Friday, April 26, 2013

Sometimes There Are Little Miracles...

          The Depression touched just about everyone in the country; things were even worse in Oklahoma which was suffering from the effects of the Dust Bowl.  Men looked for work wherever they could find it; feeding families was a necessity but hard to do.  It was a time that was forever etched on the faces of the people shown in faded pictures of the era; it was a time that is hard for us to imagine today.

          My grandparents were a part of that time; they were feeding a large family and struggling to live day to day, season to season.   Granddaddy was a farmer, working a farm in Stratford, Oklahoma then, eking out an existence from the soil to feed growing children and to sell the extra to buy other necessities.  During the winter, with no crops to rely on, he and his sons cut wood to sell in order to get by a little longer.

          One day he loaded up the old pickup with firewood, Grandmother gave him her meager, flour, and such... and he took off for town.  The front tires on the old pickup were getting worn and a fender was a bit worrisome, so he kept an eye on them as he drove on first the dirt road, then down the streets of the little town.

          It was getting close to spring so people there were watching the season...hoping the weather would turn warm enough soon that they wouldn't have to put precious pennies into firewood they might not need much longer.

          At the end of the day Granddaddy hadn't sold any of his hopeful cargo and he was forced to turn back onto the road home, still with the load of wood and nothing on Grandmother's list provided for.
          Her name was Ella Mae, a tiny little thing with the energy of a dozen people; his name was Ben, a tall lanky quiet man with work-worn hands and a care-lined face.  He called her Eller...always...that's what I remember.  Have no idea why.

          On the way home he rolled the pickup window down so he could keep an eye on the tire and fender.  No matter that it was getting colder...he couldn't afford to be stuck with a flat and a full load of wood.  What kept going through his mind though was "What am I going to tell Eller?"  She truly needed those things to feed the family; it was his job to provide them.  And he couldn't make it happen.

           In the early darkness he almost missed the quick twinkle...the bit of shine in the dust of the dirt road.  The old truck complained from the load as he shifted and backed up...he had almost decided not to look. When he saw the same thing again, he parked and got out.  With the headlights giving the only light, he brushed the loose dirt back with his hands and saw a leather coin purse.

          The leather was worn through from other tires that had passed over it earlier, worn through till a few coins inside were showing...that quick gleam had caught Granddaddy's eye.  He looked around...there were no houses anywhere near...he had seen no cars on his way back from was countryside, sparsely populated.  He counted the coins...there were enough to buy the things on Grandmother's list....

          Turning the old truck around, he drove back to town, got the supplies, and headed home...

          When my aunt told me this story, it certainly felt like a wonderful parable of God's providing in a beautiful way for my family. Her comment was that, if he thought he could have found the owner, my Granddaddy was the type of man who would have driven for miles to return the purse.  I know that too. 

          Then one day, I had another thought...that my Granddaddy's find was someone else's loss and I felt pretty sad about that part of the story.  Only for a little while though because...

          I do believe that there were angels on that road that night, angels around watching over that tiny purse, knowing that my Granddaddy was headed home.  I also feel that God took care of whoever lost the little purse too, that that little miracle didn't come at a cost for someone else. In the depths of the Depression, perhaps it was tiny miracles like that which gave people the strength they needed to keep going. God works in mysterious ways, remarkable ways, and just in time. 

          I wonder sometimes if my work-hardened Granddaddy (back then he plowed his farm with a hand plow and two mules, the reins wrapped around his neck) brushed away a tear when he held those coins in his rough hand. It was such a profound gift.  I know I brushed away tears when I heard the story... 

          I've wondered too, that on that dark evening, if Granddaddy had looked over his shoulder, he would have seen those angels smiling....

© Jaymie Mathena

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