Lizzi shuffled to the window, willing her sloppy slippers to hang on in there. Bunions can be a blessing when necessary for anchorage. Only a couple more creaks before arriving at destination recliner; the chair with the view.
“Ahhh.” Those muscles flopped out with a liberating grunt, as they snuggled into the heavenly squishiness. Outside, the mist, chased by late autumn sunshine, gave way to golden/red leaves, sparkling with crystal droplets, yet another nod of acknowledgement from the Creator of all things.
The shrill bell announced mid-morning break. Any moment now, the youngsters would scramble their coats and boisterously stream into the playing field. Lizzi regarded the neighbouring Junior High a Godsend. Jim protested to the authorities when the building plans became public, but since his passing, somehow she felt reassured around so much zest and energy.
Sometimes the girls would grin and wave as they ran off steam; chasing, racing; even performing cartwheels and summersaults, eager for her cheery smile and overplayed applause.
Other times, she wept inside; the little girl with special shoes, who couldn’t keep up. And the uncoordinated freckled boy, who never caught the ball. Children can be cruel around ‘difference.’
Lizzi’s musings slipped back in time. “She’ll never amount to much.” Her mother’s words were not intended to be overheard. “She’s not bright. It’s senseless to pay for further education.”
“But Lizzi is a sensitive soul,” pleaded the headmistress. “She pens poetry and listens to,” …
“How will poetry further her future?” Mother was angry. “She’s different. The girl lives inside her head. She needs leading by the nose.” Those cruel words remained raw in Lizzi’s heart.
“Mrs Smith, I sense a beautiful butterfly emergent in a delicate disposition. With gentle nurturing, I believe your daughter has the potential to go far.”
“And pigs might fly,” scoffed Mother. “That girl will marry some simple Simon and produce babies. That’s the way she is.”
Jim’s words resounded in her head, “Let it go Lizzi. It’s nothing more than a ghost from the past.” She knew he was right.
“Onwards and upwards, Samson.” He concentrated on licking clean his fur coat. “She was wrong though; I didn’t produce babies, did I?” Samson tried to feign interest but those knobbly, arthritic fingers tickling his ears were so deliciously purr-worthy.
“God is good,” Lizzi persisted. “He kept right on sending us children; special ones too. Remember Kim, the little mite who wouldn’t speak? And Tommy, who’d forgotten how to smile?” Samson snoozed, in a contentedly cattish sort of way. “He was the one who liked to pull your tail!”
Samson freaked as the early mail shot through the letterbox at speed. Lizzi was aghast at the number of items lying on the mat. “Just a minute,” she told herself. “Let me check the calendar.” Sure enough, it was her birthday – a big one at that! “Eighty years old,” she muttered in disbelief. “And I forgot!”
“But we didn’t Lizzi.” Samson arched his back and hissed, before bravely hightailing upstairs leaving Lizzi to deal with the talking cat-flap. Gingerly, she set her chair to ‘standing’ mode, and willed her legs to activate. One step, pause; two steps, rest; three steps, creaking nicely… loosening up… full steam ahead…
“I’m not opening up until you tell me.”
“C’mon mum. It’s party time!”
The hall was booked, the feast was spread and the fun began. A photographer from the local press snapped merrily away, and a BBC Look North presenter mingled, with a microphone.
“Simon, tell us why you’re here today.”
“I’m here to pay tribute to the most amazing mum. Together with her late husband, Jim, she’s fostered over fifty youngsters, many with special needs, others physically challenged. She is the most selfless and giving woman, with a heart of pure gold.”
“Thank you Simon. David, can you add to that?”
“I can tell you that every bed-time, she would read Bible passages to us. If we didn’t fully understand the meaning, the following night she would have written a poem, a simple poem, in child-like language that made it clear.”
“Thank you David. And Suzy?”
“I wanted to die when my mother threw me out on the streets. She told me I was a waste of space; useless. Mum Lizzi cared about me. She showed me my worth in God’s eyes.”
“And now to the lady herself. Tell us how you feel Lizzi.”
“Bewildered, young man. You see, I think I just saw a pig fly by!”
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