A Lesson to Be Learned

by | May 19, 2009 | Deliverance, Presence, Strength, Trials

I was standing at the foot of my mother’s bed along with my father and my two sisters, watching…. Watching….. watching the pulse in my mother’s neck; watching her life slowly ebb; watching my life end as I knew it. I watched till her heart beat, the pulse in her neck suddenly ceased and thus ending my mother’s life. In a moment of quiet acceptance I felt completely alone. I was never to hear her voice again; never to feel her embrace; never to see her smile; never to hear her laughter again. The feeling of aloneness washed over me, leaving me almost dry; tearing my heart out, yet unable to express my fears, my anguish and grief.

One year later, I was in school. My father was home, sick. A Red Cross worker came to the school and brought me home. The ambulance had come and taken my father to the hospital. Ten minutes after he was admitted, he was taken to a room, placed in a bed; my father sat up, coughed and smiled. He lay back down and his life was extinguished; the candle of his life was extinguished; my father was gone.

In that moment my life of loneliness and sadness and grief became as a book without an end; a continuing story of a life without anyone who could give me the love and affection I so longed for.

After Mom died, Dad got a job at the armory in our home town as a night watchman. He was making a salary larger than any he had ever made before. He got electric lights put in the house; he bought a carpet to go on the floor which we had never had before. At Christmas time he gave my sister and I both five dollars to spend on Christmas gifts. We thought we were rich. Then in March of the following year, 1941 Dad passed away leaving my sister and I orphans.

My parents were not able to show the love and affection to us we so needed. But I knew they loved me. When I was very young, I remember having the measles. I was so sick. My mother rocked me till my fever broke. Through the long night, she rocked me. I knew she loved me. Later when I was approximately four we lived on a farm and did not have running water. The chicken house served as an outhouse. I went into the chicken house one day to go to the bathroom and there were no seats, just the pole that served as the chicken roost. My legs were too short and as I tried to balance on the chicken roost to go to the bathroom, I lost my balance and fell backwards. I can still remember my mother lovingly turning me over her knee and cleaning up my little behind. Without a sound or a murmur, she proceeded to clean me up. She loved me.

When I was five or six years old we had moved from our home on the farm to a rented house owned by the aunt of my sister’s future husband. It was about a city block from our school, which also served as a church. One night when the sermon was particularly long, I lay down on the front pew or seat and fell asleep. Much later I awoke to a very dark and frightening empty building. The church service had ended and they had not realized my whereabouts; being on the front seat, my parents didn’t see me. They just assumed I was with my older sisters and proceeded to walk on down the road to our house.

You can imagine my terror at being left all alone in that building, with no lights and out in the country. There were no phones in our home or in the schoolhouse that I could call for help. I rushed to the door, began screaming at the top of my lungs, “Momma, Momma, Momma.” I began pounding on the door and after what seemed like an eternity, I heard someone at the door.

“Now, now,” the old man said. “Don’t you worry none, child. We will get you home, safe and sound.”

The old man, was Grandpa Ely Frazell who lived up on top of the hill across the valley from the schoolhouse. He was almost deaf and as I recall he used one of those horns people used to put up to their ear to hear what was being said. He was the caretaker of the schoolhouse and he was almost home when he heard me screaming. That, once again was God’s hand on me. Only God could have allowed that deaf old man to hear me when he was almost home.

He had the key and unlocked the door. I was still crying and he put his arm around me and took me by the hand and led me home. My parents had not even missed me yet. They were talking to neighbors and had not paid any attention to the fact that I was missing.

My mother embraced me to comfort me. “Don’t cry,” she said, “you are alright now, safe here in Momma’s arms.” That was the only time I remember my mother putting her arms around me and comforting me, since the episode with the measles.

While I was in the care of my brother he was no different. He was like Mom and Dad. He did not show love or affection for me. He was just there; never giving me advice or counsel except for the familiar phrase or warning, “You’re going to get into trouble”, when I would stay out late at night. But he did the best he knew how. He was in his early twenties and did not ask to be burdened with a teenage sister to bring up. A few years before he died, I finally got him to say “I love you” to me. Every time I would see him, when I was about to leave I told him I loved him. After awhile he began to say it to me.

I have heard people say, if I had my life to live over, I would do things differently. I cannot say that, even though I made some mistakes; if I hadn’t done what I did; if I hadn’t gotten pregnant before I was married, I would not have my lovely daughter. I probably would have had children, but they would not be the same children I now have. How can a person regret something that brought so much joy? I regret the sin, and I have repented of it, I am forgiven. But I certainly don’t regret having my child. I loved my baby girl from the start. She was the most precious thing in my life, besides my husband. I was so proud of her. Today she is still one of the most precious things in my life, one of four, two boys and two girls. But now I have eleven more, most precious things in my life; nine grandchildren and two great granddaughters.

I was not living for the Lord at that time; I didn’t really know what that meant. But I knew right from wrong and I believe God had His hand on me. I just didn’t know it.

This was a traumatic time in my life. I had no one to turn to except my older sister who was neither Godly nor wise. She was a genius at choosing the wrong mate. She was married three times and with the last, the fourth one she was a common law wife. Her counsel was not what a young girl needed, although she tried to help me in her own feeble way. The end result was as stated above, an unplanned pregnancy and an earlier than planned marriage.

Only God could have prevented a tragic end to the mess I had made of my life.

It is not good for a child, girl or boy to feel unloved and inadequate. They will more than likely look for that love in every person they date. So often it happens that they will end up marrying a person who is not in love with them, because of an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy; which more often than not will end up in the divorce courts; children are the ones who get hurt in that instance. Children of divorced parents always seem to feel they are the ones who are the cause of the divorce. It leaves a wounded heart and soul to go through life looking for love, as the song goes, “in all the wrong places.”

There was not a time in my life when I realized I was loved, until I met the Lord of my life, Jesus Christ. His love is all that sustained me many times through the hard times. I believed my parents loved me because they were my parents. Due to my low self worth, I have a hard time to this day believing that anyone loves me. I feel so unworthy. It has gotten better since I began my writing ventures. I have an outlet to relieve the frustrations and disappointments.

When I got married I was assured of my husband’s love. But through the years, the turmoil in our lives and the disagreements caused me to question even his love. After fifty-five years I am quite sure if he didn’t love me, he would have left me long ago.

When we had a weekend place at a lake in Southeast Missouri, we made a habit of stopping in to see my nieces in a town on the way to our retreat. The minute I walked in the door, they threw their arms around me and told me how they missed me. When we left the hugging and kissing would be repeated. I have never known why, but every time I am told someone loves me or when they hug me and kiss me, I get tears in my eyes and get a lump in my throat, having to really struggle to keep from weeping. The only explanation I can think of is that I have needed that all my life and never received it till I was in my fifties. There is nothing in this world that can replace the love of a mother. Nothing can substitute for it. But having it re-enforced by a child, a husband or other loved ones helps a great deal.

It has been very difficult for my children also. My oldest daughter and I have gotten closer in recent years but for a long time, I felt an animosity between us. I believe it is because I had a difficult time letting her know how much I loved her when she was growing up.

Not having a mother to teach me how to be a wife, a mother, how to cook, how to sew, how to keep house, was very difficult for me. I had to teach myself everything. I had to learn to cook by experimentation; learn to sew by doing it and making a lot of mistakes; I taught myself how to crochet, knit and also how to take care of babies. These are things a mother should teach their children. I made a lot of mistakes, but I have learned to do most everything except how to keep a neat and pleasant home. I have never learned how to organize things.

The lesson to be learned from my experiences is that you can never show too much love and affection for your children. No matter what, they need to know you love them. Without that demonstration of love, they will grow up with something missing in their lives; just as I did and as my husband did. We learned from our children how to show love and affection. Our youngest son, by God’s grace became one of the most loving children and taught his father and me to show love. From the time he was a baby he would always give us hugs and kisses at bedtime. It continued even after he was a teenager. Still to this day he hugs and kisses us when we go to see him or when he comes to visit us and again when we part. He never fails to say “I love you” when we speak on the phone or when we part. Only God could have given him that gift because he didn’t learn it from his parents. To the contrary we learned it from him.

But there is only one real source of comfort and help in times of trouble or a troubled mind and that is Jesus Christ our Savior. As the song goes, “Without Him I could do nothing, without Him I’d surely fail, without Him I would be drifting like a ship without a sail.” I don’t always do according to His word, but I know Who my Redeemer is and how to reach Him when I need comfort and forgiveness.

Nell M. Berry nellberry07@comcast.net

Bio: Nell is a mother of four, grandmother of nine and great grandmother of three and one on the way, so far. She enjoys cooking for her family on special occasions, sewing, crocheting and knitting as well as writing poems/song lyrics and short stories. She and her husband of fifty-seven years formerly lived at Mark Twain Lake in Missouri where he pursued his hobby of building furniture. If it can be built from wood, he can build it. He also loves to go fishing and his passion is duck hunting and goose hunting. They both enjoy attending church. They now live in Alabama and attend First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals.


A Lesson to Be Learned