There is a beautiful, older lady my family has known for years whom we call Miss Ellen. She is generous and kind and spends her life in service to others. Her heart overflows with love. She’s in her eighties now and is one of my heroes.
When Michael was little, before Simon was born, Miss Ellen would occasionally watch him at her house for an hour or two when Andy and I needed to take care of some business at the church. He loved going to her house because she always made gingersnap cookies and read him as many books as he wanted. She was like a grandmother to him, since none of his biological grandmas lived nearby at the time.
One evening, we left Michael at Miss Ellen’s house for a longer time than usual. We were hosting a dinner at the church and she offered to keep him. When we picked him up, he was not the happy, smiling boy he typically was after spending time with his favorite “grandma.” His shoulders slumped and the frown on his face worried me.
We thanked that dear, lovely woman and took Michael home.
“Did you have fun with Miss Ellen?” I asked.
Michael hung his head. “I guess.”
Andy and I exchanged glances. Something was wrong.
“What's the matter, buddy?” I asked.
He gave a small sniffle and a big sigh. “Miss Ellen beat me,” he said.
My heart constricted. Miss Ellen? She would never lay a hand on Michael. Would she? My mind raced with questions as I tried to remain calm.
“She beat you?” I asked, to clarify. He nodded, another sniffle escaping.
It was like my worst nightmare come true. How could this happen? What were we going to do? I needed to call her right away. I needed to call the authorities. My poor baby!
“What do you mean by that, Michael?” Andy asked, not willing to jump to conclusions.
“She beat me at dinner,” Michael said sadly. “I tried to eat fast, but she finished first.”