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A Girl named Hope


  • A Girl named Hope

    We met Hope soon after we sold a house in Alcoa, Tennessee and moved a few miles away, just outside the city limits of Maryville, Tennessee. Hope was a year younger than my daughter who was eleven years old. She rode the school bus with my children and lived three houses down from us on a street where a builder had built ten homes side by side on one side of the road. We all had about one and a half acres, mostly at the rear of our homes since the homes sat near the road and the lots were narrow, which gave us a large back yard. We planted a big garden at the back end of our plot of ground, so far in the back that we had to drive there to harvest our bushels of corn, tomatoes, green beans, okra, cucumbers, etc. My children had room for their ball games between the house and the garden, and for some reason our yard became neighborhood gathering place for youngsters. Perhaps it was because I kept plenty of pop corn and Kool-aid in my kitchen cabinets.

    It didn't take Hope long to start showing up at our house after school every day. Hope's mom wasn’t home much and I was a stay-at-home-mom. My children arrived home each afternoon about four o'clock and my husband always drove into the driveway about an hour later, so that was when we had our evening meal. Since Hope was always there at that time, we got in the habit of setting a plate for her at our table so she could eat with us and Hope being a young girl was always glad to be invited. She and my daughter became great friends.

    Before long Hope was going to church with us all the time on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and the mid-week service and any time we went to church. Hope had never been involved in a church. She said her mom just never went. She didn't know why. She said, "I guess she just doesn't like to go to church." I made sure her mom received personal invitations to go with us, but it seemed Hope was right. Her mom just never saw a need to go to church.

    One day I was cooking the evening meal when I overheard a telling conversation between Hope and my daughter. It was a pleasant spring day and the doors and windows were open throughout the house so the cool breeze and the fresh smell of spring could flow through the house. Hope asked my daughter, "What number is your daddy?
    My daughter said, "I don't know what you mean by his number."

    "Well, the daddy that left us not long ago was my daddy number four,” Hope explained, “and Mama is hunting for daddy number five. So, what number is your daddy?"
    "Hope, he's the only daddy I ever had. I didn't even know people could have more than one daddy," my daughter replied.
    And Hope said, "Well! I never knew kids could keep one daddy their whole life.”

    It made me smile years later when my then adult daughter told me, “I think Hope felt sorry for me when she asked me that and I wondered if I had been deprived of daddies.”

    I remember the first time Hope spent the night. Her mom had called our house because she knew that's where Hope would be and informed Hope that she would not be coming home that night. Hope said into the phone receiver, "Hold on and I'll ask her." Then she turned to me, saying, "Mom wants to know if I can spend the night with y'all. She's not coming home tonight." That was a Friday and I knew the kids were out of school the next day, so I told Hope she could spend the night and sleep in the bed with my daughter. That was the first of many, many nights when Hope stayed the night. Sometimes Hope stayed almost every night. She and my daughter became bosom buddies.

    That first night my daughter took her bath and then told Hope, "It’s your turn." So Hope grabbed her night gown and went into the bathroom. When she came out of the shower she had not rinsed all the soap out of her hair and my daughter was the first to notice. She told Hope, "Your hair is still covered in shampoo bubbles."

    I said, "Hope, come to the kitchen sink. There's a sprayer and I’ll rinse your hair there for you."

    Hope said, "I had tangles under my hair and I thought I got all the soap out." She added as we headed to the kitchen, "I always wash my hair with the bar of soap. I guess there’s more bubbles with real shampoo." I didn't know what she meant by tangles under her hair, but I soon found out. Hope's hair was a mass of tangles underneath and the girl must have been combing the top layer of her hair for days. It took lots of hair conditioner and a long time to brush out the tangled mess.

    It didn’t take Hope long to became almost another member of our family, but she was always glad when her mom would be at home and she looked forward to being home with her mom and sometimes with her brother who had joined a circus that came through town. He came home occasionally, but most of the time it was just Hope and her mom at her house down the road. Once when we hadn't seen Hope for a couple of days she showed up after dark one evening in the middle of a storm, knocking at our front door. I hurried to pull her inside and asked her, “What are you doing out in weather like this? Are you trying to get struck by lightning?”

    Her reply was a question, "Can I borrow a plate lunch?" I'd never had anyone ask to borrow a plate lunch before. It caught me off guard. I said, "Hope, haven’t you had anything to eat this evening?"

    She said, "All we had was one frozen TV dinner and mom said she wants it if you have something I could borrow to eat." So Hope wanted to borrow ... a plate lunch. Hope wasn’t mad or resentful at her mom. That’s just the way it was at Hope’s house and I was glad that she felt no animosity or bitterness towards her mom about wanting the only TV dinner in their refrigerator. After all, they both had to eat. Hope called her mom and told her she was going to stay and eat warmed up leftovers from our evening meal. Later I drove her home in the rain and she went in carrying a small bag of food from my kitchen. I'd told her, "Hope, take this Hamburger Helper, canned goods and hamburger meat to your mom so she won't have to go out in the rain to get groceries. It may still be raining tomorrow.

    Hope became a regular guest in our home, but we didn’t mind. She was a good girl and fit right in with our family. We had four children of our own and one more didn’t make any difference in the food supply that we could tell.

    Hope loved being part of the youth group at church. One thing she did wholeheartedly was to memorize scripture. Each year at that church there was a ‘King’ and a ‘Queen’ selected. The young people earned the titles by memorizing scriptures. My daughter had been 'Queen' for two years in a row. It was an exciting time for the kids her age. The girls dressed in long formal dresses for the occasion and boys wore dress pants and a tie. The winners were announced and crowned in front of the congregation. Those girls seemed to think that was equal to wearing the Miss Universe crown. My daughter and Hope spent evening after evening quoting memorized scriptures to each other. They both wanted to be the 'Queen' and wear that crown. I was surprised when Hope won that year, but Hope was beaming and wore the biggest smile. The girls all passed on their long dresses as they outgrew them and Hope ended up in the one my daughter had worn the previous year.

    Years later my daughter confessed to me, "Mom, I let Hope win the title of Queen that year. It meant so much to her. I deliberately made sure she stayed ahead of me and that final night when we were saying the scriptures to our teacher I pretended to mess up on two verses in case I had miscounted." (I love my daughter.)

    We don’t see Hope much anymore. I think 12 years must have passed and we had moved to another town when we almost bumped into each other as I was entering a hospital and she was leaving, both of us there visiting people we knew. Hope was visiting her mother at the time. She had become a beautiful lady, married and she had two children. She still lived in Maryville. She told me, "My husband teaches Sunday School." Then she added, "By the way Judy, my children are only going to have ONE daddy just like your children, all their lives.”

    I saw Hope one more time after that. It was on May 30, 2012 and my husband had passed away after a five month battle with Neuro Endocrine cancer. It was the evening we received friends at the funeral home and the line of people seemed never ending. People began lining up early and so many were still in line after our allotted time -- all wanting to tell us how much they would miss him. Among them was a pretty lady who stepped towards me while asking, “Judy, do you recognize me?”

    I looked at the attractive lady and saw immediately that the lady standing there with me wore the face of the girl named Hope; the girl we had known as the girl down the street. Yes, I knew who she was. I grabbed Hope and hugged her to me while saying, “Of course I know who you are. You are Hope! How could I ever forget you?” Hope wrapped her arms around me and said, “When I saw Bill’s obituary in the paper, I knew I just had to come here because I had to tell you, Judy, that of all the people I’ve known throughout my whole life, it was you and Bill and your family who have had the greatest impact on my life. Your family made me who I am today. It was due to the influence of your family that my husband and I are raising our children in church, because I want to have the kind of family that you all had when I was a girl and spent so much time with you.”

    We made sure we got Hope’s phone number. We plan on staying in touch with her from now on. Hope was a big part of our life for several years. Her words were so soothing to my hurting heart. Hope reminded me that evening, just by being there for me and my family in that long line of people, about what life is all about. It’s about HOPE. Giving hope and also receiving hope. HOPE. What a blessed gift from God!

    God works in mysterious ways and I firmly believe He puts people in our lives for a reason.

    • Suitor
      Suitor commented
      Editing a comment

      For me, you gave the word's "Love" and " Discipleship" , a much broader and valuable meaning. These words go together.
      Last edited by Suitor; Aug 1 2015, 10:32 AM. Reason: grammer

    • ForHisglory
      ForHisglory commented
      Editing a comment
      Can we borrow her - our church motto is HOPE is here, but we don't have anyone called Hope.
      What we do know has value for eternity. Praise God for what you were able to do.

    • Theophilus
      Theophilus commented
      Editing a comment
      That's as sweet as it gets. What treasures you've laid up...
    Posting comments is disabled.



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