Story

“Pearl Harbor”

Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes. I went into a small gift shop to kill time. In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, “Reflections on Pearl Harbor ” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941–Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.

On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters every where you looked.

As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?” Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice.

Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?”

 

Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?” Nimitz explained:

Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply.

That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.

Author Unknown
6/12/2013

“Baby, I’m Living Too Long”

I glanced at the grandfather clock standing in the hallway near the front door of the mortuary. It was nearly time for the family to gather to say goodbye to the man who loved us, raised us, and worked four jobs to give us all the things he didn’t have as a child. This was the wonderful man who loved our mother faithfully, passionately and devotedly for fifty-nine years.When I raised my head to glance at the door, I saw my brother and his family had entered the room, followed closely by my sister and her family. Yes, we are all here, I thought, as I smiled at my siblings. We would never be anywhere else. We were all there to care for our momma and give her support.

The mortician approached and told us we could enter the viewing room to say our farewells when convenient. Momma took my hand and I signaled to my husband, children and grandchildren to fall into line behind us. We three siblings had earlier decided that each family would say their goodbyes privately. Our little granddaughter was tenderhearted like her mommy, our beautiful and loving daughter-in-love, and she walked slowly by my side while sobbing quietly. I wiped her face with a fresh tissue, kissed her, and took her hand as we walked to say goodbye to her great-grandfather, known to all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren as Poppy.Momma is doing well, I thought, as she approached the casket and smiled. When she turned toward me, tears began to stream down her face.

“Your daddy looks as if he should wake up and say, “Hi, Genny.” Daddy had always called her Genny except when he was a little upset about something and he called her Genevieve. Momma wiped her eyes but never lost her charming smile.

We noticed daddy’s wavy hair was more prominent then it had been in recent weeks. He had been so ill suffering from cancer and heart disease. The cancer was spreading. Even though daddy had great faith, he tried to tell momma and me that he knew he was failing. He said he didn’t want us to be surprised if something should happen to him.

As I looked at the still, earthly body of my wonderful father, I remembered a conversation we had a few days earlier during lunch. Daddy was not feeling well that day and he uttered words to me that, at first, I didn’t understand. I asked him to repeat the words. He said, “Baby, I am living too long.” I smiled adoringly at my hero, bent over and kissed him on the bald part of his head. I took his hand and told him that he was not in charge, and that when God thought his work on earth was finished, He would take him home and not before. To my sadness and dismay, the Lord took daddy six days later.

Glen, my husband, and our family joined us in the sitting room to wait for calling hours to begin. Soon, my brother, Dick, and our sister, Dianne, and their families entered the room and sat down near us. The clock struck 6:00 p.m. It was time to return to the main room for calling hours.

I took my momma’s arm and helped her to stand. The tears were gone now, for a while. She wouldn’t allow the tears to remain while greeting her friends and those of daddy. She never wanted to embarrass daddy and showing tears might show weakness and she certainly never wanted that. We had scheduled calling hours from 6:00 to 9:00 with the understanding that if the lines diminished earlier, we would leave and go to momma’s house to have dinner.

It was heart warming to learn that when the mortician opened the door, the line of dear friends and extended family members extended around the block. The line finally depleted at 9:30 pm. These were such wonderful people who came to pay their respects, and most of them had been daddy’s life long friends.

When momma was ready, we each walked by the oaken casket to say one last goodbye until we all meet again in heaven. Yes, we are all Christians and we know we will see him again someday.

We arrived at momma’s house a few minutes later. Many of the neighbors, friends, and relatives had brought food, paper items, and snacks. The women prepared a buffet from the donated dishes, and we gathered around the dining room table to eat. When we were all seated, momma suddenly realized that daddy’s seat, at the opposite end of the table, was vacant. Tears streamed down her face. Daddy had always been in his place for every family dinner for fifty- nine years. Well, at least until a football game began on the television.

Yes, daddy was an avid sportsman. He was a great golfer, little all American in basketball and football, a life guard, a hunter and trapper as a young husband and father, a great fisherman and had owned and operated a sporting goods store for nearly forty years. Momma was not always happy when daddy chose to watch the games, but she realized that was his great love and she really never said very much. When you think about it, it was a trivial matter and our momma always told us never to make mountains out of trivial matters. She never did and she and daddy were always happy.

As we sat around the table, we began to share some of the stories that our friends told us during calling hours. Dick told the story about the two men who were brothers. When they were just entering high school, they loved to go into daddy’s store and look around at the guns, traps, hunting clothes, active wear, and shoes. They really enjoyed talking with our father. One of the brothers mentioned that he was thinking of quitting school and getting a job and his brother agreed that he, also, was thinking about it.

Well, since we three siblings had been told we were going to college from the age of two years, we knew what our daddy would say to that. “You boys better stay in school. If you quit, you won’t be able to get a good job anywhere, and you won’t be able to support your family. When they are growing up, they will need all the love and support you can give them.” My brother smiled as he finished the story. That was our dad.

No, he hadn’t gone to college because his daddy told him he had a job and he better keep it. It was the 1930’s and times were hard in those days, and even though my paternal grandfather had attended college for two years, he failed to encourage his oldest son who was even offered a scholarship. Our momma had attended college for two years, but met and fell in love with our father. That ended her college career.

My sister, Dianne, was sharing a story that some man had come into the store around Christmas Time and wanted daddy to buy his gun. He said he didn’t have any money for gifts for his children for Christmas. He asked daddy if he would buy the gun. Daddy asked him how much he needed and the man told him he could use two hundred dollars. Daddy gave him three hundred dollars, took the gun and put it on the gun shelf in the store. Dianne said he told the man to buy the gifts for his kids and when he could afford it, come back and buy the gun. In the meantime, it would be waiting for him right there on the shelf.

The time was passing quickly. The Memorial service was scheduled for 1:00 pm the next afternoon. I could see my mother was exhausted. The shock of daddy’s death and having to make plans for the service were really taking its toll. I knew it was time for her to turn-in for the evening. Our daughter, Kim, had promised to stay all night with her because we didn’t want her to be alone. Oh we all knew that she would have to be alone eventually, but not yet.

Mom had been alone with her three kids when daddy worked the swing shift at a local factory. But since he became a county commissioner and managed the store, he had retired from the factory, and had been home every night for years. Our momma had become used to someone sleeping next to her. But now we are grown and momma will be totally alone. Kim is the eldest granddaughter and adores her grandmother. She will be good for momma. I just know it.

When 12:00 noon arrived the next day, momma wanted to leave for the church. I had remembered that daddy wanted his memorial service to be in the church. Yes, my daddy became a Christian after he married momma. Although it was difficult for him to attend church regularly when he worked four jobs, he became a devoted member and attended church weekly during his matured life. But all through his life, the light of Jesus guided his actions towards his fellow man and the community. He wanted to be interred from the church. Actually, I always knew there wasn’t a better man anywhere than our daddy, and we all knew he was very deserving of having his celebration of life be held in the church.

The hour of 1:00 arrived. When we were escorted from the church parlor to the sanctuary, momma was overcome with pride and great joy. The church was packed with friends and family. I looked at my momma and saw the tears trickling down her cheeks. She smiled at me and whispered that daddy would be so proud to know that God filled the church with his family and many, many friends.

It was the morning of the fifth of July, 1997, when we laid our daddy to rest. As I watched the pall bearers place the casket over the gravesite, I realized what I had told my daddy was true. On the morning of his passing, he came to my momma and told her he didn’t have either an ache or a pain. As usual, daddy showered, shaved, and ate his breakfast that morning. He later lay down to take a nap and God took him home. Daddy’s work is done. Momma felt guilty because she hadn’t realized that has passed away until she went to check him and he was silent and still. She called 9-1-1 immediately. Daddy’s spirit had already gone to heaven. I told momma “God healed daddy and daddy told you he was without pain. That was God’s way of letting you know that daddy was just fine.”

Gretchen Mavis Turney
11/3/2012

 

“If you Have love, You are Very, Very, Rich”

Hello Again

Have you missed my stories?  I had to take time out for the hospital.  I caught pneumonia a few weeks ago and it has taken me sometime to recuperate.  I have attended church one week out of five.  That is very unusual.  I never miss church if I can avoid it.

Yes, you guessed it.  I began going to church when I was four years old.  Actually, I attended Bible School first.  Oh, I know it is called Vacation Bible School today, but in my youth, it was just Bible School.  One of the the first songs I learned was “The B-I-B-L-E.”  I’m sure many of you remember that song.  The second song I remember learning is “Jesus Loves Me.”  Yes, the Bible is the book that contained the stories about Jesus who was born on Christmas Day. The Bible also told me how blessed I was that Jesus Loves me, a lowly mortal, born into a very rich family.  No, we weren’t rich in money; we were rich in love.

Oh, come-on, you say.  How can anyone be rich in Love?  If you are asking me that question, then you have never, ever been really blessed.  I can assure you that you also have been blessed, but you were so busy thinking about all the things your neighbor had and trying to keep up, you never stopped long enough to take inventory that probably sat beside and around you at the dinner table every night.  Yes, our family always ate dinner together.  That was the time we learned what kind of a wonderful day everyone had experienced.  You see, we were raised to believe that every single day is how we make it, and our parents always emphasized the positive with us.   We were never, ever to depend on someone else to make our happiness for us.  Momma always emphasized that we would be taking a risk to depend on someone else to make us happy;  especially, if they were raised in a negative environment.

But on with the story.  As a child and the oldest grandchild on both sides of our family, I spent a lot of time with both sets of grandparents.  My father’s daddy was a policeman and a railroad worker.  My momma’s daddy was a very successful farmer and a devout Christian.  When I visited them on the week-ends, I was allowed to go to the barn with grandpa and carry the buckets of milk to the strainer can.    I was able to feed the calves, either with a bottle and big nipple or with a bucket, depending on their growth. Oh I loved going to the farm.

Every morning, winter and summer, my grandpa arose at 4:00 A.M. dressed and went to the barn.  I was allowed to go if it wasn’t too cold.  Around 8:30, when grandpa returned from the barn, he always changed his clothes and put on a clean white shirt and trousers.  He never sat at the table in dirty clothes.  While grandma cooked eggs, bacon, home fries, oat meal, and made sweet rolls and coffee, grandpa would read from the Bible.  When he finished, we knelt beside our kitchen chairs and listened as grandpa said Grace and we all recited “The Lord’s Prayer.”

On Sundays, it was tradition for most of the family to go to grandma and grandpa’s house for Sunday dinner. Grandma always arose early, went to the chicken house and grabbed two and maybe three chickens, depending on the number of people coming for dinner.  She chopped their heads off, hung them over the clothes line to bleed out, dipped them in a boiling bucket of water, plucked the feathers, and singed the stubbles.  Grandma cut up the chickens and fried every piece, including the gizzards that were absolutely delicious to me and my daddy.

When the family arrived, my momma, daddy, brother and sister first, followed by my uncle, aunt, and six children, and my aunt and uncle and three children. We all hugged each other, and played a game before grandma called us for dinner.  Momma and I helped grandma bring the dishes filled with delicious steamy hot food to the dining room table and to the smaller table for the younger cousins. After dinner, the men would take a nap or read the paper, the women did the dishes, and the kids went out to play in the barn and the hay.

At 4:00 P.M. our grandfather went to the back room and changed into his milking clothes.  My uncle helped with the milking before departing for home with his family.  I went home with my momma and daddy and my two siblings.  My aunt and her family were the last to leave.  We were all so tired but very, very happy after having such a wonderful day.

Yes, we all knew we were very rich, rich in the love that our grandparents passed to our parents and they passed it unto their children.Love makes the world go round and it brings more goodness and more happiness than all the money in the world. My husband and I have raised our two children and our son has raised his two children.  We all are very rich is what really counts – love.

Until next time, dear friends, look at all you have and don’t think about what you don’t have. If you have love, you are the richest people in the world.

Have a wonderful week and may God dearly bless you each and every day.

If you have love, you are the richest people in the world.

Gretchen Mavis Turney
09/10/2012

 

 

 

“It’s what you do with what you got”

Good morning, dear friends.

There is an old song that I used to sing for my two little ones. If memory serves me, I first heard it in the movie, “So Dear To My Heart”. It goes like this: “It’s what you do with what you got, never mind how much you got, it’s what you do with what you got that pays off in the end. Look what David did to Goliath with that little old chunk of rock….” and yes, there are more words, but these words make my point. If you know the Bible Story, David used a slingshot and killed the giant, Goliath. He used the only thing he had to accomplish his task.

In the movie I mentioned above, a little boy had been permitted to raise a black lamb when its momma refused it food and nurturing. He raised it to be shown in the local county fair. His grandmother tried to discourage him from stepping into the judges’ ring with a black lamb. Knowing that black lambs were always neglected by their mothers, the boy, we’ll call him Bobby, begged and begged until his grandmother agreed that he could show the black lamb we’ll call Blackie. Bobby did everything he could to raise a healthy black sheep. The words of the song told Bobby to go on even though his lamb may never be accepted by the judges.

Bobby’s Grandmother warned him, win, place or show, he was to walk out of the ring with his head held high, walking proud. Bobby made sure Blackie was standing perfectly still when the judge inspected him and his wool. Bobby listened as the judge announced the winners, but he and Blackie hadn’t made the winner’s list. He dropped his head for only a moment before remembering what his grandmother had told him. Just as he was leaving the ring, the judge announced that they were making an exception this year. They were going to award a very special ribbon to the young owner of the black lamb. The young man won his award for doing the best he could with what he had, even though everyone told him he would never win. He did what he could with what he had.

There are so many of us who never realize how many gifts are given to us at birth. I have had friends tell me they wished they had been given a singing voice, while others wished they were tall. I thanked them for their kindness, but I explained they were lucky because they didn’t have to pay adult prices at the movies. The cashier never believed my daddy when he told them I was only ten. I looked like a teenager because I was very tall. All the guys in the class were shorter than I was, but I found my guy in the next class.

The friend who wanted to be tall did not need that gift at all. She became a trained radiology technician and through her gifts and talent, she was able to assist in giving peace-of-mind to many patients via the doctor who told them they were perfectly fine. She had taken very clear x-rays using her talents and training, and she really didn’t need to be tall for that. Actually, she was just right to do her job and raise a wonderful family.  She allayed my fears a few times, believe me.

The wanabe singer became a Catholic Sister first and a lawyer later in her career. She never needed a singing voice to be either the Sister or the lawyer. She could show empathy, compassion and love by using only her speaking voice. God had given both of these dear friends all the gifts they needed to accomplish their goals and dreams.

Dear friends, God loves all of us, and it is through Him that we can develop our talents and become the best of the very best.  We must learn to acknowledge our gifts, work with them to accomplish our goals, and be very thankful for them.  If you are a sincere person who wants to reach out and accomplish great things for yourself and for those you love, and work within the love and guidance of the Lord, than use your gifts for all they are worth.  Be so thankful for them and the fact you were born into this wonderful, yes, and sometimes challenging, world.

All things are possible if you believe in the special gifts you were given, and you must have faith in your own intelligence, patience, and common sense.   It’s what you do with what you have that counts.  Never mind how much you have, just get out there and develop it to its fullest capacity, and when you accomplish that, you will be the best you can be.

Thanks for listening.  Until next time, remember that God loves you and so do I.

Gretchen Mavis Turney
08/16/2012