Monday, March 16, 2015
BISHOP ELI TELLS OF HIS STEP-FATHER
I guess Elmer told you about my Father passing away in the barn leaving my Mother alone to raise ten children. I and my family lived out of state as did Elmer and his family. We both moved back to Pennsylvania where my Mother lived because I knew she would need our help. Also, I guess Elmer told you that about a year later Amos (my step-father) bought the farm next to my Mother's. He was widowed and had moved into the area to be closer to relatives helping him raise his five children. Mother was helping him by doing the cooking and baking, cleaning, sewing and more.
After a few years Amos' family was invited for dinner once in a while. Then it became once a week. Then it became two or three times a week. A few times Mother and Amos got family sitters and went out to eat by themselves. Finally one evening all of his family and our family were invited for dinner when they announced they were getting married. My wife and I were very happy as were some of the older brothers and sisters. Some of the younger ones were not.
Being a Bishop, I have seen times when it is hard for two widowed families with children when parents get married. This children think the step parent is replacing the parent they lost. All the rules and regulations in the house change. Someone is going to take all the parents attention. All sorts of things came up.
Now, I look back on Amos. He united two families with a total of fifteen children. A year or two later he and my Mother had another child. Amos said they had to make a even number of children. We are not suppose to have pride. But I have to give Amos credit for taking on such a big family.
Before they married, they had a Father night. After dinner all of us children told about out Father. We could say anything we wanted. Amos wanted to know about our Father. A few nights later we had a Mother night where his children could tell anything they wanted about their Mom. Amos said he was going to be the step-father not replacing our father. He wanted us to keep the memories of our Father and if we wanted to speak or say something about him to feel free. Like wise our Mother was not replacing his children's Mother. His children could talk about their mother anytime. We were not ordered to call our step-father Father. All he asked was that we call him Amos. If we decided to call him Father that was fine, but no one was ordered to. Like wise with my Mother.
When it came to living his children wanted to stay in their homes. My brother and sisters wanted to stay in theirs. Mother didn't care if they sold her farm as it bothered her that our Father died in that barn. So they decided to sell both farms and buy another one. They ended up buying land and building a new house. The house was not Amos' house or Fannie's house but their house.
The evening after they married, they had all of us over to the new house. Amos and my Mother stood side by side and said we are all one family. There are no your family or my family. We are one family. There are no favorites. Everyone is equal. No matter what happens - we are family.
Amos saw that we kept that, too. He worked the farm and an outside job to make enough money to support the family. My brother and sisters plus Elmer and myself helped on the farm when needed. It seemed he worked morning to night.
One of my little brother's ran away. As a little child, he wanted to test to see if he was really loved so he ran away to see if our family would come after him. Amos spent most of the night looking for him. He found him in a barn at a friends home. Mother said if she had found him, she would have paddled his bottom right there. Not Amos. After my brother explained why he ran away, Amos asked him if they proved they loved him. My brother said yes. Amos didn't paddle him.
When any of the children were sick, he and my Mother were up all night taking care of them. Then he would go to work in the morning. When the washer couldn't work anymore and was passed being fixed again, Amos took on a third job to pay for a new one.
He made sure every one of us was at church. Also made sure we had Bible readings and prayer. Even though, we did not live in the same home he did, he always told us the importance of reading the Bible and praying to the Lord.
During teen years for the younger ones, he had hired a driver to take him to parties or places that the young folks should not be at and bring them home. One of my sisters ran away and he hired a driver to take him to get her. He told her if you are going to leave, tell us, just don't sneak out of the house. Later one of my brothers left. He was gone for two years. Amos kept telling us to pray. We did. One afternoon, Mother was out and Amos got the call at the shanty. My brother wanted to come home, but was afraid. Amos called him back and told him he would send the money and meet him at the bus station when he came home. When everyone came for dinner, he told us that the Prodigal Son was coming home. My Mother almost passed out. He said he wanted him treated equal when he came home. Asked my Mother to make his favorite dinner that night. When the bus came in Amos was there. What he and my brother talked about on the way home is between them. After all the hugging when my brother came home, he was treated like the rest of us. Mother did cook his favorite dinner.
When I became Bishop, I was in shock and felt that I couldn't do the job. When we got to my parents, Amos put his arm around me and told me that I was the one for the job. The Lord had selected me because He knew I could do it. I was not to be afraid or doubt. The Lord knows what He is doing. Whenever I have a problem or am not sure - I remember his words.
Didn't mean to go on so. Just wanted you to know how special our step-father is. We have called him Father for a long time now. Even today he doesn't want us to forget our natural father or natural mother. We are all one family.
My Mother always said that she could not have gotten through the rest of her life especially taking care of the children, if the Lord ad not provided Amos. Amos says he could not have gotten through the rest of his life if the Lord had not provided Fannie.
I am happy that they spend most of their time at Pinecraft. They deserve it. Both have worked hard all their lives. To this day if anyone of us needed one parent or both, all we have to do is call - they would be there. Thank you for these parents, Lord.
Happy 25th to My Mother and Father,
Please ask Elmer, Anna, and Olive questions. They are running out of ideas to write posts about.