When our oldest daughter was born, I thought it would be fairly easy to find a daycare for her in the three months between her birth and when my wife went back to work. I quickly learned that I was very naive and it took me nearly two months to find someone. Just from our conversation on the phone, I didn't have a very good feeling about her but we didn't have a choice. We arranged to bring our daughter and meet her in person the week before my wife went back to work and the day of the meeting, the girl called us to say she wasn't doing daycare anymore. We were left with five days to find someone else.
I went to the local Human Services branch and obtained a printout of about 50 licensed daycare providers in the county and started calling them in alphabetical order. I called the first half dozen or so and everyone said they were full or didn't have openings for babies. When asked if they knew of anyone they could recommend who might have an opening, they all recommended one person, Mrs. Z. I skipped to the end of the list and called up Mrs. Z but she like the others said she really didn't have an opening for a baby. She already had one and though she could have two, she never took two just so she could provide the necessary attention to all her older kids. Unlike everyone else though, she did tell me to call her back if I couldn't find an opening anywhere else.
I called everyone else from A to Y on that list and couldn't find an opening. In desperation, I called Mrs. Z again and told her that I couldn't find anyone who would take our daughter in and asked if she would give our daughter a try. We agreed to meet the next day at her place and talk.
Never in my life have I been more nervous being interviewed. We showed up at Mrs. Z's house and met her out in the backyard where she was watching over her other daycare charges. I don't remember much of the conversation but I'm guessing it was mostly telling her of our background and who we were. The most memorable moment was when our daughter obviously filled her pants up to the point the smell was overwhelming and extra was leaking out the edges. While trying to carry on our part of the conversation, my wife and I tried to change our daughter's diaper as best as we could sitting in lawn chairs and ended up with baby poop everywhere. We had to ask Mrs. Z if we could use her bathroom to clean up ourselves and try to wipe down our daughter's car seat and clothes with wet wipes. I was mortified and pretty sure that our trial was over before it started but Mrs. Z took everything in stride and said she would see our daughter on Monday.
At the end of that first week, I picked up our daughter and was beating around the bush about how to ask Mrs. Z if I was going to bring back our daughter the following week or not when she just said of course my daughter was coming back the following week. Our daughter ended up coming back for the next five years.
During Mrs. Z's funeral, there were lots of stories like this of people being helped by Mrs. Z as one after the other filed up to the lecture to tell their stories. I wished I could have told mine but I wasn't entirely sure I would be able to keep my emotions in check enough to tell it so I just listened, nodded and cried. She was given six months to live and make peace in her life. She ended up with ten months and during that time, I was able to take our daughters over to see her several times. They are even featured on the cover of the children's books that are being created as her memorial for frightened children in hospitals for various situations. I am honored that she wanted my kids to help represent her life and I'm honored to have been part of it as well. May she rest in peace.