When I first met Maizie, she was about eight years old. Just a wisp of a thing. I quiet girl who, devoid of any siblings, was accustomed to playing by herself.
Maizies parents were one step from homeless. They moved around a lot, drifting from town to town, and job to job. Her step dad did not have many skills, so work was kind of hard to come by, and given his attraction to the bottle, even harder to keep. Truth was, he was between jobs far more frequently then he was working. So Maizie’s life had been kind of tough on a girl her age. They weren’t in one place long enough for her to have any friends, and she missed a lot of school. Further, being an only child living in an adult world, she spent a lot of time on the sidelines, excluded from the attention she so wanted and deserved.
I met Maizie accidentally while visiting my mother in law who resided in an apartment not far from where I lived. Maizie was drawing pictures on the sidewalk with colored chalk. When I stopped to admire her handiwork, I was treated to a large smile and a vivid imagination. She talked freely and amused me with stories made up as she went along. She made me laugh, and when I would laugh, so would she.
Over the next few weeks, I saw Maizie a lot. When I would visit, I would often see her sitting on the steps to the upstairs apartments, or just hanging around looking for something to do. Before long, I found myself watching for her whenever I went over there to the point that I would be a little disappointed if she was not there. However, it didn’t take long to figure out that she also watched for me. Sometimes, she would walk down to the dumpster with me when I would empty the trash, all the time in animated conversation. A bright and loving child, who lit up when afforded a little attention. For all of the hardships she had and was enduring, it had not defeated her. She looked for the beauty around her and reveled in it. She was a study in positive thinking. I had been captured by an eight year old.
I remember the day I went over to find her sitting on the stairs as she often did. Upon greeting her, I sensed something was wrong, or at least different. She was not the little girl that usually met me with a smile. Instead, she seemed withdrawn. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that she was sad because they were moving again. I knew that this day had to happen, but found that I was sorry to see it come also. A little later, when I was taking the trash to the dumpster, Maizie fell in step beside me, but remained quiet for several minutes. Finally she said “would you like to be my daddy”.
I was at a loss for words. Totally unprepared for the question. After a pause, I finally said “Maizie, you already have a father”.
She looked at me and said “I know, but I want a daddy”.
That was the last time I saw Maizie. She would be a woman well into her thirties now, probably with children of her own. I have often thought of her and wondered how she made out. Was that fire that burned within able to sustain itself int0 adulthood. Did she ever find the daddy/love she so desperately craved. I hope so. I never had children of my own, but in my heart there will always be a little girl named Maizie.