Family Non-Fiction posted October 16, 2023 Chapters:  ...29 30 -31- 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Tom tries to save two children from a difficult childhood

A chapter in the book Angels Unaware

And a Child Shall Lead Them

by forestport12

Tom moves on from a fractured family, finding God in an unusual way, then the military service, finding his one true love who he lost, only to find again. A life full of second chances.

With Chris, the father, having left Stormy and Tyler in our care, we tried to help mend their broken little hearts. After the death of their mother and their father's gypsy lifestyle, we had our work cut out for us. At the core was our faith and an abiding belief in God's providence. Little did we know how far from shore his providence would lead.

We enrolled Stormy in school for third grade. Tyler, the boy was put in 1st grade. It was pure joy to see how happy they were to be a part of our family. Yet their mother must have been in their dreams. Tyler often had nightmares and woke up screaming. There were talks my wife would have with him about how so-called friends of Chris mistreated him. Since Chris had been heavily into drugs there was no telling what circumstances he'd put his son and daughter through.

The kids would come home from school excited to show us what they did. Once Tyler called my wife, "Mom." Mary talked with him and told him she could be his second mom, but that no one could replace his real mother Kathy.

After Chris left for Florida, he'd call his kids infrequently. As the school learned more about how we took the children in, and some of the history of drugs and AIDS, and could see how well adjusted they were, they cheered us on to gain complete custody. My wife Mary couldn't bring herself to go against the father's wishes, who had no intention of signing the kids over just yet. When he had left for Florida, it was evident that AIDS was having a serious drain on his health. In fact, we weren't sure if he would survive his own trip.

We were a family with four children, crammed in a three-bedroom apartment. We did our best to provide a sense of safety and security, mostly stability. We had one another to keep us busy. We were into doing things you couldn't buy with a Mastercard.

As winter arrived, measured in feet, as often the case in upstate, NY, I asked Tyler if he'd ever played in the snow. Since Tyler and sister were from Oklahoma, they might have seen a dusting or two.

We dressed up in snowpants and went past the parking lot to a hill the neighborhood kids used to slide on. With our saucer, I loaded him on it, then gave him a shove. He spun and skidded into the bushes. I chased down the hill after him, thinking, he must be half dead or in tears.

Tyler charged out from the bushes with brown bulging eyes and shouted. "That was the best fun ever! "Let's do it again."

It didn't matter that he had cuts on his face and hidden bruises. I could only imagine this kid had seen and felt so much worse in his short life. Together we raced back up the hill where I rode down with him, doing my best to keep him on a safe line.

One night in the dead of winter there was a knock on the door. Chris showed up, but he wasn't alone. He found himself a girlfriend with a car who drove up from Florida. He insisted we allow them both to stay with us for a while. It wasn't that we couldn't have made room for a few days. Mary, my wife stood her ground. She told him, "This home is not for unwed couples. You need to move on and let us raise your kids. I won't have Kathy's memory disrespected."

Chris got his dander up and exploded in front of us. "I'll take my kids and leave then. Maybe I'll blow something up."

There it was! He'd been using his kids as pawns the whole time. We feared AIDS was affecting his mind. We feared he was getting dangerous. It seemed our options were limited if we tried to take the kids from him.

With tearful goodbyes, we wrapped them up in the new winter clothing we bought, kissed them, and prayed. We told them we would always be here when they needed us. Then we had to let them go!

Chris and his girlfriend with Stormy and Tyler dipped into the car and threaded out beyond the lights of the parking lot until it seemed we were shrouded in darkness.

In the months to follow we stayed in touch with Chris's mother, believing that if Chris succumbed to AIDS, we would have our second chance to gain custody of the kids-if she worked with us.

Several months went by when we got a call from Oklahoma. The mother explained to us how Chris went into a hospital where he died. The girlfriend abandoned his kids in some vagrant type building in Florida. They were left there without the authorities knowing anything about them for four days filled with fear.

As the grandmother discussed it with my wife she added, "The authorities in Oklahoma said that if I took custody of the kids, legal arrangements could one day be made for us." Then she dropped the bomb. She explained. "Chris had put us through so much, I just couldn't take them in. Kathy's sister has them."

I stood by, as I watched the color drain from my wife's face. I listened to Mary begging the grandmother, "Please, please take the children. You know that's when you could work with us to properly raise them."

The grandmother politely said, "I just couldn't, I'm too old and couldn't risk it. I have money set aside for them when they are eighteen. That's the best I can do."

And just like that, the grandmother guaranteed we wouldn't see the children again, even though Child protective services clearly told her there was path for us to have the kids if she took custody of them.

We rallied around our two children and work. We busied ourselves in church. But there were many a night, I would lay in bed and imagine how they must have prayed for someone to save them in Florida, and I wondered how we could have done something different. I had hard time giving this one to God and letting it go. A wise man once said, "Some things you can't get over, but you can get past it."

On one of those days driving toward the church, I heard a song about how Jesus approached Mary over Lazarus in the grave. She told Jesus, "You're too late. He's been dead for four days." Then it struck me like a hammer to my heart! Even after four days, God's always on time. As the song played on, I pulled over to the side of the road, unable to see from the tears flooding my eyes.

On the side of the road, it was then God spoke to me through the song:
You may be fighting a battle of fear
You've cried to the Lord, I need you now
But he has not appeared
Friend don't be discouraged
Cause He's still the same
He'll soon be here, He'll roll back the stone
And he'll call out your name!

I must have breathed a sigh that lasted for days or weeks, I'm not sure exactly. One day I came home, thankful my two children were in a safe place. I counted my blessings to have an adopted daughter and son. I let God have control again, instead of trying fix lives I couldn't control.

We were still in our apartment when I went upstairs where my wife shared some news. "It looks like we are adding to our family after all. "I'm pregnant."

A few months later, the sonogram revealed it was a girl. Later I joked with the doctor when we found out she would be born in late February. I asked the doctor, "You think you could induce and have her born on Valentine Day? Mary and I decided to name her Amanda, which means, '" Worthy of love.'"

Amanda was born ten days before the due date, on February 14th Valentine Day! Call it another coincidence, call it providence. Call it what you will, but I believe it was God's tender mercies with a message of love and care.

In the years ahead we added another boy and girl to our family. We moved into a house. One day we got a phone call from a young adult Stormy Tyler. She had been made to understand that we didn't want her and her brother. We were able to tell her the truth. "We always wanted you. We always loved you."

Before she hung up, she said, "You have big family now, there wouldn't have been any room for us."

"We would have just built a bigger house. We would have always made room."

I Corinthians 13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

No matter what the future holds, love must endure. I will cling to those God moments and heavenly messages.

Stormy and Tyler grew up their mother's sister. Since that one phone call we've lost touch.
I thought I was going to have to catch Amanda when she was born, as I was on my knees like a catcher in baseball when the nurse doctor arrived into the room.

My father passed away in 1996 the year after we moved into our house. He once told my wife, he made peace with God and ask for forgiveness over the pain brought to us when we were young. My wife his angel he talked to.

My mother and I continued a strained relationship until my first book was published: Miracle on Snowbird Lake. It was a contest winner that once for one day was the 47th best seller on Kindle, between a John Grisham novel and Lee Child. I called it my one day of fame. Better than 15 minutes, I suppose. LOL The best part was how my mother became my biggest fan. We settled our differences before she passed. She had her ashes thrown in the Pacific Ocean. But she donated her eyes for someone who needed them. I looked like my father, but I had her blue eyes with a ridge of grey.
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