Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: Little Miracles Grown Up
By Patricia Herchenroether
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Rita chuckled and shook her gray head while smiling in the empty office she had claimed for the past forty-two years at Little Miracles Adoption Agency and Orphanage. Rita had been Case Liaison between the orphans and waiting families, a job she took seriously and accepted joyfully as her calling, a gift from The Lord.
Her "Wall of Miracles," was plastered full of young, smiling faces. Not a day went by that she didn't say a thank-you prayer after arriving in the morning to start work. Today was her final day before retirement. She had to admit it was time, maybe past time, but how she would miss the experience of seeing little lost ones find loving homes and the joy of helping childless couples fulfill long wished-for dreams.
Would'ya look at Kimberly. A troubled child from an abusive family, Kim showed up sullen, angry, and just plain mean. One after another, frustrated foster parents returned her to the agency, claiming she was a hopeless case. Then the Adamsons came along. When they took the incorrigible Kim to their home, Rita ticked off the days on the calendar, waiting for the expected return. One week, then two, and three months went by. The visiting caseworker said Kimberly was actually responding to the middle-aged couple and the biggest miracle of all took place. Don and Julie Adamson adopted Kim permanently! Now, Rita looked at Kim's high-school graduation picture and basked in the serene smile of the 1979 Class Valedictorian. Well, Lord, you sure came through with a miracle there.
"Hey, Rita, you almost set?" Madge, secretary to the latest president (Rita survived seven of them), appeared in the doorway. "I hope you don't mind. We're having a little retirement party for you in the gym, nothing fancy, just some ice cream and cake," she said with a sly sort of grin.
"Well, at least that explains all the whisperings and sneaky stuff going on this past week," Rita laughed. "It really wasn't necessary, but I do appreciate the thought. I'm just afraid I'll break down and cry a river. Ah, Madge, I sure will miss this place and all the kids. Even some of the grownups, but don't tell 'em, okay? I don't want them to get swelled heads-he he."
When Madge held the gym door open and Rita stepped inside, her eardrums nearly burst from the cheers and applauding that came from within. The bleachers were completely packed with people, some she recognized as recently adopted children plus all of the staff and current young residents at the orphanage. The majority of the attendees, however, were strangers. They were clapping the loudest and giving her a standing ovation. What's going on? Who are these people?
Rita was escorted to a chair and told to "Just wait and see." Ten minutes later, she was indeed crying that river she couldn't hold back and using up a myriad of tissues. One by one, the "strangers" went to a podium and gave testimonials. They were all former children that Rita had helped place in permanent families! They spoke of their successes and families, and poured out their gratitude to Rita and Little Miracles Adoption Agency. Rita was not the only one reaching for tissues; there was hardly a dry eye in the place.
That's Tommy! I remember how badly he stuttered when he arrived. Just listen to him now! And Eloise, a guidance counselor for families in crisis. For goodness sake-George is a doctor. How he hated to do schoolwork. That Julie came to us still on probation for stealing. I can't believe she's a police officer!
On and on it went, seventy-three testimonials in all. At one point Madge, sitting beside Rita, poked her arm and whispered, "Look at the kids." Most of the orphans were on the edge of their seats, listening with rapt attention to the speakers. Their eyes were wide and shining, faces aglow. It was easy to read their thoughts. So maybe I'll get a home and become somebody special-wow, there's hope for me after all!
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