On the value of faith through hard times
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Apr 23, 2014 | 63 63 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Many churches will have displays of the beautiful lily, which we call the Easter lily. It always reminds me of the large bed of them in Ma’s back yard which I refer to the kitchen garden. This large area was fenced in keeping chickens and any animal, which might wander in. The big bed of those large white waxy lilies had been there for many, many years. I loved to stick my nose down into the center of the petals and would always get the pollen on my nose.

My Ma was a deeply religious woman though she rarely spoke of her faith. She just lived it. As long as she was able, she and Pa went to church at a little church about two miles away. They went in the old wagon and as the trip became too difficult for her, she went to church in her living room, listening to the sermon from a church in Cadiz. We in the family knew her church time and if we came to see them on Sunday, we would find her dressed in a fresh dress sitting by the radio in deep concentration. We didn’t dare disturb Ma “at church”. She read her Bible often though she said nothing about it. It was just a part of her day.

Knowing how devout Ma was, I have often wondered at her continuing faith considering all the heartache she suffered throughout her life. Ma’s mother was bedfast for most of Ma’s childhood. She suffered a fall while milking and probably broke her hip. She was never able to walk again so Ma’s older sisters did all the work. Ma lived a pretty carefree childhood until she was fourteen when her father woke her one morning to tell her to get up because it was her job now to make breakfast. The last of the older sisters had eloped in the night and now Ma had to be the woman of the house. She told me how she went to her mother’s bed to get instructions on how to cook biscuits that first morning. Always before she had been the dishwasher and was shooed out of the kitchen so she knew nothing of cooking. She had several brothers to wash and iron for now and all the meals to cook, all at fourteen.

Another catastrophe, which nearly broke her heart, was the sudden death of the brother who was just a year older than she. He accidentally shot himself while hunting with some cousins in another county. Ma told me about his body being shipped by train and then her brothers met the train and brought him home in a wagon. This brother had been her playmate all her life and it was a terrible loss for her.

Nursing and caring for her mother was almost a full time job and then cooking and caring for her brothers and her father kept her from having much of a life. Also Ma’s grandmother, her mother’s mother, lived with them. Before she died, Ma’s mother begged her husband to always take care of her mother after she was gone and he promised. Actually he kept his promise and the old lady lived to a very old age.

After her brothers had all left home and her mother had died, Ma’s father remarried. He married a woman much younger than he and there was a lot of dissention in the home since Ma had always been the caretaker and now someone was taking her place.

Eventually my Ma and Pa fell in love and were married and they moved into his mother’s house, which was to be Ma’s home for the rest of her life. However, it was a happy home with Pa’s four sisters and his mother all living together. The sisters divided the work and Ma became the housekeeper, which suited her very well. She was an organized person and the sisters were not. Her mother-in-law loved, with a passion, flowers and plants and that’s about all she did. I imagine that is where Ma got her great love of flowers.

Life went on for Ma and Pa and they had three children. One daughter had a baby, whom Ma raised from an infant. She was raised to consider Ma and Pa her parents. Her name was Glenda and she was four years older than I but we were playmates and I loved her dearly. When she was eleven, she was raped repeatedly for two years. She was threatened with the death of Ma and Pa if she told. It finally came out and it was a terrible time. The man was arrested and eventually went to prison for life. But Ma’s sentence was just beginning. Glenda went to live with her biological mother and stepfather until after the trial and while there, she shot herself to death. My Ma was prostrate with grief and it nearly killed her. She was in bed for several months and I went to stay with her for three months. I was twelve by then. Ma grieved for Glenda’s loss for the rest of her life.

The strangest thing happened to me. I lost all memory of the years I spent with my playmate. I remember only one or two incident out of all those years and I remember seeing her in her casket at Ma and Pa’s old house and that is all. God does work in mysterious ways.

Thank you for the calls. I can be reached at 270-522-3632.
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