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THOSE BIG WHITE GATES


I decided to drive through the Children's Home Society Orphanage where I had been raised as a child. Upon entering the gates, I was quite surprised to see nine or t10 large tables set up at one of the dormitories. As I rounded the large grass circle in the center of the orphanage grounds, I could see that the kids were having a garage sale.

"How could this be? The orphanage would never allow such a thing." I thought.

A garage sale would mean that those who lived in the outside free world would be allowed to enter the scared grounds of the orphanage and that was impossible.

I turned off the street, pulled over to the side and parked. I stepped out placing my left foot onto the white rock road – a rough, white, rocky road which had scared my arms and legs for life, because of the many times I had been dragged by the arms or legs to visit the head matron, Mrs. Mayme Winters, for a beating.

I closed the car door and walked towards the garage sale. I never blinked my eyes. For some reason, I felt it necessary to watch and protect myself at all times. It is amazing how that feeling came back over me after being gone from this place for more than 35 years. Slowly, I walked along the tables, each strewn with broken items.

"Would you like to buy something?" asked a young girl.

"What made you kids decide to have a garage sale?" I asked.

"We are trying to raise the money to go to Disney World," said the girl.

"Do you live here?" I asked.

There was no answer - not even a sound came from her lips.

"Do you live here?" I asked again.

Again there was not a word.

I looked up from the table and stared directly into the eyes of the girl. She could not have been any more than 11 or 12 years of age. Not a sound came from either one of us. We just stood there staring directly into one another's eyes. Within less than 10 seconds, I saw a tear run down her cheek and fall onto the table.

"I lived here for more than 10 years," I said.

The girl raised her hands over her face, turned around with her back facing me and began to cry.

"Can you help me run away from here?" she asked.

I just stood there not knowing what to say.

"Please help me get away from this place," she begged as she turned back around.

Two girls came running up to the table and asked the girl if she was all right. The girl said something to the two girls, which I did not hear clearly. The three girls then just stood there looking at me. I could see in all three of their faces that same loneliness and sadness I always felt inside myself, because of living in that terrible place. The four of us just stood there not saying a word. I could feel my eyes filling with water and then I turned away.

I walked over and I started my car. As I drove back through the large white gates with six-foot-high metal fences all around. I remember thinking how sad it was that those three girls, just like I had done, were always thinking, every minute of every day, year after year, that happiness could be found just outside those big, white gates.

I myself had driven there that day, after being gone for 35 years, just to see if I could find happiness somewhere inside those big white gates. It was the only place I ever knew as ‘my home.’ A place where I had lived as a little boy, for more than 10 years without a mother and father to love me.

I just did not have the heart to tell those girls I was never able to find happiness outside the big, white gates - that after living in an orphanage and never learning how to love, that happiness could not be found. Not even outside in the ‘free world.’


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