That first year was really hard for me emotionally. I missed my family and friends and often wondered what could have possibly possessed us to do such a radical thing. That is another story, however. Probably the worst part of the move for me was the lack of social interaction. The people in our new little town were friendly enough but definitely different than what we were use to in our home state. Although we handed out dinner invitations on a regular basis, very few were accepted and even less were given to us. I began to seriously wonder what was wrong with our family that made people not want to get to know us.
During that first year, a woman in her eighties named *Emma, knocked on my door one morning. She introduced herself as a neighbor from around the corner. Of course, she had heard all about the new family from California and wanted to come meet us. Thankful for a friendly face willing to enter my home, I invited her in for coffee. That morning coffee would begin a life changing friendship for both of us. As we visited, I learned this amazing woman was raising two of her great-grandchildren, a twelve year old girl and a ten year old boy. She had little to no help with this daunting task and yet she did not regret a moment of her decision to care for them. She had even legally adopted them. I sat in amazement listening to her story. Our friendship began to make sense to me. We were definitely the oddballs in this little town of “normal” families.
Over the next few years, our two families formed some very deep bonds. We loved and cared for one another’s children and did the best we knew how to help each other through some trying times. One of those times came after we had moved to our farmhouse out in the country. Emma called and asked if she could come for coffee. Of course, I was delighted at the thought of a visitor so I put the coffee on and prepared a coffee cake. The moment Emma arrived at my front door, I knew something was terribly wrong. She immediately broke down and cried; something this old, German farm woman was not known to easily do. As we sat at the kitchen table, she explained that her now fourteen year old great-granddaughter had confided she was pregnant. She didn’t know what to do or how she was going to get through this. As I wrapped my arms around her, I assured her that Bob and I would do everything we could to help and that we would be there for both of them. I never imagined what that would eventually come to mean.
The next six months went by quickly. When I got the call that the baby, a little girl, had arrived, I drove to Emma’s home filled with thankfulness that mother and daughter were both well and also sadness at two young lives that were facing a challenge that statistically, could turn out less than positive. In all truth, when I finally held that new little one and smiled at her mother, I really wanted to break down and cry for both of them.
Over the next three months, I stopped by to visit now and then, checking in on Emma as much as on baby and mother. During one of our visits, I was asked if I would be willing to watch the baby so mom could finish high school. I didn’t even need to think about it. I immediately said yes. In my mind, if there was going to be any chance of making it in this world, education was definitely one of the main keys.
By the time Miranda was six months old, she spent half her life with us, including many nights and weekends. At a year old, she lived with us full time. Shortly after, we took full guardianship. It was during that second year, that we asked her mother to move in with us. We felt strongly that she needed to be mentored if she was to have any hope of raising her daughter someday. She turned us down, eventually dropped out of school and out of all of our lives for the most part. I was forty-two raising a two year old. I saw where this boat was going and I began to freak. I was too old. This wasn’t fair to Miranda. She deserved younger, fresher parents. We were old and worn out. I argued with God for a solid week. At the end of the week, I clearly heard this, “Ok, so imagine your life without this gift I’ve given you.” I knew I had lost the battle right then and there. I had been given something so wonderful, so amazing and yet somehow, I never saw it coming.
Miranda is turning thirteen this May. She is my joy, my heart, my gift. Loving her is more than I could have hoped for, more than I could have imagined, more than I deserve. Thank you, God, thank you.
Miranda Nicole Hansen ~ 2009
Oh, one last thing, God. I know you are fully aware that I am turning fifty-three next month. I also understand that you know what I am capable of more than I do. However, I am pretty sure I have reached full capacity at seven. Pretty sure. But then, you're God and I'm not. So, I'm ready for whatever lies ahead. But if there are more children coming, could they come with a maid this time? I mean, it never hurts to ask, right?