As you voluntarily breathe each life-giving breath, you agree with the Creator that you are a work in action. One day rolls into another day, then a month, then a year, then a decade. That seemed to be our lives as Henry and I began our marriage on a Sunday afternoon fifty-two years ago. You know, when you marry, they say you marry the whole family. That was the idea back then; however, I think our grands have a whole new thinking pattern. I watch this generation live their own lives and make their own decisions and wonder why everything we did seemed to be for others in our day. Okay, so I am just wondering!
When I met Henry, he was a good-looking evangelist who was already preaching in other states for different church groups. He drove a 1955 white Chevrolet coupe which was super sporty but totally unreliable. Still made him look good! All the girls in his ministry circle were dreaming about one day becoming his “better half” as everyone called it. If I had ever known that my mom, who was a counselor at the youth camp alongside of him, was telling him what a good catch I would be, I would have died of embarrassment. Anyway, I was already taken and had no interest in someone that I thought was totally wrapped up in himself.
It was amazing when our doorbell rang one day, and Henry was standing at our door. He was just passing through, so he said, on his way to another revival, and thought he would stop by to visit “my parents.” You see, even though the world was not as connected as it is today, we both moved in different circles. I was employed by the local newspaper as the Event Editor and Photographer, so I loved my job. Henry was traveling full time as an evangelist so he was back and forth to other states for weeks at a time. I really thought I was somebody because I carried a press pass and could follow any ambulance or police car and I lived on adrenaline. Then this gorgeous young man stepped through my door.
It’s funny how we both danced around the idea of even being attracted to each other and yet we missed each other when we were apart. And, anyway, I had another life and a boyfriend that had been in my life for several years. It’s just crazy how, when your life begins to change, everything changes in it. Even my relationship with my steady was on shaky ground, but I had always watched it level out as we were able to talk. However, during this season, it seemed as though the talking would not begin. Later, my mom would confess that she prayed continually for me to understand that God was in the midst of this confusion. She knew in her heart that Henry was the one for me. I told my mom for years, after we married, that she loved Henry as much as I did. True thoughts.
As I said in the beginning, when I accepted Henry as my love, I accepted his entire family. In fact, we were sitting at the Jones family table one night after church when Henry walks into the room and gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him. Even the proposal was a family affair. His dad and mom accepted me as their daughter just as my parents loved Henry as a son. Remember, when you become part of a family, it’s not just the parents you receive but also the siblings.
There were only boys in the Jones’ family, and it was a little confusing to me because Henry had two half brothers and one whole. Henry was the third son and yet was named after his dad. He was so young yet so mature as I watched him thoughtfully watch after his two nephews and niece who also lived in the home. Their home was alert and up by 5 am and people were coming and going throughout the day. To me, it seemed as though they lived in a public hostel because their house was open to friends who needed a place to stay for a while. Henry’s dad had no problem opening his life up to everyone. When I first met Henry, his dad had several beds in one room for those needing a place to stay.
Everything about his life was different from mine. I came from, what I thought, was a together family with the same father and mother. I had an older brother, Rodney, and a younger sister, Pam, and baby brother, Ricky. Dad worked all the time and preached on Sundays. He would come home at 5 pm, eat with the family and then leave to work for several more hours. My dad was a master carpenter so he always had additional jobs that he could do to make necessary money for our little family. He also would hold prayer meetings in homes and even built a church in our community. I was able to visit that church several years ago and was so excited that they still remembered what my dad had done for them.
Henry’s family was what we now call a blended family. His oldest brother, Gene, was from his dad’s first marriage. Henry and Willie were from the third marriage, and David was his mother’s son. We really never even thought about the difference. Everyone just knew they were family.
Of course as of today, Henry is the only remaining sibling alive because his last living brother, David, passed yesterday. David was two years older and always paddled his own boat. The reason I say this is that Henry, his dad and his extended family were preachers or singers and busy in the church world. David lived his life as he pleased and never was intimidated that he was not one of the preachers or even church goers. He was a good ole boy, as we say in the South. Everybody loved him, and he was really a great mechanic even though he never was trained. If you needed help, you could always call on David.
Such a sad day. Because of the Corona Virus pandemic, there will be no funeral. David will be cremated and Rosemary, his wife, will spread his ashes maybe over his mom’s grave. Because my hubby is housebound with Dementia, we will be unable to join in this time of mourning so we mourn alone. RIP David!