For Mother’s Day yesterday, I got a chance to share something from my mother’s cookbook with you all. Today, May 11th, I wanted to share another piece of writing from another woman that’s been a huge influence in my life. I wanted to share something written by my grandmother, Iva Harris Wright. She is the most remarkable woman and is someone I respect and admire greatly. She has a great sense of strength and faith that I have striven to emulate in my life. I can’t say enough good about her.
Over the last two days I have had ample opportunity to think of my grandmother for a number of reasons. Obviously, yesterday was Mother’s Day and mothers and grandmothers readily spring to mind. Today is another notable occasion but one that is not so obvious. Today is the 39th anniversary of my grandfather’s passing.
Since I was still a month away from being born at the time, I did not get a chance to know him. But, because of my grandmother’s love and respect for him, shown through all the stories she has told me about him, I am sure that he was a great man and I regret that I shall not have the chance to know him personally.
The one thing that strikes me when I hear my grandmother speak of him is that she still, after 39 years, misses him daily. I know that today he is on her mind as he is every day. So I think of her and how she’s been without her husband for 39 years and I hate that she is lonely for him. I cherish every moment I have with her and hope there are many more to be had but I know that I will be smiling when God calls her home, knowing that she is finally reunited with the man she’s missed all these years.
The piece below is from a collection of verse my grandmother has written since she moved into the Cypress Glen Retirement home in 1993. It is about her life with my Pappa (paw-paw), Reverend Carl Wright.
His Guiding Hand
It came about so gradually,
I really could not tell
Just when it started happening,
But I recall it well.
It was, I know, soon after
My graduation day,
My life was full of happy plans.
All seemed to go my way.
And then one Sunday morning,
Dressed neat, in coat and tie,
A young man sat before me.
Who could he be, thought I?
With dignity and reverence
He sat that summer day,
While others who were near me
Were whispering away.
His hand lay very quietly on
The backrest of the pew,
And somehow there, it spoke to me
Of character and devotion, too.
Before long, he was coming to
Our evening Epworth League.
We thought it very nice of him;
He was helpful, we agreed.
We found he was a hometown boy
Who’d spent his recent summers
As counselor of boys at Camp Cosby
And was hoping to help others.
He’d finished at Birmingham Southern
And was looking for work to do,
But because of those depression days,
There were no jobs to do.
The meantime, we took advantage
Of his willingness and skill
By making him our president,
But a vice-president was needed still.
Well, I was the one elected, and
Luckily we had to meet
Quite often, so it seemed to me,
For program planning each week.
We worked together also at
Our Summer Institutes,
Gathering food from farmers nearby
To feed the hungry groups.
And more and more I noticed that
He sought to be with me.
He also asked if he could have
The pleasure of my company.
He said, “Am I too old for you?”
“Well,” I said, “Not at all.”
So we began a courtship that
Blossomed on into the fall.
My plans for going to college soon
I realized could not be.
My father could not find the funds
To pay my bills and fees.
There were no jobs available,
No scholarships – how sad.
What disappointment was in store
For those lovely plans I’d had.
But when Carl said, “I love you.
I need you. Marry me.”
His plans became my own plans, and
Where he went, I’d be.
By this time, Carl had realized-
No longer could he delay-
He would say “yes” to God’s clear call,
That call he would obey.
We were married at the parsonage
By our dear pastor friend.
There ceremony was a simple affair,
But we were joined then.
We had to wait for several months
For Conference in the fall.
Then, if things went as we hoped,
We would receive our call.
My father’d retired from his postal job
And was seeking work to do.
He rented a nearby truck farm, and
He needed Carl’s help too.
My parents asked if we could stay
Until our call came through,
And get the farm in readiness;
There was much work to do.
During the summer, we were asked
To preserve all food and meat
To help us through the winter months
So we’d have plenty to eat.
There were more than a hundred peach trees,
Two acres of strawberries, too,
Plus other vegetables and fruits.
We canned sausages ready to use.
Finally, the waiting was over.
The Bishop let us know
That we were to serve a mining town-
Cordova, our first place to go.
We were so thrilled about our church,
We danced all over the room,
Then hurried home to spread the news,
And pack to move on soon.
We were given a small apartment there,
Not a big, old empty place.
‘Twas fine for us – just large enough,
Except for shared bathroom space.
The church was full of children, and
They needed a younger man,
So we felt we had been sent to a place
Where we would fit right in.
That year, it passed so quickly, and
We saw much poverty.
For the miners were on strike, you see,
And suffering desperately.
Then in the Christian Advocate,
Carl saw an interesting note –
A couple were being sought to serve
An island church, they wrote.
The church was on Harker’s Island,
Up on the N.C. Coast.
It sounded exciting, so we sent
The information needed most.
The forms were sent, but not returned.
Our decision? What should we do?
Should we leave the little church we loved
And take on something new?
Later on the Bishop said,
“Harker’s Island has been taken;
But just across the water there,
Marshallberg’s church is waiting.”
When this door was opened to us,
We followed our hearts and prayed.
We would leave our mountain homeland for
The land of sea and spray.
That seaside town was quite different,
The food cooked a different way;
The talk, it was not our talk,
But we could all sing God’s praise.
So the Alabama mountain’s folk
Met the Carolina shore,
And we started our life of moving around
And really stopped no more.
It was not long ’til we were blessed
With two little daughters, sweet,
Then two fine sons, so welcome,
To make our home complete.
The children brought real joy to us,
Through all their growing days;
And just when they had flows the nest,
God called Carl home to stay.
Today, I am remembering
The day God guided me
To recognize in Carl’s strong hands
The things a mate should be.
How very fortunate we were,
To have our thirty-six years;
Some easy times, some hard times, and
Some laughter through our tears.
When we began our life as one
We struggled in many a way;
But all of it was rewarding, and
It brings me happiness today.
“All along my pilgrim journey,
I want Jesus to walk with me.”