Chapter 14: Mrs. Langley’s House

My Mother

Impressions, and views,

Some old, some new.

Things I remember about you,

Appear from where? I have no clue.

Crystal drops of dew,

Ideas that make me move.

Thoughts that take me through.

            The Langley family had a large front lawn that was always manicured beautifully. Their home looked like something out of a magazine, the type of home that ordinary folks simply dream about. Mr. Langley, being an architect, had an eye for landscaping and beautiful buildings. His architectural expertise was displayed in the stunning upkeep of his picture perfect home.

Connor tucked his shirt into his jeans as he walked up the sidewalk with Daisy to the Langley front door.

“You look fine,” Daisy encouraged.

“I hope so. Whenever I come here I always wish I’d dressed a little nicer. Mr. Langley is so… um… so proper, ya know?”

Daisy rang the door bell.

Mrs. Langley, with her larger than life smile, answered the door. Before Connor and Daisy even got past the front door they’d received several hugs and kisses. “Where has the time gone? I haven’t seen you two in weeks! Look how tall you are Connor! My goodness, has Davis been sprinkling you with Miracle Grow?”

“No Ma’am.” Connor chuckled at her friendliness.

“I bet he has! Now you tell that man to sprinkle a little on Daisy Ray’s head for us!” Mrs. Langley then turned to Daisy and gave her a squeeze while asking, “How is little Miss Daisy Raymond Greene?”

“I’m great,” Daisy squeaked out between hugs.

After a few minutes, Maria came to rescue them from her mother’s clutches. “Mom, that’s enough hugging. They came to do homework remember?”

“That’s right dear, you kids just go on into the living room and get your work done.” Resisting the urge to hug further, Mrs. Langley ushered them on.

Maria showed them to the living room where she, Andy, Mark, and Susan were already doing their homework. They each had their own little corner of the floor where their books and papers were spread out, and they were busily doing assignments.

Connor and Daisy positioned themselves on the floor at the base of the sofa where they could lean back for comfort. They each got out their books and dug in.

Daisy Ray had a little secret plan going around in her head all morning that she now was going to attempt. She snuggled up to Connor slowly.

He didn’t notice at first but after a few minutes he looked down at her with a puzzled expression. “Okay Day-Day… what’s up?”

“Have you read this book?” She held it out to him so he could see the cover.

“Yea, so…?” He eyed her suspiciously.

“Well…,” she slowly continued, “Can you tell me the ending, and give me a report idea?” She smiled up at him with her most radiant smile.

Connor hit his knee with his papers. “I’m not doing your homework. Now you just read that book yourself. If you want to know the ending then read the ending first. I always read the ending first.” He ignored the book she was nudging him with and resumed his own studies.

Daisy pouted a moment. When she saw that is wasn’t working she humbly began reading in silence.

Mrs. Langley was sitting across the room in a recliner chair with a book of her own. She was reading quietly until she heard Daisy and Connor’s little spat. Mrs. Langley was always amused with Connor’s overly developed parenting skills when it came to Daisy Ray. She had noticed it before and always got a kick out of watching them. She chuckled to herself and then sat back and meditated on the love she saw there.

After a few moments she ventured to ask, “Connor dear, how is your Father?”

Connor glanced up at her. “He’s okay, I guess.”

“I wish we could see him more often. Maybe you two could come over for a barbecue one night,” she suggested in a friendly tone.

“He works a lot, but maybe he’d come if it were on the weekend,” Connor offered. He knew where she was going. It warmed his heart that she would still try to reach out to his Father after all these years, but he didn’t really know how to help her do it. So Connor just answered her questions as simply as he could.

Years back, Connor’s parents, Davis and Deborah Bailey and also Daisy Ray’s parents, Raymond and Daisy Greene, faithfully attended the same church as the Langley’s. They were all great friends until Daisy’s parents had an awful car accident and died young, leaving six-month-old Daisy Ray behind with her Grandparents. Then, Connor’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and despite treatments, died. Connor’s father, Davis, was very hurt by it all and stopped going to church altogether. Connor only being 12 or 13 years of age, followed his father. He carried the same pain his father did. There were many questions about God that churned painfully, unanswered in their hearts.

Maria got very sick around the same time and everybody thought she would die too. But she didn’t die, and surprisingly she was healed. Everyone was so happy with her complete recovery. They all praised God for her healing! It was truly great. Secretly, however, Davis and Connor being so hurt by their own losses, didn’t understand. Why didn’t Deborah Bailey get healed? How about Daisy’s parents? The injustice of it all was just too much for Connor or Daisy or even Davis to handle.

Daisy seemed to somehow block out most of it, but Connor remembered everything in great detail, with much feeling. He remembered the last day he saw his mother in the hospital. She’d given him a little “be a good boy” speech. There was nothing unusual about that. She did that pretty much every time he visited her. But on that last day she added a great deal more into her regular little speech. She was so weak that she could barely put two sentences together without having to rest, but by the time that night was over she’d shared several things that he would never forget.

She spoke about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel. How they resolved to serve God no matter what happened. She also spoke about Daisy and Raymond Greene, and how they had been her very closest friends growing up. She shared how strongly she felt to care for little baby Daisy Ray when her parents had died in the car accident. Then she looked directly at Connor like she was assigning him a very important task and said something to the effect of, “Connor, the resolve to do what is right is a very important trait for a young man to have. You need to resolve in your heart to do what is right no matter whether you get what you want in life or not. I also want you to be good to Daisy Ray for me. She needs you to look out for her. She’ll be your best friend if you do a good job of it. Okay, Connor? Then there’s your Dad. You are all he’s got. I want you to listen to him and be a good boy for him…,” from that point she switched to her regular “be a good boy speech”. That particular speech he had already heard 100 times or more. After that last conversation, he had gone home to bed and then to school the next day, just like always.

He’d been too young at the time to realize that his mother was preparing him for her departure. She knew it was coming. Had he known it, he would have pitched a fit, yelled and screamed, fought against her leaving him. Leaving him with nothing but a Bible story and a command to love God, anyway… Love God anyway? It frustrated the tar out of him just to think about it!

His frustration had boiled into anger when he realized there was no one to blame, no one to fight, no one to hurt back for taking his mother away and leaving this gaping wound in his heart. He couldn’t be mad at his mother for leaving, she was far too weak… fragile… gone… she was gone. But God on the other hand, was big and strong, at least that is what is said about Him. In Connor’s wounded heart, God seemed the perfect recipient for his anger. All the out of control tragedies of the world were always God’s fault… weren’t they? Were they? The not knowing made it hurt all the more.

After school he visited the hospital again to find his Dad there crying over her because she was gone. They mourned their loss together with Daisy Ray and her Grandparents only. They refused to share their pain with anyone else outside the Greene family. From that point on Davis would not go to church or attend cell group at the Langley’s home any more. Neither Davis nor Connor was overly concerned with trying to please God or resolving to do what was right. They did the things that helped them cope the best with life and that was it.

Davis was a workaholic whose only social outlet was a bowling team. Connor ran, went to school, ran, hung out with friends, ran, watched out for Daisy, then ran some more.

Connor found running to be surprisingly helpful in pushing through painful heartaches. The more grueling he made the run, the emptier of grief he found himself to be at the end of it. He could sleep and relax more easily after a hard run. His thoughts were more focused on living and less focused on dying. Distance helped too. When he ran long distances he could slip into a sort of thoughtless zone. He could stop thinking and just listen to the ocean waves, the wind blowing in the dune grasses, the sea gulls crying overhead. All of nature spoke kindly to him. Her warm sounds soothed his mind into a peaceful state. He hammered out his anguish many dark nights along the boardwalk platform. He found therapeutic relief in the rhythmic exercise, but it couldn’t change the fact that his mother was gone. No, that never changed, sadly. Neither running nor nature could do that.

Connor found Daisy Ray to also be very helpful. She was like the foot in the door of his heart. It was difficult to harbor anger with her around, even though he tried really hard to do so. She would follow him around and chatter cheerfully about pretty much anything that floated through her mind. He often ended up in a big belly laugh because of the imaginary stories and games she would cook up. He had no idea how the mind of a little girl worked, but he liked her very much. One step at a time, he released the anger he felt. He allowed her ‘foot in the door’ to become her ‘leg in the door’ which led to her ‘arm in the door’ and so forth and so on. She wiggled her way into his heart, and he was glad she did it. Daisy Ray and Connor’s friendship grew out of deep loss, and despite Connor’s party blunder, it was a genuine friendship that they had.

Connor looked at Daisy from the corner of his eye now. He felt a little bad that he had fussed at her about her book report. He was really so thankful for her in so many ways. He didn’t understand why tragedy had targeted him. He blamed God simply because, well who else was there? But when he looked at Daisy he knew that there must be goodness coming from somewhere… somehow because, well, he was not left alone, plain and simple. He was not left alone. He did have a very dear friend in Daisy, just like his mother had said.

“Hadn’t his mother also said that all good things came from above, from the Father of light,” he mused. “Yep, she had made him read it to her from James, the first chapter, during one of her preachy moments.” He got a little corner smile when a vision of his mother preaching in the kitchen, flashed through his mind.

Whenever he and his friends piled into the kitchen to raid the refrigerator, she would make them sit down and read something from the Bible. At the time, he found it extremely annoying because it interrupted his play time, but now it was a fond memory. He was slowly discovering that her words rang true, even though he did not like God much. His mother’s words about God and life seemed to be panning out.

“Yep, Daisy was definitely a good friend to keep around.” He glanced again at her reading by his side. She was becoming dearer and dearer to him as time went on. Now that she was 15, she wasn’t looking quite so little anymore.

Connor returned his eyes to his open European History book. He could see the page but not the words. In his deep pondering state he realized that it was now easier to think of his mother than it used to be. It was easier to be at the Langley’s house than it used to be too. Connor came to a heartfelt conclusion after observing his father’s response to the things that reminded him of his wife. Connor concluded that it was healthier to visit “memory spots” every once in a while. It helped to visit the places that reminded him of his mother. The passing of time helped too, and now his memories were not nearly as painful as they used to be. He liked the Langley’s and their house, even if there was an occasional “flash back” or “heart sting” attached to the place. 

Mrs. Langley began praying softly to herself.

“Mom,” Maria ventured, “What are you praying for?”

Mrs. Langley looked up, not realizing that anyone had noticed her. “I’m sorry dear. I didn’t know I was disturbing you. Should I go to another room?”

“No, you don’t need to leave the room. I just wondered what you were praying about.”

Mrs. Langley thought carefully for a moment. “Well… I’m not sure how to tell you what I see. Hmmm… I get such a wonderful impression of God’s love when I see you and your friends. When I see how you love and care for each other. I want to thank God for each of your friends. I want to thank Him for what I see Him doing in each of your young lives.” She glanced at Connor first.          Connor returned her look thoughtfully. He too was thankful for friends.    She then glanced around the room at Andy and Daisy and Mark, giving each of them a look of appreciation. She had not had a chance to get to know Susan yet, but she glanced at her as well and smiled warmly.

Maria knew that this was the moment to tell her mother about what happened at the meet, so she began, “Mom, I need to tell you something that happened yesterday at the meet.”

“What’s that dear?”

Maria then took her time and explained as carefully as possible all the events of the Surfside meet and also all that had gone on between her friends at the Family Mart. She tried to explain her fears about a big fight, the possible connections between what Alison had done, the bad feelings between Gary, Glenn and Andy, Andy’s anger at what had happened and Connor’s advice to tell Coach Peggy.

“What should we do Mom? If we don’t do anything then they will think they can get away with it and continue picking fights with us. If we try to fight back I’m afraid someone will get hurt. Also Mom, you know how badly Andy needs that sports scholarship so he can go to college with me next year. If he does something like get in a fight during a meet it could affect his getting scholarship money. I really want Andy to go to college with me.” Maria stopped talking for a while so she could calm down.

Andy was looking at Maria in a completely different light now. He had not thought about his scholarship money being jeopardized by a fight with the aggravation brothers but Maria had. He had not realized that was her motivation for keeping the situation away from him. She was really looking out for him, even more than she was looking out for herself.

Mark and Maria were going to the University next year. They were getting scholarship money for their running, but their parents could still afford to pick up the slack and pay the rest of the school fees as needed. Andy however, was going to have to depend entirely on various scholarships and grant money to cover his college costs. He had been offered a lot of scholarship money due to his being unbeatable in running and extremely good in school, but he wasn’t sure it would be enough. He had not thought about the repercussions that a fight could have on his college chances. He now could see Maria’s point of view and was looking at her mother, hoping that Mrs. Langley could come up with some kind of solution.

“Let me see your legs and hands, Maria.”

“I’ll have to go change.” Maria ran back to her room to change from blue jeans and a long sleeve skate shirt to shorts and a tee-shirt so her knee and elbow would show and returned to the living room.

She walked over to her mom to let her have a good look. Mrs. Langley examined her arms, palms and knees carefully and then looked up at her face, “Is this all? Are you hurt anywhere else?”

Maria hesitated a minute and then looked over at her friends, “Guys… I would have shown you my stomach if there had been marks on it when we were at Family Mart, but no bruises were really on my stomach then.” She looked back at her mom, “this morning bruises showed up on my stomach too.” She pulled her shirt up half way to show her middle section. The middle section of Maria’s belly was black and blue.

Mark, Andy, Connor, Daisy and Susan gasped at the sight of Maria’s belly.

Mrs. Langley examined her closely. “That girl, the one who hit you, her name was Alison, was it? She hit you pretty hard Maria. I need to take you to the doctor for an exam.” Mrs. Langley shook her head in disbelief. “I don’t understand why a young lady would do something like this?” She shook her head some more then continued, “Well, Connor and Andy thank you for making Maria tell me what happened. I owe you two a steak dinner.” She glanced at them a moment and tried to smile, but she was too upset now for much of a smile. She was mad and so was everybody else in the room.

Mrs. Langley then sighed and thought a moment, “I believe what we need to do first is call Coach Peggy and explain what happened. Then we will go up to the hospital and let them examine you. I might just decide to make a police report there at the hospital as well.”

“No! Mom, don’t do that,” Maria begged.

“Maria, we need too! That girl needs to know what she has done! She has seriously hurt you, and if she thinks we are just going to sit here quietly while you turn black and blue from head to toe… well, she’s just got another thought coming!” Mrs. Langley rarely raised her voice but she did this time. She looked Maria in the eye, “That girl is going to be very sorry she did this when I’m finished with her, Maria! Now find my cell phone!”

Andy was standing to the side, with his arms crossed, watching this whole conversation. He was relieved to find that someone else was finally as upset as he was. He would remember in the future to tell Mrs. Langley if anything else ever happened. He liked her attitude.

Mrs. Langley called Coach Peggy and explained the situation to her over the phone. “… We’ve got to make an appointment with the Surfside School this week. I’m going down there and making some serious noise about this! This is just unbelievably wrong, and I intend to give Alison and her parents a piece of my mind!” Mrs. Langley paused as she listened to Coach Peggy on the other end of the line then closed the conversation with, “…Okay then. It will take me maybe 30 minutes to get to the hospital. I will see you there. Good-bye.” She hung up the phone and turned to face the kids again.

“Now Andrew, you just come over here and pray for me right now because I’m ready to wring somebody’s neck! I understand from all of Maria’s explanation that your prayer for sportsmanlike behavior was crucial in the situation yesterday. Please pray for me that God would help me in the same way.” She looked at him, hoping he would comply.

Andy came over to stand next to Mrs. Langley. He put his hand on her shoulder and prayed for her with all the heartfelt vigor a young man was capable of.

Mrs. Langley reached over and gave Andy a big hug. She wiped the tears away from her eyes and hugged the rest of the teens as well. She was always a good hugger even under stress.

“I made sandwiches earlier so we could eat together, but now that we have to go… I guess what we will do is this. Maria, Daisy and Susan, you three, take a sandwich to eat in the car while we drive over to the hospital. The rest of you boys just stay here and eat with Mark. It is not necessary that all of you go. Mark, take good care of our guests for me, okay?” Mrs. Langley glanced at her son to make sure he understood the plan.

“Sure thing Mom,” Mark agreed.

After Mrs. Langley and the girls left for the hospital, the guys were too aggravated to eat. In their minds, a hard run seemed so much more inviting than sandwiches.

The three of them looked at each other and hollered, “Let’s run!”

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