An older woman befriends her neighbor who has three children. When her friend is diagnosed with a terminal disease, she makes her a promise.
Life was tough for Linda Randall after her beloved husband passed away. They weren’t blessed with children, so Linda was left all alone at seventy-two.
Linda locked herself up in her house with the drapes drawn for a long time. Then one day, someone knocked on her door. There was a pretty woman with a kid standing on her porch.
“What do you want?” Linda asked. She didn’t realize her life was about to change.
“Hi,” the pretty woman said. “I’m sorry to disturb you, but my son’s ball fell into your backyard. Do you mind if we go in to get it?”
“Come on in,” Linda said. She led the woman and her boy to the back door and watched as the kid retrieved the ball. The pretty woman smiled.
“Thank you so much!” she said. “We’ve just moved in, me and my kids.”
Families are built on love.
“How many kids?” asked Linda. “I hope they’re not noisy!”
The pretty woman said: “Eddy is seven, Pammy is four, and Cary is thirteen. They’re good kids, but I admit that sometimes they are a little noisy. You know how kids are.”
“No, I don’t!” Linda said. “I never had children. Can’t stand them!”
“Oh,” the young woman said and blushed. “I’ll try to keep them quiet… I’m Kelly, by the way. Kelly Harris.”
Linda sniffed. “I hope you do! I’m Linda Randall. Mrs. Randall to you!”
Linda kept an eye out for the Harris kids. The boy was noisy, but the teenager was quiet, and the little girl was the sweetest little thing with blond curls.
Linda found herself watching the kids, and one day she baked a batch of cookies and took it next door. “Hi,” she said awkwardly to Kelly. “I made too many cookies. I thought the kids would like them.”
“Thank you,” Kelly said. “You are very kind.”
“I just don’t like throwing food out,” Linda grumbled. “That’s all!”
Kelly smiled. “I have a big pot of tea,” she said. “The kids don’t drink tea, so how about you drink some so I don’t have to throw it out?”
Linda went in and had tea with Kelly. A few days later, she ‘accidentally’ made a big red velvet cake and took it next door. She and Kelly had coffee.
Linda found herself liking Kelly and enjoying the children’s company, especially little Pammy. Kelly told Linda that she’d moved to Fort Lauderdale to get away from her ex-husband.
“I was so young when I fell pregnant with Cary,” Kelly explained. “I thought David Harris was the love of my life. My father told me he was rubbish, but I wouldn’t listen. He cut me off.
“As it turned out, my father was right. When Pammy was two, I finally got up the nerve to leave him. We’ve moved twice since then, but I think we are finally rid of him this time.”
“You were young,” Linda said. “We all make silly mistakes, but there is a good thing out of all this. You have three wonderful kids.”
“Yes,” Kelly said. “They are worth everything!”
Linda spent Thanksgiving with the little family; the kids called her Gran Linda by Christmas. Linda had never felt so happy since her husband had died.
Kelly and the kids needed her just as much as she needed them. But that Christmas proved to be a dark time. Linda noticed that even though Kelly smiled and played with the kids, her eyes had a dark shadow.
“What’s going on?” she asked Kelly bluntly. “Out with it, girl!”
“Linda,” Kelly whispered. “I have cancer. The doctor told me yesterday. I have been feeling so tired; I thought maybe it was anemia. It’s stage four cancer. There’s nothing they can do.”
“No,” cried Linda, and tears filled her eyes. “Not YOU! You’re so young! The children need you; it should be me!”
“I’m going to need you, Linda,” Kelly said. “I need you to be strong.”
“Anything!” Linda said. “I’ll do anything for you.”
“I’m going to the lawyer,” Kelly said. “I… I wanted to ask you to take my children…”
“But I’m too old!” Linda said. “I’m seventy-two, Kelly. What kind of a mother would I be?”
“A loving one,” Kelly said. “But I do understand. I have no family, Linda, and I’m afraid my ex-husband will try to take the children. I’m leaving a power of attorney with my lawyer. Please, please, Linda. Don’t let him take my children!”
Linda hesitated. “I’ll look out for them,” she said. “That’s all I can promise you; I’ll look out for them. You understand, don’t you? I’m just too old…”
Kelly looked very sad, but she said she understood. It took only three months for the pretty, lively woman to fade into a shadow of her former self, so weak she could barely hold her children.
Linda was there every moment until the very end. She broke the news to the kids and helped them pack their things. The social worker told her the kids would be placed in a group home.
“What about foster care?” asked Linda.
“We don’t like to split up siblings,” the woman explained. “And very few families will take three kids. Pammy on her own would be adopted quickly, but all three…”
The silence from the house next door got on Linda’s nerves. She missed the sound of the children and listened for Kelly’s steps on her porch. “I need to see them,” Linda told herself.
She drove to the group home and got out of her car. There was some sort of a fight going on. A woman screamed at a tall lady in a green dress: “You can stick your job! I’m not cooking for those brats!”
“But Darlene!” the lady cried. “What about dinner?”
“I don’t care!” the woman yelled. “They can STARVE!” She turned her back and stomped off while the lady in the green dress wrung her hands in desperation.
“Excuse me,” Linda said. “Is this the group home?”
“Yes,” the lady said, looking distracted. “Yes, it is.”
Sudden inspiration moved Linda to say, “Do you need a cook?”
“Yes!” the lady cried. “Are YOU a cook?”
“I’m a very good cook,” Linda said. “And I’m good at baking too.”
“Can you handle making lunch and dinner for seventeen kids every day?” the lady asked.
“Yes, I can,” Linda said. She walked in with the lady, and before long, she had dinner on the go and three apple pies baking in the oven.
“That smells like Grandma Linda’s pie!” Linda heard an excited little voice say.
“Nonsense, Pammy!” Cary scoffed. “You’ve got Grandma Linda on the brain. She hasn’t even come to visit…”
The two girls entered the kitchen and saw Linda standing there with a net cap on her head and an apron wrapped around her waist. “Gran Linda!” Pammy cried and burst into tears.
“Eddy!” Cary screamed. “Gran Linda is here!”
Linda was nearly swept off her feet as the three children threw their arms around her. Her eyes filled with tears. “I’m here, guys,” she said. “And I’ll be here every single day!”
It worked out really well. The lady who ran the group home was happy. All the kids loved Linda’s cooking, and she got to spend time every day with Kelly’s children.
It would have gone on like that forever, but a year later, the lady who ran the group home called Linda into her office. “Linda, what do you know about Cary, Eddy, and Pammy’s father?” she asked.
“He’s no good,” Linda said bluntly. “He was a bad father and a worse husband!”
“I see,” the lady said and looked very unhappy. “He’s looking for the children. He wants them back.”
“You can’t!” gasped Linda. “He’s… he’s not safe!”
“There’s nothing I can do,” the lady said sadly. “I’m sorry.”
The next day, Linda went to visit Kelly’s lawyer. “You can’t let this happen,” she cried. “Do something!”
“There’s nothing I can do,” the lawyer said calmly. “It’s all up to you.”
“To ME?” gasped Linda. “What do you mean?”
“Kelly left everything worked out,” he said. “She had given the children over to you. You are their guardian. She also left affidavits from the police in three states about her ex-husband’s violent behavior. The kids are yours if you want them, Mrs. Randall. All you have to do is sign the papers…”
Linda signed, and two weeks later, Eddy, Pammy, and Cary moved in with her. Kelly’s ex-husband tried to fight for the children’s custody, but the judge read Kelly’s statements and threw him out.
The only person who wasn’t happy was the lady who ran the group home. Good cooks are hard to find. The little family settled in nicely for the next two years, but then someone knocked on the door.
“Mrs. Randall?” the man who’d knocked asked. “Are you the legal guardian of Cary Harris?”
“I’m her adoptive mother,” Linda said gruffly. “What do you want?”
“I represent Cary Harris’ grandfather’s estate. May I come in?” the man said.
The man came in and shocked Linda and Cary by informing them that as soon as Cary turned fifteen, she would receive a lump sum of $500,000.
“Of course,” the man said. “When Eddy and Pammy turn fifteen, they will receive their part too. Their grandfather wanted to give them a good education and a good start in life.”
Linda was delighted! Now she knew the children could go to college. She also knew why their father had been so keen on getting custody! He didn’t care about the children; he wanted the money!
Linda hugged the kids. “Your mom would be so happy!” she cried. “I’m glad I kept my word and kept you safe!”