Where had I gone wrong? In four years as a mother, I thought I’d done a good job. So where had I failed? I pictured myself twenty years hence, cornered by a crime reporter. “I tried my best,” I’d sob. “But he began dealing in stolen property at four, and it was downhill from there . . .”
Back in 1949, I lived with my grandparents out in the country on a small farm near Richmond, Virginia. Something serious was going on one day as I entered the kitchen at five thirty in the morning. Grandpa and Grandma were standing at the sink, staring so intently out the kitchen window they didn’t even hear me come in . . .
“Put them on,” says Alma, my wife’s aunt, extending a pair of pink and sparkly shoes with two Velcro straps that remind me of something my great-grandfather would have worn if they were a different color and weren’t twinkling like one of my daughter’s glitter projects . . .
They stood off to one side of the excited throng who were cheering and holding up hand-lettered signs as the TrailWays Bus pulled into the church parking lot. Val chewed at the skin around her nails. When she saw Mark watching her, a tight smile crossed her face.
“It’ll be okay?” Her eyebrows raised in question. “He’ll be a good kid. Right? The Fresh Air people wouldn’t send him if, you know, he had problems . . .”