As she promised, Amber’s mom picked her up at Laura’s at noon. On the way home, Amber was thinking that she would get her chores done quickly and then take a nap.
“Did you have fun?” Mary asked.
“It was great,” Amber said. “We made pizzas on the gas grill. We each made our own. Then we made s’mores.”
“Leave it to Laura and her mom to come up with a unique idea,” Mary said. “Maybe we’ll try that some time.”
Amber filled her mother in on the rest of the sleepover and the trip to the senior center. “I sure would like to know how my poster ended up under that table,” Amber said thoughtfully, “and why our names were erased from the volunteer list.”
“It’s probably just a mistake,” Mary told her daughter.
“Yeah, and I’m pretty sure I know who made it,” Amber said to herself.
As soon as Amber got home, she put away her sleeping bag and other gear. Then she started getting out the vacuum sweeper so she could do her chores.
“You don’t need to do that,” Mary said. “Kyle already did it for you.”
“Why?” Amber asked.
“Maybe he just wanted to do something nice for his little sister,” Mary answered.
Yeah, right, Amber thought. And I bet he reminds me the next time he wants me to do something for him.
Sunday morning, Amber awoke to loud screeching from outside her window. She pulled back her curtain to see a cat crawling out on the branch where the bird nest hung. The worried parents were dive-bombing the cat, trying to keep it away from the nest. Amber opened her window and yelled at the cat. At first it just stared at her. Then it crawled backward along the branch until it could climb down the tree. By that time, the parents were back with their babies at the nest.
“That was a close one,” Amber sighed to herself. She worried that the cat might return later and finish the job.
After church, Amber asked her mom if she could go visit Betty Jenkins. She found Betty busy in the kitchen, getting some food ready to take across the street to Doris Duncan.
“Why don’t you come with me?” Betty asked. “It’ll give you a chance to meet Doris. I know you’ll like her. Besides, I can use some help carrying this stuff.”
“Okay,” Amber said. “Do you take food to her all the time?”
“Not usually,” Betty explained. “Doris injured her back a few days ago, and she can’t get around too well right now.”
“How sad,” Amber said. “She’s lucky to have a good friend like you. Are you bringing her chocolate chip cookies?”
“Not for Doris,” Betty said seriously. “She has diabetes.”
“That’s awful!” Amber exclaimed.
“She’s had it for a long time,” Betty assured her. “She’s really healthy otherwise.”
“I meant it’s awful that she can’t have chocolate chip cookies.”
“Oh, I see,” Betty said. “But you can still have some when we get back.”
Doris Duncan’s house was neat as a pin and filled with beautiful green plants. Tiny little figurines sparkled on glass shelves in her very tidy living room. Doris was stretched out on the sofa in her robe but sat up when they arrived, which obviously caused her some pain. It was her daughter Lisa who let them in. She had come to take care of her mother for the weekend.
“They brought you some food, Mom,” Lisa said. “I’ll put it in the refrigerator for you.”
Betty introduced Amber, and the two of them sat down in chairs across from the sofa.
“How are you feeling today?” Betty asked.
“A little better,” Doris said. “The doctor told me it will take a few months before I’m back to my old self.”
“That’s too bad,” Betty responded. “How did you hurt your back?”
“The usual way,” Doris explained. “Trying to reach something on an upper shelf. I hadn’t cleaned up there for a while.”
“I’ve told you before,” Betty scolded, “dust that is out of sight should be out of mind.”
“I can’t help it,” Doris said. “I like a clean house.”
“Amber here might be able to help you while you’re laid up.” Betty nodded in Amber’s direction. “She and two of her friends just started a club to help seniors. What do you call yourselves?”
“We’re the Happy Helpers,” Amber said. “But we really haven’t helped anyone yet. You could be our first though.”
“I’m sure I’ll be able to keep up with things.” Doris grimaced as a movement caused her some pain. “I’ll just have to take it easy for a few days.”
Doris and Betty chatted for a while about friends and things that were happening around town. Then Amber and Betty said their good-byes and left. Back at Betty’s house, the two enjoyed some chocolate chip cookies and milk.
“Why doesn’t Doris want us to help her?” Amber asked. “Does she think we’ll break things?”
“She does have a lot of pretty things,” Betty said. “But I don’t think that’s the reason. You have to understand something about seniors. We need to be independent. Sometimes people treat us like we can’t do anything. Sometimes they make us feel like we’re just in the way. Doing things for ourselves is really important.”
“I do understand,” Amber said. “It’s the same way for kids. Sometimes adults treat us like we’re helpless. We may make mistakes, but it’s because we’re still learning. We like to be independent too and show everyone what we can do. That’s what we like most about being Happy Helpers.”
“Just give the seniors some time,” Betty went on. “After they get to know you like I do, I’m sure they’ll ask you for help.”
The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon