When I was born we lived with my grandparents for about 4 years.
They occupied the upstairs of their large family home and my parents, older sister and I lived downstairs.
From the day I was born my grandparents played a huge role in my life. My mother had fallen pregnant with me while breastfeeding Merna. She had believed that she wouldn’t fall pregnant while breastfeeding. She was pretty naďve at times!
Added to the fact that there was only 13 months between Merna and I, she had a difficult birth. She was not interested in seeing me for about 4 days. On the fifth day my grandfather stormed into her ward with me and virtually ordered her to feed and nurse me.
We shared an incredible bond. Whenever I needed him most he would appear on the scene. He would take me out to his dairy farm on the outskirts of the city. We would go and inspect the cattle, me riding on his shoulders, so happy to be with him. He taught me the ways of the bush. We would hide and watch buck which roamed the bushes.
Sadly my grandmothers failing health forced him to sell the farm. He sold the cattle to his brother who lived on another farm about 10 miles away. The day he was going to hand the cattle over he was determined to drive them through the bushes with a few of his loyal hired workers. To this day I can still remember, this proud man looking so sad and devastated. I was determined to walk with him; my mother was in a back up truck in case he wanted to ride. Not him, with his head held high, one hand in mine the other holding a staff we set off. Whenever I got tired he would stop, get one of the helpers to get my mother to bring us some refreshment, and after a rest we would go off again. I am sure if I hadn’t have been there he would have got to his destination long before he did, but he knew I wanted in so he went at my pace. I was eleven at the time.
When we eventually moved into our own home in the country, my grandparents would come out every weekend to visit. Often I was allowed to go back with them and sleep in their home. What wonderful nights those were. My grandmother a very committed Christian would read the bible before launching into dialogue with her Heavenly Father. It was through them that I first dedicated my life to the Lord.
When my younger sister was born I developed a stammer. My parents ignored it being convinced that it was a ploy to get their attention. I withdrew into a world of make believe.
After about 18 months my grandparents decided to seek spiritual help. There was an evangelist in town with a healing ministry and they took me there. At the end of his sermon he made an altar call. My grandfather asked me if I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. I said yes, and he took me forward for prayer. This man prayed with me, then told me “the devil would come out my mouth and I would be free.” Unfortunately I wasn’t cured physically but I was reborn that evening, at 8 years of age.
Throughout the following years my grandparents continued to play a major role in my life. On one occasion at the school prize giving I was feeling so down. Merna always won loads of awards with me getting nothing. This particular evening my younger sister had also got an award. I felt so worthless. My grandparents found me standing outside the hall crying. They told me to come with them and took me to our home. When I went into my bedroom I found a parcel on my bed. It had a big ribbon and note attached. The note read: ‘Darling Norma-Anne, first and foremost in our lives.”
Many years later while asleep I had a vivid dream of him shaking me, telling me my mum needed me. I woke up to find Dave at my side, I asked what was wrong. He said my mother needed us.
When we arrived there ten minutes later my dad had already died.
The bond I shared with him was not broken by death.
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