Saturday, September 30, 2006

Twirling in Blue



Lily twirled around the room while holding a light blue dress against her little body.

“I’m wearing this,” she said. “What are you wearing?”

I stared at my little sister. I hadn’t given any thought to my wardrobe. I was 6 years old. I did not care what I wore. Whatever I grabbed out of the closet first, or whatever my mother would hand me, that is what I wore.

“I want Daddy to see me in this,” she said as she twirled some more. “This is such a pretty color – just like the sky.”

I remember feeling ashamed. I never thought for a minute that our father might see us. Why would he? He had never seen us before.

“Is Daddy really going to see?” I asked my older sister.

“Of course, he is,” Becky replied.

I still didn’t believe it. Papa was blind. He had been blind since age 22. He had been a welder for the Ford Company near Ann Arbor, Michigan. The company sent him to a specialist when he complained of blurry vision after work one day but nothing could be done to save his sight. Within six months, he was 100-percent blind. He did not see shadows. He did not see anything.

Growing up in a strict Pentecost family, I had seen attempt after attempt of young and seasoned ministers – all praying diligently to have God restore his sight. A few strange ministers, not from our church, even went as far as trying to cast devils out of my father.

Papa was a Godly man. He had spent many a year as a missionary, preaching in Mexico after his accident. He played guitar and had a great voice for singing. He taught himself piano and accordion and he and my mother would fill everything from small shacks to large tents with people anxious to hear the word of God.

“Why are you blind, Papi?” I asked him once.

He started to tell me about his work.

“No. I know that. But, why hasn’t God healed you?”

I still remember what he told me.

"Sometimes, God can use a person with a handicap more than he could if that person is whole," he told me.

Simple. I nodded and smiled. Papa must have sensed it. He smiled too.

I understood perfectly and I never asked again.

But now, there was excitement in the air. We were all going to Los Angeles to a [famous television preacher] crusade.

I wanted my Papa to see. I really did. But deep down I knew he would return the same. And that made me feel ashamed.

I tried to get excited. I remember picking a yellow dress, my favorite, to wear – just in case.

With 10 children in the family, we didn’t venture out too often. But that day, we all climbed into our family station wagon for the four-hour trip south.

As we arrived at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Lily was jumping up and down, talking excitedly of how she wanted to hug my Papa first, so that he could see her pretty dress.

I remember watching miracle after miracle. A deaf woman could suddenly hear. A man in a wheelchair got up and walked. Every time the crowd would clap and praise God.

I was happy for them. I was. But I was so scared.

Finally it was my Papa’s turn. I saw him walk forward, holding on to my mother’s arm and I saw the minister talking to him and asking about his sight. He prayed for my Papa.

I’m not sure what all happened. I know there was prayer and a lot of Hallelujahs coming from the crowd.

“Can you see this? Follow my hand,” the man seemed to be yelling, as if being louder would make it happen.

My father shook his head and said he couldn’t see a thing.

Somehow I remember those words but not a whole lot more.

Finally, they stopped. The minister told my father that he needed to have faith and to return that evening, that this was a test. I also remember the minister talking to the crowd – telling them that they must also believe.

I shrank in my seat. Could this all be my fault? Did I not have enough faith? I wanted to cry. I knew it was my fault. Because of me, my Papa would remain blind.

I don’t know where we went for lunch but we did have plans on returning that afternoon. My Papa told my mother that he was thinking of going home. But my older brothers and sisters insisted we stay. Lily cried. She was so positive that he would see her blue dress before the end of the day.

We sat in the crowd, far from the front, when the minister called out for my Papa.

“Papa! That’s you!” Lily cried out but was quickly hushed. “They’re calling you. Didn’t you hear them?”

But my Papa wouldn’t budge. He shook his head no.

I don’t remember the rest of the service. I remember feeling horrible at the things the person was saying. How could he say such ugly things? He said the blind man did not have enough faith and refused to let God heal him. He said my Papa was wicked. He said things that made me cry.

No one else tried to talk Papa into going forward. Even Lily stopped insisting. I don’t remember a whole lot more but I do remember him talking to my mother and I guess my older siblings on the way home.

“I don’t believe God wants me to see right now,” Papa said. “God has a plan for us. It is not in his will for me to see – not today, anyway.”

I believed Papa. You don’t belittle people the way that man on stage did. I worried about Lily. I knew she wouldn’t understand. She was only 4 years old. How could she?

I turned to glance at her. She had crawled from the back of the station wagon to the middle aisle seat and into my older sister’s arms. I didn’t have to worry about her. She didn’t hear a thing. She was sound asleep.

My father was blind for more than 30 years and never did see eight of his ten children. I was only 17 when he died. Lily was 15. He never saw either of us - nor Lily's blue dress.

But I know some day he will see us in heaven. I have dreamt it many times and always --- I see my little sister, as a 4-year-old, in that same dream, twirling in her little blue dress.

“Can you see me, Papa?”

13 comments:

  1. Lovely, very moving story Esther. This is a keeper (and, IMO, very saleable). You might want to consider removing it sometime and shopping it around.

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  2. Thank you, Frank.
    I have many beautiful memories of living with a blind man and have written quite a few little stories such as this one. I have occasionally thought of comibing them into a small book.

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  3. This is a wonderful story, Esther. Faith, hope, and love. Very well written! :)

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  4. What a beautiful, heartwarming story. I haven't read anything as beautiful as this in a long time. Thank you for sharing :)

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  5. Thank you, Dama. :)

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  6. Wow, Esther--moving. I'm with Frank, very publishable. I think the anthology is a wonderful idea.

    "Twirling in Blue," very catchy title. :)

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  7. Thanks, Patricia. Hey, love your pic! What a nice smile. :)

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  8. Woo! I agree with the others, 100%. This could easily be an anthology story, or find its way into a Christian magazine. It's a beautiful story, told wonderfully. Great job!

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  9. Not a word out of place, Esther. Love the story. And, I agree - I can easily see you selling it.

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  10. Wow, what a powerful story. I am so glad your father 'saw' through the preacher. It is true, one shouldn't ridicule another like that. And it is beautifully written. :) Ihope Lily gets better soon.
    (Sass from AW)

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  11. Thank you Jenna, Cath and Jenny (Sass) -- how great to see you in here. I had a few pms on the AW board too about this story with some great advice and some kind words, I'm very grateful. :)

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