I had so much love to give … and that nine-year old little girl was so needy … I had to do something. Given the fact the child was my granddaughter made my actions even a higher priority.
So the process began … to obtain temporary custody.
Twelve months passed … thousands of dollars flowed … before the courts pronounced it a done deal. I now had my chance to restore Marie’s spirit. But the scenario in my head of how it would go and the actuality of what really occurred were worlds apart.
Marie had no off button.
Meal times … and there seemed to be a spring in her chair.
“I have to go to the bathroom. No, I really have to go. Ok, I’ll just pee in my chair then.”
She was allowed to go. Before the next meal, she was sent to the bathroom before she sat down. But eating at the table until she was through with the meal was just not possible. She chewed as she paced. She chewed as she banged the silverware on the plate. She chewed as she talked non-stop.
It was time for the annual house cleaning, with ladies hired to help.
“What do you want us to do with all the pills under the chair in the family room?”
Every vitamin I had given her was under the chair.
Her mind never stopped.
“What would happen if … and the sentence would be completed with a plane crashed into this house … I walked down the street and you never saw me again … I put aluminum foil in the microwave?
She tried the last one … placing a ball of foil in the microwave and enjoying the sparks … but was caught in time, before the fire started … causing her great disappointment.
The walls were a great canvas for her artistry … sometimes using fecal matter instead of markers.
There was no rest for the weary.
Nighttime brought no relief. Marie slept in bits and pieces … the rest of the night was time to re-arrange her room, strip her bed, make several trips to the bathroom … and turn lights on all over the house.
She had to be watched every minute, which made it difficult to take a shower. She couldn’t be trusted to be in the house for those brief moments, but would she stay in the yard while I bathed?
I never knew.
There were the calls from school. “You better come. Marie is trying to break the school windows.”
I found her in the Principal’s office, with the school counselor.
“Marie, what’s going on?”
“They said I touched the rope and I didn’t. They won’t believe me.”
She had been playing tetherball, the rope had wrapped around her arm, and she had been called out because she touched the rope.
I understood immediately. She hadn’t touched the rope … it touched her.
I explained to the counselor what needed to be said next time … “the rope touched you” … and she would not react.
One day the phone rang and the caller ID told me the incoming call was from the Police Department. Instantly I wondered what Marie had done now.
“We have Marie here at the Police Station. Would you please come down?”
Did I have a choice?
That morning, in the newspaper, there had been an article about a bomb that had been placed in a trash barrel at Marie’s school. I watched as she read the story. Later, at school, the police visited each room to ask if anyone knew anything about the bomb. Marie’s hand went up. She knew all about it.
Again, the question had been worded incorrectly for her. She had nothing to do with the bomb … but it took me several hours to convince the police of that fact.
I longed for just one night of unbroken sleep … for just a few hours when I could let down my guard and not be on alert.
Back in court for another hearing … with me on the witness stand … the Judge asked, “Why did you go for just temporary custody?” I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Because I want to be her grandmother.”
With a slight nod of his head, I knew he understood.
Marie’s aunt moved to our town to establish residency and seek permanent custody. Help was on the way … and then I could rest.
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