Thank you to Janice Damron Swearengin for sharing this very personal Christmas memory!
A memorable Christmas for me was when I was 10 years of age, my brother, Jerry, was 7, and our Daddy, Butler Damron Jr., passed away on December 19, 1956, at the age of 33 years. He had been a diabetic since the age of 17 in a time when the disease was not treatable or easily managed due to the fact that not much was known about it.
We started building a house in August of that year, at which time our Dad stepped on a nail. He was in and out of the hospital much of the next 4 months and there was no insurance since companies would not insure diabetics at that time, thus the bills were tremendous.
The house was completed 10 days before he passed away and the neighbors all came and moved us from the old house into the new and decorated for Christmas.
After the funeral, my mother sat down with Jerry & me and told us that Christmas would be slim that year since Daddy was gone; there were funeral bills, hospital bills, as well as the new house expenses and the dairy to run.
I was so surprised when it seemed we had as many presents that year as we ever had. I’m sure my extended family, grandparents, aunts & uncles, etc, overcompensated for our loss to help mother out.
It was only many years later when I had my own family that I realized what an awesome strong Christian Mother I had, who, at the age of 31 years, was left with a 50-cow dairy to run, 2 kids to provide for and overwhelming expenses.
She later told me that she had no money to buy gifts with that year and did not know what she was going to do but she has a deep faith & knew God always provides. Very un-expectedly a $50 check came in the mail from someone she did not even know owed Daddy.
That $50 was enough to buy all her gifts back then.
I have always said there are two very important things that I learned from my Mother and they
(1) Unconditional love – from her as well as my extended family and
(2) That I can do or face any trial life hands me – I may not want to, or it may not be easy, but, with God’s help, I can do anything I have to.
Mother did have help over the next few years after his death since my daddy’s brother and both sets of our grandparents lived within a 5 mile radius of us, as well as the fact that it was an era when neighbors were friendly and helped each other.
Mother & Dick married three years after Daddy’s passing and are both still living today. - Janice Swearengin