Last weekend I helped a local Democrat canvass a neighborhood in our district. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s basically where you knock on peoples doors, hand out information and try to convince people to vote.
In true Oklahoma fashion, it rained and immediately after was blisteringly hot. I was paired with a retired teacher. Since she was advanced in age we agreed that she would be the driver and I would do the knocking and talking.
After hours of hitting the pavement I came upon a house with a gaggle of children ranging in age from around 2 to pre-pubescent in the yard. The adults present were a 60’s something couple. After talking to them for a minute the woman opened up and told me all about the children.
All eight of the kids were their grandchildren that they were raising. The mothers of the children were drug addicts who had lost custody.
The woman went on to tell me that the raggedy house behind them only had three bedrooms. Her and her husband slept in the living room so the kids would all have bedrooms.
She asked me if that was something that the candidate I was supporting would care about. She told me all about the things the state had promised to do to help with raising the kids. Turns out, after the paperwork was said and done…all those things the state told her they would be eligible for…they weren’t. She said they would of taken the kids regardless but it would of given them a heads up on what they needed to prepare for.
The kids were happy and clearly very loved. One of the boys (around 7) won’t speak. He communicates via gestures. When I asked her about him, she told me he can speak but he chooses not to and hasn’t for years.
Someone abused this child so badly that he won’t speak anymore.
I learned how the kids all saw counselors and how her husbands Navy pension paid for some of it but not all.
With a loving look at the children she turned to me and told me that she is doing the best she can for them but a lot of the time she feels like their struggles are invisible to the world.
Here was this old woman who clearly had health issues pouring her heart out to me….a complete stranger.
Her authenticity struck me right to my core.
I’ve been through the foster system myself. I’ve seen first hand the suffering and the indifference of those who witness the effects.
When I got back into the car tears started streaming down my face. The old woman I was paired with gently asked me what happened. I told her and she kindly comforted me. The rest of the day my mind was on that family. My mind kept replaying her words “We are invisible to the world”.
When I got home I loaded all of my sons clothes he couldn’t wear, a spare bedset that we had and didn’t use and various other items. I told my husband about the situation and we loaded up and drove to their house.
I was so nervous when we arrived. With shaking hands I knocked on their door.
The woman answered and was very surprised to see me.
I told her that she wasn’t invisible. Not to me. I told her that she was an amazing person for caring for all those children.
I told her that if it mattered at all, I saw what they were going through and it mattered to me.
With tears in her eyes she reached out and wrapped me in a hug.
My heart swelled.
I asked her if she wanted the things I had brought. She introduced me to all of the children and they were beautiful. Every single one of them was precious and I am better for knowing them.
I wrote down clothes sizes and diaper sizes. From now on, whenever I can, I will help them in anyway I can.
Because no one should feel they are invisible.