Vol. 15


A New Beginning

1945; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

It was Indiana — late spring, 1945. My grandma Shirley was five years old when her life changed forever. It’s a story too often told: A couple starts their life dreaming of forever. Unfortunately this dream turned into a nightmare. Times were hard, and Grandma’s parents began to argue. These arguments grew into horrible fights. Great-grandfather left, leaving great-grandmother to care for six children. Seeing no other options, she took the children to an orphanage. Grandma was sent to an Indianapolis orphans’ home. One might think an experience such as this would harden the soul of a young child, but to this day Grandma is full of love and joy.

Grandma smiles. “It looked like a castle with iron black fencing and an extravagant playground.” Grandma had never seen anything so wonderful. “All of the adults were so welcoming. The long white staircase was so beautiful to see!” She tells how it was so big that it divided the room. Girls could use one side, and there was a separate side for the boys.

Grandma was given colorful new clothing. She didn’t even mind that she had to share clothes, especially when it came her turn to wear the blue-and-white-checkered knee-length dress. She had never seen anything quite so pretty. Grandma fell in love with the people and life at the orphanage.

Grandma’s eyes light up when she talks about the entertainment! She had never had games, or kids her own age, to play with. Here she could play board games any time she wished and run free on the playground. But by far the movie night was Grandma’s favorite. To this day Peter Pan brings a smile to her face and a twinkle to her eye. Grandma insists that Peter Pan was not as we know him today. Grandma remembers Peter Pan as a girl, six feet tall, with extraordinary green high heels!

Grandma loves to share her experience, but like all things her time at the orphanage had to come to an end. The day came for Grandma to find a new home. She was excited, but her soon-to-be new parents were even more thrilled to be getting such a smart, beautiful little girl.

The day before the adoption Grandma received a horrible haircut, and she feared her new parents may not want this odd-looking child. Grandma’s first memory of her time with her parents involves their trip to buy new shoes for her — and her throwing up in their car. Grandma quickly realized that her new parents would love her no matter how she looked or what she did — puke and all!

Grandma often wonders what would have happened if she had never been given up for adoption, but she never doubts that being sent to the orphanage was one of the best things to happen in her life. She smiles wide and offers the best advice to anyone who will listen: Sometimes the toughest trials of life are the best opportunities for a new beginning.

Olivia Young; Missouri, USA



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