Knock, knock, knock! Rosie stood beside her mother in front of the big, gray door and listened. Yes, Mrs. Walker was in. As the slow shuffling of feet came near, Rosie clutched the basket in her hand and smiled in excitement. Mama had packed it with strawberry jam, fresh bread, and a card for the elderly neighbor.
The door opened and a sad face peered out at them. “I knew you haven’t been well, so we brought you a little something,” Mother said, cheerily. Mrs. Walker smiled a little as Rosie held out the basket.
“Do come in,” she said in a quavery voice. “My rheumatism’s been awful bad and I can hardly get about. Do come in, for it is so nice to see you.”
Rosie followed her mother into the kitchen and set the basket on the counter. There were dishes piled into the sink and crumbs on the floor. The smell of rotten apples came from a box in the corner and Rosie wrinkled her nose.
“Haven’t been able to keep things up,” Mrs. Walker muttered as she shuffled over. “You made the bread, dear? How nice.”
Mother had been baking all morning, but she only said, “And the children made the card.” Then she looked around at the dirty room and turned to Rosie. “Could you run home and bring back our cleaning kit, dear?” Rosie nodded and was off in a flash.
Mrs. Walker was sitting in her easy chair when Rosie came back. Mama was fixing her something to drink. “Rosie, would you please dust around the living room a bit?” she asked, as Rosie lugged the kit into the kitchen. “I’ll just clean up these dishes and sweep the floor.”
It was fun cleaning house for someone else for once. Rosie ran the cloth over the side table and lamp. Mrs. Walker was shutting her eyes, so she tried to be as quiet as a mouse. She dusted the shelves carefully. They were full of pictures and books and little glass bells. One bell rang as Rosie lifted it and the old lady opened her eyes. Rosie smiled and Mrs. Walker said, “How sweet of you, honey, to be so helpful like that.” Rosie went on dusting, and humming as she went.
When Rosie had finished shining the windows, Mrs. Walker called to her. “Honey child, can you reach that cupboard there? Just take down that box of chocolates. I want you to have them for being such a good helper.”
“Oh, thank you!” Rosie said, smiling brightly as she held the little box. It was covered with red and yellow roses and inside there were eight pieces of chocolate. She shut the lid carefully and tucked it under her arm to take home.
“Are you going to share them with everyone at supper?” Mother asked as they walked down the sidewalk together.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Rosie. She had never had a box of chocolates all to herself before. “Maybe I’ll save them for sometime special.”
“That was a very kind gift of Mrs. Walker. You may do what you want with them.” Mother smiled, but it was a tired sort of smile.
They were on the front porch now and Rosie burst through the door. Irene was sweeping in the kitchen and as Rosie darted past toward her room there was a loud CRASH!
“Oh, do be careful!” Irene cried. Rosie turned to see Mama’s pot of African violets smashed on the floor. Mother stood in the doorway, but she wasn’t smiling now.
“I—I’m sorry,” Rosie said, looking down. Mother set down the cleaning kit and knelt to lift the broken plant from the floor. It didn’t look very bad, Rosie thought, but the floor was a mess. “I’ll clean up,” she said quickly.
“You look tired,” Irene added. “Just go rest, Mama. And Rosie, you watch the little ones while I sweep up.” So Mother sat down in the easy chair and Rosie quietly put her chocolates away. Emma and Kyle wanted to see what she had gotten, but Rosie told them to wait until later.
“Let’s go outside awhile,” she said. “It’s not too cold.”
“But I want Mama to read to me,” said Emma, pulling out her favorite book. “Can’t you Mama? Please?”
“But she’s tired,” Rosie said quickly.
Mother opened her eyes and held out her hand. “Not too tired for my little Precious. I’ve been busy all day, haven’t I? I think we can read a little while now.” Emma crawled up on her lap and snuggled close.
“Do you get tired of me?” she asked, patting Mama’s cheek.
“No, dear. God has given me my strength and time, and I’m glad to spend it for my family. That’s what mothers are for. Take Kyle out for a little if you want, dear,” she said to Rosie.
That’s what mothers are for, Rosie repeated to herself, as she pushed her little brother on the swing. She thought of how patient her mother was. And Irene, too. I’ll try to be more helpful and kind, Rosie thought. I’m really sorry I broke the flower pot. Maybe I can buy Mama a new one.
Now Kyle wanted to play with his toy cars on the slide. Zoom, zoom, zoom! Rosie was thinking of how much money she had saved when suddenly Kyle burst into tears. His favorite car was missing and Rosie couldn’t find it anywhere.
“Let’s go inside now,” she said at last. It was getting dark and Kyle’s little hand felt cold in hers. He was still sad about the lost car when she helped him wash his hands. “It will be okay, buddy,” she said. “You can play with your truck inside now.”
Rosie was reaching up for her money jar when she saw the chocolate box. Now she knew why it had been given to her. God let me get it to share. That’s what chocolates are for.
“Kyle, come here,” she called. His little feet came padding into the room. “This is the special box I got today from Mrs. Walker. It has chocolates in it,” she said, opening the lid. “Shall we take it to the table so everyone can have a piece for supper?”
The happy look on Kyle’s face was reward enough for Rosie.