I met a marvelous woman nearly 20 years ago who fostered one of my children as a newborn.
We exchanged Christmas cards over the years, but never saw each other until last January, when she wrote and asked if she could meet with us. We met over a classic 1960s Long Island lunch of deli sandwiches and potato salad in my kitchen. We talked about getting together again, but life got busy. She was caring for her elderly father in upstate Connecticut. He died last winter, leaving her to sort through his things and clear out his house.
She and her husband moved to a condo in May, but we finally got together on Wednesday. We decided on a hike because the weather was glorious. Though we barely know each other, we chatted non-stop for nearly three hours. We covered everything from dogs to how cruel people can be. Case in point: her adult son provided respite care to two teen-agers while their foster family took a week vacation. A week turned into six weeks, and you guessed it, the family said they didn’t want the girls back.
I’ve heard of people doing this to animals, not kids. If someone did that to a dog or cat, they’d be charged with cruelty to animals. If there’s not a law on the books to charge foster parents with abandonment in these situations, there needs to be. That behavior is inhuman and should be punished.
Her son’s family did the decent thing, taking on the girls as foster children. Their family of four went to six overnight, but they’re managing. When she asked her 12-year-old biological granddaughter how she felt going from the oldest to a middle child, she told her she loves having big sisters because they do her hair. Sounds like a pretty well-adjusted kid.
Women love to bare their souls during walks and runs. It doesn’t matter if we know each other or not. Put us in sneakers, give us an open road or trail and we’re drawn together like magnets. Everything is on the table: incurable illnesses, marital strife, the DMV, wedding planning. Men, not so much. I go hiking with my husband and struggle to keep the conversation rolling. I’ve been running with a guy for the past three weeks and the only thing I know about him is his first name is Pat.
Maybe we can chalk it up to the fact that men and women really do come from different planets. My husband read, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” during a recent trip and loved sharing excerpts with me. I only wish that he had waited until we were on a walk to discuss it.