My father was a sailor in the merchant navy.
In the 90s he would sign up for any voyage just to bring us, if not money, then things or even food, something for sale, so that we had money while he was at sea. I can’t say that we lived poorly, but we never lived in luxury. My brother was three years older than me, so I used to wear his clothes. We used to collect bottles and scrap metal together to buy our own goodies.
Whenever my dad had a vacation, the first thing he did was take us fishing or to the woods, or walks in the park all day so my mom could rest. But one day he got a telegram from his hometown and instead of the usual vacation walk he packed a small bag, kissed us all and left. How we wept! Mom couldn’t comfort us because we thought he had abandoned us.
A week passed and he came back, but not alone, but with a little girl (4 years old). His first school sweetheart had died of tuberculosis, and her little girl was left alone. They were going to send her to an orphanage, but Daddy’s aunt sent him a telegram, as if he were the father and was coming to get her, so they left the girl alone. The child went through the neighbors, dirty and half-naked, until my father arrived. That’s how they showed up on the doorstep.
Mom immediately picked her up in her arms and carried her off to wash her, feed her, put her to bed, and Dad sat down on the bench by the door and cried.
I was 7 and my brother was 10, and we didn’t like her right away, though our new sister didn’t give us any reason to. She was like a ghost, small, pale, silent. She never took our toys, never went into our room (we lived in a two-room house, she slept in our parents’ room), never was naughty and never demanded anything.
From her past life she brought only a soft bunny and a string of assorted beads, which she put on the bunny and then on her neck, rubbing and muttering something. Mother kept trying to shake her, singing and reading to her, but it was to no avail. She cried for the first time when my brother and I took away her bunny and threw it on the closet. She stood in front of that closet, sobbing, and pulled her arms up, and we laughed. We got a big kick out of our mom at the time.
The summer came and we were all allowed to go for walks, but on the condition that we would look after the little one. The day everything changed, we left her near the entrance on the bench, as usual.
We were playing quietly behind the house when we heard yelling and strange noises. When we smelled something wrong, we rushed to the porch, and there was a pack of dogs raging, and our little girl was sitting on the roof and holding a kitten in her scratched hands, not crying, just huge eyes in fear.
When we drove the dogs away, we saw an old bunny torn to pieces.
And then we realized that in place of the bunny could have been our little girl. I sobbed with fear and guilt, my brother was collecting the remains of the rabbit and also sniffling his nose when my mother finally ran out to us. She hugged my brother and me, and at that moment we heard: “Mom, look what we have a kitty!”
Then, together with the neighborhood teenagers, we took my sister off the roof, picked up the bunny, washed the kitten, smeared the scratches, and wiped away the tears. After a while my dad came back from his trip. We told him everything, and he just wondered how a 4-year-old could get on the roof. My sister was sitting on his lap at the time and very confidently said – my kitty helped me!
I don’t know how true that was about the roof, but Kitty certainly helped her to finally let go of the horror she had endured since the death of her mother. She started to teach him all sorts of tricks like give me your paw, and slowly began to come alive on her own. My brother and I also got involved in raising Kitty, and quietly became a not perfect, but a real brother and sister to our Baby.
Now we already have families and children. Everyone has a great relationship with each other. Parents are very happy with their grandchildren, both native and adopted.