(A memory of John & Carrie)
It was a great day for a walk, and Anne of Green Gables music flowed softly through my ears and the spring bird songs filled in and around the music—it fit…perfect harmony.
A long deserted pasture stood below a hill. Gray weathered fence posts with broken down, rusty barbed wire stood out against the grasses growing green and taller by each moment.
A pair of Orioles in their mating play, flew by in crazy patterns and didn’t notice me at all. All happy bird tunes match my music as I look at that old pasture and a memory came to me…
Gentle, quiet John– a happy farmer who once went off to war, but you would never know it. Quiet, but not shy like Matthew Cuthbert. Did he have as many as thirty milking cows?
…and there were his apple orchards, and pear trees.
In the front yard of his home was an enormous cherry tree. He and his wife Carrie hurried to collect the berries before the birds got them, making a mess, eating parts of them and leaving the rest.
Once in winter, John gave a nature lesson at church. He brought a frozen red-tailed hawk to show the children on Wednesday night when John and Carrie taught the Bible lesson.
This farmer’s one claim to fame in the kitchen was old-fashioned molasses cookies. They were absolutely the milk dunking kind. After adding five or six cups of flour into the enormous bowl, it became a work of the biceps to mix these “hockey pucks.”
When he died, there was a large cookie jar full of them and anyone paying a call on Carrie went home with a cookie, or sat in the kitchen with a glass of fresh milk, and dunked away.
Carrie always moved slowly, ever since I met her. Out of the house, she wore a wig that looked like a wig. At home she wore her short brown graying hair, plastered down upon her head as stern and purposeful as her face was. In most ways she was like many old fashioned folks at the time—stern, serious and held tight to emotions. Covering her light blue eyes were round old-fashioned wire rimmed glasses.
Stern was her “almost always” look. Yet when a child made her laugh, her face became instantly alive. Carrie’s eyes would twinkle—almost shut, wrinkles appeared at the eye corners, and shockingly—a little girl’s giggle would erupt from her throat. It was soft and infectious. You couldn’t help but laugh as well.
Each week, John would bring a large metal can of fresh cold milk, and Carrie with her popcorn and flannel graph Bible lessons.
I never heard a single complaint about the snacks. Children sat up straight in chairs and listened to the Bible lesson. Carrie’s stern look kept each one in his place.
Just one look from Carrie and they stopped fooling around.
I was there to help. I passed out the popcorn, and John the milk. I sat with children during snacks and got to know them, and asked–did they understand the Bible lessons.
My children will never forget the hay wagon rides in summer. The picnics in their backyard with the other children, eating on the little black TV stands with red flowers on them.
I would love to see some of those grown children now and hope I would hear they remembered John and Carrie with great fondness. A couple who loved children and the Word of God, and who wanted to be called Uncle John and Aunt Carrie by everyone.
Do they remember the love and kindness shown to them at an early age? Did they take Jesus with them the rest of their lives?
John and Carrie lived and died. They left this world like most of us—remembered by few, but they brought the Light to many children. We might think it was nothing—but in their own way they were light.
I wonder sometimes why we look for some big, important job to do, when all we have to do is be.
The Light will shine in His own way out of who we are.