Wednesday, September 28, 2016
A Golden Fall
I got a lucky break one early fall morning when a working mother from a nearby town called to see if I was available to watch her two little girls everyday. It was a referral from a referral that somehow panned out and yes, I was available to be a "nanny" to her girls as long as I could bring my own daughter along with me.
It was perfect because her eldest, a four year old moppet with red hair would be big sister to my child and her youngest, a sweet toddler, could be baby sissy. Mom was a nurse who fled out the door each morning for the early shift. Dad was around renovating their beautiful old home and I was to be cook, chief bottle washer, and babysitter.
It's amazing how quickly I fell in love with my new charges even though the oldest could be a handful. But it's not hard to become fond of small children whose fingernails you clip and baths you oversee. I ushered the three girls outdoors as much as possible and fortunately the big old house was located on the expansive and ancient town green. We spent hours upon hours that fall in the public gazebo playing games, having picnics and putting on plays. I taught the girls my favorite rhymes and songs and read them hundreds of nap-time stories. The hardest thing about the job was getting up early and putting my sleepy child in the car to drive the long country road to their place. It's probably the reason why one of my daughter's first words was "silo" given all the farms we passed on those quiet misty dawns.
When colder weather settled in, Mom filled a trunk with old clothes, hats, and endless strings of beads for dress-up. The girls played so many imaginary characters that once I thought other children had entered the house. One day, the oldest was sporting a very pretty black onyx ring set in rose gold filigree on her finger. "Where did you get that?", I asked. Apparently, it had been left on top of the toothbrush holder in the bathroom. She balked loudly when I asked her to place it in my hand and when she finally did, I couldn't help but notice how lovely and unusual it was. I gave it to the mother later that day and was told that it had belonged to the deceased Edwardian lady whose son the house was purchased from. He didn't care to have the ring and so somehow, little hands pilfered it and then set it to rest on the holder in the upstairs bath. During the year I cared for the girls, the ring would periodically show up on various small fingers only to be handed back to Mother again.
As a new fall approached, our days together became numbered - the eldest was to begin school and the work on the house was finished which meant Dad was free to take over the girls' care. The timing was perfect because my house had finally sold and I was ready to move with my daughter to a distant place so I could work in the city.
On my last day, the girls and their mother had a party for me. They made Wacky Cake in a flower pot from one of their favorite stories and gave me a small present wrapped fussily with bright yarn and covered with stickers of shiny blue stars. Inside was the onyx and rose gold ring. But you knew that.
What you may not know is that I don't have to wear the ring to think of them. In my heart's eye, where time forever stops, I see them playing in the blinding sunshine that comes only with fall's most splendid days.
They are with me still...