She would have been eighty-six years old this year.
This little girl, who was only two years and seven months old when she passed away, was born a full twelve years before my mother. As it ended up, she was one of six girls born to my grandfather and grandmother. Mom was the caboose. Aunt Lavon was in the middle of the pack. As a child I remember her portrait, the same one that graces her headstone, hanging on the wall of my grandparents living room. When I asked who it was I was told it was Lavon and that she died. Nothing else was said. Because even after forty years the pain was still there.
Not much is known about Lavon's short life. More is known about her death.
There was a fire.
Since the house was out in the country and fire departments were mostly in the city, there was no way to save her. There was no way for my grandparents to get her out of the house before it was too late. The older girls made it out safely, but not Lavon.
My grandfather found her body in the remains of the building the next day. I can only imagine the horrors of those days and the days to follow. How my grandparents managed to go on, either mentally or physically, after losing a child is beyond me.
But they did.
They knew they had mouths to feed. They knew they couldn't just give up. They knew death was a part of the cycle of life. And they knew that Lavon was in God's hands. They just never spoke of it.
Along with the portrait of Lavon that hung on the wall, I remember Grandma's hair. Grandma had long, gray hair that reached down to her waist. Every morning she would comb it out, part it in two, and braid it. Then she'd take the braids and wind them around her head in a sort of crown and pin them into place. It was her morning ritual.
I also remember the Bible that sat next to her chair. Every day after she had combed and braided her hair, Grandma would read the Bible. Grandma had very bad eyesight so she had to hold the Bible up close to her face in bright light to be able to read it, but read it she did. Even when I was little I remember that Bible being worn from all the use it got.
Today I have that Bible. Because it is so very worn, it sits on a shelf in a special place of honor. It reminds me of a very strong woman. A woman who trusted God. A woman who faced hardship, trials and circumstances that would fell most women today. A woman who had no antidepressants, mood elevators, air conditioning, computers, birth control pills or even indoor plumbing (until her fiftieth wedding anniversary). A woman who had to draw water from the well outside her house, wash and iron and sew, deal with the hormonal ravings of five girls, feed and clothe a family of seven during the Depression, and still manage to find the time to be a wife to her husband. And I never saw her cry. Not even when her husband died.
And I thought I had it rough.
The next time you hear me complaining, please remind me of this post. Remind me just how easy I have it, and just how very blessed I am. Remind me to thank God for all He has been so good to give me!
And then thank God for what YOU have. Remember, it could always be worse.
Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.