Just a Few Little Words

11 06 2017

I’ve spoken often of my relationship to my Great Aunt Pearl and how much I loved her Rock _nbut I don’t believe I’ve ever told about her and my mom’s connection. When Ma was still a teenager her mother passed away from cancer leaving her and two brothers to the care of the father. Carl, the oldest had enlisted in the Marines and was already living with Pearl until he left for boot camp, Ma and her younger brother Clyde both suffered physical problems and my grandfather felt it was more than he could deal with alone. So two of my grandmother’s sisters stepped up to take and raise the children; Clyde who had polio went to live with Aunt Virgie and Uncle Dave while Pearl and her husband Price took mom who was saddled with extreme hearing loss.

Now Pearl found that starting a life of motherhood with a teenager who not only had physical disabilities but was rather immature for her age as well as having emotional issues was far from an easy task for her to take on; quite often head butting between the two would be the norm. As Ma grew older Pearl did all she could to prepare her for the real world. On several occasions she would send her out to find work and made a way on her own, but each time it was more than Ma was able to adjust to; a long-distance phone call, a bus ride and the two would be back to together. As much as Pearly Mae wanted my mother to learn to stand on her own two feet there was no way on earth she was going to let her fall hard and not be there to pick her up. This continued for years, through my unexpected birth (which brought a whole new round of problems as you can imagine) and into my late teens when Pearl retired in Ohio and moved back to West Virginia. With the exception of me being there, this was really the first time Ma was completely on her own, at least so I thought.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned “Great!” Aunt Pearl was still part of our life, watching out for us. I doubt a week went by where they didn’t talk on the phone at least twice, and if a money issue came up, well you knew the check was in the mail. As when Ma was young, if she found herself in an unpleasant situation that proved more than she could handle emotionally, she’d go running home. Several times she traveled down to West Virginia and spent a week or more with Pearl till she could cope with life and return north. But even then, there were the spats, squabbles and disagreements that they could get in to. Hey, that’s what family does, right?!!

The night I received the call that there had been a car accident and my beloved Pearl was not expected to make it, two levels of fear gripped my very soul. The first, I wasn’t prepared to lose one of the greatest influences on my life; and the second, how was I going to tell Ma. Arriving at her place in Ohio, it was pretty much how I expected. “No! It’s bad but she’s going to be alright, she’s going to pull out of this, I know it!” We arrived at the hospital the next morning and sadly her prediction proved to be wrong; Pearl went home to be with Lord one hour after we got there. Ma’s whole world went into a tailspin; there was surprise, sadness, confusion. And so much anger. I came to realize in my mother’s thinking she just believed Pearl would always be there for her, to talk to and run to when she needed her. The thought that she was gone was more than ma could accept and bitterness began to set in deeply.

This pattern with Ma continued on for the several days during the time we were down home, until we finally went to Pearl’s house for the first time on this visit. At first, she was like a bull in china shop rushing from one room to another, upstairs and down, inside and out breathing hard with each step she took. I’m not even sure what she was looking at or for, perhaps she just had to see everything as it was the last day Pearl stepped out the front door, never to return. Then I saw it lying on a small table by the door. At first it looked insignificant, just a letter Pearly Mae hadn’t gotten around to mailing. Then I looked at the envelope, it was addressed to mom. Opening it I read the card inside before handing it over to her. The words “Many are the people who come along in life, but I’m thankful that God gave me a daughter (and under the word daughter she wrote niece) that’s as special as you are. Love you. Pearl.” There was a long moment where Ma stood there silent, not moving. I went over, held her tightly and could feel the tears as they ran down her face. I believe at that moment Ma came to the reality that Pearl was gone. And she also came to realize that no matter what she did, no matter how they fought and disagreed, Pearl loved her with all her heart.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Pearl and Ma could get downright aggravated and frustrated with each other, that’s for sure. But that didn’t mean they didn’t love each other. Possibly Ma may have doubted how Pearl felt about her at times, but with just a few little words she showed her love that was like God’s–never wavering, never ending.

Both these wonderful ladies who meant so much to this man have finished their “Travels of the Rock Road” and gone on to be with the Lord. I look forward to seeing them again someday. It might be hard to track them down, but if there’s any “loving sort of bickering” allowed to go on in Heaven, trust me! I’ll know those voices right away!!

See ya next time.





One response

15 06 2017
Beverly Crane

Thank you for sharing another great story of your family. Your Aunt Pearl and your Mom were two fine women that were put into your life to make you the man you are today!!

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