“This’d be a great place to set up our lemonade stand.”
Madeline said, turning her head in the direction of the row of military trucks. “I just know my daddy’s here somewhere and we’re going to find him,” she said more to herself than the ratty old Pooh Bear she had wedged in her backpack. “Maddie my girl,” said Pooh, “if anyone can find him, I believe you can.” Pooh tended to call Madeline Maddie in same way her mother did and it wouldn’t be until she was much older that she would look back and think of all the advice she’d attributed to her bear when she was little and wonder if it had really been the voice of her mother all along. Leaving Mrs. Ulster behind in the house just before daylight, she’d packed up the things she remembered her mother used when making lemonade last summer. Mrs. Ulster was staying in the house with her until they could find what she had heard her say was, “Her next of kin.” She’d heard Mrs. Ulster say this while talking softly to someone on the kitchen phone unaware that Maddie could hear her while sitting in her secret spot in the hallway upstairs.
Maddie had discovered it a few years ago when she was five or six and it was the best place to hear what was going on downstairs in the kitchen especially on the nights when her Aunt Judy stayed over with her mom. Her mom would say they were staying up for some girl talk as she kissed Maddie goodnight and then go back to the kitchen where she could hear them talking and laughing long after she should have been asleep. Sometimes when she was feeling restless, Maddie would creep out to the landing and tuck herself on the far side of the hall table out of sight of the kitchen, but still within hearing range and it was on one of those nights she first heard her mother telling Aunt Judy about her daddy. Aunt Judy asked a lot of questions that night and her mother’s answers had left Maddie confused. She had not considered that a daddy was something everyone had before hearing her mom’s explanation. Maddie was still was young enough then to think that Mommy was a name like her name was Maddie and that the man living in her friend Lucy’s house across the street was named Daddy. She didn’t realize back then that everybody had a daddy because she didn’t seem to have one….at least not until she heard her mother telling tell Aunt Judy what happened to hers.
Maddie wished she could talk to Aunt Judy now because she was more like a second mommy than an aunt often staying with her when mom had to go away on business trips. This time though was different, Mommy and Aunt Judy had gone off together on a trip and Mrs. Ulster had come to watch over her. It was only now though that she was beginning to understand that they were not coming back, not next week like they’d planned, not ever. Mrs. Ulster had sort of fallen down on the old sofa when the policeman came in to talk to her a few days ago and even from upstairs, Maddie had heard the sound the cushions made when someone plopped, as her mommy would say, too hard when sitting down. Peeking over the railing she could see Mrs Ulster’s face and heard the policeman say, ” It looks as if they both went instantly.” Went instantly…Maddie had wondered what he meant then…”went where?” she thought to herself. It wasn’t until later that Mrs Ulster explained that they’d gone to heaven, snatched out of the car by the hand of God because he needed them with him more than they were needed on earth. Maddie had been confused by this as she remembered more than a time or two hearing her mom say that people blamed a great many things on God that had nothing to do with what she called, ” An act of God.” Besides, how could they be needed more in heaven when she needed them here.
All this talk about next of kin and what to do now with Maddie made her remember what she’d heard her mom tell Aunt Judy when they’d had what she thought of as the daddy talk. She heard her mother as she said, ” Maybe I should have told Jim about her…I don’t know, it’s just he didn’t seem ready for fatherhood and I sure didn’t want to be the wife of a soldier.” Sitting in the hall that night she’d listened as her mother talked about this daddy fellow whose name was really Jim. Aunt Judy had asked her mom if she knew what had happened to him and she’d told her that she saw in the newspaper where he’d been accused of something he hadn’t done and managed to prove it to the military police before being tossed out of the army. She heard her say that after all the drama, he’d landed on his feet receiving a promotion and a cushy job at the military post in Fairfield, the next town over where so many soldier’s families lived.
Laughing softly, she’d heard her mother say, ” That man always could turn life’s lemons into lemonade.” Maddie remembered this when she’d heard Mrs. Ulster on the phone talking with someone about not wanting to put her in the system just yet. She wasn’t sure what the system was, but it didn’t sound too good and Maddie decided she was going to have find this soldier Jim who her mom had said was her daddy. She wasn’t sure how to do it just like she wasn’t quite sure how to make lemonade, but she had the sugar and she had the lemons and maybe if she set up a little stand like she did last summer when her mom had helped her, she might be able to find her daddy and he could help her with the rest.
Remember it’s practice writing not perfect…still hoping someone will join me on a Tuesday with a story of their own posted on their blog. Go on over to Tell Me A Story Tuesdays to leave a topic sentence for next week or see what I’ve posted. Thanks this week to Karen for her opening sentence suggestion in bold at the top of this page and you can go here to check out her blog.