Funny how you draw things into your life, isn’t it? One minute you’re thinking about a friend. Next thing you know there’s a text from her. Being an atheist, I attribute these occurrences entirely to chance. No divine being is delivering me a filet mignon burrito just because I’m craving one. Still, odd things happen.
So, last night I must have been channeling my mother. She died five years ago, but earlier in her life she raised me, four adopted siblings, and numerous foster children. She had a heart the size of Kansas. While I was relaxing at a winery on a rare day off, a couple came in with a one-year-old boy in a stroller. Cute kid. They stood next to me and chatted. Turned out the little guy was their foster child.
I relay the story of my mother, which almost seems made up. The point I want to get across is how much I appreciate what foster parents do. I couldn’t foster a kitten for a week without being devastated when it was taken away from me. How do you cope with nurturing a child through critical weeks, months, or years only to see that child placed back into the custody of what most often are ill-suited parents? It’s tough.
Anyway, the little fella kept looking at me and smiling. When they let him out of his stroller, he wobbled on up to my hairy legs and gave me a big hug. His foster parents looked in amazement.
“Wow, he never does that.”
“I’m sorry. Guess he likes fuzzy bears.”
Then, the child raised his arms begging me to pick him up. I took inventory of how much wine I had, then asked permission. They agreed. The mother was absolutely shocked.
“I guess Mom is vicariously haunting me,” I suggested as I strolled the little guy around following where he was pointing.
He became focused on a wine label painting on a far wall. It was a flamenco dancing woman in red. I walked him over. He turned to me and grunted a few sounds — probably something along the lines of, “Yo, dude. You need to get you one of those.” Then, he giggled and laid his head on my shoulder.
I know, “Awww.”
He’s their first foster child. They’ve had him since May. She said they get something around $40 a day to care for him. My mom got $3 a day. Nobody does it for the money, but we should do better by people with hearts and homes big enough to do this.
Soon, they waved “bye-bye” and left me to thinking.
Maybe I am missing something by not raising a family. Hm. I could call a woman I love and say, “Ya know what? Let’s fucking do it. Let’s get married, adopt, and raise kids. I know I’m 58. So what? Jimmy Carter is 95 and he still has his shit together. I’ll mix in more kale and jog now and then.”
Then, after a few more glasses of ruby red sedation, I settled back to the realization that thoughts of my mother brought me the experience and the fond memories of an amazing person I miss dearly. Mom, cheers to you and all the love you gave selflessly. Your gift keeps giving through all of us lucky enough to have witnessed your grace.