The story told: 23 years ago , a young couple in Texas was expecting their first child and neither had parents around to help them. They were alone in this, and some elderly friends of theirs, a couple by the name of Roy and Rhea Leach came to visit. They had known the couple from church. Roy had a brother, Don, and Rhea had a sister, Donna. (The two brothers were married to the two sisters, if you can follow that). Don and Donna had heard that this young couple had no parents to help, so they and their daughter Marilyn went to the hospital to see this new baby girl. The details, I am unsure of, but this older couple decided to “adopt” the younger couple, and this little girl. The young couple were my parents, and I was the new baby.
According to my parents, they went to doctor’s appointments, babysat and did all things that parents do to help with their child with the first new baby. They were always Papa and Grandma Donna and Aunt Marilyn for as long as I can recall. I really do not remember when I found out we weren’t related I just remember being surprised. I think of my grandfather, and I think of a most loving, self-sacrificing man. Probably the most I’ve ever met. Every Christmas, every birthday , my grandparents were there. I went swimming in their pool every summer. Papa was always taking me to the park. I remember him giving me rides in his wheelbarrow, that was my favourite. We went to carnivals, parades, and to the food lion together. I loved going to the food lion with papa, another favourite memory. My grandparents were a constant part of my life. I begged mom to let me spend the night at their house, and I also nagged her on making them my legal guardians. (I was an odd child, in that most children are not concerned about having legal guardians).
I almost never saw papa apart from Grandma Donna. She was his sweetheart, and he her honey. They constantly held hands, and loved until death did them part. They did everything together and everything for each other. My grandparents marriage was a beautiful picture of what a marriage ought to be.
Four years ago, my papa was received at the gates of heaven. I’m not sure what the gates of heaven actually entail, but I know and believe that there is something of the sort because the Bible has written of it. What do I know of these things? Not much outside of what the Bible mentions. Will there be harps? Choirs? Literal mansions as the ones we think of? It is all so mysterious still, but I take comfort in knowing that it is good. It is the best thing we can hope for. To spend an eternity with God, which that alone, tells me it must be good.
Papa’s faith is what inspires me most. I did not really appreciate until after he was gone. Of course, I knew they were Christians and I sat with them in church many Sundays. But later I learned that Papa would pull out his prayer list daily and go through everyone on the list. He sought out service to others, and memorized the written word. He was a spiritual giant in my eyes. I remember papa catching him with his Bible in his lap often. I think of him often, and how seriously he took his faith.
I cannot write much more, as tears still come to my eyes, which do not seem to stop. My mother even wrote a story, (which I will post if I can get her to send it) about us. I recall it involving that food lion maybe? And a little toy rabbit he gave me, which I continued to call “beady eyed bear”. He even got a little bed for it, and cut a cloth blanket out for it. My favourite game was finding the bear. He used hide in their house and I would search up and down for that little animal. However, one day papa hid it so well, he couldn’t even find it. It turned up just a few years ago when my Aunt cleaned out the house. Such sweet memories.
One day, we shall meet again. I look foward to that day. I can reminisce and enjoy the memories which were made in the 19 years we spent together. I smile, and hope in the eternity we will enjoy together in the presence of Jesus. Then, we part no more