Thoughts of a little waif child. Michael O’Halloran by Gene Stratton Porter. (April 2010)

Susan's Thursday morning note April 15, 2010 
Thoughts of a little waif child - caring for others.
Michael O'Halloran by Gene Stratton Porter

Good morning!!!  Great coffee.   Baseball.  Wind.  Storm clouds..  Quiet rain.  Green.  Neglected dishes.  Used book calling my name…all composing a short 24 hours of spring in Nebraska!  Some of you are going to roll your eyes with today’s note, for you may consider the words “sappy”, but I consider them sentimental, heart-warming, and I don’t think “feel-good” is a bad description for my little book that I am thoroughly enjoying this week!!!!  Michael O’Halloran by Gene Stratton-Porter.  I picked up this treasure in a used bookstore in North Carolina last month.  Stu and Camden both rolled their eyes and grinned when this was my choice out of an entire haven of selections.  In reading this little treasure, I have found one of my favorite books ever to keep by my bed to cheer my soul anytime I now just glance at the cover!

This book is a lot like Anne of Green Gables.  The setting is in the attic of an apartment complex where a young orphan boy, Michael, lives alone taking care of himself.   His father died before he knew him, his dear mother died right before the book begins.  She knew she would die, they were very poor, so she trained him how to make money selling papers on the street, take care of himself, pay his rent, and live alone with no one finding out, keeping him from the orphanage.  He is a little boy of utmost dignity and character….the story then brings in a young little waif of a friend.  Michael hears the cries of a young crippled girl as he is selling papers.  He finds her in a filthy setting within a few hours of her abusive grandmother’s death…she is waiting for them to arrive back to take her to the orphanage.  Michael sneaks her across the city to his upper attic room.  This is the beautiful (don’t you dare say sappy!) dialogue between them as she enters his hideaway…he cleans her,  not realizing how frail she is.  She then falls into such a deep sleep that he truly believes she has died.

Bringing home his little waif, thinking she died…

Aw, you poor kid!  you poor little kid!  You’ve gone sure!  You’re just like them at the morgue.  Aw Peaches!  I didn’t mean to hurt you, Peaches!  I was trying to be good to you.  Honest I was, Peaches!  Aw————!  As his fright increased Mickey raised his voice until his wail reached the consciousness of the sleeping child.  She stirred slightly, her head moving on the pillow.  Mickey almost fell, so great was his relief.  He stepped closer, gazing in awe…the tiny clean face was white, so white that the blue of the closed eyes showed darkly thought the lids, the blue veins streaked the temples and the little claws lying relaxed on the sheet.  Mickey slowly broke up inside.  A big, hard lump grew in his throat.  He shut his lips tight and bored the tears from his eyes with his wiry fists.  He began to mutter his thoughts to regain self-control.

“Gee kid, but you had me scared to the limit!  I thought you were gone, sure.  Honest I did!  Ain’t I glad though!  But you’re the whitest thing!  You’re like – I’ll tell you what you’re like.  You’re like the lily flowers in the store windows at Easter…”  Mickey gazed, worshipped and rejoiced as he bent lower from time to time to watch the fluttering breath.

Utmost love exclamation from one small child to another:

“You’re so clean now you just smell good; but I got to go easy.  The dirt covered you so I didn’t see how sick you were.  You’ll go out like a candle, that’s what you’ll do.  I mustn’t let even the wind blow cold on you.  I couldn’t stand it if I was to hurt you.  I’d just go and lay down before the cars or jump down an elevator hole.  Gee, I’m glad I found you!  I wouldn’t trade you for the smartest dog that’s being rode around in the parks.  Nor for the parks!  Nor the trees!  Not the birds!  Nor the buildings!  Nor the swimming places!  Nor the automobiles!  Nor nothing!  Not nothing you could mention at all!  Not eating!  Nor seeing!  Nor having!  Not no single thing – nothing at all – Lily!  “Lily!” he repeated.  “Little snow white lily!  Peaches is a good name for you if you’re referring to sweetness, but it doesn’t fit for colour.  Least I never saw none white.  Lily fits you better.  If you’d been a dog, I was going to name you Partner.  But you’re mine just as much as if you was my dog, so I’ll name you if I want to.  Lily!  That’s what God made you; that’s what I’m going to call you.”

Sincere prayer from Michael to God for help:

The God though, evoked by creation, remained in Mickey’s heart.  He glanced at the sky clearing form the graying mists of morning, while the rumble of the streets came up to him in a dull roar.  O God, I guess I been forgetting my praying some, since mother went.  I’d nothing but myself and I ain’t worth bothering You about.  But O God, if You are going to do any big things today, why not do some for Lily?  Can’t be many that needs it more.  If you saw her yesterday, You must see if You’ll look down now, that she’s better off, she’s worlds better off.  Wonder if You sent met to get her, so she would be better off.  Gee, why didn’t You send one of them millyingaires (millionaires!) who could a dressed her up, fed her and took her to the country where the sun would shine on her.  Ain’t never touched her, I bet a liberty-bird (a coin)…But if You did the sending, You sent just me, so she’s my job, and I’ll do her!  But I wish You’d help me, or send me help O God.  It’s an awful job to tackle all alone, for I’m going to be scared stiff if she gets sick.  I can tell by how I felt when I thought she was gone.  So if You sent me God, it’s up to You to help me.  Come on now!  If You see the sparrows when the fall, You just good naturedly ought to see Lily Peaches, ’cause she’s always been down, and she can’t ever get up, unless we can help her.  Help me all You can, O God, and send me help to help her all I can, ’cause she can use all the help she can get, and then some!  Amen!”

…So Mickey shouldered the duties of paternity, and began thinking for his child, his little, neglected, bad, sick child  His wits and feet always had been nimble; that day he excelled himself.  They had not “got” him; they must not “get” his Lily…

Can you see why I’m loving this book?  The other characters include a young businessman and his fiancé coming into the scene of Michael’s life.  Also a millionaire and his wife who are extremely unhappy, especially after the death of their young daughter, losing themselves in the pursuit of more money…so many characters beginning to intermingle, teaching through this story written in 1915 the same character traits and lessons applicable to us just as much today.  Let me know if you’d like a copy also by your bedside.  Just a glance reminds me of what is important…little children, innocence, love for God, thirst for God, desire for simplicity, desire to care for those we meet, recognition that so many of our lives intermingle, not knowing when we will be the ones used to answer another’s cries in their prayer for help.  How I would love to see God’s thoughts on how he weaves so many of our lives together!!!  This book brings out that reality very tangibly.

Thank you for letting me enter your Thursday again.  The littlest flowers are bringing just as much joy as the yellow daffodils – all created with a purpose from God…no matter their role, to honor their creator and to bring us joy.  Bring a little flower in for your bookmark.  Let the pressed flower be our reminder of details, life, creation, God’s details.  Our purpose.  Each of us matter in such different ways.  May we realize our creation was a joy for God to design.   As in this book, the littlest details are so beautiful.  The little waifs.  Their prayers. Their desire to do right, regardless of their connections or their money.  Joy in loving each other.  Just the joy in his having someone to care for.  Who are you picturing now that is your gift from God?  For you to care for.  Spring.  Renewal.  Prayer.  Enjoy your day – make your coffee extra strong!!!  Read a great book!  Even if 10 minutes a day – that gives you pathetic ones that say you don’t have time (grin) four hours a month – you may read what greatly affects your decisions in only that amount of time.  Enjoy this day…our gift.  Regardless of our circumstances God still gave us his creation to show his involvement in every detail of our life.  Susan

Latin for this week:
Ego Tutela Vobis "I care for you"