I’m running away. And off he goes. Six-year old Billy has had it with family life. Big sister is bossy. Too many little ones roaming about. He will find a new family where life is easier….Oh, no! There goes Father after him, and he has a rope! Mother is having trouble coming to terms with the fact that, after eight years of childraising, Father is finally going to strike a child. He has never laid a finger on any of them – never even raised his voice. She continues on with her work, never resting, but nervously watching through the window for the miscreant to be brought home. Wait! Here they come! Well, look at that. Billy has the rope wound about him. Father is holding the ends of the “reins” and the little horse is as happy as can be. Maybe he won’t come “home”, but the stable looks good! Clever Father!
Lawrence has done it. He has broken the law. He is smoking. Where would he go to do this, undetected? Why that tree in the back yard looks pretty good! A cozy and safe haven to revel in his misdeeds. Up he climbs. What a life. Summer day. Garden smells. Cigarette. Uh-oh! What is this? It’s Father! What is he doing here? Out goes the cigarette. Did he see anything, smell the smoke? No, I don’t think so. If I just keep quiet he won’t even know I’m here…Father makes his way toward that very tree. How unusual! He is lying down and obviously intends to have a nap right at the foot of Lawrence’s hideout…And it is a long nap!…Funny Father! The Belfords are masters of understatement, of dealing with things obliquely. This was a triumph!
It is the middle of the Great Depression. Amy will have to come back from Bishop’s University. There is simply no money for a small-town Anglican minister to keep his daughter in college any longer. Before we make the final decision, though, we will call the family together and pray. Our Father, if it be your will, please provide the money for Amy to be able to stay at Bishop’s. And the money comes. Youngest brother Lawrence remembers this all his life. It puzzles and bemuses him. Who is this God that answers personal prayer?
Father loves English literature. He reads all of Dickens every year. He writes poetry – quite good, Wordsworthian, and has some published…Poems about the death of Edward VII, about a beautiful girl with gray eyes (which none of us inherited). He plays the organ and the flute, even writes and publishes music. He buys as many books as he can, but as pastor of St. Ann’s Anglican Church, his salary is limited. One day a rich parishioner, knowing his love of books, dies and wills a beautiful, three-volume illustrated edition of Shakespeare to him. This is one of my jewels.
We are visiting Grandfather and Grandmother. We have mixed feelings about this. They are very Victorian in their manners and standards. They scare us, or at least Grandmother does. She is so proper. I don’t think she approves of us. We can be rather unruly children. Dad carried on the family tradition of not spanking children. Mom has done her share of whacking us with flyswatters and hairbrushes, but the result has been somewhat uncertain…Grandfather is now stone deaf. He sits in the corner and smiles at us, but cannot converse. He seems to appreciate us, but then – he IS deaf. Still, he leads us in family prayers each Saturday morning. That is what I know of him. He prays for me by name, individually, every Saturday, even though he doesn’t hear his own words. I am much closer to my other grandfather. I know him. He actively loves me. But Grandfather’s prayers won.
Father and Mother are old now. All their children have left, long since. They still sit out in the evenings on the porch and enjoy the twilight. Father rubs Mother’s tired and sore feet – the result of a lifetime’s waiting on other people. They have very little. They were never able to save money. Their church pension is small. But at the end of each month, anything they have left over is given to charity.
What a heritage to bequeath your descendants, Grandfather and Grandmother. Thank- you!