Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Tuberculosis

Old photos never die

They just fade away….

One moment captured forever
silent witness to hopes and dreams
never realized

This is my parents’ formal wedding portrait taken 75 years ago today, 13 September 1942 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

shattered lives
fall apart unplanned
two people bound to each other

I often wonder how my parents felt when they looked back at this lovely photo. They look happy, wealthy (they were not), supremely ready for whatever came next (they were not).

Within months, my father was diagnosed with tuberculosis and put into a sanatorium full of other TB patients. If he wanted to get well, he had to remain bed-bound for months, visitors strictly limited and regulated. If he didn’t keep the rules, all bets were off. His roommate couldn’t take the pressure of lying there. He died of TB. My father took a lesson from him and lay there, resolved.

In the meantime, I was born in November 1943, several months after my father went off to live in the sanatorium. He came home when I was 10 months old. A stranger to me, as I was to him. I was not the son he wanted.

My mother walked to the hospital when she went into labor, and then cared for me with the help of a family in the portrait above. We were living in their house at that time. The Hancox family included Mom’s maid of honor (“Aunt” Wyn), her flower girl (Wyn’s only child), and the man who gave Mom away, “Uncle” Ed. He’s standing just behind Mom and Aunt Wyn.

My maternal grandfather did not approve of this marriage and chose not to attend. He lived in California. I don’t remember the name of the man who served as my father’s best man.

My parents married with the blessing of a mission agency that would, if all went well, send them to Africa. While out speaking on behalf of this agency, my father came down with TB, which put in jeopardy the great plan to go to Africa. Five years and three babies later, my mother contracted polio–most likely from our new sister who was only 6 months old.

That was the end of being missionaries. I don’t think it was the end of mother’s world. She had her hands full.

It was, however, the end of my father’s hope of being somebody who mattered, especially in the church. He grieved this missed opportunity all his life. Which isn’t to say he would have made an outstanding missionary.

My mother, a polio survivor, musician and committed extrovert, did her best to care for four daughters in near-poverty circumstances. When it came to talking about regrets, she would have none of it, even though she lived with constant physical pain.

I love looking at the photo above. It shows my parents at their best. Looking out, as we all do, on what we hope will be a bright tomorrow. I’m grateful to have this marker of their happiness.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 September 2017
My Parents’ formal wedding portrait, 13 September 1942

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Penchant

The patient

The patient lies dying
Body wasting
Skin pale and taut
lethargic eyes stare
from hollowed out sockets
Faded remnants of life born in hope
disappear in deep shadows

A priest garbed in vestments
stands before a makeshift altar
Demeanor and voice concentrated
on the proper order of things
His hands grasp the sacrament of life
hanging heavy in this cramped space

A young altar boy looks on
Head and eyes slightly averted
Hands clasped close to his chest
Sad eyes try not to stare

Filtered through a small window
dying light descends into the room
touching the patient’s Madonna-like robe
with a gleaming halo of grace
This is somebody’s beloved child
Fragile and sick unto death
Beyond hope of survival
Now the center of attention
Seated in a chair of royal honor

Tender looks and hand of a caregiver
Rest lightly on the young child
A man sits in shadows
Body bent in despair
Head slumping on his hand
A small dog sits on his lap
Looking on with downcast eyes
The priest’s voice continues

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 August 2017
Painting found at Wickipedia
1888 Painting by Venezuelan artist, Cristóbal Rojas (1857-1890)
Rojas died of tuberculosis about 5 weeks before his 33rd birthday. 

I love thee for I must | From an Old Soul

Have you ever prayed  for healing? Here’s a challenging entry from George MacDonald’s Diary of an Old Soul. My comments follow.

July 26

Some say that thou their endless love hast won
By deeds for them which I may not believe
Thou ever didst, or ever willedst done:
What matter, so they love thee? They receive
Eternal more than the poor loom and wheel
Of their invention ever wove and spun.
I love thee for I must, thine all from head to heel. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandma Ethel Ema – A Mystery

Ethel Eckel Renich

Ethel Ema Eckel, Feb 1889 – Jan 1918

This elegant woman has been frozen in my mind most of my life. Hanging on the wall just like this. I don’t know when this picture was taken.

I’ve seen only two other photos of her. One was taken a year after she married Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Mom | Your eyes seek the camera

Four Generations Late 1944

Your eyes seek the camera
Draw me into your beauty
Your calm demeanor
and stylish dress. Read the rest of this entry »

Go, my beloved children . . . .

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  (Matthew 5:4 NIV)

George MacDonald’s December sonnets echo preoccupation with weariness, death, and his longing to be reunited with God and with his children.  George and Louisa MacDonald had 11 children, four of whom preceded them in death. Read the rest of this entry »

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