Our smallest leaves today ….


Another beautiful sunny hot day in Birlad, as I walk my familiar twenty minute stroll to St. Nicholas this morning, stopping enroute to pick up some kleenex and baby wipes ….. Coca, our local Global Volunteer nurse’s aide, scares me half to death as I turned the corner to the hospital ….. she came up behind me, grabbing my arm, with a squeal of delight to see me walking …. she had just jumped off a bus from Tutova, a nearby town ……. I think of Coca, as our wing angle ….. she is a darling sweet, kind soul and so good with the children. As we enter our wing of the hospital together arm in arm, we find, after a weekend away, the children all appear quiet and subdued … we both get busy, prepping for the day (neither of us speaks the language of the other but somehow we have come to speak the same language of the heart and work well together) …… shortly after a bit of organizing and as I am feeding little Marian his morning bottle …… ‘little tiny 2 point something kilo Marian’ who is six months old or thereabouts, I notice a gentleman hulking about patiently watching from the hallway ….. I remembered him from my first day …. he is, as far as anyone knows, the father of young Marian ….. he appears far too old to be a father (but I have noted that people here appear older than they really are and my host Dan, tells me that life expectancy is somewhere in the vicinity of 70 in Romania …… a diet high in meat doesn’t help!) …… Rumor has it that the government will pay a healthy supplement to anyone who commits to looking after their own handicapped child ….. and that quite possibly this father is considering taking on his child for that reason, but intuitively, I think that is not his only motivation. In six months, no one has ever seen the mother but apparently, this gent has come by often in the past six months. I observed him on my first day, before I got to know the children or anyone here really, and I judged him to be a very gentle soul, full of kindness and love for who we believe is his child. As I have come to know his son, Marion, I see some of that same personality in the wee one. When I held him this morning, Marian took forever to finish his bottle of formula …. at least three times as long as normal …. he kept studying my face, listening to my chatter as I fed him. I alternate between singing Finnish folk songs, nursery rhymes and telling him what a lovely child he is ….. it is a special kind of sweetness, as he watches me …. an old soul is hiding in those very expressive eyes ……. yes, premature, underdeveloped, physically and mentally delayed, I know!!! But I find Marion fascinating ….. I have grown to love him. I had no idea that he was being taken away this morning and as I saw Coca getting Marion bundled up while I continued feeding the other children, I asked in English, what was going on? ….. all she could say was “Marion go papa” ….. I asked “go where?” ….. a rambling of Romanian followed, none of which I understood, so I ran into the hallway, just barely catching Marion leaving with his father. With a lot of hand signing and me jabbering away with three words of Romanian mixed with tears, I showed him how Marion likes to be held close in your arms, near the heart with the bottle angled “just so” …… oh the dear man … thank God for this understanding gentle soul, but still, he must have thought me mad! But I believe through it all, on some level, he understood. I plunged forward, instinct guiding me, realizing I am breaking all kinds of protocol and despite the cool nature of Romanians in general, I hugged him tight with Marion between us …… he was probably as surprised as I, and tears came into his ears, mixing with mine. I kissed the little duffer good bye and turned back to the other little ones …… a funny kind of happiness tinged in sadness settled in for a good part of my day …… a few picture of young Marian below ……



3 responses »

  1. I don’t know how you do all this, all day, every day….I’m crying just reading it, let alone being able to live it. Much ove to you xoxo

  2. Life really is about the small moments, the human connections, and best of all the ones when you least expect it. Marion sounds like a darling child and I hope that he will have a happy life with his father.

  3. What a sad little start for this little one. One can only hope that the Dad will give him lots of love to get him through the toughest of times. The little ones are in the best of hands with you Seija.
    I will do without hugs from you if you can give them tenfold to those babies!! Love you Sis!

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