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Greed has horrific expressions but none so despicable as found in the novel Before We Were Yours (2017) written by Lisa Wingate, based upon an actual child trafficking case that continued, undetected, for three decades, until its exposé in 1950.  

The abuse took place at one of the boarding homes of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis, Tennessee; its director, Georgia Tann. Widely touted as the Mother of orphans and unwanted children—even drawing the notice of Eleanor Roosevelt—she was far from that—cunning, manipulative, and money-hungry. Her accomplices were ever on the lookout for stray, unwanted children; lovely ones were ripe for adoption with lucrative fees.

The story stood by itself until the author fleshed it out with Depression-era river-rats snatched from a houseboat moored at Mud Island near the Mississippi River. Only after having been subdued and driven to Memphis were the Foss kids locked inside the sprawling white-columned home, in great disrepair, and forced to comply with the mean-spirited staff, including the sexually abusive janitor, and stinking accommodations. 

Suspense glistens on every page of this novel, Before We Were Yours. Seasonal changes, so integral to the plot, waft authentic colors, smells, and sounds into the southern panorama. Silence has never been more silent, nor sinister. Only an intrepid heart can follow the abrupt emotional and physical changes as the Fosses work out their destiny; their cat-and mouse stratagems with their jailers left me breathless.

Never having been involved with a child-victim of trafficking, I was deeply moved by Lisa Wingate’s brilliant handling of this material. Before We Were Yours is a must read.

At 6 AM., I awoke with this dream:

I’m alone, content. I put my whole heart into singing lullabies until I no longer recall the next verse. Then, I recite nursery rhymes that I remember; their melodies and rhythms and repetitions tinkle, within, like my neighbor’s wind chimes.

A soothing dream, its story is unlike any I’ve experienced. I appear well, having sufficient breath to support both singing and reciting; their rhythms and repetitions lighten and enlarge my world. My bloodshot eyes smile, unlike my usual glum look when alone.

Within my psyche exists a caregiver, intent upon helping me befriend my terminally ill body and relax into each moment, despite death’s shortening them—A unique time in my life, I can only do this once.

But there was a time when I had belted out “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” marveling how the nursery rhyme echoed off the walls of my study. My Pilates coach recommended this practice to increase the stamina and volume in my speech. It worked for a while until, too fatigued, I stopped. 

However, the gift of this morning’s dream implanted these nurturing ditties within my unconscious and reminds to pull one of them out whenever overwhelmed—Like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” reminding me to gently pull for my body needs and access Higher Power’s grace for the next challenge. After all, it’s only a stream…

Father, the hour has come. John 17:1

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