We have all met people who, in spite of our best efforts, remain difficult to deal with. For the Handy Helpers, that person is Agnes Henry.
Laura and Amber are asked to help Mrs. Henry who is recovering from a broken hip. The girls have had previous experiences with Mrs. Henry and know what they are in for.
“‘Mrs. Henry!’ Amber yelled through the door. ‘It’s Laura and Amber. We came to see if you need any help.’
‘Come on in!’ she yelled back. As the girls opened the door, they heard her say, ‘Might as well. You already woke me up.’ The wrinkled condition of Mrs. Henry’s housedress told Amber and Laura that she really had been sleeping. Her thin white hair was piled up on her head so that it looked like a giant spider had woven its web there.
‘How are you feeling?’ Laura asked, trying not to react to her appearance.
‘I have a broken hip. How do you think I feel?’
‘We were very sorry to hear about your accident.’ Amber hoped she sounded sincere. ‘How did it happen?’
‘It’s a long story,’ Mrs. Henry sighed. Amber and Laura were sure it would be.”
When the girls return to help Mrs. Henry the following week, they take Beth Anne with them. Beth Anne has heard the horror stories about Mrs. Henry and she is reluctant to go, but finally decides that she will be brave.
“Beth Anne remained behind her friends as they knocked on the door at Mrs. Henry’s. Laura and Amber were surprised when the door was opened by a woman who looked like Mrs. Henry, only younger, with dark-brown hair cut in a short bob that framed her cheerful face.
‘We’re here to see Mrs. Henry,’ Laura explained. ‘We’re Handy Helpers. She asked us to come today.’
‘Who is it?’ they heard Mrs. Henry call from inside the house.
‘It’s some little girls, Mom,’ the other woman called back. ‘They said they’re Handy Helpers.’
‘Oh, I forgot I told them to come today.’ Mrs. Henry rolled up in her wheelchair. ‘My daughter Clara is here so I guess you can just go home.’
‘Mom!’ Clara sounded shocked. ‘At least invite them in.’
‘Why? I don’t need any help with you here.'”
Of course, the Handy Helpers do come in, along with Beth Anne. After a short visit, Mrs. Henry goes to her room, claiming to be tired. Laura and Amber remain in the kitchen, talking to Clara, who is concerned about her mother. No one notices that Beth Anne has left, but when they look for her, they find her sitting on Mrs. Henry’s bed, brushing her hair.
‘See,’ Beth Anne was saying, ‘your hair looks just like it did in your picture. It’s so beautiful.’
Mrs. Henry was holding an old photograph in one hand and a mirror in the other hand. ‘No it doesn’t,’ she said. ‘My hair used to be such a lovely dark brown. Mr. Henry loved my brown hair.’
‘But now it looks just like a cloud,’ Beth Anne said sweetly.”
The relationship between Beth Anne and Mrs. Henry continues to develop as Beth Anne encourages Mrs. Henry to get out of the wheelchair and walk. Beth Anne finds a walker that her grandfather used stored in the garage. She brings the walker to Mrs. Henry who after some struggles is able to use it.
Ironically, later in the book, Beth Anne falls and suffers a broken leg. Mrs. Henry sits by her bed every day while Beth Anne is in the hospital. When Beth Anne is home with a cast on her leg, Mrs. Henry shows up with the very same walker. It is Mrs. Henry’s encouragement that gets Beth Anne out of the wheelchair and back on her feet.
The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon