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Thursday, 19 June 2008

Little Owen

By Granny Annie of Fools Rush In

Grandpa and Grandma raised one child. This child was a miracle. His name was Owen.

When Grandma was pregnant with my father, she says she went into a field and got down on her knees and bargained with God. She promised God if He would let this child live, she would dedicate the infant to the service of the Lord. She had lost eight babies, most from stillbirths in the eighth month of pregnancy.

Her faith was tested when Owen was born weighing less than two pounds. My grandma and grandpa lived in a coal mining community in Oklahoma and medical needs were difficult to tend to. They kept my dad warm this December 5, 1914, by placing him in a shoe box near the wood stove.

This child grew nicely for two years until he was suddenly stricken by a crippling disease. Polio was the scourge of the nation and thankfully my great-grandmother had read that massaging the limbs of the victim on a 24-hour basis would keep the patient from being crippled by the disease. My dad had a slight limp and a barely noticeable withered hand but overall, he came out of the illness with barely any lasting effects.

It was around 1919, when the Swine Flu epidemic hit the United States. At that time my grandparents had relocated to a coal mining community in New Mexico. The family legend has it that my dad was the only person in the small community that did not get the flu and he ran errands from house-to-house for all the people who were incapacitated.

Dad was curious about the coal mines. His dad, his dad’s friends and brothers were all coal miners. One day grandpa took eight-year-old Owen into the depth of a coal mine and told him to remember what he saw because it would be the first and LAST time he was ever to be in a coal mine. It was.

My dad died at age 85 on September 23, 1999, after a long, eventful, productive and influential life. He held many college degrees plus an honorary doctorate and had advanced in his chosen field to high levels in the United Methodist Church during his 40-and-a-half-year ministry. He was a genuinely good man, reaching out beyond his retirement years to help anyone in need. He did, however, believe in a hand up more than a hand-out.

My grandma always insisted that she never influenced dad’s decision to enter the ministry and that she never told him of her field dedication.

Dad had some problems in his 80s with strokes and dementia and his doctor ran many tests. One specialist discovered that dad never had polio. He had contracted encephalitis at age two which caused damage to the right side of dad’s brain thus causing the left-side crippling. We had to laugh knowing all that dad had accomplished in his life, his continued education, the people he had helped, the family that looked to him and adored him and his tremendous abilities, only to learn he suffered brain damage at the age of two!

Did I mention that he was a miracle?

[EDITORIAL NOTE: A satisfying number of new stories has been arriving at The Elder Storytelling Place this past week and I thank you all. Not that we can't always use more. That's a hint...]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Annie, I think God kept the bargain in his inexplicable way. Your father was indeed a miracle.

Oh, what an inspiring story.

It just shows that your Dad was able to overcome the handicap he was given by hard work, faith and intelligence.

Quite a man!

What a great story! Your father is an inspiration to us all.

Annie, after a very hard day at work, where everything went wrong, it was delightful to read your story. What a good man your father must have been. Thank you for sharing this tale.

Annie, that is an amazing story. I am not surprised that he went into the ministry, even without knowing that your mom dedicated him. Things like this happen for a reason.

Wonderful story Granny Annie. I really enjoyed your writing and the love therein. My youngest daughter has one living child from eight pregnancies, so I can appreciate how hard it is to lose babies and how grateful your grandparents were for the gift of your dad. Ironically, my grandson (the only living son of that daughter) is a senior at Nyack College, heading for the ministry.
(Nyack is a Christian and Missionary Alliance college) Daughter and son-in-law are going on a medical mission to Africa next month. It must have something to do with these miracle babies.

Darlene, Nancy, OGO, Lilalia, Judy and Kacey, your comments make me glad that I wrote this tribute to my dad. Thank you for taking time to read it!

This is a great story. I can't imagine losing so many babies. What a courageous and faithful woman she was. Your dad's life sounds like a fitting tribute to his mother.

travelinoma you are so right! She was the cog in this wheel and her story of overcoming obstacles is a longer story than space will allow. Thank you for recognizing her strength.

For a long time I just read your posts because I had problems trying to leave a comment. I believe you have changed your comment area so I will try again.

This is a wonderful tribute to the endurance of the human soul and the courage within your family.

Good luck in your marathon!!!

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