We learn about life through our parents and the world around us. We don’t understand it yet, but eventually through a child’s eyes we see things in a different way, more innocuous, exciting and bewilderment. Every day is wonderland and we are intrigued, it’s like Christmas, never knowing what to expect. We wake up to a new day, everything is fresh and shiny and we are hopeful.
Marigold was very much a curious child, she was hopeful, even when she had seen better days, she knew tomorrow would be even more fantastic. Mona reminded her, it was how she undertook the day was how life presented itself. Marigold remembered that.
“Smile,” Mona would say, “things will be brighter, don’t smile, and life would look as upside down as how you feel.”
Mona had the ‘joie de vivre’, she smiled more, she laughed more, she found life exciting and made everyday a joy to live. Mona made everything fun, there was never a plain day, and one day was never the same as yesterday. Marigold easily forgave her when she sometimes succumbed to her illness. Because when Mona got better she returned with vigor and joy. Marigold loved her dearly and Mona made her into a happy child that she became to be. They cared for each other, and honored each other, accepting of who they were. They overlooked their faults and cherish each day. Many wondered if Mona had made Marigold or was it Marigold that made Mona. They both provided something special to the relationship, most couldn’t figure what that was.
But one day, something disrupted their idyllic life. There was a knock on the door, a man, came and spoke to Mona. Marigold couldn’t hear. The stranger told Mona he was Marigold’s father. Marigold hid under the bed not wanting to see the unhappy presence that dominated Mr. Tempest face. Marigold was not bold enough to face him. She did not want to go back.
But this man was not Mr. Tempest, his name was Mr. Otto III, a tall man, with a round belly, twinkling eyes, and jolly demeanor. He was a handsome devilish man, even with his belly jiggled when he laughed, he was alluring. He had blond hair and bright blue eyes that seem to draw you into him. He was charming, as Mona later narrated to Marigold. He was affable, charismatic and spoke with a strange German accent. He was dressed in the most fashionable suit and tie, and spoke like someone who was highly educated.
What did he want? Marigold thought. Mona explained that he was looking for a child, a little girl, about Marigold’s age and description. He had been looking far and wide and was told about Marigold. But Mona didn’t believe he was looking for her. Mr. Otto insisted Marigold be tested and if the child was not his, Mona would be rewarded for her troubles. Their barren cupboards, and ever diminishing money woes would at least be taken care of, but Mona was hesitant. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Mona cherished Marigold above money, and wondered if Mr. Otto would take her away.
With so much to think about, Mona had Marigold tested, but before the results could be known, Mona vanished along with the child. It was another year before Mr. Otto came knocking on Mona’s door. He wanted to see his child, the test had confirmed it, but Mona was not having it. Mr. Otto knew very well knew that Mona was not the child’s mother, indeed there was a dilemma. Mr. Otto could have called the authorities, but Mr. Otto was kind and patient and reassured Mona he just wanted to meet the girl. Mona, wasn’t certain, but she couldn’t deny the child of its father and the father from it’s child.
Marigold wasn’t going to be fooled. She already had a father, Mr. Tempest was his name, she was sure of that. But Mr. Otto said her mother’s name, only she and Mona knew Mrs. Tempest. Mr. Otto had known about the child’s birth, but by the time he came searching she was gone. He wanted to be sure she was his child. He promised to not take her away if Mona let him see the girl.
Mona resigned and let Mr. Otto meet her. He was very well delighted in the girl, and spent time with her. He didn’t stay long and soon left. A few months later he returned with gifts for her and Mona, at first he spent a day with Marigold. Then he begin to spend a weekend. Then it turned into a week, and eventually a month. Mona was beside herself when Marigold was absent. She loved that child and recognized how Marigold was more important to her more than she had realized.
Mr. Otto was an astute man and was aware of Mona’s meager wealth, and helped her when her rent was six months behind and her bills were unpaid. He filled the cupboard with food, gave her money for her toiletries, fabric for clothes, and one could say, their needs were met. He kept his promise and never took the child away from Mona. He didn’t have the time to care for a child, he was a busy salesman and traveled quite frequently was the real reason. Mona was still uncertain of Mr. Otto, and distrusted his intentions, but there was nothing she could do, but take a step back and let Mr. Otto spend time with Marigold.
Marigold adored Mr. Otto, and always had a lovely time with him. She ate many kinds of goodies she never had before, until she could not eat no more. He gave her presents, new dresses, not as beautiful as the ones Mona made, but they were the best, he would say. He gave her dolls, and other toys she simply didn’t know what to do with. She had been raised around adults that toys were child’s play to her. She told him she didn’t play with toys and he was surprised to hear that. Children play with toys, he thought, but Marigold was not interested and preferred the company of adults.
He liked not having to raise a child and didn’t treat her like one, and the two became compatible companions. Marigold was easy to get along with, she was always agreeable even when she didn’t want to be. Mr. Otto was a kind man, very patient and calm tempered, but he was not Mona, and when Marigold returned to her, she was happy to be home.
“It’s better to get along,” Mona would repeat in her Hungarian accent, “than to make things uncomfortable.”