SOMETIMES I would hear bits and pieces about former foster kids that Hazel had looked after the previous 30 years. I pieced this information together because it gave me context for my own life. These were almost like parables. I could learn from them, or repeat the same mistakes.
Some of the grown up foster kids would visit every now and then.
But it was uncommon.
I heard one horror story about a mother who came to pick up her kids unexpectedly. “Don’t worry kids, nobody will be bothering us any more,” she declared, and the way she said it made Hazel uneasy.
Fortunately the police was able to find the vehicle before the woman gassed her children with car fumes.
Each time I was in a fight with Hazel, I would be assured that I wasn’t the worst kid she’d had. Apparently a foster child I never met by the name of Nathan had the title of most troublesome. This gave me a sense of relief because I knew no matter how out-of-control I was, Hazel would not give up on me.
I wasn’t that bad a kid, she was saying.
I didn’t hear too much about Nathan.
What I did learn was that unlike me he managed to escape the system. He ran away by climbing through the bedroom window one night, and all that remained was a letter declaring his intentions.
“Dear Hazel,” it allegedly said. “I’m off to see the world.”