Recently, I attended a memorial for the older sister (61 years old) of a friend who had died years earlier. Through the grace of God Jeanni lived to see her daughter’s 16th birthday, then she slipped away at the age of 43 years old. To this day, I still miss her presence.
The circumstances were like déjà vu. Jeanni’s cancer had spread to her liver and now her oldest sister died suddenly with liver cancer!
I saw her daughter, who is now married and has three children, and the memories resurfaced how much my friend loved her little girl. Although it had been years since Heather had seen me, she remembered me as the writer who dedicated a book to her mother. Of course, she remembered my son and daughter. Before I left the service, I asked if she was getting screened for cancer. “Every five years,” she assured me.
Jeanni and I attended high school, partied and got in trouble together. We had children around the same time, but the most important thing is we repented of our deeds, were baptized in Jesus’ name and received the amazing gift of the Holy Ghost, witnessing our mouths speak with heavenly tongues. Our bond was sealed forever.
Since then, my dedications have been to someone who had an impact on my life.
Next up was “Mom and Pops”. They weren’t my biological parents, but one would never know it with the way they included me in everything. As a college student, I had taken the bus to Columbus, Ohio, for my summer internship. I thought my housing was arranged, but when I got to the greyhound station, I learned the “housing” wasn’t exactly what I expected, so I was strayed. Not knowing what to do, I called “Mom.” In turn, she called a distant cousin in Columbus, who came to get me and I stayed with them a few weeks while they found me room and board with an elderly woman until I secured a studio apartment…whew. I survived that summer at Warner Qube Cable TV on Olentangy River Road, but things could have turned out differently. That was only one of the many examples of how she was there for me. “Mom and Pops” once told me they could tell that I had the potential to do great things. They had a gut feeling. God bless them. If only they could see the tales I’ve penned.
The story in my current book, In Defense of Love, had been waiting in the wings for years. One evening, I was sitting in church and listening to the testimonies of the saints and the miracles God had done in their lives, but Sister Patterson’s was so remarkable about the presence of God, it had to be re-told. When I finished writing it, I knew the story would be my all-time favorite. Fast-forward ten books and years later, In Defense of Love has made its mark on the world. With at least twenty great reviews the first couple of weeks, readers are calling it powerful.
Jeanni, “Mom” and Sister Patterson never lived to see me write these stories, but their memories have been my inspiration. This post was dedicated to them: Carroll “Jeanni” Barnard (2002), Lorna “Mom” Robnett (1999), and Sister Cynthia Patterson (2011).