My Saving Grace
April 24, 1980 was the day I was born. My dad died in a car accident weeks before and my mom, just minutes after having me. Without a mom or a dad, I was immediately put up for adoption. A few months later I was adopted by a 40 year woman named Norma Monroe. She was a loner, a loner who is being tortured with memories of her past, how does she handle it?
Just before I turned 5, Norma taught me everything, I was forced to wash dishes, clean all of the rooms and even cook. She left me alone at times, she’d usually come back with groceries or cleaning supplies but one day when I was five she brought home a newborn baby. The baby was a boy, she named him Cayden but I called him Cady. She told me that he was my brother and that I had to look after him no matter what. So as a 5 year old, I had a lot of responsibilities. I had to clean, cook and on top of that, I had to change diapers, feed Cady, and put him to bed every night. Norma always sat there and watched, if I did something wrong, she would slap me but eventually apologize after I get it right. She seemed like she was always sick, so I had to help her a lot on top of taking care of Cady. She forced me to feed her, comb her hair, and sort out her medicine. She even occasionally forced me to bathe her.
As I got older, I started to wonder why she adopted me, am I her slave? Am I her caretaker? I know one thing, I am the man of the house and I had to look out for Cady. I never went to school; Norma taught me how to read and write, that’s about it. She bought me educational books; I’d teach myself everything I needed to know. I always thought when Cady got older, he would be forced to do the things I was forced to but that didn’t happen. Cady turned five; I still had a lot of responsibilities. I taught him to walk and talk, but he didn't really talk much. I tought him how to read, write and basically everything I taught myself. As he got older everything has gotten easier for me, Cady would help out with the cleaning, cooking and anything else I needed help with around the house.
One day when I was 12, Cady was 7; Norma didn’t allow us to wear shirts nor pants around the house, only our boxers. I never understood that, I thought it was sick. It was winter at the time so it was around 30 degrees. We had a heater, a working heater but she never had it on. I tried turning it on one day but when I did she slapped me, harder than she ever did before, I just didn’t get it. Eventually we would all get sick with a cold. I knew I had to take care of the both of them and even myself, so that’s what I did. I brought them food to their bed, treated them with cough medicine and was forced to carry Cady around the house. Eventually their colds as well as mine went away. She gave us our shirts and pants back, turned the heater on, leaving me to wonder. About a year later, a doctor started to come by to treat Norma, she’s been sick more than usual lately. I knew something serious had to be wrong because otherwise she’d have me treat her, I never asked her about her condition.
At this time I was 15, cooking dinner for the three of us, I left the kitchen for about 5 minutes. When I went back, smoke was everywhere. I didn’t understand, I’ve been cooking ever since I was 4, I’ve never burned anything. We didn’t have much food left, only two TV dinners; I made them both for Cady and Norma. When I went to give Cady his dinner he had a tear in his eye and said to me, “but , what about you?” I said to him “I’m not hungry Cady, just eat your food”. I looked up at Norma, she had a big smile on her face and she said, “What about you?”I said “I’ll skip dinner tonight”. She asked me what I would do for breakfast and dinner for tomorrow. She then gave me money and sent me out to a grocery store, it was only 15 dollars. When I got there I discovered they had a machine, where if you put 5 dollars in it, you’d get a chance to win more. I put in 5 and received a ticket, I read the instructions and I scratched it as fast as I can. Unfortunately I didn’t win, so I put in another 5 dollars even though if I lose I would only have 5 dollars to buy food for Cady and Norma. I thought to myself, why did she give me so little money? She would spend about 50 to 80 dollars on groceries. I scratched this ticket a lot slower as I scratched I see 100, 50, 20, 5, 10, I have one more number to scratch. If it lands on 10, I get 10 dollars, if it lands on 50 I get 50, if it lands on 0 I get nothing. I closed my eyes and I scratched, I opened my eyes and I see it, it was zero. My heart sunk, how can I explain this to Norma? I threw it on the ground, the woman next to me picked it up and said”hey kid the trash can is over there”. She examined the card and notices that it’s not fully scratched, she scratched it and see’s that what I thought was a 0 is actually a 100. She chased me down and hands me the card, I was speechless, I just couldn’t believe it. She showed me how to cash it in and with a smile on my face, a tear in my eye, I thanked her.
I grabbed anything I could, soda pop, breakfast foods, dinner foods, and even junk food, something I’ve never had before. I ran home as fast as I could, told Cady and Norma the story and even Norma gave me a smile, it was the happiest moment of my life. The next morning, Norma began to get really sick. She called Cady and I to her room and told us to sit, we sat on the floor. She asked me a question; she had a scared look on her face. She asked me “Do you love Cayden?” I said yes. She told me to prove it, she told me to hold Cady as tight as I could. I held him as tight as I could, for about 5 minutes until she sent Cady to his room. As I stood there wondering, she told me a story, one I would never forget, one that would explain everything. She told me, when she was 12 her mom and dad were murdered, she and her sister were forced into a foster home. One night at that foster home, Norma just couldn’t handle it and decided to get up and leave, her sister who at the time was 9 tried stopping her, she said to Norma while crying “don’t go Normy, you’re all that I have”. Norma pushed her to the ground and climbed out the window,. Her sister died alone with a disease, the same disease Norma has . Norma regrets it more than anything, she misses her sister which is why she wants me to be there for Cady, which is the reason why she forced me to learn to cook and clean at 4 and to care for both her and Cady at 5. She planned it all for this moment. She started coughing uncontrollably, she took my hand and held it tightly and said “never let go, until you’ve done your part”. I said something to her, something that put a smile so big on her face, I’ve never seen before. I said “I love you, mom”. I’ve never called her mom nor told her I loved her, which is while she died happy that evening. She died loved, which is what she always wanted.
About a year later, Cady and I were in a foster home, though he still didn't talk much, I am sure he was happy there. Cady seemed sick a lot there, I just thought it was because he wasn't used to being around a lot of people. I would wake up with him next to me every morning but one morning I woke up, he was gone. I received the news about where he was and what he was going through. They drove me to the hospital to see him. I ran to him, crying out his name. How can Cady have leukemia and nobody tell me? I locked the door and held him for hours until I remembered what Norma told me “never let go, until you’ve done your part. I felt like I’ve done my part, there’s nothing I can do now, I have to let him go.
I'm 32 now and though Cady nor Norma are with me, I’ll never forget them, I’ll never forget what Norma had taught me, she taught me to love and to never let go. Cady gave me brotherhood and a reason to live. Though I wasn’t with Cady when he died I know he died knowing that I loved him, they both died knowing I loved them. Norma told me something the night she died, she told me that everyone has a part in life, my part was to love and be there for Cady until he dies. I believe she knew Cady would die soon; she didn't want him to die alone. I always thought Norma was insane, just a mean person but I was so wrong, she’s much more than that, she’s my saving grace.
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