Friday, May 25, 2007

great craddock story

This is the first story in the book Craddock Stories, a collection of stories communicated by Fred Craddock in one form or another. I thought this was a powerful one:
My mother took us to church and Sunday school; my father didn’t go. He complained about Sunday dinner being late when she came home. Sometimes the preacher would call, and my father would say, “I know what the church wants. Church doesn’t care about me. Church wants another name, another pledge. Right? Isn’t that the name of it? Another name, another pledge?” That’s what he always said.

Sometimes we’d have a revival. Pastor would bring the evangelist and say to the evangelist, “There’s one now, sic him, get him, get him,” and my father would say the same thing. Every time, my mother in the kitchen, always nervous, in fear of flaring tempers, of somebody being hurt. And always my father said, “The church doesn’t care about me. The church wants another name and another pledge.” I guess I heard it a thousand times.

One time he didn’t say it. He was in the veteran’s hospital, and he was down to seventy-three pounds. They’d taken out his throat, and said, “It’s too late.” They put in a metal tube, and W rays burned him to pieces. I flew in to see him. He couldn’t speak, couldn’t eat. I looked around the room, potted plants and cut flowers on all the windowsills, a stack of cares twenty inches deep beside his bed. And even that tray where they put food, if you can eat, on that was a flower. And all the flowers beside the bed, every card, every blossom, were from persons or groups from the church.

He saw me read a card. He could not speak, so he took a Kleenex box and wrote on the side of it a line from Skakespeare. If he had not written this line, I would not tell you this story. He wrote: “In this harsh world, draw your breath in pain to tell my story.”

I said, “What is your story, Daddy?”

And he wrote, “I was wrong.”


cherdien said...

Wonderful, powerful story, Jason. Most of my father's life he was as he said, "an atheist." He was very scientific and needed proof. I believe near the end of his life he became an agnostic, but he never had the church in his life. He was the best daddy a girl could ever have. He spent hours listening to me in my teenage years. He was so loving that I miss him terribly even to this day. He died suddenly just a day after I had flown back from Denver to visit him. He died so quickly, his last cigarette lay burned out in the ashtray, a long ash hanging to it. He was so good to his children, but he missed so much. He did see that I always went to Sunday school and church, even though he never went. I pray that at the moment of his death, he cried out to God, "I was wrong."

Carol Herdien

Bluebird said...

cherdien, I am sending prayers to God for your peace of mind.

But remember, thanks be to our glorious God, he loves us even when we don't or can't love him. He proved that when he sent us Jesus.

Jason Woolever said...

hey carol. thanks for sharing the personal stuff with us. that is very heart-wrenching to sort through.