Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)
TITLE: Time’s A-Passing
By Corinne Smelker
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If I knew then what I knew now, would I have married Tim? Would I have had three kids, all so different? Would I be sitting here with little Jonathan on my lap, his blond hair tousled, one thumb hanging slackly from his rosebud mouth, sup-supping as the last of the tears leave his tiny body? Would I be listening for sounds of his bigger sister, Rachel who is meant to be sleeping, but whom I suspect is listening to music in her room?
Ever since Julie came back to the house, high on drugs, frame emaciated from malnutrition; and vowing yet again to change her ways, Tim and I have been the parents to these parentless children. Two different fathers, neither one of whom probably knows that they even fathered a child, from two different states, all have converged to bring these little ones into our lives, whether we chose it or not.
Would I have chosen to have Julie, knowing the heartache we were setting ourselves up for? Would I have gone through 36 hours of labour, only to end up with a c-section because she refused to come out? Would I have listened to lie her way out of yet another sticky situation that she, impulsive child that was, put herself into?
What if I had chosen another path? Rick instead of Tim? Two kids instead of three? Work instead of being a stay-at-home mom? A pastorâ€™s wife instead of the wife of a banker? What would my life look like then?
Friends look at me and I can see the silent questions. â€śWhat did they do wrong that they have to raise their grandkids?â€ť And, â€śWhy donâ€™t they kick her and her kids out into the cold?â€ť Do they know how hard it is? I am holding flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. Tim and I may never get recognition for the role we play in the lives of these precious grandchildren. The State treats us like second-class citizens, if we ask for help they laugh at us; and give a stipend if anything. Foster parents get more. Oh itâ€™s not about the money, but we are using our retirement to fund the expenses that come along with little ones. I had forgotten how much diapers, formula, cribs, car seats and everything else costs.
Unsung heroes â€“ that is what my online support group calls us grandparents who take on the job of raising our childrenâ€™s children. I donâ€™t know that I am a hero. Given the choice between leaving the kids in the bug-infested, drug filled hovel, and bringing into a home where they will be loved and cherished, is there even a choice?
So, as I hold Jonathan close, comforting him as he cries for his mommy, I look through the knothole of time and reflect on the past, since I cannot glimpse the future. Even with the challenges I have faced, and the ones Tim and I will face, I am sure that my choices would remain the same.
Jonathan snuffles and moves in closer to my neck, damp breath hot on my shoulder. I realize I may never get recognition from friends, only condemnation and puzzlement. I may never get official sanction from the State; but I get recognition from the only source who in the end matters â€“ my Lord Jesus Christ.
To the thousands of grandparents around the globe who take on the parenting mantle for a second time â€“ thank you â€“ you are truly the unsung heroes of the world.
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