When the seasons are about to change and Fall and Winter are on their way; when the school bells chime and the buses are out in full force, I can expect that my thoughts will return to my home in the mountains and memories of long ago.
It was a cold, blustery night and the snow was beginning to come down. At 6:00 pm it was already dark. Daddy was not home yet but we had already eaten dinner. It was good to be inside where it was warm. I was about five years old. Things were quiet in our house. My sisters were doing homework and Mom was cleaning the kitchen. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. It was seldom that someone came to the house after dark. Mom turned on the porch light and there was a man and three little girls at the door. The man explained that he had no job and that his children were hungry. “Could you spare some money or some food?”, he asked. Mom brought them to the table and heated up leftover food from our dinner and added canned applesauce and lots of milk. I had never seen anyone be so hungry. I hung back in the shadows and watched. Mom offered seconds and thirds and still they ate with vigor. She packed food that she had canned and made sandwiches. She talked with them, hugged them and they returned to the dark night.
Before she cleaned the table, she lifted me onto her lap and started to rock me in her rocking chair. “Terri”, she said, “you must remember this, when people are hungry, feed them, make sure before they leave that the children are full. Sometimes people have alcohol problems and if you give them money they might buy liquor and the children will continue to be hungry. The Bible says that there are times we care for angels unaware. I think that is who knocked on our door tonight”.
I remember it like it was yesterday, my heart pounding with the loud knocking on the door, the strangers coming in to our home, the children so tiny with huge eyes filled with hunger and the how humble their Daddy was. I remember with pride my Mom stretching food and giving them plenty to take with them. She treated them like family, like there was nothing unusual about their requests.
About twenty-five years later I became a foster parent in West Virginia. Again I saw the faces of hungry children; kids who were eight and nine years old that had never been asked if they wanted seconds on milk or food. I had to learn as an adult that hunger still existed in this country and it was within a few miles of my home. I remembered my Mom’s words as I too treated these children as though their hunger was not unusual and tried to make them feel at home. My Mom planted the seeds in me to help the hungry when I was just a little girl. I hope I passed this compassion on to my girls. I hope someone, somewhere touched your heart in this way too.