john & christiana
This picture is what made my day.
There is a customer where I work who is 62 years old and recently has had two strokes. His name is John. He has lived and worked in Indonesia for most of his life, but when he had his strokes he had to move to his home town (Kirkland) to live with his 90 year old mother so that she could take care of him (which she is hardly capable of doing) & his 7 year old daughter, Christiana. Christiana's mother (John's 4th marriage) is not in the picture - apparently she was a gold digger and left John & took a lot of his money when things got too rough. I have fallen in love with the two of them - and especially adore Christiana. John comes in multiple times a day while Christiana is in school because he can't stand to be cooped up in his mother's house. He has confided in me multiple times about how unhappy he is here and how badly he wants to go home. He's so concerned about his daughter and often gets upset with his mom because she neglects Christiana when she is supposed to be caring for her. Obviously this is because of her age, but it still frustrates John. Probably because he knows he can't do much better himself. He can hardly walk - he shuffles along everywhere he goes, and looks and acts more like he's 75 than 62. He is an angry man, but I am on his good side so he treats me well. I like to tease him to make him laugh, since he rarely does. I like to call him "Muffin" or other such pet names, and I always try to get him to tell me he loves me. However, he never will! One day I said, "I know I brighten your day!" and he retorted, "No, you frighten my day!" He can be very sweet though, and told my mom the other day that I am the reason he comes into Terra Bite, and that when I leave, he and his daughter will never step foot in there again.
For a long time I thought he was senile and was convinced that he thought he was in the CIA. He was always asking to borrow my cell phone to make calls (he still does) and he would get this very stern and official tone whenever he was speaking to whoever was on the other line. My co-worker and I had fun coming up with these crazy stories about who he was and where he came from. We always laughed whenever he came in with piles of 'important' paperwork and asked to borrow a pen. But this was all before he started to tell me what was really going on in his life.
On the weekends he'll come in with Christiana. He tries to keep her out of the house and away from his mother as much as possible, it seems. When they aren't in the cafe, they're at the library across the street. Their whole situation makes me so sad. I have been trying so hard to be Christiana's friend. She is so little, has little to no contact with her mom, and was just ripped away from her home and friends. I told John that if he ever needs help, I would love to take her out for a day. She doesn't have anybody that she can have fun with, and clearly doesn't have any sort of motherly figure in her life. She is so shy and sweet, and a beautiful little girl. She would normally act so serious and seemed to be afraid of me. Whenever they came in, she would hide behind John's legs, and if I asked her a question she would look up at her dad and let him answer for her.
Then, today she asked me if I had a pen and paper she could borrow. She called me over a few minutes later and proudly presented this drawing. She said it was for me, and I cannot tell you how happy I was. I asked her if Max & Sydney were her friends. She said that they were made up. I told her she was a great artist, which made her very proud. After that, John took her to get Shnoo (frozen yogurt) and when they got back she started this game of peek-a-boo with me. They were standing outside the front windows (John was borrowing my cell phone again) - and she kept hiding behind the wall and then jumping out in front of the window. I would pretend not to see her and then look and she would laugh and hide behind the wall again. This went on for a while, and I kept getting closer to the window, hiding behind the counters until I got to the wall on the other side. When she jumped out, I poked my head around the corner - she screamed and ran away. Haha. It was so cute. I probably looked like an idiot, but making her smile made my day.
So anyway, I just feel like I accomplished something big today, even if those two things are really quite small. I really want Christiana to feel like I can be her friend, and I think she is starting to see that she can trust me. I'm hoping someday soon John will let me babysit her or hang out with her for a few hours. I'd love to take her to Pike Place Market and the Seattle Science Center or something. Those are two places I loved when I was her age. I think she'd go crazy about the Butterfly Room.