It was hot. Very hot. Sweat trickled down her neck as she scrubbed the last pot and put it on the tiny counter to dry. She ran over the mental list in her head and decided on the next task on tap for the day. She wished the heat would ease. She stood at the screen door and hoped for a breeze. The curtains stood stick still in the windows. Not a breath of air showed any life aside from that made from the small metal fan that whirled and clacked on the end table. The treetops may be swaying, but nothing inside the house moved.
Everything was tiny in this house. It was a small cinder-brick house built for shelter, not for comfort. Someone had painted it pink once long ago and they hadn’t the time or money to change that. It was okay though. They were a little family in the little house, and they were together. Howie had come home from the war. She was happy simply because of that if nothing else. But life was a struggle and there was no denying it. She drew a breath in and looked up at the sun radiating down. The house was at least shaded partly by the towering tree tops in the front yard.
Turning from the door she was back in the kitchen in just a few mere steps. She took down a box from a cabinet and set a pot to boil. If she made up some of the dinner prep now, it wouldn’t be so hot in the house later when they all sat down to eat. The baby was sleeping in the back room soundly and her little girl was off at school. It dawned on her that the body she constantly was working around wasn’t where he should be. Ricky was always underfoot. His favorite place to play with his cars was right at her feet in that tiny kitchen as she worked.
At first she just assumed he’d wandered off down the little hall and so she went to search for him. She didn’t want him to wake Ronnie. But no, he wasn’t in with the baby. It took her just seconds to search the house and find him gone. He was no where to be found. She tried to think. Where could he go? Panic welled up in her. She fought it back and called out to him, “Ricky?” Nothing.
She called him loudly enough to be heard but trying not to wake the baby. Running to the windows she looked out them all and saw only empty space and dry bare yard. Where was he? Her heart began to beat faster and offer up prayers she had not yet spoken. Where did he go? He had been right here. The house was too small to get lost in.
Again she searched the house and looked out the windows and screen door. “Ricky? Where are you Ricky?” She called his name more urgently. Nothing.
She didn’t want to leave Ronnie alone, but she had to find him. She opened the screen door and felt her heart flop back into her chest with a thud. There he was. He had his little rump perched on the tiny lip of the stoop. She hadn’t seen him because he was hidden by the bottom of the doorframe. Relief flowed through every vein and she joined him out there on the stoop.
“Ricky, why didn’t you answer Mamma? I’ve been looking for you.” He just shrugged his tiny shoulders and continued looking up at the treetops. She let her frustration leave her as she sat and watched him. There was something about the way he was sitting so quietly looking up at the trees. She didn’t want to disturb him. Though hard to describe, she could tell something amazing was playing out, right there beside her.
“What are you doing, honey?” She tried to follow his line of sight. She watched the sunlight dance across the leaves as the breeze circled overhead.
“I’m watching the angels play in the treetops,” he answered quietly as he continued to focus on the overhead canopy. His small voice was barely above a whisper and contemplative. He was just 4 years old or so and yet he seemed to be weighing thoughts of the world in those short moments they sat there.
A slight breeze moved around Norma as she sat there beside her son. Her heart beat a bit faster and she began to ponder things. This child was God’s child, not hers. He was just here for her to raise and to care for… but truly this boy was His. He had plans for him, she could sense it.
It was in those precious moments she began to see little things that would one day lead to big things. God was at work and she had a front row seat as she set about being a mother to her three children. The angels were in the treetops. God had great plans for them, plans to prosper them, not to harm them, plans for hope and a future. Life was hard. But as this promise from Jer. 29:11 spoke, God had plans. It would take a life time to see the plans God would work out, but they were already well underway today as she sat next to Ricky on the tiny stoop in front of the little pink house.
(Written for my Grandma and Dad – based on their story years ago I’ve heard retold so many times over the course of my life.)