A Member of the Family
“Would you come into my office and see me for a minute, Miss Terrell,” I asked Brenda my young secretary.
“Certainly, Dr. Whitehurst,” Brenda replied stepping inside my office.
“Sit down please, Miss Terrell,” I instructed her and she took a seat before my desk. “This isn’t easy for me, Miss Terrell, but I don’t know of any other way to say it to you – I’m going to have to let you go.”
“But Dr. Whitehurst…” she pleaded.
“Now I’m sorry, Miss Terrell, but your work has been sub par since you started, and that mistake yesterday with Mrs. Woods’ insurance forms could cost us a lot of money. I can’t let you continue.”
“But Dr. Whitehurst, I need this job…”
“I know, and I’m sorry. Believe me this is hard for me, I’ve never had to fire anyone before, and I honestly like you Miss Terrell.”
“But then why?”
“I think it was my fault. I wanted to give you a chance, but you just didn’t have the qualifications or the background to work in a doctor’s office. I’m sorry.”
Tears were streaming down her young pretty face.
“I’m going to provide you with a month’s severance,” I continued trying to be soothing to her. “And please use me as a reference – not in a medical office of course. But I think you are an honest and hard worker, and given the right job setting I think you would make a very good employee for someone.”
She was still crying. I handed her some tissue from across my desk.
“You don’t understand, Dr. Whitehurst,” she said blowing into the tissue. “This job was my last chance.”
“A young girl such as yourself has many opportunities in the future.”
“Not me, Dr, Whitehurst. You see I did drugs when I was in high school. I’ve never been to college, and before I got this job I spent a little time in jail.”
“I had no idea.”
“I didn’t want you to know. I lied on my application, and I figured a little office like yours wouldn’t back ground check me.”
“I’m sorry to hear this, Miss Terrell.”
“So you see Dr. Whitehurst, it won’t be that easy for me to find a new job.”
I thought for a moment, looking at her pretty face, long hair and petite figure beneath her conservative office dress. “I can’t let you stay on here, Miss Terrell. In fact, I’ve already arranged for a temp agency to send a girl in to start tomorrow. However, I might be in a position to offer you something else in the way of employment.”
“Does it pay the same,” she said, brightening a little.
“Well I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about pay yet.”
“You see the money you were paying me on this job was enough for me to afford a couple of night school classes at the junior college.”
“I’m not for sure if the new position will pay as much as the old one did,” I said twirling a pen around on my desk top and letting some wild thoughts go through my head. “I was thinking of you coming to my house to work. As you know my wife died a few years ago, I don’t have a maid right now, and I do have three young sons who keep the place in pretty much of an uproar all the time.”
“A maid?” she asked and was shocked. I guess this was too low even for her. “I’ve never done that kind of work before and don’t think I would want to.”
“I didn’t say you would be my maid,” I reiterated, trying to keep her favorable to my offer. “I said you could come and work for me at my home.”
“What would I do there?”
“We wouldn’t call you a maid if that makes you feel any better,” I tried to reassure her, leaning over my desk and looking at her. I didn’t think that she was more than twenty-three or twenty-four. “We do have a lot of chores to be done, and some of it requires general cleaning and pick up of the house, but I would leave that open for negotiation.”
“Actually, I’m not in a position to be choosy about this,” she said and laughed. Her face sparkled when she laughed. “What would my job title be at your house?”
I thought for a moment, quickly discarding several titles that flipped through my mind because they were either too drab for her or too descriptive of what I really hoped she could do for me and my family.
“You could be our Nanny,” I told her.
“A Nanny?” she asked and rather was puzzled at the vague sound of the title. “I don’t know if I would be any better at doing that than I was here in this office.”
“Well we could certainly give it a try if you are willing. Don’t worry, my boys aren’t very young. David is twenty-two and home from college. Steven is twenty and attending the state university but is home on weekends, and Michael is just turned eighteen and will graduate high school later this year.”
“It doesn’t sound like they need a nanny, Dr. Whitehurst.”
“They don’t in the sense that young children need to be taken care of, you are right. But they have… how shall I say… certain needs, and your presence around the house might just be a big help.”
“I suppose I could give it a try. I don’t really have anything to loose, do I?” she was starting to brighten to the idea. She looked at me with big eyes. “You said the pay wouldn’t be as much as I am making now?”
“All güvenilir bahis right, I’ll go you one better,” I said leaning back in my chair and satisfied that I had convinced her. “I’ll pay you the exact same salary you are making now, but if you want I’ll let you come and live in my home and you can live rent and board free. That way you can save up more money for your night courses and your future.”
She smiled warmly, liking this idea. “Oh that would be a big help, Dr. Whitehurst. The place I live in now is a dump, and I have to live with another girl and her boyfriend. They keep me awake all the time with parties and I never feel like any of the place is really my own.”
“I’ll give you one of the spare rooms in our house. It won’t be very big, but the closet space is adequate and while you are there you can consider the house as your own.”
“Thank you, Dr. Whitehurst,” she said fully accepting my offer now. “You have been awfully nice to me. I know I didn’t do a good job as your secretary, and for you to give me another chance like this is really wonderful of you.”
“Tomorrow is Saturday,” I said starting to plan things ahead in my mind. “Why don’t you pack up your things and come on over sometime tomorrow morning. You can meet the boy’s and get the grand tour of the house. Do you have the address?”
“Yes, it’s on your business card,” she said getting up to leave, and now there was a smile on her face. “My, that’s an awfully nice area of the city. I think I’m going to like living out there.”
I came across from my desk and shook hands with her. “We’ll love having you, Miss Terrell. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”
Saturday morning was a bright and sunny day. The weather was just about perfect for that time of the year, and it was a good day for yard work. Most of the neighbors I had on my suburban block were out mowing the lawn or watering the bushes, or a sundry other lawn and garden work.
Miss Terrell arrived right at Nine AM sharp. She drove a ten-year-old car that had a large dent in the right front side. When she got out she was carrying a single bag and I gathered these were all her worldly belongings.
“Welcome to my home, Miss Terrell.”
“Thank you, Dr. Whitehurst.”
“Here, let me take your bag from you.”
I led her inside the front door. She was looking around at everything I had as if this were wonderland. She looked very young and fresh, wearing a nice skirt that went to just the appropriate length.
“Now I want you to consider this as your own house,” I told her as we walked in the front door.
“Oh your house is fantastic, Dr. Whitehurst!”
“Thank you. My house is large because of the boys. We need a lot of space. My back yard is a half-acre, sometimes it’s a headache to keep it up and my late wife planted a garden back there. I try and keep that up as well.”
She looked around her like a little girl at a candy store.
“There are five bedrooms and five and a half baths. This is the living room in here, but we don’t use it much anymore. When my wife was alive we use to do all of our formal entertaining in here. The den is in the back of the house, and we have a finished basement the boy’s have set up an all purpose game room in.”
I showed her through the house, and took her around to the back stairway that led up from the kitchen.
“The front stair case is just for show, the boy’s and I always use the one around here in the kitchen,” I told her as I started to climb the stairs with her following behind me. “All of the bedrooms are upstairs. One of the rooms is on the third floor. That’s David’s room. Since he’s the oldest we let him get the best spot.”
I led her down the small hallway that curved about all the bedrooms on the second floor.
“Your room will be down here at the end of the hall. Don’t worry; you’ve got your own bath room so you won’t have to wait to take a shower in the morning.” I opened up the door and ushered her inside.
“We don’t have locks on any of the doors. I hope that won’t be a problem.”
“Oh, no everything is just great,” she was very happy. I could tell this and it made me feel happy also.
“This is your room. The bathroom is over there, and the closet space is big just as promised,” I said setting her bag down and opening up the closet for her inspection. She looked inside and clearly approved of it.
“Your view overlooks the garden. It isn’t much, but on a nice day you can open this window and get a pretty nice breeze going.”
She was clearly overwhelmed by everything in my home, and I was glad to see her reaction.
“This is just too much, Dr. Whitehurst. I don’t know what to say.”
“You’ve already said thank you and that’s all you need to say.”
“We still haven’t talked about my job,” she said and now there was a trace of concern in her voice. “You are giving me so much here, I feel as if I need to do something fantastic to earn all that you’re giving me.”
“We can start off by introducing you to my sons.”
“Oh yes, I’d like that. Are they here now?”
“I türkçe bahis think David is up in his room. Steven is expected to arrive back from college later this afternoon if he wasn’t out partying too much last night, and Michael is out at a friends house now but should be back in a couple of hours.”
“You know I never had a family when I was growing up,” she told me looking down to the carpeting. “I grew up in about six different foster homes. A place like this has been my dream since before I can remember anything else. Thanks again.”
“Please consider the boy’s and me as your family now, Miss Terrell.”
“I will. You are my first family,” and there were tears running down her face.
I was touched but a bit embarrassed and so I began to take my leave. “I’ll give you some time to get unpacked and settled. Then whenever you are ready just come on down stairs and I’m sure some of the boy’s will be around by then and you can meet them.”
“Thank you, I will.”
I closed the door behind me and left her to herself.
Back down in the kitchen David had finally gotten up and was pouring himself some cereal at the kitchen table. His hair was disheveled from sleep and he wore torn old sweat pants and a T-shirt.
“Hey dad,” he greeted me with a voice still weary from sleep.
“Good morning, David,” I said in an unusually cheery voice. This brought a look from David. “Today’s the big day. She’s here already and upstairs settling into her room.”
“I still don’t understand why we need this girl to work here, dad?” he asked me, spilling some of his cereal on the tablecloth.
I didn’t really know how to respond to this yet. All though I had some ideas I wasn’t ready to share them with my son. “She’ll do fine,” I told him not really answering his question. “I like helping out a young girl who has not had the same advantages we’ve had in life.”
“But dad,” David pleaded with me. “You said yourself she was about as smart as a ball of hair. She trashed your office and cost you a few thousand dollars with the insurance company. What do you think she’s going to do around here?”
“Give her a chance, will you David?” I asked him “This might be a good opportunity not only for Miss Terrell, but also for us.”
“Whatever, dad,” he said giving me that look that said we were a generation apart and he didn’t really get my meaning but would accept it anyway because I was his dad and he was still living at home in my house.
I poured myself some orange juice and set down at the table with him. “I hope you’ll trust me on this one, David. I have some ideas about Miss Terrell, but rather than tell you everything right now I’d rather just sit back and see how it plays out. You haven’t seen Miss Terrell yet,” I added as some extra bate for him.
“All right, dad. You know best.”
“I have a good feeling about this one, David.”
“You are the man, dad!”
About two hours passed. David and I were out on the porch behind the family room. The porch was glassed in and was like an extension to the house. David and I were starting to watch a college football game on the cable. It was just afternoon, and I had broken out my first beer of the weekend and felt relaxed and comfortable.
Miss Terrell came out to join us. I could see she was still a little hesitant to walk through our house even though I had told her to think of it as her own.
“There you are!” I greeted her. She had changed into a pair of shorts and a pink sleeveless top. “This strapping young man over here is my oldest son David.”
David got up from where he was laying on the couch and shook hands with her. They smiled at each other. The situation was a little awkward.
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Terrell,” David said, turning on his best manners.
“Hi David. I’ve seen your picture a lot. Your dad has it sitting on his desk at work.”
“Is that the one where I was ten years old and in Little League?”
“Yeah, I think.”
“God, dad’ll never get that out of his head,” David said laughing. “He was our coach back then and took us to our championship game only to get thrown out of the game for arguing with two of the other parents. I think he was the only parent in the history of the game who got kicked out of a Little League game.”
“All right – all right,” I said throwing up my hands. “I wasn’t the greatest coach of all time, but you kids won that game and that’s all that mattered. That was a proud moment in my life.”
“So you are going to be living here with us now?” David asked her.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’m going to work here. Your dad still has to tell me what my responsibilities are going to be.”
“Hey, you can make my room every day,” David put in but more for humor.
“I don’t think so,” I said nipping that idea in the bud. “You can keep making your own room unless you want to hire someone to do it for you. Miss Terrell and I still have to discuss her specific job duties.”
I asked her if she’d like something to drink or maybe a bite of lunch. All she wanted was a Diet Coke, which I was able to serve her. güvenilir bahis siteleri I explained to her that there was another television set in the den and so if she didn’t like football she could get any of the over two hundred channels we had access to on the big screen TV in the den. She declined the offer and set on the porch with us and watched the first half of the game.
By half time Steven had let himself in through the side entrance off the garage. My second son came up the little stairwell and plunged through the den and out to the porch to see where all the family activity was.
“Hey Steve!” both David and I greeted him as he came in with an overnight bag slung over his shoulder.
“Hey guys,” he said, but his eyes were riveted onto Miss Terrell.
“Steven, I’d like you to meet Miss Brenda Terrell. She will be living here at the house with us, and working for me,” I said introducing the two.
Steven was more of the computer geek type, and didn’t always have the best of manners. He just stood and stared at the pretty girl sitting with his brother and me.
“It’s nice to finally meet you Steven,” she told him. “Your dad has told me a lot about you.”
“You were his secretary, huh?” Steven asked.
“That’s right,” she said looking down at the bad memory of getting fired by me on the previous day. “I’m going to try and do a better job here with you guys than I did at the office. I’m still a little worried about it because your dad hasn’t explained to me what he wants me to do for him just yet.”
“Jesus Christ! You are hot!” Steven complimented her.
“Thank you,” she said and I thought she was going to blush.
“Nice move bringing her here, dad,” Steven said to me, and then was off to unpack his bag upstairs in his room.
“You’ll have to overlook Steven sometimes,” I told her. “He’s the family Einstein but has an unfortunate habit of always saying what’s on his mind.”
She just laughed, and I could tell she didn’t mind at all. In fact, I think she was happy that her “Hot” looks as Steven had termed it had been brought to attention. She was after all a young girl and probably liked a compliment as well as the next girl did.
“Can I go out to the kitchen and make us some lunch?” she asked as the second half of the game was kicking off.
“I didn’t think you knew how to cook, Miss Terrell?” I asked as I watched an eighty yard run down the field called back because of a holding penalty.
“Well I don’t,” she admitted. “But I can learn, and I want to start helping out with something.”
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t think cooking will become a part of your duties,” I told her. “You’re doing fine. Just relax and enjoy your new home and your new family.”
When the game reached the two minute warning my youngest boy Michael came in from the back door and tramped through the kitchen. He didn’t come out to check on us right away, but we heard him messing around fixing himself a snack in the kitchen.
“That would be Michael,” I informed Miss Terrell. “Michael – come on out here!” I yelled back through the house to him.
“What is it, dad?” came his reply yelled back at me through the house.
“I want you to meet someone!”
It still took Michael a few minutes, but at last he came out to the porch room with David, Miss Terrell and me. He was a big kid and looked more like his mother than me. I had been concerned about his weight problem since he had started high school four years before. He also had developed a problem with acme, and wore his hair unfashionably long.
“I’d like you to meet Miss Terrell, Michael. She is going to be living with us, and will be doing some work for me.”
“Hi there,” my husky son gave her a wave.
“Nice to meet you, Michael.”
“Now you have finally met my whole tribe. I hope they haven’t scared you off yet?”
“No, Dr. Whitehurst. You have a wonderful family. You should be very proud.”
“As a matter of fact when these guys are on their best behavior I am kind of proud of them sometimes.”
Michael gave a sideways glance at the young girl seated in our porch room and then left to take his lunch meat sandwich upstairs to his bedroom. David, Miss Terrell and I finished watching the college football game, and our team won by a last second field goal. The afternoon came to an end, and the evening began to progress from there.
Dinner in our house had not been much of an occasion since the death of my wife three years earlier. We all ate at our own times and in our own places, and fixed ourselves whatever was available in the freezer and the cupboards.
Steven and Michael did their own thing for supper that night, with Steven going out with some of his old friends from high school, and Michael taking some leftovers up to the TV set he had in his bedroom.
David and I made a casserole. It wasn’t very good, but we normally settled for our own cooking rather than going for fast food all the time as the two younger boys did. Miss Terrell bagged to help us make it, but I rejected all of her pleas and told her to go into the den and turn on the giant screen TV and find something good that she liked to watch. That was the least I could do for her after she had endured the football game with David and I all afternoon, and I don’t really think she liked football.