An Extraordinary Birthday Celebration!

4 03 2008

In the past decade my path has crossed with several people that I never expected to see again.  This brings to mind the last words of my post: The House Blessing, Part 4–“to be kind and gentle to all  we meet.”  A last bad word to a person can come back to haunt one. 

A few weeks ago, I received the most unusual invitation to a birthday party.  It was for a man that I had not seen in 37 years.  His wife knew my maiden name and called my brother to ask where I lived.  She was very surprised that I lived in  my hometown.  She called me this past week to ask if I could come to the party.  I wasn’t sure that I could as Jim works each Saturday and Vera’s car was unavailable. (She had left her car in Nashville–while she flew up to visit a monastery in Pennsylvania.)  Needless to say, she was very disappointed.  Her husband had shared many of the stories of our group of young people who enjoyed Christian fellowship with each other.  We went to all kinds of Bible studies, church services, evangelistic meetings, etc together.  Indeed, it was a very special time in our lives.

Jim came home Thursday evening so excited that he didn’t have to work on Saturday.  They had to do some kind of maintenance on his machine and thus he was free for the entire weekend.  I asked him if he would go to the birthday celebration with me.  He was fine with that.  So I called Betty, the wife, on Friday–confirming that we could come.  She was so elated and told me that she would have us eat at her husband’s table.

The event was at church in Clarksville, Tennessee.  I expected some small gathering of friends.  I was surprised to see what a lavish event it was.  Betty had decorated and carefully planned who was going to sit at each table.  She had beautiful table decorations and wonderful food.  When we arrived–she immediately went to get her husband.  He looked much the same–except for his greying hair.  He told me that he would not have known me.  But I’m a redhead now with bobbed hair and bangs.  In the days, he knew me– I had long black hair with no bangs. 

During lunch he told Jim and me all of the highlights of his life.  He dated his wife for nine years– so they didn’t get married until 1979.  They decided not to have children but to invest in the lives of children who were orphans or who had been taken from their homes.  They have had quite an impact on many children and work closely with an organization that runs many children’s homes. 

Betty and Tiny have been close friends to another couple through the years.  The wife of that couple was also turning 60 in March.  So it was a dual celebration.  We viewed a DVD of her life and then a DVD of Tiny’s life.  Then several got up to the microphone and shared about Shirley.  Shirley and her husband are very musical.  They also have four musical children.  During the course of the event–they sang some beautiful gospel songs.  The harmony was perfect –even in the songs that were sung acapella. 

Lastly, Betty started calling up Tiny’s friends to the microphone.  Towards the end, she called me up to say a few words.  That was so special to me to think back on our years together.  Tiny then told the story of how Rose(another friend in the group) and I had talked to him about his smoking habit.  We had prayed for him to be able to give up his three pack a day habit.  Tiny then went on to tell how he was driving along our main blvd. one day– only to see me in another car.  The taste of his cigarette became very bitter.  He then said that he went home and got rid of all of his cigarettes and cigars and has never smoked again.  I was very astonished to know that I had such an impact on his life.  Believe me, I have  talked to many people through the years about smoking–and have had no influence whatsoever.  That story was very special to me.

As we were leaving the party–I told Tiny that we shouldn’t wait another 37 years to visit with each other.  I’ll be a very old woman.  This story just illustrates that we never know what kind of impression we make on others.  Moreover, we never know how our lives will be entwined again with even the most casual acquaintance.  I never mean to leave the impression that it is always easy to get along with all people.  However, we must work at it.  It is a skill that is worth developing.  We don’t have to agree with all we come in contact with–but we must work at not being hostile in any way. 

Just a postscript–Jim and I are leaving this afternoon for a small vacation at Kentucky Lake.  If anyone leaves a comment–I will write back when I get home. 

May God bless each of you!

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8 responses

4 03 2008
spillay

Hi Niclole3. Just dropping by to see how you are. I hope that you and Jim have a great vacation!! 🙂

Spillay xx
http://spillay.wordpress.com

5 03 2008
shadowlands1501

“to be kind and gentle to all we meet.” Seems a wonderful life mantra and would go along way as the years pass. This week in my hometown, there is a great controversy over naming the street in front of the high school for John Courgar Mellencamp. The town is hotly debating and is devided regarding this action because John wasn’t so kind to all that he met in his young life and has done little to endear himself after fame and fortune became his. All of us who were in his class or close to his class in high school have our horror stories and it wasn’t the greatest thing to see the person who made every day a living “hell” (at least it was for me until I told my cousin who was captain of the football team to make him leave me alone) become famous. As Mellencamp is inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, the town fathers believe that they can capitalize on the fact that he was born and raised here more than they think that they need to honor the native son…There would not have been this controversy if John had remembered this teaching. I know that it is one that was taught to him because I know his family well and his grandmother would have been the source of this wisdom…It really will not pulse him if his hometown does or doesn’t name a street after him. I just wish that he would have been more kind to all that he met….

6 03 2008
nichole3

Thanks, Spillay! We had a wonderful time.

6 03 2008
nichole3

Shadowlands, that is quite a story! We all have people like this who have caused heartache in our lives. We can only be responsible for our reactions to such people. We can’t make anyone be nice or kind. We, however, can be the ones to set the example. I hope things calm down in your hometown soon.

Your friend,
Nichole

7 03 2008
David Web

Nichole:

I’m hoping you’ve had a special retreat to the land between the lakes. It makes me want to go fishing, just thinking about it.

I guess Shadowlands knows John Mellencamp better than most of his fans,
and I am surpised to hear that about him. His Scarecrown album is one of my favorite rock music possessions, although it’s been a long time since I’ve tuned into it.

That’s a great story about Tiny. Were you referencing Rose, the Art teacher that I was also acquanted with? It really is a small world isn’t it?

Little Brother

8 03 2008
nichole3

Dear David,
I never followed John Mellencamp’s music because I was too busy with my family. Glad you enjoyed one of his albums.

We had a great time. We stayed at KenLodge and had a real time of refreshment.

Yes, that is the Rose you remembered. I found her just this week through her ministry website. I wrote her a little note and she wrote back.

love,
Sis

10 03 2008
"Tiny"

It was the most wonderful party yet.It was made extra special by the opportunity to renew an old friendship. I have thought of you almost every day over the last 37 years. When I think about that awful habit that I literally tossed out the window, I think of you.
May the richest of God’s blessings be upon you and your family.
In His service, Tiny

10 03 2008
nichole3

Dear Tiny,
It is amazing how God weaves His threads in our lives. It is wonderful to have found out about your and Betty’s life. I’m glad you have helped so many children to have a better life. I feel really special that you have thought about me through the years.

May God’s richest blessing be with you and Betty,
Nichole

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