Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pred. & Preach. Daughter - Ch. 5

“Margie, are you okay?” Marcos asked his older sister as he walked out on the dark patio. He’d found her weeping again for the fourth time this week after putting the five children in her care to bed.

As she silently wept, Marjorie Ireland, aka ‘Margie’, didn’t even bother to turn on the back porch light even though the switch was directly on the wall behind her. Her reason for this had nothing to do with the pesky Georgia mosquitoes that loved flocking to illuminated objects. Yet it had everything to do with the fact that she didn’t want to upset her family with her tears. The last three weeks had been hard on everyone.

At her brother’s voice, Marjorie lifted her head and nodded. “I’m okay. I just get choked up every time that sweet child says her nightly prayers,” she replied, referring to the little girl that she’d been given custody of when her best friend and that best friend’s husband died three weeks ago. Marjorie ran her hands across her face and took a deep breath to calm herself. Then while she wiped her old tears on the blue jean skort she wore, new tears were already forming in her eyes.

Marcos sat in the sturdy wooden chair beside his sister and draped an arm of comfort across her shoulders. “La’Charity is a sweet little girl, isn’t she?” the tall man said rhetorically, speaking fondly about the child that had warmed his heart upon sight with her honey-colored eyes, thick wavy auburn-colored hair, and friendly outgoing personality. “But what’s so disturbing about her prayers?”

Marjorie lifted her watery eyes upwards to the starlit night sky. “At the end of every prayer, La’Charity always asks God to say hello to her mom and dad for her, to tell them how much she loves and misses them, and that she’ll see them in heaven one day because she’s going to keep reading her Bible and praying and trying to live right.” She paused and sniffed back some of her fresh tears. “The child has accepted Patrick and Sheena’s deaths better than me.” Now where is that tissue I had? Marjorie wondered, starting to search her pockets as her brother released her.

Marcos nodded, feeling a strong tug on his own heart as he leaned back to look at the stars also. “That would start the waterworks. Maybe you should let Jaleel go in there during prayertime until you can handle it better.”

Marjorie shook her head and turned to look at her gray polo shirt and khaki trousers wearing brother. “No, I enjoy listening to the kids’ prayers. I just need to get a tougher skin that’s all, process my own grief more. Maybe even do more individual praying to see if I can get my faith to be as solid as little La’Charity’s.” Then she smiled playfully and added, “Besides, you know my husband is over the homework and playtime. If I tell him that I can’t handle the prayertime, I’ll never live it down.” With her left hand, Marjorie wiped more tears away while still searching for tissue with her right hand.

“I see your point. Maybe you should pray more then.” Marcos smiled, too, pleased that his sister was feeling a lot better now. He knew how much fun-loving Jaleel liked kidding his wife about something or the other. He also knew how well they functioned as a team, taking care of their five children (the first two by birth, the second two by foster care adoption, and the last one by inheritance). Marcos was additionally aware of the fact that his sister and her husband had restored his faith in love and marriage when before he’d had little to none.

Unfortunately, Marcos could not seem to find the right woman for anything. Perhaps he could if he stopped comparing every woman he met to Chasity Bradshaw. Perhaps he should take his own advice and pray more, too, considering the fact that he had yet to totally surrender his life to Christ or his love to anyone else. So far Marcos only went to church on Easter and Christmas. Outside of his business life and relatives, there was no real commitment anywhere else.

“By the way, where is my brother-in-law tonight?” Marcos asked, seeing where his thoughts had gone just that quick and deliberately veering his mind in another direction. Chasity was one subject he couldn’t afford to linger upon. Too many painful memories, too many regrets, too much temptation to return to Spring Garden, Colorado and find the one woman that could satisfy his body’s innate needs and his heart’s hunger for true love.

I wonder what Karis is doing tonight, Marcos mused, ready to settle for a good substitute since he couldn’t have the woman he really wanted.

Marjorie finally found some tissue in the right pocket of her skort and wiped away the rest of her tears. “Jaleel is where he always is this time of night. On that computer in his study, typing out next week’s column.”

********

Meanwhile, in Emerald Bay, Tennessee, Chasity wobbled around her modest two-bedroom apartment on her wooden crutches, trying to locate the items that she needed without calling her neighbor from next door to help her again. Unfortunately, trying to be so independent was causing her to have to make several trips from her small living room where the oak computer desk and its money management software was located to her bedroom nightstand where her checkbooks and bank statements were kept.

What a time not to have close friends, Chasity mused, wishing that she’d put forth more effort in that department over the years instead of allowing her distrust of people to make her even more of a loner than she already was. Besides God, only the plants around her were trusted comrades.

Tonight Chasity was intent on making an assessment of her finances in order to determine just how much she’d have left over once her medical bills and household expenses had all been taken care of. She hadn’t worked in three full weeks and her checkbook was already starting to show it. Although she’d been saving for four years towards opening her own florist, it amazed Chasity how one freak accident - coupled with inadequate medical insurance - could take her bank account so far back, almost to the starting point.

Moments later when Chasity saw her ending balance, she closed her eyes and hung her head in deep despair. Not only did this unfortunate accident come at the worse of times, the fact that it had hindered her physically and financially from going to see about her daughter was very discouraging. Chasity had wanted to return to La’Charity’s life, able to take care of her daughter in every way. Now she found that she could barely take care of herself. What court system in the world would award custody to a person in Chasity’s situation? None that she knew of.

Wobbling back to her bedroom with silent tears trickling down her bronze face, Chasity sat on the left edge of her full-sized oak sleigh bed, feeling as if God had somehow forsaken her. “But why, Lord? Why, after all you’ve brought me through thus far? You know that I never wanted to give La’Charity away in the first place. So why do I have to wait even longer to have her in my life again?” the despairing woman inquired in between heartrending sobs that grew louder and louder with each question.

Whether Chasity expected an answer to her inquiries or not, she was glad that she’d at least spoken the painful ponderings of her heart. After all, this was truly how she felt and she knew that God desired truth from his children even if it was painful to utter.

Suddenly a steady downpour began to hit the oval-shaped bedroom window on the right side of the room. Chasity looked towards the window and nodded in acceptance. It was no surprise to her that it had started to rain. Why should the weather remain fair outside when she was hurting so badly inside? Why shouldn’t nature cry with her? After all, weren’t they still good friends and isn’t that what friends sometimes did with and for one another?

********

In Spring Garden, Colorado, another Bradshaw was going through a difficult time. Boise was in the throes of a very bad dream, which was evidenced by all the sweat upon his chestnut-toned face, by his sticky short-sleeved gray pajamas, and by his rumpled sea-green bed covers. Thunder could be heard in the distance from an approaching storm.

“Why weren’t you paying attention in church today, Heidi? People were noticing,” Boise spoke aloud in his sleep, tossing to the right of the king-sized, mahogany poster bed he lay in. It was as if his bedding had transformed from just an ocean-like color scheme into a real live sea, a tempestuous sea at that, causing him to be flung to and fro with agony.

“I’m not surprised people have noticed my inattentiveness. My mind is constantly racing about the next thing on my long list of things to do that I find myself only half listening to most of your sermons these days,” Heidi’s voice echoed in response as a familiar point of contention replayed itself in Boise’s dream. “I’m overextending myself, Boise. There’s too much on my plate. I barely have a chance to catch my breath before I have to do something else.”

“Don’t you want people to think well of you?” Boise voiced aloud again as he tossed to the left, nearly removing the sea green fitted sheet now. The flat sheet was already on the floor.

“Of course I do, but I feel as if I’m being deceitful in pretending that I can do so many things effortlessly when I’m doing everything I can not to fall apart.” Then Heidi’s voice transformed into a pleading tone. “Boise, we have one of the biggest churches in the city. Why must I be on every woman’s auxiliary? Why can’t we train up good leaders that we can delegate some of our many duties to?”

“Because God called us to this vision, that’s why,” Boise argued. Even in his sleep he couldn’t understand why his wife constantly complained about something that he loved, about something that he thrived on and couldn’t seem to get enough of. Ministry was his life and helping people get saved was his calling. It was supposed to be their calling as she’d advocated upon marrying him.

“But every vision needs people to partner with it. Didn’t Moses’ father-in-law offer him wise advice in Exodus 18:13-23 that pertained to this very subject?” Heidi proclaimed, trying to show her husband the error of his ways through the Word. “Didn’t Jethro assert that trying to do everything all by ourselves was not good and would cause us to surely wear away? Well, I’m wearing away, Boise. It seems like the more I try to follow the Lord in serving others, the more drained I feel.”

“But the people we have are not ready for such responsibilities yet, Heidi. Therefore, you and I have to stay the course,” Boise stubbornly concluded as he tossed to the right of the bed again. Then as his wife’s voice left his head, his daughter’s soon replaced it. Chasity’s voice bore even more heartrending agony than her mother’s had.

“Daddy, I don’t want to give my baby up! I can raise her by myself. I know I can. Please tear those papers up, Daddy. I never should have signed them in the first place. Please tear them up, Daddy. Please!” Chasity pleaded desperately right before her voice turned into a haunting mother’s wail. “I want La’Charity…!”

Then with his granddaughter’s name reverberating in his head, Rev. Bradshaw sat abruptly up in bed just as a loud boom of thunder sounded nearby. No, I couldn’t let my grandchild grow up with the same shame that I had, Boise mused as painful memories from his own past as an illegitimate child began to surface as if they’d just happened. Even now he could hear the other kids in the neighborhood whispering behind their hands and pointing at him and his sister because they were dirt poor and had no father.

God, I did what was best for everyone. Didn’t I? Boise inquired, becoming increasingly unsure of himself and of his decisions with each passing day.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

1 comment:

kris said...

This is getting good