I live near Atlanta—the heart of the South. That said, I didn’t always live here. I am a transplanted native Californian. To many, the notion of being born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area seems idyllic—to others, nightmarish. I tend to agree with the former. Although I lost my mother while still a toddler—and my father was unable to care for me in the aftermath of her tragic death—I enjoyed a normal Bay Area childhood.
A loving aunt and uncle raised me alongside four close-knit daughters who welcomed me as a sister. I grew up during the mythological 1970’s—a period I now affectionately remember as the final decade of true childhood innocence. No video games, no MTV, no home computers and very little cable. Most people watched the “Big 3” with their kids—ABC, CBS and NBC. PBS, I recall, offered little more than “Masterpiece Theater” and educational programs for children. (Now that I think of it, perhaps little has changed after all. 🙂 )
My cousins and I argued, fought and made up like other kids. We walked, ran and rode our bikes to the local Mom-and-Pop “corner store” for candy fixes. We built corny conveyance mechanisms (cars—if you will) like the poorly christened “Five Jive.” (You had to be there.) We erected charming make-believe houses under cottony blankets and colorful quilts stretched across a relentless succession of twin beds and played for hours at a time. And, we often rushed to knock on my aunt and uncle’s bedroom door at 6:00 am on Christmas morning—just because…
Like most middle-class children, we dreamed of being rich, famous and admired like Stevie Wonder, Lynda Carter, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett-Majors. (Remember when the most famous of Charlie’s Angels was married to the Six Million Dollar Man? 🙂 ) On one memorable occasion, we even celebrated a surprise “snow day” in our front yard when a once-in-a-lifetime weather event sprawled a miraculous blanket of white, buoyant powder over every neighborhood lawn for miles around.
Even back then, I loved to read and engage in the arts. So, when we weren’t traveling to visit faraway family members in the trusty green Chrysler sedan (later replaced by an elegant tan and brown station wagon –LOL!), I took art classes or participated in summer stock drama and musical theater. I was, then, very similar to what I’ve become—an engaged, enthralled observer of birth, life and death.
You will note, however, that I’ve mentioned nothing about the Lord except in a passing allusion to the Christmas season. Back then, I attended church only intermittently. And, although I can safely acknowledge that I believed in the notion of God, I knew very little about Him. One summer, though, we all remained at home—no summer stock, no art classes, no trips to Texas, Alabama or Ohio… In short, we were bored out of our minds. 😦 As it happened, a casual walk through the neighborhood that summer changed the course of my life.
A Christian hippie, you see, ambled into our subdivision and parked a trailer she’d converted into a classroom on a nearby side street. As the neighborhood children passed by, she casually invited us inside to teach us Bible stories. Day after day, she’d prepare little skits, felt puppet presentations and drawing activities to plant the seed of the Gospel into our hearts. I don’t remember her name, her face, or her words. But, I still recall the selfless acts of love and commitment that brought a dedicated believer to us day in and day out for the length of that summer. Wherever she is, I pray that she’s been duly rewarded for her efforts. Who knows where I would be or what I would have become but for that precious summer sacrifice? Blessings!