Monday, December 13, 2010

59 years ago yesterday

December 12, 1951-The 45 year old Lutheran pastor in Port Arthur, TX was excited because his family was visiting from NE. The pastor, his oldest son, and some of the visiting family piled in their car to do some sightseeing in the area. Of course they took the family camera for sightseeing. His wife and two daughters stayed at home with some of the other family. The son was 12, the daughters were 9 and almost 8 years old.
They were gone for much longer than expected and his wife started pacing the floor because she had the feeling that something was wrong. The relatives visiting assured her that everything was fine and maybe they just did more sightseeing than they expected to.
Someone came to the door with the terrible news that the wife expected and the wife fainted when she heard the news. The pastor was changing a tire (tires had to be changed frequently back then) and a man drove by too quickly and hit the pastor and he was instantly killed. His oldest son and the family along for sightseeing witnessed this terrible accident.
The coming weeks had much activity and both sides of the family visited and helped the widow and her 3 children. After the funeral they packed or gave away all their belongings so they could get out of the parsonage. They moved to Fort Wayne, IN. The children were enrolled in a Lutheran school. The widow got a job cleaning at what we would now call a nursing home. She worked very hard to support her family and make sure they could attend the Lutheran school.

This is a true story. The pastor that was killed is my mom's dad. The widow is my grandma. My mom often told me this part of the story when I was little. Before her father was killed, the family made a huge deal of Santa. After her father was killed, her mom wanted her to know that her dad had picked out the presents that Christmas, not Santa. Unfortunately it felt to my mom that she not only lost her dad that Christmas, but she also lost Santa. She vowed that she would never make a big deal of Santa when she had children after her experience. So we never did Santa at our house and we don't make a big deal about Santa with the Lambs either.

I am amazed that my grandma pulled herself together after she lost her husband at such a young age and so unexpectedly. She did what was best for her children. I know she only was able to go on with her life with the Lord's help. I'm sure she must have shed many tears whenever she had a minute to herself. My mom talks about how she and her siblings were typical preteens/teenagers and did a lot of complaining about having to move away, being poor, etc. instead of being grateful for what their mom did to work so hard to provide for them.

My grandma told me this part of the story. Unfortunately at the scene of the accident in the confusion the family camera was either stolen or lost. My grandma really regretted that she didn't have the film with the last photos of my grandpa's life. When she mentioned this, my grandpa's family all pitched in and bought the family a new camera. She didn't really care about the camera, what she wanted was the film with the pictures.

I worked on scrapbooking with my grandma and she shared many stories with me as we worked. But I NEVER remember her complaining about losing her husband so close to Christmas. My mom told me about the Santa story, but my grandma never told me about that. My grandma never remarried. My grandma lived to celebrate Christmas 53 more times without her husband. Every December must have been very painful for her. But my memories of Grandma at Christmas time are of her putting up a tree (even when she was over 90 years old and lived by herself); baking 90 dozen cookies (even when she was over 90) and giving them to family and friends; making ornaments for each of her grandchildren each year; and usually hosting Christmas dinner at her house. She spoke of Grandpa with great respect as a good pastor, husband, and father.


Laura said...

Thanks for sharing that husband just turned 46 and I can't imagine my life without him. That is a inspirational story to keep alive generation to generation.

Melrose said...

wow...9 years ago on the exact same day, while I was sitting in church for a midweek advent service at the age of 17, nervous about finals the following week and excited about Christmas break and filling out college aps, my dad crashed his airplane off the runway of a major airport due to fog. He, his law partner, and a husband and wife with three daughters were killed instantly. My dad had been redirected to 3 different airports so no one knew who he was or where his plane had crashed. For 18 agonizing hours my family waited while search teams looked and looked. The news crushed my heart into a million pieces. My step mom still had me, my little sister (14 at the time) and my little brother (8 then) to care for and she had not worked in over 10 years. I also had two older siblings, one in college, one expecting her 4th child. It was like a horror movie and all over the news for weeks due to some major problems in the tower that we later found out were the cause of my dad's disorientation in the plane. But, just like your story, it has a happy ending. We all cling to each other and ultimately the Lord for comfort, and we've all pulled through and been taken care of. My little brother is leaving for college next fall! Thanks for sharing this story.