It was just an ordinary day. Jane Buckbee came home from school and dropped her bag. The high school senior called out, “Mom!” but there was no answer. Jane frowned. Her mom was supposed to be at home long ago.
Then Jane walked into the family room and found her mom splayed on the floor, unconscious. As she knelt at her mother’s side and reached for her phone to call 911, Jane knew her carefree days were over.
Jane’s mother had a stroke and it left her with severe limitations. Not only was Mrs. Buckbee unable to work, but the medical treatments she now required would also place a strain on the family resources.
Mr. Buckbee had died a few years earlier, and the two women were left to fend for themselves. Jane was now 18 and a grown woman, so she decided to give up her dream of going to college to help her mother. But jobs weren’t exactly thick on the grown in their small North Carolina town, so Jane accepted a job as a maid for a local wealthy woman, Allyson Hayden.
Mrs. Hayden was a local celebrity, born to one of the state’s richest families and known for her eccentricity. She had unfortunately lost her sight in a car accident and was known to have a cranky temper. Whatever it took, Jane thought. The salary was great, and the package included medical insurance which would encompass her mom as her dependent. Jane wasn’t afraid of hard work, and she could handle a little temper!
Her first meeting with Mrs. Hayden heartened her. The older woman was sitting in her lounge having a cup of tea and when Jane came in she tilted her head. “Who’s that?” she asked.
“Good morning, Mrs. Hayden, I’m Jane, the new maid, the housekeeper, Miss. Smith interviewed me.”
Mrs. Hayden turned her head towards Leah. “Yes, she told me,” she said. “You have a pleasant voice, Jane. How old are you?”
“I’m 18, Ma’am,” she replied.
Mrs. Hayden sighed. “My granddaughter would be 18 now…”
“Would be?” asked Jane. “Did she pass away, Ma’am?”
Mrs. Hayden’s hands started shaking, and her teacup fell onto the floor and shattered. Jane ran forward to pick up the pieces. “It’s alright, Ma’am,” she said quietly. “I’ll clean up and bring you another cup.”
From then on Jane would bring Mrs. Hayden her tea, and the two would chat briefly about the weather, or the blind woman’s two cats. Jane felt sorry for Mrs. Hayden, her sadness, and her loneliness.
She was sure the blind woman was mourning a tragedy, but she never imagined it would affect her. A few weeks after she started working for Mrs. Hayden, the woman locked herself in her room. Mrs. Smith told Jane to stay away. “It’s the anniversary of her daughter’s death, Jane, and she always locks herself away.”
“I didn’t know her daughter had died,” Jane exclaimed. “I thought it was the granddaughter!”
Mrs. Smith shook her head sadly. “No, Jessica, Mrs. Hayden’s daughter, got mixed up with a bad lot, drugs and drink…and she fell pregnant,” she said. “By the time Mrs. Hayden found Jessica, the child was gone.
“Jessica had given her away for adoption when she discovered she had AIDS. Mrs. Hayden stayed by her daughter’s side, but she never found her granddaughter. All she has of her is a photo from when she was two years old, days before the adoption.”
“Poor thing!” said Jane and went back to her work, but she couldn’t stop thinking about Mrs. Hayden and her sadness. “Imagine,” she told her mom later that night, “Her granddaughter was adopted, just like me, but she might not have been as lucky as I was!”
Jane’s mom hugged her daughter. “Honey, I’m the one who was lucky to get you for a daughter!” Jane hugged her mom back. It was worth all the hard work in the world to help her mom!
The next day, Jane was cleaning the ground floor when she heard a crash upstairs in Mrs. Hayden’s room. She called out to Mrs. Smith but there was no answer, so she knocked on the door of Mrs. Hayden’s room.
She heard the blind woman sobbing inside, so she walked in and saw her kneeling on the floor trying to pick up a picture frame that had fallen over. She helped Mrs. Hayden back into her chair, then knelt to pick up the frame.
When she saw the photo in the pretty silver frame, she was stunned. The snap showed a pretty toddler with her curls in a ponytail. “That’s me!” she gasped. “Where did you get this?”
“You?” asked Mrs. Hayden. “What do you mean that’s you?”
“It’s a photo of me,” Jane said. “It’s me…Even the little mole I have on my chin!”
The blind woman reached out and placed her hands on Jane’s face. “It can’t be…” she whispered. “You…You’re not adopted, are you?”
“Yes, I am,” whispered Jane. “My mom and dad adopted me when I was two…”
Mrs. Hayden was clinging to Jane and sobbing. “Oh, sweet baby!” she cried. “God sent you to me!” Jane was shocked and afraid, and most of all she didn’t want to upset Mrs. Hayden.
Jane brought Mrs. Hayden some chamomile tea and held her hand until she fell asleep. That night, she told her mother the whole story. “I think she is my grandmother,” she said. “Maybe…”
The next day, Mrs. Hayden asked Jane to agree to a DNA test to confirm her identity. She readily agreed, and when the results came back, Mrs. Hayden asked Jane and her mom to move in with her.
“My money is your money,” Mrs. Hayden said to Jane. “Whatever your mother needs I’ll pay for, but you’re going to college!”
Jane and her mother found themselves pampered and beloved by a woman who’d given up the dream of having a family.