Borrowed Truths

Harold

Picture of Borrowed Truths

Harold

“He’s strong and healthy, and that’s what matters Lamar.” “I know Emmy, I know.” The powerful, competent man turned from the cold winter view of the late eighteen-hundreds Kansas plains and smiled at his wife, feeling warmer each time he glanced at her. She was a fine woman, strong in her own right, and he loved her dearly.

They had married almost sixteen years ago, and he had asked her to follow him on his dream, an ambition to not just be a part of the crowd, but to try make it on his own, and she had agreed. Some days it was more than difficult, they were almost ten miles from the closest town, not much more than a mercantile, a saloon, a local doctor, and a bank, two hundred people at best, and their visits were rare. There was a good church in the town, but Lamar and Emmy, along with their now fifteen-year-old son attended only about once a month, even less in the winter. The parson would come out almost like clockwork every two weeks though, he knew them to be God-fearing folk, and he admired the tenacity of anyone who attempted to live under such harsh conditions, but especially these two, especially with their son Harold.

It had been an extremely hot day the boy was born, very unusual for this part of Kansas, and he had been afraid that Emmy was not going to survive the labor. The baby was exceptionally large, almost twelve pounds, his wife was a small woman, and Lamar had feared for her life as the days grew into weeks. She had come around though, two of the local women had come to stay with them in their small home, helping with Emmy and the baby, and he had shown his appreciation by giving them enough wheat at harvest to make several dozen meals. But the child was different, Harold they had named him, after Emmy’s grandfather, he did not cry, in fact, he very rarely if ever made any sounds at all.

“Come eat your dinner before it gets cold, dear.” As he sat down with his small family and they instinctively reached for each other hands, Lamar asked the Lord to bless the food, to make it nutritious to their bodies, and he gave thanks for his caring wife and son. “Amen.” It was one of about a dozen words or so that Harold knew, and he loved being able to say it after the prayers each night at dinner. “I’m going to go check the west herd tomorrow, would you like to help me with the cows tomorrow, Harold?” “Cows!” Lamar was a strong man, almost six-foot six and at around two hundred and thirty pounds he was more than capable to do the work necessary to survive in the sparse land that they had chosen to live in, but Harold, even at only fifteen could put him to shame some days. The boy was strong, incredibly strong, Lamar had watched one day as the boy had picked up a stone that was in the field that they had simply plowed around for years, the team of oxen knowing instinctively to go around the large boulder. Harold had dug around it with his hands, rolled it over to the bank of the river, and then as Lamar had watched  in amazement, had put it upon his shoulder and tossed in into the flowing river like a small stone, laughing at it made a large splash.

They had known at a very early age that their son was going to be different, the doctor had used some words that neither of them understood but had finally made it plain enough for the young, good-hearted couple to understand. “He is healthy, he is strong, but the good Lord has decided that his mind is not going to be as strong and healthy as his body is.”  Lamar and Emmy knew that they would not be taking any more chances with his beautiful wife having any more children, and so although the man loved his son dearly, there would be no one to continue his dream. The house and barns, the plot of land and all that went along with it would not be continuing in the family name, and that was the discussion as the years went by. Not so much the things of this world, but about the one that Lamar and Emmy knew would be the only one to follow them to heaven after the Lord called them home, the discussions where about Harold.

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.” It was expected, and although it did not happen every time, it was a familiar sound, and today it brought a smile to Lamar’s face. “That’s right Harold, Jesus loves you too.” Before the horses were saddled, Harold would begin to sing the song, or at least these words to it, for it was all his mind could recall of it, and it would sometimes continue throughout the entire two- or three-day journey. In the evenings, after the campfire was kindled and glowing brightly, Lamar would bring out the well-worn Bible from his saddlebag and begin to read the Word of God to his boy, and as it was at home every evening, he would sit very still and listen raptly to the stories that had been spoken to him since his early childhood.

“Noah, David, Jesus.” “Yes, whichever one you want to hear, son.” The strong man would read to his strong son until the boy’s eyes began to get sleepy, then they would both lay down for the night, sometimes waking up covered in snow which always made the young boy happy. Lamar watched as his son picked up a nearly two-hundred pound calf like it was a leaf, give it a big bear hug and take it over its mother after they had branded it, feeling sorry for the necessary pain that they had needed to inflict upon it, but knowing it had to be done because his daddy had told him so.

Harold knew he was different, but he also knew that it was alright, his mommy and daddy had told him they loved him, and he knew that Jesus loved him too. He did not always like to go to town with his dad, some of the people there made him feel bad, they would sometimes laugh at him and make fun of the way he was, but it was the love that he knew from Jesus and his parents that made him strong. “You’re a fine young man Harold, and God has a plan for you.” Harold smiled at the nice lady in the store, and accepted the peppermint stick without question, he always did, and it was one of the reasons he still enjoyed the trips to town with his dad. “Lamar, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“I don’t know Emmy, but I know that day will come, if the boy stays this strong, and if the good Lord allows, he could live a long time, and we have to talk about it in earnest someday.” They looked at the pamphlet again, reading every word as their son, now almost thirty, lay sleeping in the corner, the nearly constant smile on his face a glistening reminder of the love that this family shared. Emmy’s strength had been failing the last few months, the doctor didn’t know for sure what is was, and the long trip they had taken to Kansas City had not revealed any real answers. “I can’t have you going home to the Lord soon, if that’s his will for you, without you knowing that the boy is going to be taken care of for however long He decides to keep him here on this earth.” Emmy knew this, she knew that her husband of all these years was only thinking of what would be best for the two of his most cherished gifts that the Lord had blessed him with, but it still was a difficult decision.

The trip to Chicago was arduous, and expensive, almost all of their small savings had been depleted to return back to where they had started, the large, bustling city where their lives had begun, and where the life of their son would probably end. The brochure that they had been handed by the caring woman at the store so many years ago, now yellowed with age, did not really do the place that they now stood in front of any justice. It was a beautiful building, and all around the area were laughing, smiling happy children of nearly every age, even some older people that they had not expected to see. “They’re almost all so much older than Harold, Lamar, are we sure about this?” They were greeted at the desk by a man that made Lamar look small, the man had to be almost seven-foot-tall, and was imposing but gentle at the same time, the smile on his face as large as he himself was.

“From all of the test that we have done on your son, we believe that he has the mind of a child of around the age of seven or eight, but I must tell you one thing, I have rarely seen someone as happy as he is, there is a joy just in being around him.” Lamar and his wife looked through the glass windows separating the office that they sat in towards their son, sitting on the floor playing intently with several other children, a site they had never seen before. “He seems so happy, but are we sure, dear?

Emmy died on the train back to their homestead, only an hour away from the place that they had called home for so many years. She was finally at peace with her Lord, and the knowledge of this was the only peace that Lamar knew for quite some time. After the funeral in the small cemetery near the town they had frequented for so many years, Lamar sold everything to the highest bidder, everything but the Bible that they had shared for so many years, its worn pages a testimony of their faith. The small apartment was never considered home to the man for the last seven years of his life, but it was only one block away from where his beloved son now lived, a home that his son cherished because his friends were there. Lamar showed up every morning at seven, the missionary/orphanage offering him the position of caretaker of the grounds, and it was a joy for him to serve there.

His son, whom he loved dearly was by his side as he himself went home to the Lord, to his Emmy, and as he passed, he heard the words of the song “Jesus loves the little children” coming from his son, the son that he knew someday would join his wife and him in glory, for Jesus truly does love the little children, no matter what age they are.    

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