A Chasing of the Winds
Every heart is filled with longing to be free from all life's pain. Yet every road we travel down seeking earthly pleasures only end in vain. Only God can fill the barren places in our hearts and without Him, life has no meaning. All things fail as they begin, and hearts deceived can only know the Chasing of the Wind.
Welcome to my life! My name is Eve Ray…. former Diamond in the Rough and Chaser of the Winds.
Inside the garden of my life are lovely roses, beautiful flowers, birds singing, and shaded pathways. There are also Secret Gardens; the ones I kept hidden deep in the recesses of my heart. No one was invited into these very secret places, not even myself; that is, my spirit, the one I did not allow to be visited.
If you will go with me through this garden, I know you will see and feel the Hands of our Heavenly Father as He created each little bud into a rose, each ugly bulb into a beautiful flower, and opened the doors to all the Secret Gardens in my heart.
The winds in this garden were once very turbulent, blowing aside every flower, tree, and rose. They have now calmed to a whisper, as He lets His Divine Touch unfold in my life.
I have prayed and asked God's guidance in writing this story. I believe it was His idea and therefore, have tried very hard to not judge, condemn or attempt to make myself look like a victim in this story. I consider myself a survivor, a victor…because of God's Mercy. I feel being merciful to those living and dead who have wronged me, would be as the Father would have it to be. He forgave me all of all my sins, and rightfully, I should forgive anyone who has abused me in any way. I write this story not as a "Somebody done somebody wrong song", but simply as "my story"…a story of God's Grace, which is available to all humankind. Please go with me now as I share my true life story with you…
Mother at age 13 –
Beautiful sounds wafted over the airwaves in Birmingham, AL as her fingers deftly flew over the piano keys. Hers were the first sounds heard on the first radio station in Birmingham. Long beautiful blond curly hair, big blue eyes and trained in all the social graces, nearly assured her of a life of ease and comfort.
When did her chasing of the winds begin, why did she choose to leave the love of her life – the piano. Having had the distinct honor of playing in Carnegie Hall, she chose to give up her affluent lifestyle to live on the wild side of life. Her family, disgraced by her behavior, chose to disown her. Her chasing of the winds led her down a road of heartache, pain and eventually death. Prior to her death, she had six children, none of them with her, except the twins she had four months earlier. She was brutally murdered by a jealous lover, who had chosen to end her life by the use of a black jack.
Mother – One year before she was killed
The train rolled into the historical Birmingham Railroad station on a dark foggy night. Her body was escorted off the railway car in a white casket. Hardly any of her family was there to take charge of her remains. When her casket was opened, all of her beautiful blond hair had been shaved off in an effort to save her life. At the young age of only 38, she was interred in Elmwood Cemetery, without even the dignity of a headstone. This lady was an uncut diamond; a rose cut too soon to bloom…this lady was my Mother
She sang with the New York Met Opera when they came to Birmingham, AL in the 1920's. She was quite an elegant lady, and she was chasing her winds of success, happiness and fame. This elegant lady found herself in a crisis pregnancy situation and made a heartbreaking decision to abort her child. Her chasing of the winds ended when she lost her life from complications due to a botched abortion. This lady was an uncut diamond; a rose cut too soon to bloom…this lady was my Grandmother.
I cannot judge my mother or grandmother. I do not know what was taking place in their lives, which caused them to make the choices they made. Circumstances present themselves quite often in our lives, where the choices we make do not end well. Only God can make the judgment calls, and for that I am grateful.
The only picture I have of my mother and me…
This is just before she left us. I can't imagine what must go through a mother's mind as she leaves two little babies with a 14 year old daughter. It is extremely sad that mother's life ended so tragically. I have kept this picture of us down through the years…just looking at it and wondering…
I often wonder what it would have been like to experience a mother's love, someone to hold me on her lap and teach me to play the piano. I love the piano, and I suppose it was inherited from mother. My sister tells me mother predicted that I would be a singer. I must have been singing at an early age, because Mother left when I was a year old. This can be believed however, because I see it in my youngest grandson, Kaicee. He was only a few months old, when he began singing his little heart out. My oldest grandson, Ashton, sings very well also.
I experienced no Butterfly Kisses from my mother or father. A child draws security from the love of a mother and father, therein making them feel wanted and loved. I had no such feelings in my heart or soul. At a very young age, a baby can distinguish their mother from anyone else. I'm sure I cried for my mother when she left. I do not know who my father was.
My sister Ginny was left with my brother and I to care for. She was 14 years old at the time. My sister faced a colossal task of just what to do with a baby brother and sister. We were in and out of welfare homes and abused in them all.
Mother was killed when I was four years old, so I never knew her at all. When I sit at the piano, I hear melodies of far off distant places filled with green meadows, places filled with love, and most of all the Grace of a loving God. I just close my eyes and play what comes to my heart and then it is transferred to the piano keys. As I play, I can only imagine what mother's playing sounded like and if she were alive, would she be proud of me.
My Sister Ginny…
I suppose if I had to limit a description of my sister Ginny to just a few words, it would have to be her endurance and strength of scaling the mountaintops in her life. She rose above circumstances with her infectious laugh and sense of humor; her way of escaping the reality of horrid situations. She has given much love to others, when she was in need of love herself. She has always flown as the eagle who always uses the high winds to propel himself above the storms. Her chasing of the winds began very early in life.
Only she can truly tell her story, so I can only relay what she has shared with me from her heart about her childhood. Mother evidently found herself in a dilemma, having made some wrong choices in life and I'm sure felt helpless in the situation she found herself in. She only loved one of her children, and Ginny was not the one. Mother's favorite nickname for Ginny was "stupid". The only source of solace in Ginny's life when she was a child was her dad (I'm a half sister to all my siblings). He understood and loved her and did not inflict the physical or verbal abuse on her that he did on the rest of the family. Even before mother left, Ginny was really our caregiver.
Ginny's 14th birthday will always be one of dubious proportions in her memory. No Happy Birthday dear daughter…no cake…no candles. Her gift that day was of a magnitude that even an adult would have been perplexed, not to mention a 14 year old child. She was given full responsibility of seeing to the needs of two young children ages one and 16 months old. Mother had given her instructions to take us to an orphanage, but Ginny loved us so much, she was afraid we would be separated if taken there. She kept us with her, going with us to the welfare homes, watching, but helpless, when we were abused. Finally, she was forced to tell the Welfare Office about her family in the mountains of Virginia.
In the mountains of Virginia, Ginny was unloved and rejected again. She was skinny and pale with those haunting big blue eyes, and Ma (Ginny's grandmother) just never took a likin' to her. So, Ginny stayed in the mountains a few years, and then began traveling, selling magazines.
When Ginny was 17, before she left the mountains, the call that mother had been killed was received at school one day. Her life seemed to be over, because she desperately loved mother, it didn't matter what kind of treatment she had received. My oldest brother and Ginny attended mother's funeral in Birmingham, AL. Daddy (Ginny's dad) did not go, but chose to remember mother as the beautiful and talented woman she was.
When I was 12, Ginny came home from the traveling sales job and took us out of the mountains of Virginia. She knew only too well, what all was happening. She didn't have to take us, as she had two children and one on the way. Her finances were not such that she could afford another two mouths to feed, but feed us she did. I could write volumes concerning how Ginny fed and cared for us, but most people wouldn't believe a word of it! Needless to say, Ginny made a great sacrifice to take us with her. She was trying to rear her own three little girls, plus having to contend with two teenagers in the house as well.
When I was around 13 years old, I wrote Dear Abby about the "harsh treatment" I was receiving from Ginny. Abby wrote back and said I should thank God that I had a sister who loved me enough to have taken on the awesome responsibility of caring for a brother and sister in addition to her own family. How very right she was, but at the time, I couldn't see it. I have found it to be true usually, around the age of 30, children begin to realize, "you know, maybe my parents were right after all"! Ginny had kept the letter and just gave it to me a few years back.
Even in the last few years, her self-giving has continued. When my husband was dying and I had to undergo major surgery, Ginny came from Virginia and took care of Ed and myself for two weeks. That was certainly a great sacrifice, as she was not feeling well herself. I do not know what I would have done without her. We became even closer during that time of great need in my life.
She is presently working and still helping one of her daughters by babysitting. This is a grueling schedule, which I could not even manage myself. She is motivated by her love for her children, grandchildren and all little innocent children.
I shudder to think just where I would be today, if my sister had not loved us enough to come, at great risk to her little family, and take us out of the mountains. I have never forgotten her sacrifice, and will always give honor where honor is due. The giving of roses from me to her began when I was about 12 years old and will continue to be given until she can no longer smell their sweet fragrance…here on this earth.
Picture to Left –
Picture to Right –
I can only wish the innocence and beauty of childhood had not been taken away, but it was.
I was taught at a very early age how to be sarcastic, hateful, rude, and was not taught to understand that life does not always conform to my whims. I suppose the most destructive mindsets I learned were about sex. I did not understand until much later in life that sex and love haven't really much to do with each other.
I didn't know that I was not a whole sister to my siblings until I was 35 years old. The rest of the men in the family knew it however, and I was used as a sexual object for years. The scope of the abuse didn't just stay in the family, it included several men from my childhood years to adulthood, until I finally understood the difference between sex and love. God created sex, but He intended love and caring to be a prerequisite to the actual act.
Just before arriving at the old log cabin, was a beautiful lane. We called it the Chinkapin lane. It had blueberries, a mulberry tree, chikapins, and wild flowers growing there. Unusual rocks and cedar trees were scattered nearby. The beauty of the lane was marred in my memory due to events which occurred there. Ma would go to Boones Mill every Wednesday to purchase what few items she could afford. I would always hide somewhere, thinking I was safe this time. I never was. I would be dragged out in the lane by some male members of the family and gang raped repeatedly in front of my cousins and my brother Adam, who was too young to stop it.
This went on for two or three years. There are no words to describe the humiliation I felt, the absolute shame and degradation of it all. I tried to tell Ma, but she would hear none of it. She did not want to hear any of the "evil talk" I tried to tell her about any of the males in the family. Much here has been omitted to prevent the pain it would cause those that I love who are still living.
I have mentioned my sister's desperate attempts to fix Ma's influence on me. I was a confused child to say the least. I didn't know what discipline was, I did just as I pleased. I would throw horrible temper fits, fall prostrate on the floor kicking and screaming so Ginny says. I can remember a little of that myself. Ma diagnosed me as "having a tumor on the brain", which made my sister fume all the more. To try and remedy the situation, whenever Ginny had an opportunity, she and I would take a little trip out to the old hog shed. She would severely whip me, telling me that I did not have a tumor on the brain and when she got through with me, I was going to have a tumor on the behind. I remember a lot of that!
As I mentioned before, I learned to drink alcohol at a very early age. No one really tried to stop me after Ginny left. This created in me a desire for alcohol, which stayed with me for many years to come. Once when I was about eight years old, I came in the house and saw a beer can on the fireplace hearth. Immediately, I went over and took a big swallow. The can had kerosene instead of beer in it. Needless to say, I never took another big swallow from a beer can sitting anywhere, before thoroughly checking it out.
I'll be referring back to my childhood years from time to time. After I was married and bore my three precious little boys, my childhood played a very relevant role in my treatment to them as related to their self-esteem, self worth and feelings of being wanted and loved. I tried to reverse every disgusting event in my life to the positive in their innocent childhood years. As in every family, there are problems, but my children constantly assure me that I was a very good mother.
Mountains and Ma…
Ma (my sister's grandmother) as a young woman.
I just have to tell you about the mountains of Virginia and Ma. Ma was my sister's grandmother. I am a half sister to all my siblings. My sister Ginny finally had to take my brother and me to the mountains of Virginia where her family lived. I did say "mountains" didn't I? Please understand that I am in no way degrading my childhood and the mountains of Virginia. I am simply telling the story of my life, in the same truthful manner as I tell the rest of it.Experiences, which happened to me there, have made me a better person, and certainly some which emotionally scarred me for life. I can look back now and see through rose-colored glasses, if you will, the beauty of the mountains rather than all the pain.
As the years go by, I have more and more respect for Ma, and thank God she was there to take Adam and myself in, when no one else did. She gave the absolute best she could at her age, trying to rear two little children without hardly any help from anyone. If she were here to read these stories, I'm almost positive she would have a rip roarin' big laugh out of it all. My hat is off with a bow of the knee to Ma, for providing a "semi" roof over our heads, and food…whenever she could. In my own way, I am honoring her through laughter, for the sacrifices she made when I was a child. It's best to remember some of our journey in life with a grin on our face, and a smile in our hearts.
Everyone said Ma was a little "tetched" in the head, but I think she was just doing the best she could with what she had, which was nothing. When I say "nothin", I mean "nothin". There were times when all Ma had to feed Adam and I, was polk salad and bread baked from hog middlin (that was feed for the pigs). Ma would go up the creek to Uncle Willie's and Aunt Reva's who had nine children of their own. Sometimes even they were running low and all they had to offer was the hog middlin.
The first home I can recollect in the mountains was actually very scenic. Coming around the bend and down the little hill, across the meadow one could see the little house nestled among the big oak and cedar trees. Wild roses grew in abundance at the back of the house, nearly reaching the roof. In the winter, it was quite picturesque; snow banks six foot high in some places covered the meadow.
When my sister, with brother Adam and I, came on the scene, there were 19 people living in this little one room house. I think our presence somehow scared about half of them off. I do not recall all the very early years, and when I begin to be aware of my surroundings, I must have been about 4 years old. My sister says my first words weren't Ma or Sis, but beer! I liked it, and anytime I wanted it, it was there.
Well, back to Ma. She was a busy little person, always had some kind of project going. She was a pretty lady and had long beautiful wavy, gray hair, always up in a bun. Her life had not had been easy either and now here she was with two little children to try and care for. She knew I was not her son's daughter, but loved me anyway. A very destructive love, that presented severe problems in my life, but nevertheless, she loved me, with the exclusion of almost everyone else.
Ma's assessment of the old house was that it needed a basement. Why it needed a basement, I do not know, because there sure wasn't anything to put in it. However, Ma thought every good house needed a basement. She tried to solicit help from the men folk, but they were too busy doing…something. She dug and dug, until the room began to tilt downward toward the front of the house. The men put their heads together and thought, maybe they had just drank too much, so they ignored the whole house-tilting situation. Finally, one day my older brother Thomas was sitting in the front of the house and the chair began sliding to the front of the room. Later, the potbellied stove came loose, broke free of its ceiling pipe and sailed to the front of the house, with soot going everywhere. The men folk finally concluded that they would have to put a stop to Ma's new project. Nevertheless, Ma was not to be outdone, she just came up with other much-needed projects.
I'll be sharing more about Ma and the mountains all through my story. My life is so intense and sad at times, the funny events that occurred in the mountains has been one thing that has gotten me through. A good laugh can clear away the fog and make the sun shine.
My cousins were some the best "pickers and grinners" in Virginia. The Banjo, Juice Harp, the Guitar, the Ukulele, spoons, you name it, they could play it. It was a grand time when we were able to hear them play.
We lived in the mountains in pure mountain style. If you've ever seen the movie "Tobacco Road", then you've seen our story of mountain living. The old log cabin across the meadow had long since outlived it's usefulness, so plans were made for a new dwelling across the field. The dilapidated Post Office building in Boones Mill was for sale, and this became our new home. It was quite a scene the day they brought it home on the back of the old jalopy truck.
Ma loved her new home, but there was one little problem. The old post office didn't have a kitchen and who else was there to build the kitchen, but Ma. The men folk busied themselves again, thinking if they ignored her, she would forget all about her newest project. Not so! I was just a child, but I felt sorry for Ma, she never received any help at all and was always trying to make things better in her own cute little way.
Now Ma was only five feet tall, and that's just exactly how high she built the kitchen door and the kitchen itself. She didn't have a ladder, so how could one possibly build any higher if one had no ladder? When you walked in the door, if you were over five feet, you either stayed bent down, or had a sore head. In order to hold the kitchen up, Ma had placed 2×4's all around, and one must be very careful to not bump one of these, lest the entire structure fall in on you. Tiptoe through the tulips didn't even begin to describe the scene. You would have thought that then the men folk would have pitched in to help, but not so. Eventually, they did come together and build another room onto the old post office. However, Ma's kitchen remained the same.
When Ma designed her plans for the kitchen, she had just one little flaw in her plans, besides the five-foot roof of course. She neglected to include a window in the kitchen. Well that was soon remedied, as the walls were just made mostly of tar paper anyway, she went back and used her hand saw and cut a square hole in the wall. Of course, there was never a window put in it, but we could at least see out. In the winter, we just hung a big blanket over the hole.
As I have told you, I was a spoiled brat and washing dishes was not my cup of tea. I always had a headache, sick to my stomach or something when it came time to do the dishes or anything for that matter. This usually worked just fine with Ma, but every once in awhile, she would get irked up. She had long since determined that I did not have a tumor on the brain, that I was just plain lazy. She would get her little "keen switch" and switch my legs until the blood ran out; I always seemed to have a miracle healing and was able to wash the dishes. One of my saddest memories was when I would run from the poor old lady. I never will forget running up the hill to get away from that "keen switch".
When I was forced to wash the dishes, I did so with much malice toward those beautiful old dishes. I do not know where Ma got them, but she had some very beautiful things. I would stand right by the window to wash the dishes, where the dishpan sat with water carried from the creek. I was about nine or ten I guess and I decided the best way to not have to wash dishes was to get rid of them, and that's what I did.
The best solution to the problem lay in the fact that around our "house", there were mile high weeds especially the summer, (no one had invented the lawn mower yet as far as the men folk were concerned). Well, I thought, no one will ever see these dishes if I just toss them outside in all that tall grass. Very methodically, I threw nearly all Ma's dishes out the window. She became quite curious of course, as to where all the dishware and silverware had disappeared. I could have gotten away with my little scheme except for the generosity of a kind neighbor. The nice soul came up one day with his bush hog and cut all the grass down around the house. We all looked out in amazement at the big wide wonderful world we never got to see from certain parts of the house. Sounds very nice doesn't it? It wasn't for me as soon as Ma decided to go around the house to where the window was and saw all her dishes and silverware lying around. I jumped and hopped around for at least 15 minutes trying to miss all the licks from Ma's "keen switch".
In later years, one of the reasons I would drink myself into a stupor was my treatment of Ma. I was just a pathetic, mixed up child, but I have always regretted not treating Ma with more respect. I have since overcome my sadness concerning my treatment of her, but I hated it even when I was doing it. The last time I saw Ma after being taken from the mountains, and before going to North Carolina and Chicago, was on a street corner in Roanoke, VA.
Ginny had just gotten us all packed up, and we were headed to North Carolina. For some reason, Ma had gotten someone to bring her to Roanoke, probably to visit us. As we drove by, the memory of her standing on the street corner, dress blowing in the wind, waving, looking so sad, will be etched in my memory always. I'm the kind of person who never forgets a kindness anyone does for me. Ma did way too much wrong, but she did the best she could under the circumstances. When she passed away in 1969, my life was such a wreck; I did not even attend her funeral in Virginia. Her words "you'll be sorry sugar baby" have continued to ring true down through the years. I'll see Ma again one day, and I can give her a big hug and really let her know how much I appreciated and loved her.
As everyone knows, our teenage years can be the most problematic years of our entire life. Even in the best of circumstances, chasing the winds can be disconcerting. We're leaving childhood and supposedly marching onward to try and accomplish our goals and dreams in life whatever they may be. Those of us, who didn't want to leave the inner child and grow up to face the real world, can find ourselves in a very perplexing situation indeed. Sometimes, it takes years, to realize we are still trying to recapture a time period in our lives, which never was. Truly, the angels were watching over me and carried me over many a mess I managed to get myself into.
When my husband and I were forced to retire from the Methodist ministry, due to his illness, I found myself decorating my room in "little girl fashion" and to me it was very pretty. Pop was so sick; we had to sleep in different bedrooms. I decorated the rest of the house in beautiful fashion colors, but my room had little girl furniture, curtains, and wall hangings. At the time, I did not realize what statement I was making, but now it is all so relevant to my healing of the past and letting go of the little girl who never was.
When Ginny took Adam and I with her, we went to live in Roanoke, VA. We lived in sheer poverty in the mountains, but in Roanoke, we lived in absolute poverty. I could write volumes about the sad and funny happenings there, and you would find it hard to believe any of it, but it's all true. Nevertheless, my sister provided for her three children and a brother and sister. I guess I could say also that it was with a little help from Adam and I.
My clothing for the first year after leaving the mountains did not change much, because Ginny was not able to provide clothing along with food. In the mountains, one of my most fashionable outfits was a suit with sequins that was so rotten; it tore half in two before the day was out. I also had high heels to accessorize those fashionable outfits! I only had clothes that Daddy sent back out of the garbage cans from an apartment building he managed in New York. In Roanoke, I had to continue to wear suits and anything I could find to wear. Kids can be very cruel, only because they don't understand what is really happening. They began calling me such horrible names, that the principal was called in to handle the situation. Ginny was called to school to inform them that I was not a _____ as they were calling me, that in fact, we were just so poor that I did not have any school clothes. When my sons started school, I went to work and bought clothes for them, because I did not want them to suffer the way I did.
After a year in Roanoke, we moved to Chicago. My insecurities became overwhelming, but I couldn't hide and not go to school. I had no friends, and did not know how to make friends. I felt I was of no value to anyone, so who would want to be friends with me. Ginny and I already had problems, but it all seemed to be magnified while living in Chicago. Her troubled background and mine together were dynamite and it exploded almost every day. I spent one weekend in a juvenile detention center, after actually checking myself in. Ginny let me stay, hoping it might help, but it did not. What was she to do, with three children of her own and a very troubled sister and thankfully a pretty well balanced brother, but nevertheless, two teenagers in the house.
We moved back to Alabama when I was sixteen to care for mother's aunt who was sick. My troubled soul and spirit was about to experience more grief. I loved to learn and tried to go back to school, plus help out with Ginny's three little girls, Cherie, Rani, and Tita. I do not see how my sister lived through it all. Ginny's dad had come to live with us and helped some with the children then. I have come to forgive myself, but I always felt that her children suffered much because of my destructive behavior. I love my nieces very much, as a matter of fact, I have a great niece named after me…Jerrica Eve.
This is me and my little namesake: Jerrica Eve Lee
When I was around 13, I was left alone with Virginia's youngest baby, Tita. She began to choke and I did what I thought was best to save her life. It did, and she named one of her little girls after me.
Chasing the winds of love, acceptance and self-assurance were very evident in my life during those times. I was trying to fill the void in my heart with all the things the world has to offer, when only God can truly end those chasings. Events leading up to my decision to leave home at age 16, will be omitted, due to the fact that I do not wish to inflict emotional pain upon those still living whom I love.
On the Road Again…
My life on the road was as if everytime we went into a new city and state, a new blind would open up for a new adventure.
I was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, taken to Boones Mill, Virginia at age 1 1/2 or so, left Boones Mill at 12, went to North Carolina for maybe a year, lived in Chicago, IL for three years, and then moved to Birmingham at age 16. Travelin' was just in my blood I suppose.
In the mountains, I attended a one-room schoolhouse where I was ridiculed and made to feel less than a human because of the clothes I wore and where I lived and who my family was. My route of escapism from all this sadness was my love of reading. My favorites were Little Women, The Diary of Anne Frank and any book concerning horses. I could name any breed of horse that existed. I especially loved the wild horses because I could climb on the back of this wild creature and run with the wind to any part of the world I wanted to. As I rode, the winds in a sense would create in me a cleansing in my heart and soul. I felt free as I would ride my stallion to places where little children were cherished and protected, where fairies danced, flowers bloomed constantly, and an abundance of love was felt. So running from life became my way of not having to face the situation at hand. I have since found that we can run, but we can't hide from ourselves. Wherever we go, we're always there to greet ourselves.
I will not go into details concerning the reason I had to leave home at age 16, but nevertheless, I had no choice. My sister had traveled all over the country selling magazines, and I decided it would be best for me to try this as well. She contacted them and off I went into the wild blue yonder. A wonderful opportunity lay before me, and so I decided to make lemonade out of lemons. The first thing I decided to do was buy a scrapbook, as I wanted to capture the memories of my traveling years. I always loved to learn and decided this would be a wonderful learning experience, and so it was.
For two years, I experienced the wonders of Mexico, Canada, beautiful Vermont in the fall, the gorgeous scenes of Cypress Gardens in Florida, the hot dry desert of Texas and the enchanting beaches of Corpus Christie Texas. I learned all about the big Halliburton oil boats in Louisiana and Texas. We were invited to come on board and have dinner several times after we finished selling them magazines. We were delighted to find an oilrig, which was operational with people attending it, as it usually meant big bucks. I have chased the big trucks at truck stops, climbing onto the steps of the big rigs to give them my spiel to sell a magazine. I actually have an autograph from Conway Twitty as he was staying in the same motel as we were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One place comes to mind in which I cannot say I remember with such fond recollection however. It was the inside of a jail in South Carolina. We were out pretty quickly, as we were just confined for probably a day and fined for selling magazines without a permit.
One of the neatest places I was blessed to have visited was the place of my birth, Pascagoula, Miss. As I rode around town selling magazines, I couldn't help but wonder if some of the places I traveled on, were places that my mother had walked upon as well. I did not know until I was 35 that this was the place where my real father had lived as well.
In the last five years, I have traveled to Mississippi for different reasons and visited Pascagoula again. I wondered who my real dad was, where did he live, where was he buried and why did he not want me as his child. Did I look like him, did I have his mannerisms, was he a kind and gentle person; would he have sat me on his knee and given me Butterfly Kisses…
My home coming back to Birmingham, at age 18 was not exactly the way I had envisioned it to be. My female crew driver had quit to return home and a man became our new crew driver. A crew driver was one who drove the sellers around and was in charge of where we stayed, etc. He and I became very attached, and it was a volatile situation to say the least. Alcohol, pills, sex and a basic mistrust of all males on my part, became big factors in our disagreements. Finally, in desperation, on a Georgia back road, he politely and literally, threw me out of the car, bag and baggage. As I stood on the side of the road, suitcases in hand, I did not shed a tear. I simply watched as the car rounded the bend and disappeared off into other parts of Georgia. What to do next I pondered, as I began to walk down the country road. The first house I came to, I asked for help. The Sheriff came out to the house, agreed to keep my belongings for a ticket home. I arrived home, got a job, sent him the bus fare money, and he sent me my belongings.
Reflecting on all these happenings, I can see God's Hand all the way through. Being forced to be aggressive by meeting and talking to people in order to clothe and feed myself, had given me the ability to stand in front of audiences to sing and speak. However wrong it was, it was surely a training ground for me to have enough self-assurance to meet and greet people. It has always amazed me that a person who lived in the surroundings such as mine, was able to go out with a smile and a friendly handshake and sell magazines. However, the smiles and handshakes were only a band-aid for the real person on the inside who was screaming for someone to love me and care what really happened to me.
The old cows I was alluding to earlier were named Cowbell and Bessie. I had acquired some very colorful words that would make a sailor blush, and had quite a temper to go along with it. Woe be unto the cows if I happened to be in a bad mood when Ma sent me to fetch Cowbell and Bessie. The poor things would just look at me bewildered while chewing their cud, as they were called a variety of names; none of which sounded anything like Bessie or Cowbell. I didn't whisper the names, but in a loud voice where all the neighbors from miles around could hear. Voices would carry in the mountains unbelievably. All the concerned neighbors would tell Ma what I was calling the poor cows, but Ma just wouldn't listen to anything bad about her "sugar baby". When we left the old house to move to our new dwelling, we sold the cows because the men folk didn't have time to build a fence.
One day at the new house, which was situated right beside the main dirt road, we had a nice gentlemen stop to ask directions. Picture this, an old post office (sign still on it) with a 5ft kitchen attached to it, ten dogs and cats running around, three or four old cars in the yard, weeds four feet high, chickens and goats running all the yard and two little kids as dirty as little mud pies. Ma came out, shooing all the livestock away as she came. The nice man finds what he needs to know and Ma went back in the house. The man was almost to his car, when he turned around and came back. He handed Adam and I a quarter apiece and said, "go buy yourselves a soda pop". Then he got this inquisitive look in his eyes and asked "do you know what a soda pop is?" Well, that did it for me. By the time I finished telling him just exactly how much I knew about everything, he was entirely ready to get in his car and leave. He didn't even look back.
Daddy frequented the old beer joint up in Boones Mill a lot, shall we say. It was about ten miles from our house and the name of the place was the "Blue Bonnet". Several times, Adam and I would be so fortunate as to get to go along. Of course, I would drink most of the beer at the table where we were sitting, so I always enjoyed myself immensely. I can recall on several occasions how we got Daddy home after our little visit to the beer joint. The old jalopy didn't have any head lights and try as we might, we couldn't get Daddy to leave before sundown. It was no problem if we left after sundown, because Daddy would put Plan A into action."Adam", he'd say, "get out the flashlight and get on the hood of the car". "Eve", he'd say, "get over there and holler if I'm fixin' to run off that side of the road." I do not know how, but we managed to get home every time too! It was pretty scary, especially when he would round a sharp curve just before crossing the little bridge to go to the old house. I can remember sitting there holding my breath, afraid we were going to run off the side of a steep embankment, but we never did.
Entertainment was hard to come by in the mountains and so we just had to make our own. The new house had a porch that Ma built. That was a good thing, and it was also a great source of entertainment for us. One of the planks on the porch was not nailed down properly and tended to fly up on some unsuspecting soul who might come to visit. We all knew which plank it was, but no one else did and for some reason, none of the men folk ever nailed it back down. No one ever was hurt by the plank flying up when they stepped on it, and we always had a good laugh out of it.
Our cousin Wilse Abshire was the Sheriff of the county. He didn't claim any of us and little wonder he didn't. My brother "James" (name changed), as I mentioned before, was a person who just didn't like to work for a living. Wilse would come by, step on the wrong plank, get composed and ask, "Is "James" here"? Well, we all knew just what that meant. He was there to arrest him for something again. "James" would usually be there and come on out and go off with Wilse to jail for a little while. The sad part is that "James" is around 70 years old now and just finished his last prison sentence of 14 years. He was a very handsome, intelligent man with steel blue eyes and black hair. He was a con artist. The last time he went into prison, I was asked to testify to the D.A. concerning sex crimes against me as a child. I did so, hoping that he would get help while in prison. I do not know if he ever did, as I have not had any contact with him in around 20 years. I have compassion for him and pray for him, but have not had an occasion to speak with him. My brother Adam keeps in contact with him quite regularly.
We all knew the events that led "James" to pursue a life of crime. The only difference is that he let circumstances ruin his life. We have all suffered immensely, but not to the degree of letting circumstances dictate our life.
One of the sweetest memories about the mountains that I have was at the old house across the meadow. There was a little creek, winding it's way down to the big creek. The little creek held some special memories for me. There was an abundance of wild mint growing along the banks, and Ma would send me out there to pick some, when she wanted to brew a delicious cup of mint tea. I can still smell it.
The little creek had it's beginning right near our house. The water just came bubbling up from the ground. There was a spring there with ice-cold water and rocks covered with moss held the little spring intact. We always kept a dipper nearby to take a drink of that clear cold water. The little creek also had another important function. We had one or two straggly cows and if we caught them in time, they would give tasty milk, without the wild onions. I would churn that milk until it turned to butter, and then it would be patted into a beautiful mold and placed inside the spring box where the rest of the milk was stored. It always amazed me at the beauty of the block of butter with their designs from the molds they were put in.
Who Am I…
Suspended in time, I kept asking myself, "will I ever bloom like this beautiful rose? When will my life come together, and be one of meaning and value to myself or anyone else?"
After I arrived back home, the past and present seemed to present a pivotal time in my life. The past had shaped my inner turmoil, and the present seemed as if it were too elusive to try and conquer.
I had been assured by Ginny and Daddy if I came back home, I could go back to school and live there with them. Learning was my passion and I so desperately wanted to finish high school. However, circumstances at home did not present themselves to be such that I could live there and finish my education. Some of the problems lay in the fact that I was an alcoholic and very reckless in my behavior with men. When a person is sexually abused, it can cause one of two things: a hatred of men, or a sexual behavior with no bounds. The latter behavior became my lifestyle, but not for reasons that could be understood by me. All I sought to find was two loving arms to hold me and really care about me as a person, but all I ever received was sex…. pure and simple. I was being used again, and wasn't really aware of what was taking place. I lived in a dream world of finding someone to talk to me, someone to take care of me, making the world go away in a sense. I continued to do as men wished me to do, and received absolutely nothing from them in return.
It was about this time, that I truly began to wonder if I was part of the family. It didn't seem so at time. I questioned Ginny on several occasions as to who I was, and why was I treated differently than my brother Adam. Ginny's intense dislike of me was a heartache that I could never understand. In the last few years, we have talked about many things, and that is one question she cannot seem to answer for me. I have my own theory, and I'm sure is only a theory. I did not know her Dad was not my real Dad. I feel everytime she looked at me, it reminded her of mother's affair with my real dad and it was too sad for her to remember mother doing such things. I continued to question, but never seemed to get answers. This feeling of not belonging went on for years, until I finally found the truth. When I was 35 years old, I asked the one person in the family that I thought would tell me the truth, and she did. Ginny's dad was not my dad.
I moved out into an apartment because it was the best for all concerned. In those days, some of Ma's destructive behavior patterns were again rearing their ugly selves in my mind. We didn't have anything in the mountains, but Ma chose to give me over everyone else what little we had. If ever we had candy given to us, I was allowed to sit and eat all of it and not give anyone else any at all. I was allowed to lie on the floor, kicking and screaming until I received whatever it was I wanted. Around eight or nine years of age, I had such horrible throat infections, the doctor at Boones Mill told Ma that it was imperative that I have my tonsils out. I remember distinctly standing on some overpass in Roanoke, after having seen a surgeon, telling Ma and my Uncle Pete that I was NOT going to have my tonsils out and that was the end of the discussion. Uncle Pete did try the old "ice cream cone" trick, but alas, even the thought of getting an ice cream cone did not work. I did exactly what I pleased, and everyone knew better than to try to stop me. At age thirty, very painfully, I might add, the tonsils did come out as they were poisoning my entire system.
I had not been trained nor taught that anything worth having is worth fighting for. Therefore, having to work, go to school, pay my rent, feed myself and my alcohol problem, etc., did not appeal to me at all. If I had been a fighter, I could have managed to do it, but I was not. I went to high school for a little while, not even finishing the 9th grade. When I was in school, I had devoted myself to learning and therefore at age 31, I walked in Jefferson State Jr. College in Birmingham, took the GED, and made an A, which would have given me the permission to attend college if I had so chosen.
It has only been in the last few years in particular, that I have indeed found who I am. I am a child of the King, a very special person whom God loves so very much; just as He does us all. It doesn't matter any longer who my earthly father was, into which family I was born, what horrible things happened in my childhood; I am a person of much worth, because He has made it so.
My Search for Peace…
Sitting in a rocking chair at age four or five, Ginny says, I was so distraught over the fact that once again, Ma had told me if I wasn't a good girl, I would go to hell. The report is that I would rock and cry, cry and rock and keep repeating, "now I'll never get to see sweet Jesus' face". Psalm 139 tells me a different story. This beautiful Psalm tells me that God was there before I was even born, that it doesn't matter if I fly with wings to the ocean, or to the depths below…He is still there. This is my story; He has always been there, even when I thought I was too rotten, too hateful, too mean, too sorry, too unworthy, or as vile as the woman at the well…. He was always holding me in the Palm of His Loving Hand.
I remember once asking Ma if I had been bad and died, but was cut up in little pieces and thrown in the ocean, would God still put me back together and send me to hell. "Yes" was her reply. I was afraid of God and His seemingly mean attitude toward me. No one else loved or cared about me, why should God?
After viewing a film which was shown at school depicting the sacrifice Christ paid for us, I began to wonder if Ma knew all there was to know about Someone who loved me that much. He couldn't be as mean as Ma said, I thought. The only assessment I could gather from the film was that God loved me. It was and is true…God is a loving God, and He does love the entire human race and me as well. He indeed does have a place called hell, but it was not made for the people who accept the Gift, which was offered by Jesus Christ.
While living in Chicago, at age 12, I was befriended by some students at Moody Bible Institute, which is a wonderful Bible College. I asked Christ into my life and was actually baptized at that time. However, time after time when I would come home drunk from the woman's house where I was babysitting, I had to wonder if I had been truly saved. She had a very nice bar, and never suspected that I was a frequenter of that bar while watching her children. I would wait until I got the children safe and soundly asleep, then I would proceed to drink. I was 12 and 13 at the time. Ginny finally found what was happening and made me drink an entire bottle of whiskey, thinking this would halt my taste for alcohol. It wasn't the taste of it at all, but how it made me feel. I wasn't a lonely little girl, chasing the winds of love and acceptance, I was off in la la land, where I liked to stay.
After coming to Birmingham, my drinking increased and my search for peace was not found in the bottle, or in some man's arms. I didn't know much about God, but had decided that I was going to know Him…one of these days, when I finished trying to fill the empty void with everything else the world had to offer.
We moved out of the projects and started going to a little church. I finally decided going out on Friday and Saturday night, drinking and partying, then going to church Sunday morning was not exactly what the Lord had in mind when He bade us to follow Him. I just stopped going period.
I do not recall ever going to church when I was traveling. Not once did I go, but I never ceased my search for the God I had invited into my heart ever so briefly. All the time, it was not He who was lost, but I.
This picture was probably taken about two years after we were married.
I met my husband Ed, after I had moved away from home. If I recall, I was probably around 19, and Ed was 13 years older than I was. I really feel I was looking for a father figure, someone to take care of me. We were married in Virginia, and returned to Trussville, AL to continue managing the beer joint (there just isn't another nice term to use) we had left. I drank up all the profits, while Ed didn't have a problem with alcohol at all. We saw shootings, cuttings and all the fun things that occur in a beer joint.
Ed and I had an explosive marriage to say the least, which I'm sure was partly my fault, with all the baggage I was carrying along. We were on a collision course, headed for disaster. This story will be written with respect to Ed, as he is no longer on this earth to defend himself. Ed was a man who was older and wiser and couldn't understand why I was having such a hard time with life. His theory on abuse, childhood, etc was that it was irrelevant to how it shapes our adulthood. So needless to say, he didn't have much patience with my chasing the winds. Upon reflection, his impatience with me was probably a good thing, as it made me even more determined to survive. I think he probably knew that also.
I went to church a few times even while managing the beer joint. I just couldn't give up on finding the winds of peace, but it all seemed so elusive. God could be found, but I had to search with all my heart, and I wasn't doing that at all.
One incident while at the beer joint was very poignant to my being assured that God did have His Hand of protection on my life. Even then, I could faintly understand that. One of the gifts in life I wanted so desperately was a child. It had only been the mercy of God that I did not already have one, of course His timing in life is everything. Ed and I had been married for about six months and our marriage was still in a volatile situation. Some events took place that nearly drove me over the edge of what little reasoning I had.
In addition to our problems, I had tried unsuccessfully to find mother's grave at Elmwood Cemetery. Even the officials at the cemetery, seemed to have misplaced her remains. Finally, they found the site and I wanted her to at least have a headstone. Silly little me didn't know what to put on the headstone, so I just had them inscribe the name she had died with. That caused a big disturbance with a member of the family, and once again, I was made to feel as if I didn't belong anywhere.
I tried to end my life…or was it just another (nearly fatal) attempt to get the attention and love I so longed for? I was told by someone very close to me that I should have consulted with them first as they would have told me how to actually finish the job. Another person close to me, advised me that I should have gone ahead and died, that I wasn't worth anything anyway. But God…He was there all the time, just waiting for me to finally ask Him to give me all the love I so desired. What I did not know in this pitiful suicide attempt(?) was the fact that I was pregnant with my very first little child.
I'll share some pictures of my three precious boys; now men of course, and then I'll tell you about how Jesus Christ changed the life of one such as I.
Our first little son was born and his well-being was very important to us. The environment we wanted him to be reared in did not include the happenings in the beer joints. We moved and Ed was hired as a plant manager for Jim Walter Homes in Birmingham, AL. My chasing the winds increased as we had two more sons.
My life was out of control; we had even gone so far as to see a lawyer about a divorce. We were buying our own home in Moody, AL, which was on a pretty corner lot. We had a new car, and three precious sons…but our house was not a home, it was just that…a house. Ed and I still fought constantly; he couldn't understand me and with all the problems I had, I didn't feel as if I had received any love and warmth from him. I could not find what I was searching for, and he did not know how to help me. I was headed down a one-way street toward a brick wall, with seemingly no way to prevent the crash.
Lay people from Moody Methodist church began to visit us; I didn't know what to think. I didn't know what a Methodist was! Was this a cult, should I shoo them away? The only thing that prevented me from doing this was the fact that the love of the Lord shone brightly on their faces. Being the sarcastic, hateful person I was, a rough and tough exterior was put up. I did try to discourage their visits, but their love for my soul, kept them coming back. They weren't pushy, just invited us to church and took a lot of sarcastic abuse from me. I didn't understand all this; did these people really care about me and my family, whether we went to hell, and whether or not we had a happy home? I had never seen such love radiating from people's hearts.
I would look at my baby sons who were four, three, and one year old and cry myself to sleep. In the midst of all the mess I was in, I had tried so desperately to give them love, a feeling of security and one of being wanted. It was all so limited from within just me however. The everyday drinking, all the uppers and downers pills, the pursuit of finding love and acceptance was draining me of giving the love to my sons, I felt they needed. I remember so distinctly crying out to Ed to please help me find myself. He had no answers except divorce, because he didn't know God either. I did not know to contact God, but I would cry out to Him nevertheless. In my desperation, I would plead with Him to help me not inflict upon my babies, the same pain that had been shown to me. I wanted my sons to have the love of a mommy and daddy, the feeling of being wanted and loved, the security that makes a child grow into a responsible adult. But where could I find this God who seemed to be so far away. He had to be the answer; He was my only hope.
I finally decided to take the two older boys to Sunday School at the church. I would drive up in my short shorts, drop them off, come back and pick them up with beer in hand. No one was ever ugly to me; they only loved me. One Sunday, Ed and I both went to church, but I was so afraid of which colorful terms might come out of my mouth to tell the minister how well I liked the sermon, I left immediately after church and sat in the car. The minister's wife came out to invite me back to some event, and I rolled the window up in her face. She still just loved me.
I love to sing and the choir director invited me to choir practice. I immediately told her that I was definitely not a Christian. She only hugged me and told me not to worry about that, just come and sing. I did sing in the choir a few times, watching and listening all the time to see if God really was in these people's lives as they claimed. He was.
After about a year, one evening an older gentleman and a couple of men came to visit. I was in a bad mood and decided to go to the back of the house and take care of some chores. During this time, the Holy Spirit visited Ed and he asked Jesus Christ into his life right there in the livingroom of our house. I came back in about the time they were saying their goodbyes. One of them asked Ed if he could tell me what he had just done. He told me he had invited Jesus into his heart. Well, I thought, that's all well and good for him, but he doesn't have all the problems and sin I have in my life. God could never forgive me and make me a Christian, I had sinned far too much for that, I thought. But God…
During the next 6 months, Ed became a real fanatic. He was at the church all the time, even staying late after church and it was getting on my nerves big time. He invited me to his baptism, but I refused. He even had the gall to tell me that he didn't want anymore alcohol in the house. The very idea! Of course, that didn't stop me, I just had my secret places where I hid everything. I had high standards for what I thought being a Christian meant, and I just didn't see whereas God could handle all my problems. The answer to my dilemma was being presented to me frequently, but I was blinded by Satan, and would not respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I wanted so desperately to be a good mother, but couldn't seem to let go of my stubborn attitude long enough to try God. "I" always ran my life; "I" always had the final say so over my decisions…not God.
The only problem I had concerned prayer. The people at the church were relentless in their prayers for me to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, to give my life to Christ. After about four months, prayers were being answered and one Sunday night, I asked Ed if he would stay home with the boys (they were ill), and let me go to church that night. Quite naturally, he suspected a trick on my part, but the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart and he let me go. I had made God a promise the week before: if He would let me get just a few situations taken care of, that I would go to church Sunday and give my heart to Him. I went that Sunday night in November, and sat in the back of the church. I heard no sermon, I heard no music; I only heard the sweet convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Prayers of the people to God on my behalf had broken down my last barrier. I sought the Lord in all His saving power that night, to change my miserable life and to help me become the mother I so desperately wanted to be.
The minister stated at altar call time, that there was someone here who wanted to give their life to Christ. He said that if that person would take just one step into the isle, that Christ would walk with them the rest of the way… and He did. I had not understood just how the people had been travailing in prayer for me, but I soon found out as sobs and praises of thanksgiving broke out in the sanctuary that evening.
I walked the aisle that night a broken, miserable wretch of a person, the woman at the well if you will. One who had walked their last lonely, dark mile alone. I presented myself shackled with the chains of sin, having run as far as I could run, chased every wind I could find to chase, only to find it always led to heartache and despair. I knelt at the altar, with tears streaming down my face, and gave up my will to His. Every rotten, miserable sin I had ever committed was forgiven because of His Blood. He saw me coming from afar, and sent for the white robe, because His daughter, who was lost, had come Home. There are no words to describe how I felt at that moment in time. I was loved; unconditionally loved by the King of all the Ages. I was accepted into His Family, where open arms are always extended to the orphans, the downtrodden and sinners. No one who comes to Him is excluded from His great love.
After much hugging and joyful tears from fellow Christians, I went back home that evening a changed woman. Ed met me at the door, knowing something had happened. He looked me in my eyes and knew. We simply embraced as I asked for his forgiveness concerning matters we had experienced. My next joyful trip was to the bedside of my little boys. They were all asleep at that time, but I visited each of them in their beds. I held them close to me and told them that with God's help, they had a new mommy. I had never abused my children in any way and had always provided good care for them, even when I was not at my best. What I wanted was to give them the very best start in life possible, and I knew the condition I had been in, that could never happen.
Peace reigned in my life for many years after that. I tried to be the best mother I could be, however I'm sure, failing in many areas as we all do. A year after our conversion, we answered the call of God on our lives and served in the Methodist Ministry for 25 years.
(This picture is at one of the parsonages)
I was always amazed that God could use me, since I most assuredly had more problems than the people in the pews. One cannot come from a background such as mine, and not encounter problems. It has taken years, but the journey has been worth it, to really come to understand just how much I am loved by the God of the Universe, His Precious son, and the sweet Holy Spirit.
Anticipation reigns in the heart of every Christian to one day reach their destination, to go back from whence they came, to live eternally in their Heavenly Home. Many times, one comes to the end of their journey, as we know it on this earth, much too soon. His ways are not our ways, His decisions may not be ours, but always and forever…His Peace can be ours in every situation we find ourselves in.
I must tell you about the two miracles the Lord gave Ed and me before he went to Heaven. I really wanted to leave this part out, however I am finding no rest from the Lord, so I am obliged to share them with you. I think it is all too common a problem to not mention.
When we accepted Christ, I thought all our marriage problems would be worked out. They were not. We provided a very happy home for our sons, and labored in God's vineyard as a team as ministers of the Gospel. During the entire 25 years, I was terribly lonely and probably he was as well. I came to a place in my life when I decided I could not live in the situation any longer. Although many times, the healing touch of the Lord came into my life regarding my childhood and teenage years, there were still emotions that had not been healed. We divorced in 1992 and as a minister, he was forced to seek counseling, which changed him completely. He was finally at peace about many areas that he had kept hidden in his life. We could talk and share with each other for once in our lives. We were remarried in April 1993. Neither of us knew at the time of our renewed vows, that Ed was terminally ill…but God did.
So, the miracle of God to us may seem to have come a little late, but our marriage was healed in the two years we had left together. Five years have passed and with each passing year, I understand more clearly things concerning the problems we had in our marriage. Some events occurred during our separation, which has drawn me into a beautiful relationship with the Lord, that I never had before. So wonderful things can come out of seemingly bad things.
There's usually not a day goes by when I do not thank God for the second miracle of allowing me to come back and care for Ed during the last two years of his life. I would not have been able to cope with the fact that he had no one to care for him at this time in his life. The following is the story of Ed's struggle to live on this earth, finally losing the battle, only to be blessed to now be in his eternal home.
After our wedding, we moved to a church in Guntersville, AL, and I began noticing Ed didn't seem to enjoy the health he once had. He had always been a hard worker, a good organizer and kept busy all the time, whereas now I began to notice all those traits sliding away. In November of 1993, he experienced a quadruple heart by pass and during the surgery, the doctor discovered an uncommon and fatal lung disease. The prognosis of only having two years to live proved to be true.
This picture is about a year after Ed was found to be terminally ill. It wasn't too long after that, we were forced to resign from the ministry.
To be quite honest, there were times when the burden of caring for a terminally ill person, was extremely hard to bear. Only someone who has experienced this can understand. It was not only the physical part of it, which was very demanding, but also the heartache of seeing someone struggle so hard to remain on this earth. I was forced to get out of my self-centered person and give everything I had to make Ed's days as happy and bright as possible. I only had to ask God for all the love and caring I needed and He was there with all the help I needed.
Ed and I grew very close during those two years. We were together all the time and I wore my nurses' uniform as medically correct as I possibly could. It is an extremely scary thing to know you have someone's life in your hands. The medicine had to be just so; the oxygen had to be administered correctly, but Ed's family and mine are still praising me for what they term a "Florence Nightingale" for sure. I often cried myself to sleep at night, seeing him struggling to live and knowing deep in my heart, he probably wouldn't. We never gave up hope that God would heal him, not until that last breath was taken. As I have stated before, no one knows the days and nights of a caregiver to a terminally ill person unless you have experienced it. The sadness is so overwhelming, but yet the joyous knowledge of them getting to go Home is always present as well.
Ed was not bedridden until three weeks before he died. That was such a blessing to him and me. He was not in pain at all, and did not suffer much, except for the fact that he could not do anything whatsoever. During the two years, I would prepare him for bed and then we'd say our prayers together, which was beautiful because it was one thing we could never do before. After he was bedridden he would continue to ask me to read his Bible to him; all the healing verses we still both believed in, and we continued to say our prayers. Hospice had been called in and we were feeding, bathing and seeing to all his needs.
The night of Ed's Homegoing, I had not slept for two nights, and asked my son from Texas to sit with Ed just a little while so I could get some rest. I instructed William on the procedures used to extract mucus from his throat when needed. I kissed Ed and told him I was going to get just a few winks of sleep. I, of course, fell into a deep sleep after not having slept for two days. It was 12:00 PM, when I awakened and felt as if the bed were surrounded by the fluttering of angel's wings. In my spirit, I felt the urgent need to get up that I was needed in Ed's room. When I walked into the room, William had accidentally fallen asleep on the couch and Ed, from what I had read in Hospice material, seemed to be dying. I awakened William and went to Pop's bedside. He was lucid and could talk. I held his hand and we exchanged our love for each other. I stood there for about 15 minutes and there was no change in him.
William was so ashamed for going to sleep and not caring for his Dad, he begged me to go lie back down, saying he would stand right there with his Dad. Sometimes, our hearts and minds do not run on the same course, because that's the way the Lord wants it I suppose. I knew in my mind that he was dying, but in my heart was refusing to believe it. After William's assurance that he would watch his Dad, I kissed him and told him I loved him once more and then in a robotic state, went to lie back down. It wasn't five minutes, when William came and told me it seemed as if Daddy had begun taking his last breaths. We were right by his bedside with him, when he was carried into the Presence of God by the angels, which had surrounded his bed. I have learned later, that sometimes a patient and caregiver are so close that they won't pass on, until the caregiver is out of the room. And so it was with Ed.
William began crying, and I, for some reason, went into a two-week state of shock. I did not cry, I simply reached over and took off his oxygen line, saying that he did not need that any longer. Two weeks after Ed died, his Dad joined him in Heaven. I was at Mr. Ray's bedside when he began taking his last breaths as well. He did not know that Ed had died, so I leaned over and whispered to him, that he was going to be greeted by Ed when he arrived in Heaven. The Lord gave me the joy of being there for my sister-in-law Mary, to help her with Mr. Ray's Homegoing. It was at this point that my grieving began. It is something that has to take place in order for our lives to go on.
I knew that William loved his dad and the fact that he had accidentally fallen asleep bothered him quite a bit, so we never spoke of the incident until months later. I still sometimes punish myself for not sitting up with Ed that night.
Ed had a favorite Bible which he ministered from, so I put it in his casket with him.
— COMPLETELY HEALED —
We traveled down the road that we call life; we saw the sunshine through the clouds. Then winter's darkness settled over us, bringing days of fear and doubt. God gave us both the strength to bear it all, although the news we heard was bad. We smelled the flowers each and every day in the short time that we had.
You were a fighter from the very start, our faith was strong that you'd be healed. We didn't want to think we'd ever part, and so to Heaven we appealed. I know that Heaven must have heard our cries, I know the Father heard our pleas. But He chose to heal the ultimate way, and His healing is complete.
CHORUS: Completely Healed, you're safe in the arms of Jesus, no more pain, no hurt, no tears, no cares. Completely healed, I know you're Home in Heaven. When life's circle is complete for me I'll meet you there.
As you struggled for life's final breath, angels hovered 'round your bed. They seemed to whisper, it's by His Blood you live, though to earth you may be dead. Heaven's waiting now, soon you will arrive, and when your journey is complete, I know you'll bow down before Jesus up there, shouting victory so sweet.
Copyright 1996 Eve Ray
Music-The Love of My Life…
The Lord gave me the music and words to this song, "Completely Healed", about three months after Ed had gone to Heaven. The music was recorded for me by Elton Smith from Songs of Praise.
Please visit Elton's site for a huge selection of original music written by him and others. He also has the Real Audio of "Completely Healed" if you would like to hear it. (When you get there, Click on RealAudio to get to this song, among others listed there also)
My love for singing and music began as early as I can remember. Ma would teach me the old hymns and I would sing to the top of my lungs. Daddy would make me stand in the middle of the room and sing…"louder, he would say". As I stated earlier in my story, my sister Ginny said Mother predicted that I would be a singer one day.
When I was about nine, we were blessed with electricity. At age ten, we did get an old TV, and I was introduced to "Elvis" the king of music. In the little one room school in Boones Mill, we would all gather in the girls bathroom (outhouse), and I would sing "You Ain't Nuthin' But A Hounddog". The girls just thought I was the bestest!
I always sang wherever I was. When I lived in Chicago, IL, my teacher in the school I attended asked me to sing in school assembly once. "Give me your tired, your poor, your trembling hearts yearning to be free"…was the first song I sang in front of a large gathering. Straight from the mountains of Virginia, to a school in Chicago, standing in front of 500-600 students singing my heart out. Scared was not the term I would use here…my teacher said, "just look over in the corner at that post". Well, looking at that post did not blank out all those kids sitting there waiting for me to belt out a tune. I think the only people who heard me were the people on the grandstand!
I sang in the school choir in Chicago, but I was so sarcastic and hateful, the choir director actually broke the directors stick, because of some of my remarks. Ginny had to come to the school, and I was kicked out of choir.
We moved to Birmingham and I attended three different schools in about one year (Ginny liked to move). When I was at Phillips High School, one of the teachers somehow heard me sing and I was once again asked to sing for school assembly. This time it was "Summer Time" from the Broadway show Porgy and Bess. Again of course, coming from a background such as mine did not lend me any self-assurance at all, and I was beyond scared. I never will forget Mrs. Cheatham, the teacher who took an interest in me, telling me, that I could do anything I chose to do with the voice God had blessed me with.
People have often asked me if I ever sang in the nightclubs I frequented so much. I never did, evidently God wanted to use the voice He gave me only for His Glory. After I became a Christian in 1972, I sang solos in all the churches where Ed was ministering. The voice was good, but I still did not have the self-confidence I needed to really sing to the Lord the way I wanted to sing to Him. What I felt in my heart for all His mercy to me was not what was being relayed to the people.
I have shared with you about the fact that Ed and I were divorced in 1993. During that time, I left the Lord and chose to walk back in the world. It was a horrible time and I was miserable, I had left my Lord who had loved me so, and I had left my singing, which was my source of happiness. After Ed and I were remarried, I sought the Lord in a totally different way to know His Presence. What came out of that search for His Presence was a lovely and divine assurance to sing His Praises. I no longer had to have the music right in front of my face; I no longer was afraid to let His Light shine through me as I sang. I visited many churches we had served before and all the comments were "something is different about your singing", and "the anointing of God is on you as you sing". Indeed it was, because as I searched for God to be my Lord and Father, not just my "ticket out of hell", I began to know Him in a much more intimate way. The beautiful Bible verse from Jeremiah 29:13, "You shall seek me, and you will find me, when you search for me with all your heart", became a reality in my life as I sang to Him with all my heart.
Today, I am still so in awe when I sing, because of His Presence. I do not sing to people, I sing as unto the Lord in Heaven, who is my Father, my Husband, my Everything in life.
I've never had voice lessons and just a few piano lessons, and maybe one day my dream will come true of writing and singing His Praises on a grander scale.
For All the Times
For all the times I cried in the dark, For all the times, I felt so alone. For every time the hurt was too deep to bear,
You were there…and I thank You.
For all the times I rejected your love, For all the times, the rain wouldn't stop. For every time, I tried to walk alone,
You were there…and I thank You.
Even in my mother's womb, you held me in your Loving Hands. You have been there all the days of my life;
And now I finally understand.
For all the times your love touched my heart, For all the times rainbows colored the sky. Because everytime, Lord that I called on You, You were there…and I thank You.
You are Here…and I thank You.
This is a song I wrote sometime back. I suppose one could call it a song, I call it simply "from the heart".It is my heart's desire to someday have many songs on Real Audio for you listen to. I was a Diamond in the Rough, and only God will be honored with the beautiful music He has put in my heart and soul.
Perhaps you're just surfing and after reading these pages, have realized that you are in need of a Savior. God loves you so very much and sent His very Best to take our sin burden.
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life".
Romans 10:13 says, "For we have all sinned and come short of the Glory of God".
Christ has paid the debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.
If you have never asked Jesus Christ into your heart, please prayerfully consider doing so. He is our Light in the Darkness and our Bridge over troubled water; He is our Peace.
If you would like to contact Eve Ray, she can be reached at
or her own personal website which is called:
A Chasing of the Winds