It was on an unusually warm day for January in the Ozarks…January 25th 1950 to be exact. I had just turned four in September of 1949. My family was living south of Alpena, Arkansas in a flagstone house we were renting from Chester Presley. A few hundred yards north down the gravel road lived Jimmy and Cordie Mills. I thought they were ancient at the time, but I am sure they were probably no more than 50 something.
As I recall, it was in the morning we had a visit from our family doctor, Doc McCurry, who had an office in Green Forest. Oh yes, doctors did make house calls in those days. It was this doctor my dad told me many times a story concerning him. It seemed that he was visited at his office by a man who had a bad case of hiccups. In fact he had been hiccupping for 24 hours. Well, Doc asked the man to stick out his tongue and as he did Doc grabbed it with his hand. He would not let go and according to the man he thought doc was going to pull it out by the roots. Along with the man’s verbal expression of disdain for such an unorthodox treatment, he gave the doc a “blue streak” of curse words and left the office in a huff. About two hours later the man returned and apologized to the Doc because his hiccups were gone. I do not think he learned that particular treatment in medical school. I guess it was that sort of thing that endeared our family to Doc McCurry so much. The other reason was that he really did care for his patients.
Now back to my main story… I was extremely curious as to why I was told by mom and dad that I had to go stay with the Mill’s down the road for the rest of the day. Not that I minded it, it was just something that never happened. There was a mystery here. I cannot remember if dad drove me down to the Mills, or I walked. I think I walked while dad stood in the yard and made sure I arrived safely. Another strange thing was that Jimmy and Cordie were waiting on me. We had no phone in those days, so how did the Mill’s know I was coming?
Now Jimmy and Cordie were some of my favorite people. Jimmy had a rather large stomach and when we would all go to Long Creek to swim he could float on his back for what seemed like hours. Sometimes all you could see was his face and his large round belly. I thought it is was funny. What endeared me to Cordie was that she was always giving me gum, or a piece of candy, or something else a little boy thought was grand. One day after our family had visited the Mill’s and were preparing to leave, I spoke up and asked, “Cordie, you got anything else you want to give me?” Mom grabbed my arm and we all made a hasty exit. When we got into our car, a ’37 Ford coupe, I got the lecture of my life. “You don’t every do that again,” mom said with sternness in her voice. “Do what?” I ask. I had already learned to use the “I’m innocent because I have no idea what you are talking about” routine. It did not work this time. My dad said, “Ask for a handout, it is rude and impolite.” Now in my defense, I remember saying something to the effect, “well she had given me a piece of gum and I just did not want her to forget, in case she had planned to give me something else.” Well, prosecution (1), defense (0)… I was just grateful that I did not get any more than a tongue lashing.
Now back to the main story or I will never get through. I do have more to say about the Mill’s but I must save that for a later time. Just before dark, dad came to pick me up and take me home. When I walked in I saw a sight that blew my young mind clean away. There was mom in bed, in the living room, where it had been before, but this time she was holding something tiny and pink. It was my new baby sister. They would call her Anna Sue.
Now the mystery of it is, where did she come from? Why did I have to stay the day at the Mills? What did Doc McCurry have to do with all this? And why did I not know it was going to happen? I grew up on a farm and it did not take a genius to figure out where newborns came from. I learned that as I got older. I do not seem to remember my mother’s body changing in any particular way. She mostly wore loose fitting cloths, so I would not have noticed a bulging belly.
As I think back on the whole affair, I think that my mom and dad handled it just right. I was not ready for a complete course in human reproduction. I was not ready for a sex education course. The mystery of it was part of the excitement about it all. I soon forgot my questions and just settled in to get acquainted with my new sister. By the way, I think it is a crime to try to take the mystery out of life. We might answer the questions about the physical and human participation in the beginning of life, but no one has answered all the questions about how life really begins. Mysteries are mysteries for a reason. A child needs to deal with mystery… it is part of our existence that makes life what is. This whole sex education thing we deal with today is way out of balance.
Most of the problem could be solved with a parent reading to a child some special portions of Scripture. Here is a case in point:
Psalm 139:13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day. (THE MESSAGE)
LESSON: SEX/REPRODUCTION IS ONE OF THE MOST WONDERFUL GIFTS GOD HAS GIVEN US. WE CANNOT IMPROVE UPON IT. WE CANNOT REDESIGN IT, AND IF WE TRY TO WE DO SO AT OUR ON PERIL. WE MUST REMEMBER THE WORDS TO THE HYMN, "THIS IS MY FATHER'S WORLD." WHEN WE TRY TO INTERFERE WITH GOD'S PLAN AND GOD'S TIMING WE GET EVERYTHING MESSED UP. ENJOY THE MYSTERY OF IT AND ENJOY IT. FOR YOUNG PARENTS, DO NOT TRY TO RUSH TO TAKE AWAY SOME OF THE MYSTERY. GOD WILL GUIDE YOU AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME AND IN THE APPROPRIATE WAY. ABOVE ALL, USE THE BIBLE AND GIVE GLORY TO GOD.