Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Miracle Delivery by Mary F. Pitstick

    “Stand still, Mary,” my mother scolded.  “Or I can’t get these dress measurements  right.”     I was a typical nine-year-old girl, full of energy and mostly oblivious to the poverty that nipped at my parent’s heels.  It was 1939 and the depression was in full force.  Once my father was out of work, poverty no longer “nipped” at us; it had us in its grip.  My Dad was a hard worker and loving father and husband. The pain of not being able to provide for his family, must certainly have run deep.  There were eight children and a ninth baby was on the way. 

     Without  employment, my family had no choice but to take advantage of President Roosevelt’s Federal Relief program.  We qualified to receive coal to heat our rented farm house.  During the warmer months, our large garden, a blackberry patch, a cow and chickens kept or tummies full and even allowed us to make money on the extras.   But now, with winter upon us, our own canned goods and some government surplus and clothing were all we had to help us through. I watched my mother filling out paperwork and writing down my measurements, but my youthful mind did not fully comprehend my parent’s worries until one evening.

    During supper, our parents revealed to us, that our situation had become dire. Unless we received a relief order of coal that night, all eight of us would need to go to the Children's Home the next day. I looked anxiously around the table at my siblings and parents. Fear was etched on their faces.  I could not imagine being taken away from my loving parents.  Yet, they could not let us all freeze to death. There was nowhere else to turn, but we knew we always had God.

    After our  simple meal, we all got on our knees to finish our ninth and last the last day of our novena to St. Joseph  and to pray the rosary. Our prayers were heartfelt and desperate.  We trusted that God could find a way to help us. Just as we were ending the rosary, the sound of  a truck engine could be heard coming up our lane.  Could it be the relief order of coal our father had requested? we all wondered.

    My father jumped up and grabbed his coat, saying, "I'll help him unload it."   We finished our rosary in great joy! 

    “Thank God,” my mother sighed, clasping her rosary.

    “Now we don’t have to go to the children’s home!” one of my siblings shouted. 
      But when my father came back into the house, his face bore a puzzled expression.  "I don't think that was the relief order," he told our mother. "I never saw that man before, and he didn't give me a paper to sign."  As we prepared for bed in a house that was a little warmer, we all wondered who the delivery man had been.  The next day another load of coal arrived. My mother told the driver, who was her cousin, "We got a load of coal last night from another driver."
    Her cousin chuckled and said, "I'm the only one around here who delivers relief orders for coal. If you got a load of coal last night, St. Joseph must have brought it!"
    Whether it was St. Joseph or an angel, we don't know. We never received a bill for the coal. Our Blessed Mother didn't want her children to have to go away to the Children's Home. She had taken our prayers to her son and God had answered them.

    There were not many Christmas presents under the tree that year, but Daddy managed to get enough wood to make us a wooden sled on runners.  Many happy hours were spent riding that sled down the sloping grounds around our farm. 

    My father eventually  got hired for the Works Project Administration also begun by President Roosevelt.  Things got better financially for us, but for me, the best part of my childhood was the love and faith my parents gave us.
Mary grew up in a devout Catholic family; the sixth of ten children. She and her husband, Paul,  reside on a farm near Fairborn, Ohio. They have seven grown children, nineteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

(This story was originally published in Amazing Grace for Fathers.)
For more inspiration, check out Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families  uplifting and dramatic stories on love and life. Children's books,  Dear God, I Don't Get It and Dear God, You Can't Be Serious are fiction that present faith through fun and exciting stories.  Follow Patti at Twitter and like her Facebook pages at Dear God Books,  Big Hearted Families.

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