When Sadie was ten years old, her mother ran away with another man and Sadie never laid eyes on her again.
The little girl had to grow up in the blink of an eye and quickly became mother to her three brothers and two sisters. Her father spent more and more time at work, and when he did come home, he was usually drunk.
Sadie cooked and cleaned and went to school and as her brothers and sisters got older, they would put more money into the house, but as for the chores, Sadie was on her own.
One by one, her siblings met their loves and moved out of the house. On the day that her last sister left home, Sadie took off her cook’s apron, packed her bags and walked out of the house for good; leaving her father snoring next to an empty bottle of whisky.
Sadie found work in a café which had a little room and bed on the floor above. One day she met Frank, a man who had been working so hard that he’d never taken time to see how empty his life was. Frank asked Sadie out for a walk one Sunday and every Sunday after that.
One afternoon when the low winter sun was blinding both of them, Frankie got down on one knee and asked Sadie to marry him. Frankie wasn’t sure if it was the strong sunlight which caused the tears to run down his face.
After they married, they moved into a small house on the edge of town. They were never blessed with children but they loved their lives all the same. In the passing years, the town grew and grew until their little home was no longer on the edge.
Frankie would plant his flowers in his garden and when he looked up, several pairs of eyes would be watching from the houses which surrounded him.
Each Christmas Sadie would cook a meal fit for a king, just like the old days when she would have done the same for her family. It would take Frankie and Sadie days to finish off all the food.
On the day that Frankie didn’t come down for his morning cup of coffee, was the day that Sadie found herself alone for the first time in her life. Yet every evening she would still set a place at the table for her and her love, Frankie.
On her first Christmas after Frankie’s death, she once again cooked a meal fit for a king and set the table for the both of them. As she walked back from listening to the school choir singing in town, she saw a young girl sleeping in a corner of an alley. Sadie noticed, sadly, that the girl had a young face and old eyes, and Sadie asked the young girl to come home for a meal.
The young girl wanted to be left alone, but Sadie told the girl where she lived and said she would be welcome anytime.
It was just as Sadie sat down for her first Christmas dinner on her own that there was a knock at the door. Sadie was about to set another place for the young girl called Jessie, but instead Sadie changed her mind and asked Jessie to sit at Frankie’s place. After a wonderful hot meal, both Jessie and Sadie went for a walk and Jessie showed Sadie a place where people slept – people who had temporarily drifted from their paths.
That evening there were fifteen lost souls sitting around Sadie’s table and it made her appreciate that she had a lot to be thankful for.
It also made her think about the old days with her sisters and brothers, and even although it had been hard work, it had been a house full of love. A house full of care.
Sadie realised that there were as many ideas of what made a family as there were people in the world.
bobby stevenson 2015