November, 2020 – Thankfulness Learned, First Hand

November, 2020 – Thankfulness Learned, First Hand

It was eighty-five years ago – November 9, 1935, to be exact – that Freda Elizabeth Cochran and Lewis Ermon Bean became a young married couple in Washington County, Maine.  I knew them better as Mama and Daddy.  Actually, they were ‘mamaanddaddy’ to me – truly ‘one person’.

Their one wedding picture was of them sitting on a small bench facing each other.  Daddy was beyond handsome with his shock of black wavy hair.  I think he looked like a Greek god.  Mama who was many wonderful things was not really known as a ‘sweet’ person.  She was such a strong person, a choleric, a giving-to-a-fault-person – yet in the wedding picture, she had such a sweetness about her face.  Probably the love shining through that she had life-long for her husband.

Daddy, who never crossed Mama did say that Mama’s hair had never looked worse than on their wedding day.  I guess he was used to seeing her wearing her hair done every-day-naturally, but she had gone and gotten it all fancied up for the wedding.  I have to tell you that that would not have been the part that would have bothered me.  It was her dress!  Since they didn’t have a ‘real’ or formal’ wedding, Mama just wore a lovely dress.  (Lovely to her, anyway, I guess.)  It had loose brown velvet on the top with a gold flowing, mid-calf length bottom.  I only ever saw the dress once, and thought, “What was she thinking?”

Regardless, they would be ‘one’ in each other’s eyes for the next forty-five years.  They ‘got each other’s backs’, always stood up for each other, treated each other with such respect (okay, Mama was a bit bossy), cooked all our holiday meals together, kissed when they met at the end of their respective work days, served the Lord together in many capacities, and together gave their lives to their four children.

When Mama would come from Maine to visit my family and me in Massachusetts  for a week, she would have been with us no less than four days and say, “Why did I say I would come for so long?”  She missed Daddy so much.  I think, too, that it more than likely had to do with three rambunctious little boys who never, never stopped and were probably driving her crazy!   And, by the third or fourth day, Daddy would be calling to say, “Mum, when are you coming home?” – and that was with tears — though he would have never wanted us to know.  He worshiped the ground she walked on.

Mama and Daddy lived a life of ‘service’.  The Scripture says that if you have two coats and someone has need of one, to give one of your coats to that person.  If Mama had had one coat and she knew someone needed it, she would have given it.  Daddy spent much of his time apart from his job doing things for others – and nobody but he and that person knew about it.  I have mentioned it in another ‘Sharing’ that it wasn’t until Daddy’s funeral that person after person mentioned to me what my he had done for them. I was amazed. And I would never mention this if my parents were living, but on two occasions, IRS agents visited their home on two occasions, sat at the kitchen table with them going over their records.  It absolutely baffled the agents that my parents – a schoolteacher and a common laborer – would ever financially give what they did to their local church.  Did I say – this happened twice?!   Mama, being as meticulous with record-keeping as anyone could be, had every receipt of proof that the agents were looking for.

Needless to say, after both Daddy and Mama had passed away, there was very little left for their four children – nor did we ever expect or look for it.  I loved it that they knew where their ‘giving’ was going while they were living – and it was always to the most desperate of needs.  They gave their lives for Jesus and others – they gave their money – and they gave their time.  I believe it’s because of them that I aspired first-hand to learn to ‘give’, selflessly as they did.  And I believe it is because of them that I have spent the last twenty years in Romania, ‘the other land that I love’ – serving the least of these, the orphans and Gypsies ever so precious in His sight.  We want to be so mindful of being thankful – filled with gratitude every day of our lives – but as the calendar has rolled around once again to November/’Thanksgiving month’, it is with the deepest thanks I want to express my gratitude this time to ‘mamaanddaddy’ . . .