A ‘present’ from the past when I needed it most

Candace Cooksey Fulton

I had the sweetest, most comforting, so needed visit the other day with someone I knew when. It was a blessing, such a blessing – not to catch up, but slow down, take a little rest, refresh in every sense of the word.

Now, before we go any further, I should confess. This wasn’t a sit-down-for-lunch kind of visit or a face-to-face in the real sense. I guess I went to see her, just took Memory Lane and followed it until I got there.

What was nice, especially, was that everything was the way it was then. I was a girl – middle school age – on errands with my mom, which meant I had the assignment of “taking care of” my toddler brother and baby sister while Mom made the stops and starts to do what she needed to do. I didn’t mind, it was more fun to be out and about than any of the homework, dishwashing, laundry-folding, porch-sweeping chores at home.

And we stopped by the preacher’s house – the parsonage at the First Methodist Church (before 1968 we weren’t “United”) in Sanderson. It was spring. Mom delivered or picked up whatever it was she needed or brought, but we stayed a little longer.

I can see it almost perfectly now, still: Mom and Mrs. Walker standing on the walk by the flowerbed where a profusion of bright yellow and purple pansies bloomed. I can almost feel even now the happiness of being there in the spring sunshine.

We loved the Rev. Melvin Walker and his sweet wife Cordye. They’d “retired” from the ministry, but our church was without a preacher, and they’d come to fill the pulpit “for the time being.” Rev. Walker quoted scripture by the volume – from memory – and preached sermons that meant things and explained how it should be even to a 13-going-on-14-year-old girl.

Cordye couldn’t have been taller that 5-foot-2, and was a foot or a foot and a half shorter than her husband. She sang in the choir, and could sing “How Great Thou Art” so especially beautifully, you knew every word of the song to be true.

On Sunday morning, as we were singing the benediction, Mrs. Walker would join her husband at the chancel rail and the two would walk down the church aisle together, holding hands, then stand and wait at the church front door to shake our hands or hug our shoulders as we left.

But the day we stopped for a visit, I remember her saying to Mom, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”

Now, we the Cooksey siblings can tell you for a fact, our mom took that verse – Psalm 118:24 – and made it her own. She repeated it in the morning when we were sitting down to breakfast. She said it to the one who had to be up before dawn. She recited it in the afternoon, whether or not we needed to be reminded.

I was grown with children, problems and issues of my own, before Mom confessed how and why that little verse meant so much to her. It was that day we stopped by the parsonage, that visit that was just going to be a quick errand that expanded to something else.

Mom told me how all the “how are we ever going to make it” concerns had sucked the peace and happiness right out of her. Dad was recovering that spring from his near fatal gunshot wounds he had taken while arresting an illegal the previous November. There were the five (then) children, baby to high school, each with their life challenges. Too much, or too little – everything fit into that.

She hadn’t shared all those worries with Mrs. Walker. She didn’t have to. Women know what other women worry about. And Mrs. Walker knew all the worry in the world was not going to make even the tiniest problem disappear. So Mrs. Walker told Mom what would help her, that day, that moment – that she had that day.

Tomorrows are going to be there in whatever shape or form they take, but today is here right now.

Our family has had one of those weeks this last week. A lot more got piled on than I can see getting taken off and whittled down to size. I tried worrying and it didn’t help, but I happened to remember something a friend told my mom and she always shared.

“This is the day the Lord has made.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, living now in San Angelo. She can be reached at ccfulton2002@yahoo.com .