When we moved to KWT many many moons ago, we moved away from both sets of grandparents, as well as one set of cousins we were very close to. This was difficult — more so for Mom & Dad than us kids, I think, because we were so young we didn’t really know what was going on. But God gave us new family — our KWT family.
On one side of our trailer, our neighbors were the Lorentzens. Mrs. Lorentzen would make us the best bran muffins in the WORLD. We’d play with their amazing toys when we went to visit (they had trucks and cars and trains and mannies galore, and we LOVED playing with them!). Mr. Lorentzen kept us entertained (unknowingly, I’m sure!) during mealtimes by rearranging his numerous vehicles in their yard, right in front of our dining room window. Their son Jonathan would entertain us with his crazy antics, like setting up a lawn chair and umbrella on their deck facing our dining room window and then settle in with a pair of binoculars to watch US!
I’m afraid we are the cause of quite a few of Mrs. Lorentzen’s grey hairs — probably mainly from the time when she was babysitting us and we decided to go catch mice (bare-handed — like, no tools or traps or anything — just our hands in our mittens) in the field and bring them back in a 5 gallon pail to show her our latest accomplishment. She told us in NO uncertain terms that we were NOT to let those mice free ANYWHERE near her trailer! And I’m also afraid we were the cause of quite a few of Mr. Lorentzen’s grey hairs! I recall another time when they were looking after us and he came to check on us in our playhouse. We were happily burning our woodstove and cooking all sorts of concoctions on it, and were in the process of melting down wax to make our own candle factory. He was quite afraid we were going to burn ourselves down, along with their place, and the rest of campus, I think! They had the patience of saints…
Then on the other side were Mr. & Mrs. Jaycox. He was the campus maintenance man, and would give us rides in the bucket of the back hoe when he went rock-picking. He would patiently melt down a milk jug lid and patch our plastic sled about 10 times per winter when it would crack and break. He took us for wagon rides with his horses, and let us watch as he trained their newest colt, Star. It was in their yard that we were introduced to chickens being butchered also. I will never forget the terror of being chased around by a chicken that DID NOT HAVE A HEAD ANYMORE!!!! (don’t worry — I wasn’t damaged forever! Just baffled and terrified by the fact that an animal WITHOUT A HEAD knew where I was and could still chase me! [or so it seemed!]) My favorite memories of Mrs. Jaycox were of her inviting us over after Prayer Meeting (or Sunday Evening Services ?) for popcorn. She made the best popcorn ever, because she put lots of butter on, and LOTS of salt! I loved licking my finger and cleaning the salt and butter out of my bowl after the popcorn was gone….mmmmmm!
So even though we were far from our family and relatives, God gave us another family to fill the void, and we had two more sets of grandparents to look after us and love us.
When Jerry & I moved here last fall, I found out that the Jaycox’s lived just an hour from us. I wanted to go visit, but in the busyness of life, it just kept being put off. Yesterday, though, when I had to make a trip in to the city I finally went to see them. Mr. Jaycox was in the hospital, recovering from a hip surgery. We visited a bit, reminisced (it had been over 10 years since I’ve seen them, I think), and then I had to go to my next appointment. But it was so good to see them.
Today I got an email from the mission, saying he passed away in his sleep last night. Ouch.
I’ve cried a lot this afternoon. It feels like part of my childhood is suddenly missing. Something irreplaceable has been taken away. One of my adopted grandparents is gone, and it hurts. But I am so thankful I got to see him yesterday. I’m thankful for their part in my life. And I’m thankful for the time they (both Lorentzens and Jaycox’s) took to love us and care for us. I’m thankful that God gave us more family at KWT. And I am thankful that someday I will see Mr. Jaycox again.