Monday, June 12, 2017

Sweet Notes

Today is my Dad's 95th birthday. We had a family reunion/birthday party at the new place on Saturday with little furniture, muddy yard, and cousins (some familiar, some new). There had been the enormous task of getting ready with chairs and reformulation of crowd control due to the rain the day before. It was a moment of intense preparation with everybody kicking in and helping out.
We had at least 65 people with a range of ages from a couple of months to my dad. It was loud and messy and busy. The bathrooms got a workout, the kitchen and living room were filled, there was a steady stream of kids up and down the stairs, in and out the doors. Dad handled it all pretty well. Ambient noise renders his hearing aids worthless, so everything had to be repeated time and again. I'm sure he struggled with the identity of all the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids.
In the midst of all a sweet lady from a another life ago sent a note to my son-in-law to pass along to Dad. In the midst of the storm, the cleanup, and the wind down I did not see it until last night. I've attached the note.


I met Nell & Grady Jolly shortly after my husband died (1975). Highland Church of Christ had a bus ministry. Each bus had bus captains and they were on the route where I lived.  Every Saturday morning they would knock-doors. It was on one of these Saturday mornings that I met Nell and Grady.  This meeting changed my life, as well as my entire family’s life.

I remember how sincere and caring they were, but most of all I remember Nell’s smile and kind eyes.  She had a gentleness and strength that is difficult to put into words.

They shared Christ with me and invited me and my children to church.  I declined.  They then asked me if my children could attend.  I was ready to say no, but there was something about their sincerity that changed my mind.  They assured me the bus would pick my children up and bring them back at my front door.  So I decided to let them go.  Nell never gave up on me and never missed an opportunity to share Christ.

Thanksgiving night of that same year, my children spent the night with relatives.  I was alone and had a sort of crying episode. I felt so alone and so forsaken by God. I could not think of anyone to call but then I remembered Nell.  I called the Jolly’s and spoke to Nell.  They came to my home.  I only wanted to talk to Nell.  She came in alone. She comforted me as only a Christian could do and I got through it.

There was something about Nell that I could not explain at that time. I now believe that I saw Gods love for me in her eyes.

There is not a past history of the Church of Christ in my family system, but when I think of the Church and how I am a member I remember Nell.

As a result of Nell and Grady Jolly’s dedication to the cause of Christ and how they allowed Christ to ministry through them, I, my children, and their families are members of the Church and my son is a dedicated elder.

Jacqueline Williams
The note came at a moment in time when I remembered Mom's passing in May 1982 from cancer, and Dad's birthday today, barely a month between. It took me back to the big blue busses. The canvassing on Saturdays. The constant work to corral all the kids from the busses who didn't live on our side of town, or look like us, or think like us. The moment included the intense pride I had/have in my dad and my mom that they were decades ahead of the social involvement it takes to beat racism and the constant criticism they took from church members and neighborhood members.
Dad is a simple guy. And he is not distracted by politics and religion. He and Mom saw something that needed to be done and he recruited help and money and dedicated his time to the mission.
Was all that worth it? See above. You tell me. It is easy to condemn the church in a lot of situations and rightfully so. But when you see a story about someone who saw a need, would not be dissuaded and fulfilled the need. And helped make the "church" change to respond to the need. It makes me proud.
Godspeed to all who simply do the right thing. Who leave a legacy of work, hope, compassion, and lives changed. He is my hero.

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