T1 Diabetes for 69 Years
My parents and most of my relatives were very religious people. All of my grandparents and several of my aunts and uncles belonged to the Primitive Baptist churches in the southern Virginia area. That may be a Christian denomination with which you are unfamiliar. It is characterized by no music in the church, no Sunday school, no choir, just very plain and simple. The preachers are not called ministers, and they do not go to college to become preachers. The preachers feel the call from God and they know that that is their calling. People who join have some kind of sign such as a dream that makes it clear to them that God wants them to join the church. At the conclusion of a Sunday meeting a prospective member will walk down the aisle to the front of the church, and announce that he/she wants to join. That person is usually very emotional and may be crying and finding it difficult to speak. A discussion usually follows and the people may hear what made this person know that joining was the proper thing to do that day. There have been instances that were not convincing and the person was denied membership. If the member is accepted then there is great rejoicing and lots of crying and hugging. Daddy had this experience several years before he died. I was living far away and did not know he was going to join. He didn't either until the preacher was about done for the day. Then Daddy became very weak and stumbled down the aisle shaking and crying as he explained why he knew he was supposed to join that day. He was accepted and he was changed in many ways after that day. Daddy was always a wonderful and very kind man. He would give a person in need "the shirt off his back". He was baptized in a creek far from any city or town and the banks of the stream were lined with well wishers. It is a very joyous occasion when a Primitive Baptist member is baptized. Much crying and hugging took place there.
Several years later Daddy had pains in his chest. The doctor told him he had a weak heart valve, and that it should be replaced with a pig's heart valve. Daddy felt that God would take care of him and surgery was unnecessary. Mother begged him to get the surgery. He finally gave in, the surgery was scheduled, and it was to take place in approximately three weeks. It was springtime and their was a drought in the Roanoke area.
Daddy had made the two acres surrounding the house very beautiful by planting many wonderful shrubs that had grown very large. Daddy was gifted at landscaping and the two acre yard was a virtual show place. Mother's large flower gardens added to the beauty of the place. People would stop and want to take pictures of the landscape. The magnolia trees had become quite large, and were very beautiful. On one occasion a wedding party stopped, and they got my parent's permission to have their pictures taken on the grounds.
The drought was bad that year and some of the beautiful shrubbery was turning brown. Daddy had a lot of muscle, and he would carry a five gallon bucket of water in each hand and go up the hill from the back yard water source to the front yard to water his boxwoods. The shrubs were so important to him, that he wanted to continue despite his heart problem. I was visiting at that time and, begged him to stop. I have never had much muscle, and he would not let me help. He felt that God would protect him. If he died then God wanted it that way. He seemed to be OK when we left and went to my home. On Mother's Day that year he was sleeping while sitting in a comfortable chair in the den. Mother was watching TV. She looked over at Daddy, and he suddenly made a little gasping noise, and stopped breathing. He died in his sleep from a ruptured heart valve. Mother grieved long and hard. There were many people including Primitive Baptist church members at his funeral. There were relatives there whom I had not seen in so many years.
Mother had hoped for so long that God would give her a sign that she should join the church, but it never happened. One of her brothers became a Primitive Baptist preacher, and he baptized many new members. He preached at many churches in the south central Virginia area. Mother died in May of 2005, many years after Daddy died. More about her in another chapter.