January 21 – Several years after they were married, Mom met me at our front door when the school bus dropped us off at home. What in the world was going on? She handed me a little plastic suitcase and said, “Now Frank’s (my brother) ready to drive you down to Roy and Esther’s, and you’re going to live with them for awhile. Two of the boys already have the mumps, and I’m afraid you’ll catch the disease if you stay here. Then I remembered how Rich and Pete hadn’t gone to school for a couple days, because their throats were so sore. Well, I didn’t want to go; that would be the very first time I had ever been away from home even overnight. But, when Mom or Pop said go, I went! No question.
So it was off down the road for about six miles, to the house right across the street from Esther’s family. I probably didn’t look too happy when the door opened, and I knew I wouldn’t be going home soon. As I remember there was only one big bedroom for the couple, and Esther had fixed up a cot right next to the heating stove, with plenty of covers to keep me warm through the night. Quite a difference from the attic room where my sister and I slept at home.
The next morning, I had to get up earlier than I did at home because I had to walk a number of miles to get to Wilson Junior High where I was in the eighth grade. As I remember, I didn’t tell anybody at school about my “new home.” Several days later, my throat was sore, then very sore, and finally I figured out that I must have caught the mumps before I left home a couple days before.
When Roy came home from work, Esther told him that she thought I had the mumps. “Well, I’ll find out,” he said. Getting a jar of sour pickles from the fridge, he pulled out a couple slices, handed them to me, and said, “Eat ‘em!” Obediently I did, but really suffered at the end. Having seen and heard all of this, Esther brought me a glass of water and put me down on the cot.
That night, I saw the one and only disagreement between those two that I had ever seen. And that was because of those pickles! That good couple weren’t even talking to each other, but were looking at me and saying things like, “Tell Esther I had to do it to prove a point,” or “Well, let Roy know that you suffered through because he told you to,” etc.
Feeling guilty because I was the cause of all of this, I got up from the cot, went to the cupboard to get some onions, peeled and sliced them into huge slices, and then found the bread in the bread box on the counter. I slathered the pieces with salad dressing and put the onion slices on. With the sandwiches all ready, I took the plate to them and said, “I’m sorry this happened. This will help you.” I know you won’t guess why onion sandwiches were part of the idea, so I’ll tell you! They liked onion sandwiches more than ice cream, and I did, too. After they had eaten the sandwiches, they hugged each other till I almost thought they would break! Good for the onions!
Esther gave me the option of staying home the next day, but I never ever wanted to miss school, so I walked off to classes. That night Academy High, where I would go after Wilson, was playing our old rival, East High School. How could I miss that? What could I do to make sure I was in the stands for that special game?Esther came to the rescue. She put a wet cloth covered with a woolen scarf around my neck, then pulled the hood of my jacket over my head and fastened it tight. How pleased I was when Academy won, but my throat was so sore, that I didn’t sleep much that night. Roy drove me back home early the next day before he went off to work. Since homes in which kids had mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough, or measles sported a placard on the outside by the door, announcing to all that the kids were quarantined, we had no chance of going off to school until the days of quarantine were over.
Through the years, we enjoyed being together, and wished that we could see each other more often. Sometimes we would play games like dominoes or work puzzles. Esther was always ready for another game, but years later, Roy was more content to sit in the big chair near the living room window and watch the birds, read National Geographic, or just doze off for a bit.
Esther always loved everybody and had kind words to say to and for those she knew. She made friends easily, and her smile was more than precious. Having Roy and Esther in our lives was a real blessing, and we look forward to seeing them again when Jesus comes back. – CHRIS