Well, I left them there with their father and all the food that my other sister in law, Meg, brought over. She had come sometime after I showed up, and right before the police left. Officer Williams said to me that he didn’t know her from Adam (as if he knew me from Adam), but that he trusted me. Oh, thanks, I thought. Then the man hands me over the nine children as if they were my life’s inheritance.
So I call my husband. He’s not happy. Actually he’s never happy when dealing with his family. Ok, so he’s rarely ever happy. What can ya do? Move away, you scream? Well, so do I. Instead I went to my mother’s house. I had called her earlier that morning telling her to come over and get my girls. I have four daughters, no boys—I’m glad for that now.
“You just left 9 children there with that man?” My mother asked; she is not known for her subtlety.
“What should I have done?” I’m mad now because I know she’s right.
“I don’t know, something.”
“Well, I did something. I went there and took care of them until their father got back.”
“OK, Chesya.” That’s what she says when she’s through discuss something. After that point you’re not allowed to talk about it any further. She is finished with the issue and you will be talking to a stone wall.
I didn’t care, “I did what I was supposed to do. Period.”
So, I get the girls and take them to breakfast, and then we head back home. I’m tired and I want to take a nap; I’d been up since five that morning. I lie down and try to get some sleep, and just as I doze off, the phone rings. I answer it.
“This you, Chesya?” People say my daughters and I all sound alike.
“Yeah.” It’s Hopeless; calling collect of course. Is there any other way to call from JAIL?
“Where you at?”
Where did you call me at? “Home.”
“Oh, OK. OK. Have you seen Don and John and the Van?” Now this is such a whole new story that I can’t even begin to tell you now—and is, in fact, something that I learned through phone calls from everyone under the sun while I was at the house with “the kids.” But don’t worry; I’ll get to it next time.
“Well, they’re on the way to your house. Keep that van there for me, and don’t let ANYONE drive it. And get my food stamp card too.”
“Oh, OK. They’re coming here? Your what?”
“Food stamp card. Yeah.”
“OK. Guess you don't know your mother got sick, and the ambulance took her to the hospital, and the police called me to take care of the kids. They said they’d take them away if somebody didn’t take care of them.”
“My kids? Oh, lord they was gonna take my kids?”
“Yeah. Fool is there with them now.”
“Call him for me.”
He answered. I listened.
“Fool what the hell is going on?”
“What the hell you mean?”
“DFCS was gonna take the kids?”
“They wasn’t gonna take them kids.”
“Fool, they was gonna take the kids.”
“Where in the hell is Don and John with that damn van. They took that van and riding around in it and they ain’t got no business in that damn van. I done told you about giving them those keys. I told you didn’t I, didn’t I?
“Fool I don’t care about that van. My priority is my kids. Why in the hell wasn’t you there? You should have been there.”
“Your goddamn momma was here. That bitch is getting on my last nerves. Who does she think she is? I swear if I have to…”
By this time my husband had gotten off work, and walked into the house. He was not happy when I told him who I was talking to. Then I handed him the phone and told him this Fool had just threatened his momma. He snapped it up and listened. I grabbed the other one.
“Fool,” Hopeless yelled, “my momma shouldn’t even have been there. You should have been there. Hell you should be here.”
Then he starts screaming something and she told him she ain’t got time for this shit and hung up.
My husband and I stand there for a full minute and stare at each other. To be honest, our lives are blissfully drama-less. He works his butt off, and I stay at home and take care of the girls—working my butt off. We don’t really speak much (can you blame us?) with his family and are probably the better for it.
Finally we sit down and I told him about that morning and leaving the kids there. Before we could even get a breath the door bell rang.
Don and John, Hopeless’ two oldest sons. The two with the van and the food stamp card. The two, the children had old me the night before, that had left the grandmother the night she had gotten sick, along with an uncle, Hopeless’ brother, promising to bring food for their siblings, but never returned.
My husband threw opened the door, “Where in the hell have you been?” My husband is a quiet man, and he rarely even gets angry, but when he does, people listen.
“We’ve been trying to get money to get Hopeless out.” Yep, they call her by her first name. All of her children do. In fact, all of my mother in law’s children do too. I suppose many families do this—it’s just not what I’m used to.
“Give me the keys to the van. And get in here and sit down.”
Then Hopeless called again and the fateful words sprang from my dry lips. Hell, I didn’t even know I was going to say it until it was all over. I said: “I was thinking, maybe we could take the girls for a while, if someone else can take the boys.”
“Really? Just take the boys to Debra’s.” (her mother’s—the one in the hospital) My other brother in law, Richard, and his wife lives with Mrs. Debra (that’s what I call her).
Of the 9 kids, I would be taking only three. They were 13, 5 and 5 months old. Of course things never really work out the way you plan them.
Did I ever tell you how expensive it is to care for three extra children, let alone a 5 month old infant? Remind me to tell you soon—if I survive.