have also heard stories of true love. Of the way you meet and something clicks. You immediately enjoy each other. You smile when they are around. You wish you could see them everyday, and sometimes you do. But most of all, you want them to be happy. And that something that clicks, why I cant explain it. The spark in love cannot be defined, only felt. And I have felt that only once in my life, and I told her I loved her a week after I met her. Anyways, back to that story. So she stared at me, pursing her lips, and trying to get the hell out of there. But I stood up for my feelings; I didn’t let her think too much. I told her that I have never seen someone so beautiful, someone so smart, someone so thoughtful, and someone so driven in my life. I told her why I loved her, how she laughs when I make bad jokes. Or how she smiles at me while I talk to my friends. Or how she couldn’t stop from twisting her hair when we sat across from each other that night. Or how she always giggles when she smiles. I loved her. She smiled at me after I was done. She kissed me on the cheek and left.

It was the worst night of my life. I guess, that might be a lie, but you don’t know that. You haven’t had too many bad nights, have you? But, she contacted me the next morning, saying how much fun she had. She wanted to do it again. Love is not easy, nor is it hard. It’s somewhere in the middle. When that spark, that something is felt, nothing can stop you from getting together. Love can be really dumb. But, I like to think no matter how bad love can make you feel, it can always brighten your entire day in a moment’s notice. That’s what happened that morning. And I married that beautiful woman. And I guess, after all of this cliché stupid romantic stuff, I just want you to understand love is natural. Just go for it. And I’m telling you this, I guess, because it worked for me. And because, I want you to be the best person you can be, son.” My three-week-old son then smiled at me and giggled, just like his mom.

The Pastures and the Fields

By Christian Sopkowiak

Using the prompt for this week: “Our writing prompt for this week is to write a story using the following five words: bottle, balcony, strawberry, conversation, values.”

Inspired by the biblical story of Cain and Abel

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His mind drifted away from the fields, the stalks, and the sun. He thought of his brother standing in the pasture, the pepper-grey sheep surrounding him. His brother would always herd those sheep. They would always listen to his brother but the one time Carl tried it, the sheep scattered. He thought of the balcony on which he stood, a wooden thing high above the ground. He had his arms on the rails and his eyes on his fields. He thought of his brother once again, this time Abe was standing with him on this balcony, with a bottle in his left hand. It was always his left; he said it helped the alcohol flow down his throat when he drank with his left.

Carl and Abe were brothers by blood but not in truth. For when the two brothers ventured to visit their grandfather’s, Grandpa Gabe never once asked Carl about his fields. Only Abe’s sheep piqued his interest. The conversation droned on with the talk of the sharp, soft wool and tender meat. Carl left that day, knowing he seemed lost to his only other family besides his brother. The balcony began to creak a bit as Carl again tried to spot a flaw in his fields. He had corn, beanstalks, potatoes, apples, and so much more. Yet, Gabe chose Abe’s sheep. Carl saw his brother before him, a smaller man with dark hair and a clean face. There was never any hardness there. He had tried his best to forget that.

The day after their visit with Gabe, Carl approached his brother. He blamed Abe for Gabe’s neglect. Gabe had told Carl that if he kept trying, he may be able to change. But Carl knew Gabe was trying to soften the hurt. The brothers screamed at each other, neither stopping to hear the other. Carl and Abe fought about food, family, culture, values, and finally, life. Carl had brought a knife, no longer than his index finger. It was curved and smeared in oil and dirt. He had used it in his fields. That day, he used it to kill his brother. During their talk, Abe turned to look at his pasture and heavily sighed. Carl drove the blade through him. It went through his heart in one swift motion and Abe began bleeding. The blood reminded Carl of a strawberry: foolishly crimson but eloquently beautiful. So much, like the sun.

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The Blueberry Rebellion

by: Rebecca Taylor

Blueberries, plump and juicy waiting to be eaten, or baked into a pie or cooked down into a thick delicious sauce, August was the time for all of these things. Sadness was in the air, like rain on a cloudy day that just didn’t want to come, you knew it was there but couldn’t see it. The one person who had relished in the season of fruit ripening on trees and bushes, gathering and creating was no longer with them. Her sudden death left a void, one which made Joe Tanner and his daughter Sarah sad when they looked at the bushes in the garden. They knew what they had to do, like it or not, life had to go on, and that meant picking berries. They both knew that Jenny would be unhappy if they neglected the chores, especially the ones she loved most. Without saying a word, Jenny’s husband and daughter went to the old shed behind the house and brought out the baskets. Then, they went to the garden and harvested the fruit for a full three hours. There was still some ripe fruit left on the bushes and more green berries were sure to turn soon, but for the moment they were exhausted both physically and emotionally.

“Now what?” asked sixteen year old Sarah, her voice barely audible.

“We’ll freeze some. It’s the fastest way to get them out of the kitchen.” Freezing berries is easy, thought the distraught widower as he opened re-sealable bags and poured berries inside. I wish I could freeze the void I feel.

Busy days followed as more berries made their way into the lonely, sad home. It was nearing the end of the week and Joe couldn’t take it any longer. He grabbed the blender from its place on the shelf where it had sat waiting since his wife had been taken from him. He threw berries into the machine and after securing the top pressed the start button. The blueberries splattered around making a sea of purple-blue juice. They’re spinning like my stomach, all “wishy washy.” But can I really fix anything by taking out my anger on the helpless blueberries. “They didn’t kill her,” he repeated over and over again tears running down his face.

“Daddy,” said Sarah reaching over and hitting the off switch on the blender and then wrapping her arms around him in a hug.

“What are we going to do?” he asked, “nothing will ever be the same.”  I hate looking at these blueberries, I cannot stand going to bed anymore and staying up all night is an accident waiting to happen. I cannot let this continue, I need to be here for my daughter and here she is comforting me. “I’m goingto figure things out Sarah, I’m going to be the dad you need me to be. I know I’ve let you down these last few months.”

“No, you haven’t Daddy, we both have a lot to learn. Mom did so much, some stuff I didn’t even realize until it wasn’t done or not like the way she did. We’re rebelling at the blueberries but really that’s not it at all. We’re mad because she’s gone and the blueberries are taking the hit.”

“You’re smart, Sarah, and maybe too grown up for your own good. Your mother’s death has made you lose your innocence about life.”

“Daddy, we’re going to get through this. Just like Reverend Frank said, every day it will get a bit easier. Sometimes we’ll have setbacks but we can do this. We both have to eat and sleep and go out and do things with our friends. Even though the outside world killed mother doesn’t mean we can hide from it.”

“Your mother’s death was an accident, a very unfortunate car accident, but the sun still rises and sets and we have to learn to enjoy it again. One day at a time. You should call your friends and go see them. It’s okay for you to leave me home alone.”

“Not today,” said Sarah, “but we could watch a movie once we’ve got the kitchen cleaned up. I’ll make popcorn.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Joe.

The next morning when Joe woke up from his brief slumber, he could smell coffee and blueberry muffins cooking. Sarah was at the kitchen table reading.

“You’re up early,” said Joe.

“I felt like cooking and I needed to make peace with the blueberries.”

“The muffins smell so good, I think I can make peace too by eating them.”

It was another day and while there would be many more struggles, at least for now, they had gotten over one hurdle, they had battled their emotions from the blueberry patch to the kitchen and had lived to fight another day.

 

The Gentle Island

by: Rebecca Taylor

Two children ran along the beach laughing, their bare feet splashing in the water. Their parents sat on the porch of the beach house they were renting for their PEI vacation, their feet touching the wet, grainy sand. It had been twenty years since they had visited the island, the place they had met. They’d been in PEI for two weeks and were considering moving to the gentle island to escape their city lives where they worked a minimum of ten hour days. Not only did they love the salty smell of the water, the stars and clear sky were absolutely breathtaking.

            “This island makes people smell the air; watch the sunset, the ripples and waves of the ocean. The kids are going to grow up and have their own lives, they’ll grow up and move away…” said Marissa.

            “We’d be moving away from our lives.” replied Lewis.

            “It isn’t a home anymore, we don’t enjoy it. We’ve got to slow down; this island has shown us how to do that. Selling the house and our savings give us a chance. With fifteen years of experience, we could find other jobs, might not pay as much but we’d make out okay, we wouldn’t be bringing work home. We can play on the beach in the summer and in the snow in the winter with Abby and Jake. It is perfect, water, sand, bliss.”

            “Let’s do it, we can start house hunting tomorrow.”

            “We’re finally going to have our own lives again and to live on this gentle island would be like paradise.”

Choosing Your Child

by: Rebecca Taylor

“Children are a big responsibility, Miss Denton,” said Gloria Hayes, manager of the Sunville Orphanage.

            “I know that and I have done a lot of searching in these last few years. This is not a decision I take lightly, but I do not want to spend my life alone with only me and my cat in a house when I could provide a child with so much love. I have a steady job as a bookkeeper at an accounting firm and want to take a year off to be with the child that I want to adopt so that we can spend the year bonding. I was hoping to adopt a child that was about four years old so that when I go back to work he or she will be in school.”

            “The first year, that’s fine, Miss Denton, but what about when they have holidays from school especially in the summer.”

            “I’ve thought about that but right now my sister runs a daycare out of her home and she could watch my child. I also have three weeks of holidays from work each year and I have statutory holidays as well as sick days if my child is ill one day.”

            “Miss Denton, being a parent is hard; being a single parent is harder especially when you adopt a child. These children don’t come from homes where everything was sunshine and flowers,” said Gloria Hayes her face expressionless.

            “I know that and I want to improve a child’s life. I want to help a child and I am a very determined person. If the child that I adopt has obstacles, we will work them out. Some children, however, will probably have come from situations which I am not prepared to accept because I know that there are things which happen out there that I cannot even imagine and I don’t think it would be fair to a child with such special needs to live with someone like me who cannot comprehend what they need.”

            “That is true and I believe you have good sense in making that clear. It makes it easier for the child. We don’t place children in situations which we feel probably won’t work out because it only makes it harder for the child when their next chance at having a loving home comes up.”

            “If anything my child will have a loving home. I live in a wonderful little house in the country very close to my parents’ farm where my parents and sister live in the two houses there. As my sister runs a daycare there are always children to play with. My child could get on and off the school bus there and I would pick him or her up afterwards.

            “Your police check and references are infallible. You would be a good candidate for adopting,” replied Mrs. Hayes her light blue eyes softening.

            Emmalee Denton sighed under her breath, running her fingers through her short light brown hair. Mrs. Hayes is the stereotypical orphanage worker. Stern and frightening even to someone of my age. Her hair up in a bun. I suppose she has to be though because you can’t just let anyone off the street come in and adopt a child because that would lead to…well let’s not think about what that could lead to. It would be like that poor little kitten we adopted when I was growing up. Frightened, hurt, and alone; just needed somebody to love it. It can still be skittish even with us now even though it’s lived at home for eight years but at least it’s safe.

            “Does that mean that I will be able to adopt a child?”

            “Yes, it does, however, this process is far from being instant. First, we have to find a child that is right for you. Then, you will have several sessions with that child here at the orphanage just so that you get to know each other when the child is in familiar surroundings. After some of these sessions, you may take the child on day outings. If all goes well then you will be granted a six-month trial period. If after the six months both you and the child are a match then the adoption process can begin. There are some children here whose parents have given them up, and signed away all of their parental rights. There are other children who are not that lucky, they could find the perfect home but the parents may not be willing to have their child adopted into a loving home and so the time that you get to have that child before the parents may want to get him or her back can be numbered.”

            “I think that I need to attempt to adopt a child that is adoptable, I’ve had a job before that was up in the air and that was hard and that only went on for six months. If I were to take one of the children into a foster type situation because I could not adopt it when it was four years old I could spend fourteen years worrying and wondering. I cannot do that, I doubt very many people can.”

            “Some people only foster and have numerous children over the years to get them out of the orphanage until a suitable home can be found or to help children whose parents still hold the balance of power.”

            “That isn’t for me. I am looking for a child who will be able to be mine, one that nobody can take away from me because the parents decide that they feel like caring for a little while. I know that my decision to adopt a child is all or nothing. Either I adopt a child and have one or I don’t. I cannot decide to be a parent during certain hours of the day. It is a lifetime commitment that I am willing to undertake.”          

            “Let’s get started, you’ve already decided that a child around the age of four is what you are looking for. Do you want a girl or a boy?”

            “I think I’m leaning more towards having a daughter, not that there is anything wrong with having a boy, I’ve just never imagined having a son. As a woman, I think I would be able to provide my daughter with the positive role model that she would need and even though I could have a positive influence on a boy’s life I’m not an athletic person, throwing around a baseball is not who I am. I would try but it wouldn’t be like doing that with a father.”

            “Are you in any type of relationship with a boyfriend right now, Miss Denton?”   

            “No, I’m not and if that were ever to happen my daughter or son would need to come first. Also, could you please call me Emmalee it makes me feel more at ease?”

            “Certainly, Emmalee,” answered Gloria Hayes. “I think that a daughter would be your best choice. Are there any particular hobbies or interests which you might have that may make pairing you with a child easier?”

            “I love gardening, painting and cooking. When I’ve imagined myself mothering, I want to be able to bake chocolate chip cookies or rice krispy squares with my child and have them really enjoy it.”

            “Let me just put this into the computer and we will see if we can come up with some matches.”

Five minutes later Gloria Hayes had several profiles for Emmalee to look at. Five of which were four year old girls which could mesh well with her.

            “We have Samantha, four years old, very energetic, loves being around other children, shares well and has a lovable personality. Then there is Elvira she likes doing puzzles, is a bit shy but just needs to come out of her shell but she has a kind heart. There is Sarabeth, she loves animals and if your cat is sociable could be perfect for your household. She came here after her mother passed away in an accident, her father passed away from cancer a few years before that and there was no other family to place her with. Jenna is an artist; she loves drawing pictures, at her last foster home she started to learn to read, she went back to her mother briefly before coming back here but her mother decided to sign off and let her have a family. Lastly of the ones that would probably be for you is Lily, however, Lily comes with added responsibility as she has a slight hearing impairment and has to wear a hearing aid. She also has a twin brother Liam and if possible, we would like to place them together. That is just the basic summary, if any of them interests you, you can read some more about them or even watch them from behind a two way glass. You can see them but they can’t see you so they won’t know that they are being watched as that can be very hard on them. It gets their hopes up too high.”

            “How do I decide, all of these children need somebody. I can’t imagine being in their shoes. Sometimes it’s hard to choose a book off of a library shelf or the paint colour for the living room walls. I can always exchange books at the library and repaint the wall but we’re talking about choosing a child here, a human being that I will eventually take home and care about for the rest of my life,” exclaimed Emmalee her hazel eyes wide and full of surprise.

            “I know, Emmalee, it is hard but you have to make the decision that is best for you and the child that you are adopting.”

            “How can I make a decision for any of these children, I have never met them before and I know that if I do it will break my heart because I cannot take all of them home with me. I know that you and everyone else here does the best you can for them but they don’t get the one on one attention that all children need and there aren’t enough funds to buy them the special things in life not that money can give them what they need most – love, happiness and a family.”

            “You cannot save the world but by adopting one child in need you are making a big difference.”

            “What about the others?  If it is like anything else, the babies will be the first ones to be adopted and by the time the children are probably seven or eight they become less wanted, I suppose because the longer they are in different foster homes or here or bouncing back and forth with parents or whatever the emotional trauma deepens. Getting this child doesn’t mean that someday I won’t want to adopt another but it is always going to be the same, too many children and not enough prospective parents.”

            “I get the feeling that you have a strong sense of the pain in this world and that you can teach a child good morals. You’re going to love whatever child you have with all your heart and teach it and give it a wonderful life. That’s all anyone can do, would you like to watch the children or read one of their profiles to get a better understanding of them.”

            “Which of these children has the least chance of being adopted?”

            “Probably Lily and Liam, just because there are two of them but if you only feel prepared to give one child a home don’t choose them just because you feel sorry for them that would be far worse.”

            “Tell me a bit about Liam and his interests, is he the kind of boy that would need a father figure to play ball with, because if that is so I’m not the right person and as much as I think I could help Lily they probably have a better chance here.”

            “Liam loves sports, when one of the men gets a chance to play with him and some of the other little boys out in the back his face just lights up. I think that you’re making a smart choice not choosing them because you cannot provide Liam with the things that he loves and in turn that would make the three of you unhappy.”

            “Which of the others would be considered the least adoptable?”

            “Either Sarabeth or Elvira. Samantha has very good chances of finding the right family because she could be adopted into a family with other children and do just fine. Jenna also has a pretty good chance because she is an open child and willing to take the love that is given to her. With Sarabeth losing her parents, she wants to love someone but is somewhat afraid of losing them. You having a cat could help. Elvira is a shy child but she came here a few years ago and just hasn’t found a home yet but she likes it here. She will probably be a candidate for a good fostering situation if she isn’t adopted soon. She doesn’t have the emotional scars that Sarabeth does.”

            “Then I think I need to learn more about Sarabeth, her love for animals and being on a farm could be invaluable. My parents have dogs and cats and seeing as how she will be spending quite a bit of time with my sister, I think it could help her to be in an amicable situation. I will do all I can to help her. She’ll never totally get over her loss but I can try to provide her with a sense of security.”

            “Would you like to meet her?”

            “Yes, I would, now that I pretty much have it narrowed down to one child, it makes it a lot easier even though I still feel really awful about not being able to help the others.”

            “You can’t feel like that, it won’t help anything. We can all only do so much, if we’re lucky these children will all make out okay.”

            “Could I have a few minutes to get something from my car, I brought a photo album of pictures of my house, the school, my cat, my parents, my sister, and stuff.”

            “I think that would be great, it will give Sarabeth a better understanding of where she will be going provided the two of you hit it off.”

            “Hopefully the photo album will help us do that.”

            Fifteen minutes later after Emmalee gave herself a pep talk, she and Sarabeth, who was a tiny red haired little girl with beautiful green eyes were sitting next to each other on a sofa in a private room looking at the photo album.

            “Nice cat,” said Sarabeth when they got to the picture of the cat, “what is its name?”

            “Her name is Marmalade because her fur is orange. She has a spot on one of the windowsills where she sits and suns herself. She is always sitting there when I come home from work.”

            “Like she’s waiting for you?” asked Sarabeth timidly.

            “Yes, I love going home and knowing that she’s there waiting for me.”

            “Do you think she could be lonely and need a friend?”

            “She always seems happy but we could always get her a friend. My parents have some cats on the farm and they have kittens sometimes, I bet you could choose a kitten and it could come live with us.”

            “Could I name the kitten?”

            “Sure, I bet the kitten would like that.”

            “What colour would the kitten be?”

            “You never know for sure but probably black or tiger, most of them are on the farm.”

            “I had a tiger kitten before my mom died, her name was Stripes, but they said she couldn’t come and live with us here so she had to go live at the animal shelter.”

            “She’ll find a good home then but you will always love her anyways. We have cows and calves too on the farm, a few of them are friendly, do you like cows Sarabeth?”

            “I think so but I’ve never seen one up close before.”

            “How about one day we go and visit the farm and my house and get you acquainted? Mrs. Hayes says it will be a while before you’ll be able to come and live with me because we have to get to know each other.”

            “I’m going to miss my friends here,” said Sarabeth.

            “You’ll make new friends at my sister’s daycare and when you start school next year and we’ll see if there is someway you can keep in touch with your friends here.”

            “What if you go away and leave me like my mom and daddy did?” asked Sarabeth moving a bit closer to Emmalee on the sofa.

            “I hope that that doesn’t happen for a really really long time but if it does you won’t have to come back here because I have a sister who will be your Aunt Anna and my parents who will be your Grandma Clarice and Grandpa Peter. You’re going to have a family for life. How does that sound to you?”

            “Okay, I guess, I don’t know, I want to live with the cats and meet the calves and see the dogs but I just wish I could do it with my mom and daddy instead of you.”

            “I know you do and I wish you could have too but sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, it is okay to be sad and miss your parents but they wouldn’t want you to miss out on having a family.”

            “Will I have any sisters or brothers?”

            “Not right now, but maybe eventually, it is too early to tell right now. Right now, it is going to be you and me. I’m going be your new mom but you don’t ever have to call me that if you don’t want to. I’m not going to replace the mom that you had.” Maybe someday I will adopt another child or get married and have a baby but I don’t know. I am twenty-eight years old and at this point in my life who knows what the future has to bring. I suppose it all has to do with how well I like motherhood and how well Sarabeth and I do.

            “For now can I call you Emmalee?”

            “Sure you can, we’re going to do all right together. Once you come to live with me fulltime I am going to take a year off from work and we can get to know each other better. It is going to be a big change for both of us. It will make a big difference to Marmalade too.”

            Time flew by and two months after Emmalee and Sarabeth met, they went home to live in Emmalee’s house in the country in Rainbow Valley. Sarabeth adopted a little black and white kitten from the Denton Farm and named her Princess. Grandpa Peter gave Sarabeth a little red calf of her own which she could take to 4-H shows once she got enrolled. She named the calf Poppy because of her colour. Despite the difficult moments for the family like holidays when Sarabeth especially missed her parents, the Denton family and Sarabeth meshed well together. A year after meeting; Emmalee officially adopted Sarabeth and had her name changed to Sarabeth Lisa Hamilton Denton. Sarabeth wanted to keep the full name that her parents gave her but both she and Emmalee wanted her to feel like part of the Denton family thus giving her the family name that she would use daily. When Sarabeth was nine years old, Emmalee got married to an amazing man who loved both of them – Jake Dawson, he, and Emmalee adopted another daughter Maude shortly after their marriage as well as having a son Clay a few years later. Emmalee never forgot the choice that she had to make when deciding on getting a child that was right for her and even Maude’s adoption wasn’t much easier, although she did have the moral support of a loving husband and knew the procedure. After the first few years Emmalee stopped wondering, what life would have been like if she had adopted different children and was completely happy with what her life had become. 

After the Death-Part 1

I didn’t know who my Grandma was.

I didn’t know, never had.

How was I supposed to clean out her house, plan her funeral, and keep her children from committing suicide?

I had finished the kitchen of this house. I was commissioned to pack the stuff into boxes and “give it to someone else.” I refused to do that. I kept some of it, of course, because I was going to get my reward for this. Other things, most of it, really, was put into flimsy cardboard boxes I had gotten from a nearby gas station dumpster.

I labeled the boxes with a red sharpie for the kids.

“Pam.”

“Dylan.”

“Catherine.”

They might hate me for it later and that was fine. I knew a decent amount of people who didn’t like my cynical manner and that was okay.

Today, in this bright 5am morning, I was going to eat before I started work.

I inhaled the scent of the sausage burrito from MacDonald’s and unwrapped it. I took a bite, letting the calories fill my mouth and surveyed the attic, where I was sitting on an old wooden chair. I was fascinated by attics, always had been.

This one, however, was a bit different than I had hoped for. There were boxes but, oh man, no one ever mentions the DUST. There was ever so much dust around me. With my free hand, I reached over and pried open a small wooden box.

I figured I would find old, saved Christmas letters from the year 1930 or something. What I found was alcohol. Too early, I told myself as I picked up a few of the bottles and examined the names. Might have to try some of these.

 Grandma, hiding alcohol? Seemed like a funny thing to just put up in the attic when she just as easily could have pulled it out during some sort of family gathering. Although, now that I thought about it, enough of the family already drowned their problems in alcohol. I remember my grandma hosting family gatherings and all of the cousins bringing their own beer coolers.

Family was kind of stressful, I thought to myself as I walked around the attic, looking for another likely box to open. Instead, I found a letter on top of one of the many piles of junk around and decided to open it.

Prying wasn’t bad when someone was dead, right? Its not like anyone was going to see this unless I read it first, anyways. I tore open the letter and looked at it. She was long winded but had beautiful handwriting.

The letter was fascinating and gave me a small inkling that maybe I should have gotten to know her better while she was alive instead of assuming she was some boring old person.

 Dear Whomever Finds This,

You must be cleaning my attic. Maybe I am in an old person home or just plain passed on to the grave? Wherever I am, I wish you well with cleaning this attic out. I’ve prayed for you many times before, since I know the job ahead of you is not an easy one. I have accumulated a lot of stuff but I imagine that will be the easiest part of dealing with an empty house. It seems, often, that empty houses create empty hearts. I’ve certainly had an empty heart before, or at least what I thought was an empty heart until I remembered that those around me still wanted a place in my heart whether it be family or friends.

A few notes for you:

The attic has a lot of old stuff and you might try selling it to an antique shop. Most of the basement is a bunch of junk, as far as I’m concerned, as it was my late husbands packrat storage area. My jewelry…I hope that will get to some of the younger women in the family. The letters may prove of interest to the people they are addressed to, but should be given at the right time. You may also find some other surprises in the house and I wish you well. I dearly wish for the next person to own this house will love it like I loved it because I certainly hate to think of the empty hearts it will create.

 God bless you,

Edna Brownstone 

Ps. I left some boxes labeled for the neighbors. They didn’t all like me but they all deserve love so if you find anything you think they’d want, please pass it on to them!

 

If this were a book, would you keep reading? -Trixie

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