Darrin McDaniel and his wife, Marva, were buried in medical bills. His wages just didn’t cover the CAT Scan of $856, the radiologist’s statement of $327; specialist $400, and medications. Their parents were deceased, siblings were critical, there was no one to assist.
Marva poured over cookbooks looking for tasty sounding recipes with few ingredients. Molly, 8, and, Reggie, 5, made funny faces at supper again at the casserole Marva had prepared. It did have noodles in it, but in place of meat, there were beans, carrots and celery. The kids weren’t eating that, which made their young mother cry. Darrin made a point of saying, “Hon, this casserole tastes really good.” But with a fallen spirit Marva made peanut butter sandwiches for the children and pecked at her own supper.
Guilt overwhelmed the thirty year old wife. She was unable to work because of her nervous breakdown seven months ago, following the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, and loss of her position at the shoe factory, both occurring within two months. She had applied for Social Security Disability, but it was taking months to hear anything. Everything was too much for her to handle. The security of that steady paycheck and the fabulous benefits were gone. Her severance package had filled the freezer with meat, bought new winter coats and shoes for all of them, and the remaining few hundred dollars had put new brakes on Darrin’s car, and tires, and was soon gone.
Now everything seemed hopeless again. There wasn’t enough money and there wasn’t any way to dig out.
After dishes were finished, a depressed and sad Marva sat at the kitchen table to hear Molly’s spelling words. Reggie and Darrin were playing an old game of Tiddly Winks found at a garage sale. A quick rap on the kitchen door startled the little family, but dark-haired Molly popped up, flipped on the outside light, opening the red painted door.
There stood Julie Braidway from church, her own age, with her Grandpa, Martin, and Brian Kennedy, her Sunday School teacher, was holding a large cardboard box. Marva asked them in, while Darrin and his son came from the other room to investigate.
Brian put the box on the table and said, “We heard you folks had some medical bills and we thought you might be able to use a few extra groceries. I think there’s enough here for a week; there’s a chicken, potatoes, macaroni and cheese; I know my kids would live on just that. And other things too, you can look through it after we leave.”
Brian put his hand on Molly’s arm, seeing she was working on homework, and told the little girl, “You were the best in our class this week, you memorized the whole verse. I’m very proud of you.”
Martin said to Marva & Darrin, “Now we don’t mean to intrude on your evening, but my wife, Bunny, made a spice cake and I picked up a gallon of cider, glasses and paper plates, and we’d love to stay a little while to have some cake and talk.” Molly swept up her homework papers to make room. Marva cut cake for each of the kids and took them into the family room to the little table in there. Back in the kitchen, Martin was cutting cake and pouring the beverage for everyone. Marva fought back tears.
Brian quietly stated, “The Deacons held a special meeting tonight and we want to pay for that CAT scan, and your other medical bills, and you can pay us back when, or if, you can. The church people have collected groceries for the local pantry, but we thought they’d be put to better use if we gave them to you. So next week, we’ll bring another box of food for you.
Marva’s tears fell down her cheeks. Martin, old enough to be her father, gently put his arm around her and said, “You folks aren’t the only ones who’ve ever had hard times. I’ve been there too. Why do we have a church family, if we aren’t gonna act like family and help each other out.”
There was laughter around that kitchen table. Stories were told, friendships made, and hope, that sometimes elusive cloak, was captured again, and held dear.
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