No. 281

It’s been said that a parent is someone who spends half their time wondering how their children will turn out and half the time wondering when they will turn in. For most parents there is no greater thrill than seeing their children grow up to become happy, successful and responsible members of society. Later in life when this happens everything is put into context and all those sleepless nights, attending countless athletic events, preparing thousands of meals, the extra housework and the physical and emotional bruises that come along, are all worthwhile.
The scenario I have just described is in the process of happening millions of times each year because of the opportunities here in America, but there is sadly another group of parents who suffer their worst nightmare. This is when they suffer the loss of a child and the heartache and grief that never really goes away. A parent hurts when his or her child dies whether they are seventy years of age or stillborn. There are many reasons for premature death and they are reported each day, at least in the community newspapers.
If you have this hurt in your heart I want to tell you that this column is dedicated to you and the millions of other people who share your pain. The pain eases with the passing of time but only the support of family, friends and the grace, promises and love of God can give you real peace and assurance. It’s been my good fortune to know some special people who have walked this road and Bill & Johnnie Bounds are two of these. Back on June 29, 1999 they lost their adopted son, Joseph, in a drowning accident.
Like so many others, Joseph was special to me as I knew him as a student in the youth department in our former church. I was also in attendance at his funeral when the church will filled to capacity. Many people knew and loved Joseph. Sometime ago Bill handed me a letter that Joseph had written to his teacher and I wanted to share it with you. The reason I do so is because these “keepsakes” are also memories of the good times they shared together.
This was written on November 2, 1995 and remember, Joseph was adopted and in my book that’s another reason that Bill and Johnnie are very special people. He begins, “I am thankful for my mom and dad. I am thankful for my mom because she washes my clothes, makes my bed, makes dinner for me. And a lot of other things. I am thankful for my dad because he takes me fishing, plays ball with me, and helps me with my home work. The most important reason that I am thankful is because they adopted me.
I am thankful for my birth mom. I don’t know her but I do thank her because she let me live and not aborting me. I am also thankful for my dog. She keeps me cheered up when I am down in the dumps. And my house because it warms me. Some people do not have a home and I forgot I am thankful for my bed so I can sleep. Some people don’t have a bed. And I am thankful for school and a nice teacher and one who understands me.
And I am thankful for my free country that does not have soldiers all over the street. I am also thankful for friends that are so nice to me and for people that fought in the war to set us free. And the stores that we go and buy food. That’s what I am thankful for.” By God’s grace I have never lost a child, but I know that Joseph is in heaven and someday there will be a great reunion. As I said earlier, if you have also walked this lonely road my prayer is that you have been comforted by these thoughts and the memories you have will last until there is a better day. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)