Monday, January 30, 2012

From Highrise Office to Home Child Care

In 1997, I was working at HTR, a computer school located on the 15th floor of the building at Light and Pratt streets overlooking the Inner Harbor. The view from the windows was spectacular, as evidenced by this photo I took, along with a prayer I always said at breakfast:

I worked from 8:30 AM to 12.30 PM five days a week. The salary was good, and I had a paid parking place in the garage attached to the building. My job was to register the students coming for class and to make coffee, hand out the books for the class, and collect the fees from the students if they had not paid at the time they called to enroll.  I loved my job.

One Sunday in February, I went to Mass as I always did and knelt down to pray before Mass started to prepare myself for the Eucharist. Down the aisle came a woman walking a little Chinese girl about a year old.  She was a cute little one. We had several single women in the parish who had gone to China to adopt little girls, so seeing this one was not something new for me. As I turned my attention back to my prayers I heard inside my head these words, "You will take care of this one." That shook me up. I did not want to do child care. I had been taking care of children for a very long time, what with the ages of my six kids.  I remember saying, "If that's you Lord, You will have to give me a whole lot of peace about that. Right now, I don't have it."  I had known the girl's mom, Kathleen (Kathie) Kelly, from a parish Renew group that I had been in a year before but we were just casual acquaintances, and on that Sunday I hadn't spoken to or seen Kathie for quite some time.

As I drove to work, I would pray for my day at HTR, and often the memory of those words I'd heard that Sunday morning came to mind.  I would just pray for peace. I did tell my Bible Study group and Larry about what I heard, wondering if they would take me to a psychiatrist.  No one suggested that, but one of the women in my group said that Kathie had child care. "Thank God," I thought.

Well, in mid-May, I received a call from the main office of HTR located in Rockville, Maryland.  My boss advised me that they might be closing the Baltimore office. I  was very sad to hear that.  However, she said they might try to keep the office but at another location.  Would I stay on if they found a suitable space in the Security Boulevard section?  Yes!  That area was close to home for me.  For the next couple of weeks she had me meeting with real estate agents and looking at places that could be converted into classrooms.

I was scheduled for my vacation the last two weeks in June. Even though I had found two places I thought suitable for classrooms, the director of the company finally decided that the Baltimore office was to close with the last classes to be held the end of July.  I told my boss that I would stay until the office closed in hopes that the powers that be would change their minds.  I went on vacation, and when I returned to work I was told that several of the companies who had scheduled classes for their employees had cancelled and that the office would close the week after July 4th.  I stayed and helped close up the place, and I was given a
luncheon and some gifts on that last Friday.

The next day I went to Mass.  It was Saturday morning and not too many people were there.  However, Kathie Kelly and her little girl, Theresa Mary, who was at this time about 19 months old, were seated in the front of the church.  I was in the back.  After Mass, as I was ready to leave, I heard Kathie call, "Wait a minute."  I am not sure she remembered my name.  She said, "Would you be interested in taking care of my little girl?  I've just gotten a new job and the caregiver I had lives too far away for this new job.  I've been having difficulty finding someone to care for her and my new job starts this Tuesday." Kathie is a nurse practioner and had been practicing at Jessup Prison, while her new job was at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  I was shocked at the request but at the same time knew that God had arranged all the circumstances, including giving me months notice of what He wanted me to do and having companies cancel classes at HTR so that I could be available to care for Theresa Mary.

Taking care of Theresa Mary (also known affectionately as "Tee," while she called me "Abi") in my home was a real gift from God to me.  I received so much love from her and had such a good time playing with her. Thank you, Jesus, for taking such good care of me and doing what was best for me.

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