Living Life, Still On Two Feet

by SidewalkPhilosopher

‎Sometimes our most treasured "paybacks" in life come from the moments least expected!

Summer Vacation

It was Sunday, August 14, 2011. As I rounded the bend of the intersection and accelerated onto the interstate, I could see the clouds building just south of me.

The day had begun uneventful but was escalating into a crescendo of pulses, steadily moving in several directions at once!

It had begun with a phone call from my adopted foster daughter, Audrey. Her biological sister, Holly, had recently moved back to New York with her four children, leaving their biological mother here, in Florida.

As would have it, Grandma Barbara had missed the children and invited them to spend a few weeks with her for the summer. Her home is about an hour north of me where she lives with her new husband, Mike.

All had gone well for three weeks and the children were to return home when Audrey drove to New York the end of July. However, Audrey had an accident and, though she wasn’t hurt, her poor car was in the shop for lengthy repairs. This had left the children in their grandmother’s care much longer than planned.

Due to a chain of events, after the fourth week, Barbara was unable to care for the children any longer, leaving Holly and her children facing a difficult situation.

{Photo: Damian 10, Jaydyn 8, Elijah 6 and Laneya 4}

The Need Of A Quick Decision

After calling my husband and discussing the dilemma with him, the decision was made. So, this evening, I was driving the hour to another town to pick up four children, three boys and the youngest, a little girl, all ranging in ages from four to ten years.

At sixty years young myself, the concept of taking on four children again was staggering in itself. Some circumstances simply call for "sheer will power and an earnest prayer!"

The drive was quiet, giving me time to think about all the things I would need to accommodate the empty stomachs soon to face me. That would mean a stop at the grocery store on the way home…with four children in tow. I shuttered to think of it!!

{Photo: Joey and Damian}

Our Time With Floyd

I soon reached my exit and, as I drove into the parking lot where I was to meet them, my cell phone rang. It was Grandma Barbara checking my progress and to let me know where I would find them.

We were soon exchanging hugs and transferring luggage, boxes of toys, and other items from their car to mine.

As Barbara lifted the final box, a long white one with a pink top, out of their trunk and placed it into mine, she said, “This is Floyd. Holly wants Audrey to take him to New York.”

Now, I knew who Floyd was, having met him when they first came to Florida. I knew that he had been Barbara’s long time friend. And, I knew he had passed away in the winter after months of battling lung cancer.

However, it took me a few moments to wrap my mind around the fact that Floyd was in that little box and he was coming home with me!!

 

Soon, the trunk was totally filled and closed tight. After saying our goodbyes, I climbed into my car with the four children and we moved back onto the interstate together…Damian, Jaydyn, Elijah, Laneya, “Floyd” and me.

Midnight Madness

Our first stop was Wal-Mart, with my mental list of food needed to get this troop through the first few days. Before long, we had a cart full of choice supplies. Each child was given the option to choose certain things that they liked best.

After going through checkout, we all headed across the parking lot toward the car.

Suddenly, I stopped and began to laugh. Damian, the oldest, came up beside me and asked what was so funny.

We had a full cart of groceries and a full trunk of luggage, toys, and “Floyd!!” Where on earth were we going to put the groceries in a five passenger car that already carried the

five of us?…or six, depending on how you want to look at it.

Once I had gotten all of the children in the car, I began to pass groceries to them for placement in the floor, on their laps, or in any corner where they could find a spot. We actually got everything and everyone into the car and headed home, giggling to ourselves!

The first night was madness, arriving home at nine o’clock with a full trunk to empty, groceries to put away, and children still to get settled for bed in brand new surroundings.

As I lifted Floyd from the trunk and placed him on top of the freezer, I said to him, “Well, Floyd, it’s just you and me with these four kids!”

By midnight, all were asleep and I collapsed into bed wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into.

{Photos: The Lego Firestation was created by Damian.}

Organization And A Little "Biblical Rod"

Breakfast, the next morning, went well, as I began to get myself organized and, with four children, organization is mandatory!!

Control during Monday and Tuesday was more “out of control” and, by Tuesday night, I was at my wit’s end with Jaydyn, the eight year old. He was being most difficult and instigating trouble with the others constantly!

 

Finally, after trying everything from talking to him, to threats, to time out, I asked Damian, the ten year old, what Mommie did when he was like this. It was midnight and Jayden continued to get out of bed to start trouble with the others. Damian said, “She spanks him…only thing that works!”

Now, he tells me!!

That was the only thing I hadn’t done. Therefore, I went into the bedroom where he was aggravating Elijah, age 6, pulled down the sheet and administered three good pops across his backside. Certainly made ME feel better, old fashioned, South Carolina mother that I am!!

He just laughed and grabbed his bottom. However, he went to sleep without further trouble. The next day, and every day thereafter, he was my “Best Buddy.” No problems with discipline or anything! God was right about that “Biblical Rod!!!”

 

We soon fell into a routine where each knew what was expected of them. I fell into bed right after them each night, exhausted, but it felt good to be with them and to know I was still able to manage four children and remain on “two feet,” mostly, chaos free!

 

 

Whenever I ventured out to the garage, passing the freezer, I stopped for a moment to tell Floyd hello, just to make him feel at home! I would say it was nice to converse with someone over three feet tall but, well, you understand…

{Photo one: Jaydyn and Damian...can you tell which is Jaydyn? LOL}

{Photo two: Elijah at the computer}

Mommie's Surprise

By the middle of the week, Audrey found out her car would be another ten days, at least, before it would be ready. Holly began to make plans to drive down from New York herself to get the children. It was certainly time because poor little Laneya, only four years old, was having a meltdown at bedtime every night…she loved being here during the day but needed her Mommie at night.

Holly arrived on Friday with a friend to help and surprised the children. She called Laneya on her cell phone and, while they were talking, rang our doorbell. Laneya answered the door (as pre-planned) and there stood Mommie. Laneya had a look on her face as though she just couldn’t possibly believe the sight before her at first. She was so cute! And so happy to see her Mommie!!

 

However, that night, she brought me her nightgown and said,

 

“Come on, Jeanie. It’s time for my bath!”…just as though Mommie wasn’t there.

Saturday morning, the troops began to load their car, inclusive of Floyd, preparing for the trip back to New York. Suddenly, Jaydyn made the comment that Aunt Audrey was going to have to drive to New York alone. Damian asked if he could stay and drive up with her since school would not start in New York until September 8.

Holly thought for a moment and then told him he would have to ask Grandma first.

He said, “Grandma!!? Can’t I stay here with Jeanie?”

I was in the laundry room and could hear the conversation. She told him he would have to ask me, so he did as I came into the room. Of course, it was alright.

 

Damian is a great young man and I was pleased to be able to spend some time with him, one on one.  This arrangement made our German Shepherd, Joey, very happy, as well. He now sleeps in the room with Damian. Boys and dogs just go hand in hand!

 

 

{Photos one and two: Laneya, talking to Mommie in New York just before Mommie rang the doorbell in Florida to surprise her.}

{Photo three: Damian playing "cow" with Joey.}

A Time Of Discovery

On Sunday, I told Damian we would be attending church. He wasn’t too happy about that but made it through the service without exploding or anything! 

As we had driven across the causeway to beachside that morning, he asked me to introduce him as my grandson. I was quite pleased with such a special compliment and more than happy to do so. Actually, I am something like an adopted grandmother, I guess.

To his surprise, he actually enjoyed going to church and readily returned Sunday night with me. He listened intently to the sermon with excellent questions on the way home.

As we talked, he told me he had not attended church before and had decided it wasn’t bad at all. Well, I was glad to hear that he was listening and that he enjoyed going. This was a great experience for him.

He was even ready and willing to go back again the next Sunday, even though I made him wear slacks WITH A BELT, shirt tail tucked in, and dress shoes! Mommie wants photos next Sunday!

To date, Damian is still with me. They have promised Audrey her car on Labor Day weekend which will give them a couple of days to drive to New York before school starts.

New Friends

Damian loves to earn his own spending money so I have been busy this week looking for jobs for him to do. He loves to work and really loves having his own money.  He is such a pleasure and I want to encourage his desire to work.

Damian's new friend, Marty, took him fishing and he and his girlfriend, Becca, took Damian to the beach.

Marty also shared some of his lawn work and

pay with Damian this week. They are going to miss him, too.

{Photo two: New Friends, Marty and Becca}

Preparing To Say Goodbye

We have come to the last Sunday morning Damian will attend church with me. He was up like a light this morning, showered and dressed before breakfast. We talked a lot during the drive to church and he went to each of his new friends and the pastor to tell them goodbye. We will all be sorry to send him home.

Damian and I have two more days to share before he leaves on Monday night. I am certainly going to miss him and I know Joey will be lost.

I hope he will always remember, as I will, this chance vacation with me, someone he only knew slightly. Up until now, I was just a woman who adopted and raised his aunt and found his mother by chance due to a promise made to a lonely little foster child a little over eleven years ago.

Through becoming a foster parent, taking in, and adopting that little girl, I have acquired another family to love and to call me grandmother.

Pretty cool, don’t you think?!

That, and I’m still conscious and coherent enough to share our story...living my life, still on two feet!!!

 {Photo: Damian and Joey, just before church, on the last Sunday morning.}

Child Of My Heart, Audrey's Story (Volume One)
On a brisk, January evening, she entered my life, a tiny, little thing with hair of corn silk, still reeling from a failed adoption.

Child Of My Heart, Audrey's Story (Volume Two)
During the first month we had Audrey, we worked very hard to make her feel at home. It was difficult for her, at eleven, to start all over again in a home filled with strangers.

Child Of My Heart, Audrey's Story (Volume Three)
Audrey only had one thing left from her past. She had carried with her always a small, heart shaped frame containing the photo of a young, dark haired girl sitting outside with two other children. She talked openly about this little girl, who was her half sister, Holly, and how much she wanted to find her someday.

Child Of My Heart, Audrey's Story (Volume Four)
Once again, it is "Audrey against the world." However, this time, I am confident you will rise to the challenge, triumphant!

Foster Teen Parenting
Nothing prepared me for fostering teens!! I was given nine weeks of training from the Children's Home Society before taking my first foster child. There was a great deal of information to digest in a short span of time. It left me with the innocent impression that I was ready to tackle the job.

Updated: 10/11/2014, SidewalkPhilosopher
 
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Cathy on 01/03/2016

Had forgot this story and enjoyed reading it again. Have you heard from them lately?

SidewalkPhilosopher on 06/15/2013

Hard to believe that was almost two years ago...Damian is 12 years old now...

Michey on 06/15/2013

The picture of Jo and Damian is so sweet, and you are doing great with kids, I am sure they feel this in your presence.

SidewalkPhilosopher on 04/18/2012

:o)))))) Mr. Kelley, you can always make me laugh!! Even Floyd, huh!! Yeh, I've always been bad about taking people and animal in but try to curb myself as I get older. This was an emergency!

W. Thomas Kelley, Jr. on 04/18/2012

Great story and a very lucky bunch of people....even Floyd! Sounds like everyone and everything can find a home at your place.

SidewalkPhilosopher on 11/19/2011

Thanks, Cat...so glad you enjoyed my story...the children were wonderful...we had a great time! :)

CatJB on 11/19/2011

What a beautiful story, very blessed children to have had you in their lives.

SidewalkPhilosopher on 09/11/2011

Gracious, Jeannie, thank you very much...I always think that about you...I am amazed everyday at the things you tackle with seven! Family, we definitely are! :o)

Jeannie Foster on 09/11/2011

I have finally had a chance to read this & you just amaze me! The good Lord has given you a gift of giving & you just keep using that gift without ceasing. I am very proud to call you family. :)

SidewalkPhilosopher on 09/07/2011

Thank you, Rita...so glad you enjoyed our story! Yes, Joey had a great time with the kids...he's really going to miss them!!


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