It was October 1930, Roderrick Van Hausen III, walked behind the hearse that carried his parents to their burial plot. It should have been raining but instead the sun shone bright and it was warm. Why couldn’t the day be more like Roderrick’s mood- miserable and sad. His Uncle Jack placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. He knew Uncle Jack would come live with him and take care of him. His dad told him that a couple of years ago, that if anything were to happen to him and Roderrick’s mother, Uncle Jack would take care of him.
He didn’t want to leave even when his parents were lowered into the ground and the grave diggers began to throw the dirt over the caskets. Uncle Jack pulled him away, “I know you are sad but things will get it a little better. Your parents would want you to live for them.”
The next morning, Uncle Jack called for Roderrick in his father’s study.
“Good morning, Roderrick. I want you to put on your best suit and pack one suitcase of everything you would need. We are going on a little trip- you and I. I think this is for the best. You will see.”
Confused, but not wanting to argue, he did as his uncle said. He chose the largest suitcase and packed clothes, pencils and his drawing tablet. He looked in his wallet, he had five dollars. He didn’t know where he was going but he figured is he needed more money, Uncle Jack would give it to him because his parents would always give him whatever he asked.
Roderrick carried his bag downstairs, “Uncle Jack where is Sarah and Norman?” Sarah was the house manager and Norman was the butler. In fact, he did not see one servant since he awoke.
“I gave them the day off to mourn, they loved your parents very much,” He replied. “You ready to go?”
Uncle Jack took his bag and placed it in the trunk and Roderrick sat in the front seat. Soon, they left behind his house and the far away New York City skyline.
“We are going?” asked Roderrick
“Outside of Buffalo, I have some business there,” Uncle Jack replied and that was the last the two of them talked. They stooped outside of Albany for gas and they were back on the road again. Roderrick slept as they went through one town after another. He was asleep when Uncle Jack shook him, “we are here.”
Roderrick opened his eyes and they were parked in front of a old house with rusty tin patches on the roof. It was a dingy white clapboard house with faded blue shutters. In front there was a cover porch. There was a little sign to the right of the front door. Roderrick squinted to see it better, it read, “Our Lady’s Abandoned Children’s Home”
“Why are we here?” asked Roderrick but Uncle Jack already had his suitcase out of the trunk.
He followed his uncle up to the door and his uncle knocked. A nun answered the door and invited them in. Children ran up and down the stairs. The girls squealed as the boys pretended to shoot them. They looked at Roderrick and whispered then disappeared into another room. The nun led them to the front parlor. She motioned Roderrick to sit a chair as she closed the door to the parlor after his uncle went it. He went to the door to hear what they had to say.
“Mr. Laskey, I hope you had a safe trip,” she said.
“We did thank you.”
“I am sorry to hear that you can not take care of your nephew.”
“I thought they had money but they bought so much on credit, that there is nothing left and I just don’t have the resources to take care of them.”
“Children, can be quite happy just being with loved ones. All of my children here are victims of the depression. Their parents couldn’t take care of them. Any one of them would love to be with their parents if they could.”
“I understand and I did not come to this decision lightly either. I love that boy as if was my own.”
Roderrick couldn’t believe what was going on. His uncle was giving him up. There was no money? He knew his dad, he always had money stashed in the walls and in the mattress and anywhere he could stash it. His dad never trusted banks since he believed all bankers were crooked. And when the stock market crashed last year, they had plenty of money. He listened closer.
“Okay Mr. Laskey please sign this paper, it is to relinquish your rights to this child. Sign this paper and I become his legal guardian until the age of 18. You do realize, you can change your mind but you will have to go to court.”
“Yes I do.”
“May I ask, why did you bring him here all the way to Buffalo when there are plenty of children’s homes in New York City and I am sure much better ones.”
“I think the change of scenery would do him good, with his parent’s recent passing.”
The door opened and Uncle Jack knelt down in front Roderrick, “I am sorry I have to do this, champ but times are tough. When things get better, I will get you back, I promise. I love you, champ.” Uncle Jack hugged him and scurried out the door.
“Hello Roderrick, I am Sister Mary Allan, I run this little place. I hope you find some happiness here.”
Tears streamed down his face. He wanted to throw something or hit something but instead Sister Mary Allan hugged him hard and he cried into her black habit.
Read the rest of story in Santa's Shorts available on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited.