***The smaller of the two boys pulled up on her pant leg, a feat only recently learned. He smiled up at her as she dried her hands, wrinkled not just from soapy water, and grabbed him up. As she lifted him up her eyes met little baby eyes that weren’t hers, but still looked for that sense of belonging. The other boy, who was bigger in size but not yet as skilled, padded across the floor with his pudgy little hands. He weaved under and around the wood legs of the old farm kitchen table that used to seat as many as seven at a time. Soon he found one of the sturdy chairs and tried to climb the bottom rung as he’d seen his twin brother do many times before. After a few failed attempts, he crawled across the floor to her.
“Well, I can’t lift ya both,” she chided the pudgy little faces. “Let’s all go into the front room and play by the davenport.” Like a little parade they left the avocado kitchen while the smallest’s legs kicked at her hips. The other followed dutifully behind into the sun-soaked front room that was just big enough for one small couch pushed against the wall. The corner held a makeshift toy box created from the vegetable crates from the barn. She gently placed the two brothers near each other and splayed an array of toys she had gotten from a generous neighbor whose grandkids had outgrown them.
Quickly, she remembered the late afternoon time and announced, “Mail time!” The boys’ eyes found hers and the recognition of the impending long walk to the mailbox brought a flurry of excited whines and crawling legs toward the entryway door. There was joyful rocking, wiggling and movements that only a baby could make to show how happy they were to be going for their daily walk. One at a time, with the help of patience beyond their years, she was able to get them into the double stroller she had picked up at a garage sale soon after she had known the boys would be staying with her as long as the Lord gave her life.
As they began the bumpy ride to the mailbox, she remembered the day she knew they could be hers. The boys were 2 months old.
“Mrs. Baker, you know your…um…age…is a concern for us. We need to think long term for these boys. Because of the special conditions surrounding their birth…and the …situation, we need to make sure they have as normal of a home life during these critical developing months. Plus, think of the stress on you because of there are two of them.”
Adele was kind but firm.
“Son, I‘ve raised five children, run a farm on my own for the ten years since Mr. Baker passed, and watched a grandchild lose his leg. Plus, I have Gracie to help me. To be honest, these boys will either be the beginning or end of my life now, but they need me and I’m ready to take them home now.”
That was the moment she named them. Allen and Owen. A bit on the corny side to be sure, but she was almost 70, she was allowed a little corny.