Monday, July 25, 2011

"I can't remember!' "Perhaps you will remember tomorrow."

Wright Family
The picture above is of the Wright Family, taken in Louisiana  in the 1960s.. Mom is standing in front of Dad around the center in the back row. I'm all the way to the right in the front row pulling up my dress. My two brothers are in this picture also. Below, I reposted the unusual story of Nancy Wright's birth, in celebration of her birthday August 1st. I plan on writing about the rest of her childhood next but haven't had time. Last week, when I ask her about a time when she lived in New Mexico, she said she couldn't remember. She just said this over and over,  "I can't remember" and got a frustrated look on her face. Trying not to make her more upset, I just replied calmly, "Mom, your just tired today, Perhaps you will remember tomorrow." I asked for three days and finally she did remember. So I better get a move on if I'm going to write more of her story. We are running out of time AND memory it seems. I hope  you enjoy the story of Mom's birth , it's unusual. 

The Story of Nancy Wright's Birth. 

The flood was coming! The entire drainage area between Hutchinson and Arkansas City received excessive rains. Major flooding occurred all along the Arkansas River carrying away most of the bridges. In Huntsville Arkansas, little Ada Whitten sat on the porch of her meager home with her legs crossed Indian style. She watched the high waters coming closer and closer to her scanty little dwelling with fear in her heart. Ada was with child. She had gone out to see the water rising the day before and within it, she saw several little black snakes. Startled, she ran inside. At church that evening, she told several of her friends “I saw black snakes in the water and I’m afraid of snakes, more than the flood!” Fearfully, suspiciously, they whispered to Ada, “Do not look at those snakes, don’t speak of them or even think of them for you will mark your unborn child!” Ada reached down and felt her swelled pregnant belly, the baby moved and kicked at her as if it were warning her too. Ada sat on the church pew that night and listened intently to her beloved husband David preaching the gospel of Christ and chased away the thoughts of the black snakes by praising the Lord. She sang the hymns passionately and faith took the place of her fear. 

Ada didn’t like Arkansas. Ada was proudly from Texas. She followed her husband, a preacher with immovable conviction to spread the truth and help the church grow there. She came to this foreign state and foreign people against her will but she never mentioned how miserable she was to David. Ada believed that her husband David knew what was best for her and her family and she had promised to obey him. She honored him and sat at his knee happily every evening as he prayed. 

Many of the folks in these parts disagreed with David Whitten’s “Campbellite” Church of Christ gospel. They were downright hostile about it and it frightened her. David had been beaten up and run out of towns in the past after winning his Bible debates. She worried those who disagreed in this place were so backward, they would kill him! “Those ladies at Church have got me spooked over nothing!” she thought. Unfortunately, ideas of the baby being marked by the snakes kept cropping back up in her mind. Ada knowing her Bible by memory came up with Genesis 1:24-25 for c omfort. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.” Ada said proudly out loud to herself, “God made snakes! Snakes are good! This baby will not be marked with evil but with good and God’s love!” There she stood proudly outside the small and meager little shack she unwillingly called home. There she stood with her hands in the air praising her almighty God, her tiny pregnant body, about to pop! It started to rain and she noticed the waters were still rising. It’s perfectly dry in Texas she thought. “You can always tell a Texan, but not much,” she giggled. 

Ada started feeling the pains of labor coming on the next morning while fixing breakfast for her family. She and David had been blessed by four female children and they both secretly hoped this one was a boy. Doris, the oldest of the girls noticed her mother squirming around oddly and took over her duties. “You go and lay down; I’ll take care of it.” Doris was able to sense that the birth may be coming because she had watched while the other three were born. Ada whispered to David, “It’s coming, get the Dr.!” David then reluctantly revealed the dreadful news he already knew but was keeping to himself and hoping he didn’t have to bare. “The doctor can’t get here because of the flood. He will come as soon as he can but he can’t come now.” David looked at his small but sturdy little wife with love and as much certainty and optimism as he could muster, “We will do this without the Dr., the Lord will be with us and you and the baby will be fine!” he said. 

On August 1st, 1923 in Huntsville Arkansas, the Lord blessed David and Ada Whitten with yet another little girl. She was carefully delivered by her father. She came fairly quickly with no complications. They affectionately named her Nancy Lou and oddly she was born with two little front teeth and a squiggly looking birthmark on her forehead. It looked kind of like a little black snake. 

The Dr. traveling in his black buggy finally arrived a few days later at the home of David and Ada Whitten. After examining Nancy and her mother, he found them to be healthy. Ada asked about the two little teeth. “Have you ever heard of a baby born with teeth?” The Dr. reassured her, “it’s rare but it does happen and they may fall out in a few days and they might just stay right there.” He added with a smile, “Nursing could be a little painful though.” Ada was a little embarrassed by that remark and didn’t respond. “And the mark on her head?” she continued curiously. The Dr. responded kindly, “it’s a birthmark and as she grows it will move right up to the top of her head under her hair.” “Don’t worry about it, your little Nancy is just fine!” he said confidently.

The Whitten family had become so pitiable by the time Nancy was born that the little newborn girl was diapered with old second-hand cut off shirts, provided by the other church members. The newly founded Arkansas church tried their best to help but they didn’t have any money either. David was dedicated to preaching the truth and spreading the word. He had expressed to Ada many times that this task took some sacrifice.

Ada just wanted to go back home! She remembered such better days, riding to their Texas church in their covered wagon with a plate of fried chicken to eat! She recalled the little girls all dressed up nicely and enjoying their chicken without spilling one little bite of it on their Church clothes. She thought of this and what happy times they had back then. She looked sadly at Nancy’s diapers. She felt embarrassed and ashamed for little Nancy. “My child deserves better!” she cried. At that very moment, Ada did something completely out of character, something she never would have thought that she would do, something she would never before have had the nerve to do! She marched right up to her devout willful husband like a mother hen! Standing there, the persevering young woman put her hands on her tiny hips obstinately, looked her husband right in the eye and declared her wishes. “Nancy Lou needs real diapers and we are going home!”

The poor little Whitten family moved back to Texas shortly after that exceptionally rare motherly declaration. David, the spiritual leader and father that he was, knew what was best for his family. They couldn’t live on faith alone. Not this time, not now! They needed to move home where Ada’s parents could help them. David knew he would find somewhere to preach the gospel there and farm for money like he did before. From then on, Nancy Lou giggled and cooed in her new bright white cotton diapers.

It was David’s decision to move back. Ada’s maternal instinct helped to inspire it. The new little mother was happy when Nancy’s two rare teeth fell out. It made nursing easier. New baby teeth came in and her strange little squiggly birthmark disappeared under her blonde braided hair just as the Dr. said it would. Nancy Lou was a good baby with a gentle temperament, just like her dear mother. Ada affectionately patted her lovely child on the head from time to time saying, “Nancy Lou, you were marked with God’s love and he has so many good plans for you!” God did have plans for Nancy Lou! Wonderful plans! Her parents with God’s help would make certain of that!