As a teacher I had several students who had parents incarcerated over the holiday. Angel Tree is a wonderful program. I wrote this article for FaithWriters. I will remind you that God does give us miracles today. The definition of miracle is different for everyone.
If you are depressed during the holiday season, consider giving to this wonderful program. It will put a smile on your face and on the face of a child in need. Blessings!
I HAVE TWO DADS WHO HELP ME
By Cheryl Zelenka
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
My mom feels alone. She misses dad so I try to be the man…
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I know you are in heaven, looking down on me, even as I write. I can only hope and dream that you are smiling at this moment, as you watch me write this to you. I know you are standing behind me, with your hands held together behind your back, trying not to breathe too heavily, so not to interrupt my train of thought.
I know that I was not the child that you dreamed of daddy. I know first of all, you wanted a boy, and you told me years ago, that this is why you spelled my name like a male instead. I know that I made choices that you did not agree with.
What you didn’t know dad, was that I idolized the ground you walked on. I waited anxiously for your approval of everything that I did. I would sit and think of ways to get you to say something.
I know you loved me daddy, I really do. That one time when I was out of high school, and I thought I knew everything, I moved a way to another state. You remember this daddy, don’t you? You remember how I called you on the phone crying, and pleading for you to come get me.
You said of course, and you and other family members made the long drive to get me. I want you to know daddy that when I saw the first tears in your eyes, when you saw me safe and unharmed, I knew from that moment on, that you loved me.
I learned through growing up that not all moms and dads show physical love, such as hugs, and squeezes, that sometimes, just knowing you were always by my side, was enough.
I remember how you invited me so many times to go down to the basement with you. You would be building something out of wood. You would ask me to hand you this or that, but I think secretly, you wanted to smoke your cigars without mom telling you it was bad for your health, and you enjoyed spending time with just me.
I saw one more time when you showed your feelings through tears. You know, the time when we came home from mom’s funeral and you and I were standing alone in her clothes closet looking at her clothes, and you let me hold your head on my shoulders, and you wept for the love you had for mom? I know you remember daddy. I felt so special that I was the one who could help you for a change.
It took me many years to come to appreciate the person that I am dad. I think you would be proud of me today. I believe you would say that I did a good job. I would hear those first words, as you look back and see how I took good care of your son, my brother, Al. I did my best daddy. I loved him and looked out for him and protected him from the wolves of the world.
I had to place him daddy. I had no choice. Please do not be disappointed in me. His care needed more help than I could ever do alone. You remember how I took such good care of you daddy? The illness that took you a way from me? I bathed you, and brought you treats. I gave you shots and your medications. I held your hand while you wept from pain.
I tried to take as good of care of Al as I did with you, but your illness stopped and you went to heaven. Al’s is dragging on daddy, and I needed more help. Please say you understand. Don’t think I made another mistake by placing him. Look me in the eye and let me see that you understand.
You would be proud of me daddy. I am very close to God now, and have been ever since that morning you and I prayed together. Do you know that God gave me a job to do? It is an important job dad. He told me to write, and to let his thoughts and my heart write the words. He instructed me to be an inspiration to others. Isn’t that a wonderful job God gave me?
I have made many wonderful friends daddy. You would love them all, like I do. Oh dad, I even wrote my first book. Thanks to a wonderful friend, it is being edited right now. Maybe some day daddy, I will hold my first book up towards the sky, so that you can see it. You and mom will surely hug each other for having a daughter that wrote a book. The book is called Dahlia. I can’t wait to show you!
Lastly, daddy, I love you so much. I have never had one day where I have not sat and thought about you and our lives together. I love you so much. Don’t cry now daddy, I know you miss me too. I will be there with you and mom, sooner than you think.
Grandma was a 92-year-old with a mind age of 50. She lived in a flat in downtown Seattle. A city full of life and lights that never dimmed. Betty lived with two other occupants, her two dogs, Frankie and Johnnie.
These two dogs watched over their master, never forgetting that at one time they each had lived in a shelter for homeless dogs. Frankie was a golden retriever and Johnnie was a black lab. She had adopted the two at the same time, both being about the age of one year.
Each year at the holidays, you could find Betty deeply involved with the less fortunate. She could be found in the kitchen, peeling potatoes, or you may see her out on the front line, filling up plates, with fresh slices of turkey, green beans, and a nice piece of juicy ham.
Betty also spent many Sunday afternoons at the nursing homes, reading to the patients, or going room to room to pop in and say a quick hello. Hospitals got to know her visits so well, that she was known as God’s angel.
When she wasn’t involved with helping someone else, she could be found in her apartment, feeding her dogs first and then rummaging through her cupboards to find herself something to eat.
Her cupboards were less than half-filled. If you peeked inside, you would possibly see a few cans of soup, some canned vegetables, and a can or two of meat. In her refrigerator, you would see water in a jug, maybe some milk, and always her stored glass jar of ground coffee.
Betty had been brought up by parents who were well-known. They had made their fortunes by selling and buying stocks. She remembered many parties that had been held in their home. Lots of food and drink available, smoke lingering in the air from cigars, and gambling.
Betty also remembered many a Christmas’s, when the door knocker would sound, and her father would open the door to someone hungry and cold, and her father would shut the door in their faces, yelling harshly at the beggars to get a job free loader.
Betty remembered pretty dresses, and shoes and socks that matched. A nice warm bed at nights, stuffed dolls standing on shelves. A warm bath awaited her each morning, as her nanny came in to wake her up. Meals were served in the large dining room. A long, rectangle table with many chairs, but the only one being seated at most meals was herself.
Betty was not schooled in the public schools. She had a private tutor that came to her home five days a week, and for four hours each visit, she was taught how to read and write.
Playing with other children was prohibited. Her father wanted no one less than his own kind entering his door. Betty’s best friend was her nanny and her dolls. She would line up her dolls at her child size table, and with the help of Sara, the nanny, tea and cookies would be served to each of her friends.
When Betty grew up, she took with her memories of her childhood. Loneliness was her biggest shadow, and she vowed she would do her best to never see a sad face again. She worked for her parents in the office, that was in one of the tallest buildings down town.
She made a few close friends, and dated some, but never found the perfect mate, so marriage never entered her life. She saved money, but never invested. She followed the rules of her parent’s home, until one day she was sick at heart of the stuffiness, and broke a way. She found a flat, and then visited second-hand stores, filling her apartment with golden treasures.
Eventually she retired from the family business and with her tidy savings in the local bank, she went to work for a small business, where the goal was to help those in need. It was one of the stores she had went to when she was looking for furniture. Here she worked behind the counter.
She helped customers fill out paper work. She made calls to help some to retain heat during the cold winter months. She partook in putting meals together, and making sure that no one left the front door empty-handed.
Betty did this kind of work for many years. As she went home from work she would be tired, but it was a good tired. She loved her home, but walking into quietness, sometimes would make her sad. She decided to visit an animal shelter, and this is where she acquired her two best friends.
Each night she would turn the key in her door, and when it was opened, there would be Frankie and Johnnie, with tails wagging. She was always welcomed with love, and loyalty. She would go to the cupboards, and get two cans of dog food out and feed them first, before she thought about her own needs.
After the dogs finished eating, they would all sit on the couch, she would pet and talk to them, and they in turn would give her kisses and love. Betty felt that there was nothing else in her life that she could possibly need.
As years passed, Betty’s body began to tire out. Arthritis had set in and walking was more difficult. At the age of 82, she retired from her job, and spent most of her time with her dogs, but something was missing. She did not feel as if she was doing enough to help others. She needed more out of her life.
This is when she bumped into the homeless shelters and soup kitchens. There was no money to be made, but she didn’t care. What she received from this job was far more valuable than any dollar. Sometimes she took scraps home to her two dogs. These treats she provided, also gave her more love than she could ever want for.
Betty lived like this for many more years, until one time as she walked in her front door, she walked into silence. Frankie had went to sleep for ever on her side of the bed on the floor, and she found Johnnie sitting quietly near by.
This saddened Betty so much, she sat on her bed and cried for the loss of her good friend. She called the maintenance man and asked for his help in taking care of the dog’s body. It was less than two weeks later, that Johnnie died of loneliness for his friend.
Betty found herself alone. She would walk with her cane over to the living room window, and look out over the city, seeing life but no living, lights with no glow. She was growing very weak herself, and knew that her own time was coming to an end, and yet she knew that she had lived the best life and had helped so many.
She turned from the window, and walked to the kitchen, and taking two cans of dog food out of the cabinet, set them down, but never opened them. Tears slid down her face as she realized this habit could be no more, and placed the two cans back on the shelf.
She was not hungry, and she went into her bathroom, and washing her face and brushing her hair, she then went to her bedroom, and slipping into bed, she pulled her worn blankets up around her face, and thinking about Frankie and Johnnie, she went to sleep, never to wake again.
Her death was discovered by the postal man. He knocked on her door out of habit for many years. He would hand her mail to her, and she would stand and chat with him a few moments, brightening his day, but today no one answered the door.
The next days paper showed the following information. Betty, 92 years old, passed a way in her sleep peacefully. She had never married, but had adopted two dogs that were her children and the joy of her life. She dedicated her life to helping the less fortunate. Everyone knew her name and her heart. She never met a stranger. Betty’s parents had died many years earlier. There were no brothers or sisters. Betty had an estimated one million dollars, which has been left to the city to be spent on building new homeless shelters for people and animals. Betty will be missed by many. Rest in peace my friend.
- Dinner With Betty: ‘Cleveland’ Star Auctions Date For SPCA Benefit (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- Reader Squee: Betty The Brindle Pug (cheezburger.com)
- Christmas 2012 begins… (bitebymichelle.com)
- Letter: Woman looking for waiting room angel (knoxnews.com)