“Mike*, has been here the longest. He came when just a toddler.” Before us lay a small, but obviously grown man. “He has some congenital disorder not yet described in the medical literature. He is unable to do anything more than a six-month-old baby could do, though he is trying to learn to sit up.”
The man-child had a broad smile on his face as he giggled at his foster mother and frowned a bit to see us. Then, he held out his hand for us and I took it. “Hi there, Mike. Aren’t you a handsome boy?”
He was, too. His smile just melted our hearts, when he finally decided we were okay to have around. I never saw him move his legs, so not sure he could. He must have been a physical challenge for Mrs. Matthews to care for. She agreed it was hard to move him at times, but she often had help for bath times, etc.
One-by-one we met her charges. All were obviously well cared for and seemed to radiate her love for them in their smiles. Then we headed for the room with the youngest kids. One little girl grabbed my attention right off. Perhaps, it was because of her crib. It looked like a mini-padded cell to me. I couldn’t take my eyes off the child. Mrs. Matthews noticed.
“So, you want to know about Molly*, do you?”
“Sorry; I didn’t mean to stare.” I felt like my eyes were locked into Molly’s gaze.
“Oh, it’s okay. Molly’s doing well right now. I so wish we had a single-child home for her. I think she’d do better and, perhaps, would progress a bit faster. I’m sure she could do better, but this is the best we can do, for now.”
“She looks so small and vulnerable. Why is she in that…well, uh, special crib?” Molly was in a clean, cotton dress…so full of colorful designs. Sitting there, just looking at me, I smiled back at her. She didn’t smile at me.
“Molly was normal when she was born but soon began displaying animal-like aggression. She’s been here about a year now. Molly’s two years old. Isn’t she a pretty little girl?”
Indeed, Molly was beautiful, even without a smile. How much more, if she would smile. The two-year-old moved normally but the sounds coming out of her mouth were more of a growl than words.
“Do you know what she’s saying, Mrs. Matthews?”
“Not really. I know she can talk because I’ve come in on her talking to the other kids in normal English. Short phrases, but normal words. She won’t talk to any of us, though. Hers is such a sad case. The State just wanted to institutionalize her, but I begged them to let me have her. I’m not sure how long she will be able to stay here.”
While I was struggling with emotions, little Molly began to crawl in a pacing back and forth fashion. She moved her head like she was searching for something. Then, without any warning, she threw herself at the wall of the crib. I was glad it had been so well-padded; Molly could have been hurt badly.
“She does that off and on; hence, the need for the padding. I do think she would be better if there was someone to just hold her more, but I don’t have time to hold her for hours and hours. Besides, what do I know about these things? Hers is an extraordinary case and, maybe, it isn’t just prayer and motherly loving that she needs. If there was someone interested in trying…well, who would take a child like Molly in their homes; no one would so I just love Molly as best I can.”
I wanted to take Molly, right there and then. I wanted to try to help her out of that animalistic state and get a smile on that lovely little girl’s face. I longed for her to be a happy, normal little child; and, in my own innocence, I felt I could do it, if given a chance.
We left Mrs. Matthews, walking back across the street, but I never forgot about Molly. My friends joined me in praying for Molly. I told them I wanted to try to help the little girl, and, as soon as Curt was home, I’d tell him about her. Maybe we could come visit Mrs. Matthew so Curt could meet Molly, too.
In fact, there wasn’t a waking hour of the return road trip that didn’t find Molly and thoughts of her popping up in my mind. I could hardly wait to tell Curt all about the beautiful child.
I had only received one letter from Curt the whole summer, but I figured the Army kept their officer candidates pretty busy. Besides, the goofy Army paymaster sent his check to Curt’s mother, instead of to Curt’s wife, so maybe she got letters intended for me, too? Since the lone letter had been written the first days of duty, speaking of his wonderful fellowship times with his fully-committed-to-Christ bunkmate, I didn’t worry about his failure to reply to my numerous letters to him. I should have.
The day I readied myself to fetch Curt at the Smoke Jumpers School grounds, for that is where his military transport plane would drop the guys in our area off, I reviewed how I would tell him about little Molly. I’d written to him about each of the conferences as the summer progressed, the road trip and not being able to be in the wedding, but had not mentioned Molly or the home we visited. I thought it best to wait until we could talk it over face-to-face. We’d discuss it and pray about it together. Little did I know, Curt had another proposition he was rehearsing to discuss with me as he flew back from the military base. What a shocker!
*Names have been changed.
****The Beginning of the End, Scene 3…Next Post