TITLE: A Symphony of Miracles Chapter 22 On my Stage 3/20/14
By Richard McCaw
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On My Stage
Let me now introduce the players on the stage of my early life, so that you can understand how God conducted this marvelous symphony. Meet my parents and grandmother and watch the orchestration at each step!
After service one Sunday morning, my mother, just seventeen year old, waited to approach the church rector, who was dressed in black robes and clerical collar. She was ready to pass on what she considered as good news.
“Sir, I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior!” she began excitedly. “My sins are forgiven and I’m now a real Christian!”
“So,” he may have responded sarcastically, “What were you all this while?”
Bewildered, she must have slipped away, disappointed at his reaction, but not discouraged.
My mother, Cynthia Estelle Levy, grew up in Port Maria, in the parish of St. Mary in Jamaica. After coming to live in Kingston at the age of seventeen, she had attended evangelistic meetings at the nearby Kingston Race Course, where she professed faith in Christ.
Her mother, Mabel Levy, was a little taller, of ruddy complexion, a bigger boned, hardy-looking woman, whose face often bore a scowl. Her husband, Cecil Levy, had died before my mother was born. Then for eighteen years she had labored in New York City before returning to the island to live with us. She always boasted of the Anglican church and its pipe organ music!”
One day, my mother relayed her new spiritual status, “Mama, remember the big tent meetings in Race Course!”
“Umm!” her mother probably grunted. How could she sympathize with tent meetings in a large open field with foreign low-church preachers?
“I became a Christian!” my mother chirped cheerily. “I was born again! God is now my father!”
I suspect that her mother held her hands akimbo, lifted her hands to heaven, then slapped her thigh loudly, and swore, “Lawd Gad! Now you’ll be teaching us about God! Why not join a convent!” Then she would have hissed her teeth and walked away.
My mother was determined to follow Christ. She often quoted Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true! It follows as the night, the day; thou canst be false to no man!” and continually instilled in my sister and me the old adage: “Honesty is the best policy!”
After lights out at night I often heard her sigh, “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come!” Sometimes she whispered to herself, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble!”9
After a hard day’s work, she would tuck the blanket over each of our heads.
“Mummy,” I used to ask, “Tell me about Daniel in the lion’s den!”
“One more time,” I would say and she would.
She sent us to Sunday school, and when we were older, took us to church. As long as I can remember, she always demonstrated a passionate love for classical music. Always an independent thinker, she used to say: “A lot of people accept everything they hear without thinking! God gave you a brain, Richard; use it.” She confessed freely that she had a very sharp tongue, and oh, she could argue! She accepted nothing without logically reasoning it out.
For several years, she worked as a secretary at the Jamaica Tourist Bureau in Kingston, Jamaica. When she came home, she worked hard to keep the home clean. She often quoted, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”
In later years, she became a secretary at the University of the West Indies, until she developed arthritis and had to resign. I honor my mother for her strong faith and courage in the midst of hard trials.
Both my parents were short, no more than five foot five inches and both had spiritual roots in the traditional church.
My father, Aston Lucien McCaw, as a child, attended an Anglican Church with his elder sister and two brothers in Kingston, Jamaica. In his teenage years, disillusioned with organized religion, he became a baptized member of ‘Maranatha Gospel Hall,’ a branch of the Brethren Church, where he met my mother. They were married in the little gray wooden building, the meeting place of the church in 1941.
My father left school at the age of thirteen and went out to work. “I’ll have my own business,” he said, “and retire at forty with two helpers and a gardener boy!”
Also a hard worker, he was always in a hurry. One day he was a pallbearer at a funeral at the Kingston Parish Church in downtown Kingston. The grandiose surroundings of the tall historic church and the height of five other men lifting the coffin up the steep walkway into the church building emphasized how really short he was. Almost bald with thin hair pasted down with pomade, his tiny black moustache stuck under his nose.
Whenever he laughed he had a way of throwing his head back. At the age of twelve, I traveled with him around the island on one of his business trips. I remember his so-called ‘magic.’ One trick was the egg he took out of his elbow; another was the white handkerchief he made to change color.
He imported both Wisdom toothbrushes and Addis hairbrushes from England and carried on a thriving Christmas card business in downtown Kingston. The road to wealth, he believed, began with owning his own business. I honor him for his sense of business independence.
Love and marriage is of God, which always upsets the Devil. My parents separated when I was two, and after eight years my father remarried. The tribute for the rest of this story therefore goes to my mother, who in spite of hardships brought up my sister and me to trust in God.
Yes, God was orchestrating all things together for our good and for His glory!
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