Getting out of the car in the afternoon, Mr. Silverman held my hand as he walked me up to the house. I was four years old and this wasn’t my first home. As we walked he told me I was going to like having other kids to play with. We walked up the pathway leading to the front door of the house. Before we even got to the door it opened suddenly. Out came two little girls. Their mother stood behind them holding a baby. She looked down at me, smiling.
The girls stood looking at me and then back at their mother. The oldest smiled and asked me, “are you Billy?” Their mother sent the girls back inside the house. Then she approached me and gave me a hug.
Mr. Silverman and the mother talked for a little while and then Mr. Silverman said goodbye to me. The mother asked me to come into the house, so I followed. She told me her name was Ruth and the baby’s name is Mark. The she introduced me to the girls, the older one with brown hair is Kathy and the younger one, the one with the blonde hair like mine, she’s Melody. She told me her husband would be home later and his name is Dick. “We’re the McCalls” she said, “but you can call me mommy, or mom.”
Mom walked me upstairs and showed me the room that would be mine. Just inside the door and to the right was a huge box of toys. She showed me the toys I could play with and the toys that were for Mark. She walked out of the room and I sat on the floor just looking at the toys, afraid to play with any of them. The girls came in and told me to come with them, so along I went. They took me outside the house and walked me around telling me who lived next door and pointed to where the park was.
Suppertime came, mom called us kids to come in. I’ll never forget our first meal. I sat there at the table looking at the plate in front of me. Mom pointed to what was on my plate and said, “those are mashed potatoes with gravy. That’s roast beef and those are green beans. It’s for you. You can eat it”.
After supper, Dick asked me to come sit with him. Not just with him, but right beside him on the sofa. Nobody else was in the room with us. He put his arm around me, holding me close and told me I can call him daddy.
Within a few days, I realized I was okay. They want me here. Before long, I felt part of the family. It was different, unlike before. I can’t remember a time, with the McCall’s, when I felt I wasn’t a natural part of the family.
Mom would load all us kids up in the station wagon sometimes to go pick up dad in front of this big white building surrounded by palm trees. Airplanes would make a lot of noise flying by. We’d get out of the car and play while mom stayed close to Mark. He couldn’t walk very good considering he was only a year old. Daddy would walk out from the building in his tan pants and shirt with four stripes on the arm and a hat on his head. He’d greet us kids and rub my head. Back into the car we went. Why, I don’t know, but mom always drove.
One day during the summer daddy and mom got us all together and said “were moving”. Daddy looked at me with a smile, and mom said “all of us”. We’re moving to a place called West Virginia. Shortly thereafter we moved. Our time in West Virginia was event filled and pretty much everything I experienced was something new. In my mind, life could not be better!
Yes, "the time came" when I was 7, I had a better understanding of things. We had moved back to California. One afternoon after daddy had come home from work he called me into his and mom’s bedroom. He and mom were sitting on the bed and he motioned for me to sit with them. Daddy said he and mom needed to talk to me. He motioned for me to get on the bed between the two of them. He held me tight as he quietly asked me if I remembered Mr. Silverman. He then told me Mr. Silverman was going to come to talk to me again. For some reason, daddy and mom were crying. He explained to me I had to go live with my natural father. I couldn’t understand why I had to go. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with my mom and dad, my sisters and little brother.
A few weeks later the events of life resulted in my being returned to live with my natural father and his new wife, along with my natural sisters who had been living with my grandparents. Life had taken a drastic change. Through the changes and following years I often found myself thinking about the McCalls. I would wonder to myself why I was taken from them. In my heart and mind the McCalls were my family. They were the ones who loved me and wanted me. Yes, I was living with my natural father and stepmother, however, the home was void of love and there was a definite feeling that us kids were not really wanted. We had no value. Consequently, we relied on one another for love and value. Emotionally, we raised one another. Our home wasn’t a home. It was just a place to live.
Through all the turmoil of growing up I came out alright because during my time with the McCall’s they instilled (by demonstration), a foundation of values, manners, ethics and character. It resulted in my having a successful career in the Air Force and then another career in law enforcement. It also resulted in my placing a high value on taking care of my own family. Granted, I’m not by any means perfect in myself, or in taking care of all the individual emotional needs of my family. It’s a continual exercise in learning and applying. I’m a cracked branch that healed, but still have some scars. Had I not had the McCall's as my foster family who genuinely loved me and wanted me, I’d be a branch broken in two with life having turned out who knows how?
-Story submitted by Bill Shimmin