by Catherine Granger
North Carolina, USA
In 1982, both my fiancee and I were active duty Army, and when he gained custody of his three boys, we decided to get married right away. I resigned from the Army to raise the boys. They were ages five, three, and one. I became an instant mom. The following years were a rough adjustment for us all, but there were good times, too.
Eric was the toughest to reach of the three boys. The oldest was the beloved of his paternal grandparents, and the youngest was the easiest for me to deal with. Eric was stuck in the middle, and he and I had many a rough time.
When I was pregnant for the second time, having lost the first one in early pregnancy, my husband was on active duty. I felt very trapped without my former career and not sure where my life was going. I decided to pack up the boys and take off. From Louisiana, I drove to meet my mother at the Houston airport, added her to our van, and headed out to my sister Ellen’s home in California.
It was a wonderful trip. Each morning, I got up about 5:00 a.m., put gas in the van, and loaded the boys into the back of the van, which converted into a bed. Then we drove away. After we reached Ellen’s house, Mom flew back home to New York.
Then Ellen and her three children joined us in heading to New York by van. Every morning, I took the van to get gas, as before. When I returned, either Ellen or I stayed in the motel room to wake the kids, send them to the bathroom, and steer them to the van. The other was at the van settling the kids in. One morning, Ellen came out after I had settled in five children. I asked her where the last child was, and she said she’d sent them all to the van.
We threw open the doors and counted. One was missing, and it was 4-year-old Eric. We ran back to the room: no Eric. We searched the grounds, checked the pool in the middle of the courtyard, and panicked. No Eric.
Finally we found him on the other side of the hotel, standing patiently where the van had been parked when we arrived the night before. I asked him why he was there. He said that Ellen had told him to go to the van, so he did. When I asked him if he was scared when the van wasn’t there, he replied, “No, Mom, I knew you would find me.”
Eric’s confidence in me after all the adjustments he had been through gave me the power to deal with life for years to come, including all three childrens’ teen years. His courage in moving into his new life — shown by those words — inspired me to never stop looking… for they trusted me to find them.