The young man was tall and dressed like a typical teenager when he approached me in the parking lot. “Miss? Do you remember me?”
I looked at this boy and a flicker of recognition began to appear but I didn’t know why. Vaguely familiar, but not enough to make me remember.
“I used to be here,” he said shyly.
“Oh my gosh…of course, I remember you!” But I didn’t really. I couldn’t quite place the face, but obviously he had matured over the years.
“My brothers are inside if you want to see them,” he offered.
Inside the lobby, two boys sat on the sofa. As I looked at them carefully, younger baby faces appeared. Seeing the three of them together brought it all back to me. “Is it really you?” I asked. “You’ve all grown so much!”
A tug on my shirt sleeve. “I remember you,” Dad said. “I just wanted to thank you for all you did for my boys. I needed time to get my act together so I could get custody of them, so I told the judge that if he could give me some time, I’d get them back. I told him, ‘Just don’t split them up, okay? Keep my boys together and they’ll be okay, but they need each other.’ So they brought them here, and it was just what we all needed. They have nothing but great memories from their time at A Kid’s Place.”
“Where’s Grandma?” the oldest one asked. “Is she still here?” Grandma. Gail has been here since the first child came into our care. Grandma’s lap has held over 1300 children, but these three were “her boys.” When she saw them in the lobby, she recognized them immediately and hugged each one fiercely.
“They’re good boys,” Dad told us proudly. “This one plays on the football team and is on the principal’s honor roll. He is applying for a JROTC scholarship to Duke next year.” He pointed out his next son, who plays basketball and earns straight ‘A’s. “And this guy was only three years old when you had him – he’s a good kid and wants to do whatever his brothers do. They’re hard workers, too. When they asked me for Nike Jordans and iPhones, I got them a lawnmower! They have a nice little business and are able to buy things that I consider luxuries. They’re good boys,” he said again.
“I loved being here,” the middle boy said. “We played on those swings all the time, and Mr. Daniel taught us to play ‘Magic the Gathering’ card game.
“I wasn’t allowed to play on the big playground,” said the youngest. “But now I’m bigger and I could, right?”
Grandma drew him into her arms and laughed. “You think you’re too big for me to hold you on my lap, too?”
I felt a certain sense of pride at seeing everything work like it’s supposed to. Dad was given the time he needed to prepare his life to take on three children. He’s married now, and he and his wife are raising three really good kids. They play sports and do well in school. All we did was give the system time to work.
“Do you remember me?” Of course. You used to be here.