Lori’s blog got me to thinking. Having no siblings, I never had to deal with tormenting from an older one or nuisance from a younger. It was the ultimate impoverishment of my formative years. But having been so impoverished, I was highly privileged in many other ways.
First there was Attitie. Actually her name was Ethel, but my infant tongue could not manage Aunt Ethel, so she became Attitie. She was a devout Christian. One of my earliest memories (I had to be less than three) is singing with her to the theme song of the Old Fashioned Revival Hour on the radio. Her radio was cathedral shaped and stood on a three-legged table on the east wall of their living room.
We’d end the song with “Hallelujah, Jesus is mine.” And then we’d argue back and forth.
‘No, he’s mine…’ At that age I didn’t realize he could belong to both of us.
Then there was Doctor. He was H. W. Graves, community physician for the rural town in which I was reared. He attended my birth, stood as godfather at my infant baptism in the Lutheran Church, and functioned as my surrogate father til we lost him my senior year in high school.
My current library is filled with books of faith and inspiration which he inscribed “To Judith, date, name of occasion, with love, Doctor.” He constructed a scrapbook for me on my twelfth birthday. It fills a three-ring binder with snippets of inspiration and teaching that he culled from his reading. And most importantly, it contains some poems which he wrote – just for me personally. The opening is:
You’re twelve years old today, dear. / And I’m past seventy-three. / It’s back to back we’re dreaming / But it’s different things we see…
It goes on to say that I look at a golden sunrise and an earthly future. He looks at a golden sundown and an eternal future.
Much of who I am today is due to his love and nurture and teaching. I thank God that he put Doctor in my life.
I thought all children knew this kind of love and caring. When it dawned on me many years later that my childhood experiences were not typical, I was aghast. I saw people I knew and cared about be devastated by the loss of a family member. A person I thought knew Christ as I did lost a sibling. Of course, it was a grievous time, but the grief and hopelessness I saw called forth the words of Paul:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV)
I knew this dear soul needed a closer walk with the Lord, but I did nothing to help that along – unless you count my prayers.
Years later, my family was hit with a tragedy that made headlines for a year. In the aftermath, people commented to me “You’re so strong” and “I don’t see how you do it.” In fact, I’m not particularly strong. I simply know where to lean and that makes me look strong. But I was convicted to share the power that keeps me going in the face of destruction.
That is why I write – and why I speak to women’s groups about forgiveness, healing, getting closer to God and intercessory prayer.