Chapter 74

The Woman Who Lost Her Husband and Twin Sons

 

War wounded were directed to many hospitals all over the country. A small committee was formed in Newmills, Fife, to visit the war-wounded, take them out to visit rural areas, escort them on tours and, if necessary, to provide accommodation for wives and mothers.

We had one very sad case. When our troops had occupied a village in Europe, villagers came out of their homes cheering and waving bunting. Some women jumped on the trucks, handing out fruit, sweets and drinks. One woman hugged a gunner and pushed a bottle of wine into his hands. He pulled out the cork, took a drink, then tumbled off the truck into the road in agony. The woman had given him vitriol which had burned the lining off his throat. He was picked up unconscious and rushed to hospital.

After his third operation, he was moved to Dunfermline to gain strength before yet another operation to his throat and stomach. I was allowed to have him out to our manse, along with his wife, for a day at a time. He was so happy and we were all very fond of him. The day came for his big operation. He was very optimistic and cheerful. But, alas, he died. His death caused a great gloom among the wounded.

One morning I received a letter from a young lad in the Far East. He said, 'So far I have been fortunate. Now the road to Mandalay is open, I hope my luck holds...

It was a cheerful letter of thanks for his mother's bright notes. I called on her to read the letter.

She was alone at a blacked-out fire. On her lap lay a telegram. She looked up but didn't seem to see me. Her son had been killed. She was stunned and speechless. She had endured many hard blows. Her husband, daughter and father-in-law had died. Then one of her twin sons in the Valleyfield disaster. Now the other twin had died in a far away land.

One evening, a young lad told me an elderly sick man was outside his house creating an uproar. I was taken to him. We managed to get the man to bed, then I listened to his story. He wanted rum. He did not like any drink except rum. The doctor had told his sister to switch up an egg, add a teaspoonful of rum and give it to him three times daily. He'd had a row with her over the switched egg.

'Tell me Mr Caseby,' he appealed, 'is it fair to give me switched raw eggs? I never liked eggs but I like rum!'

'Leave the tonic to me. I'll see you get what you like. But you must keep to bed and not swear at the people who are so good to you.

That evening I mixed black treacle, pepper, sifted sugar and an eggcup of rum together. Enough to fill a quart bottle. I asked a sailor in the canteen to test it. His comment was that it was rotten - and to add more pepper!

Next morning I was at the old man's bedside and offered him a small glass of my concoction. He sipped it once or twice then emptied his glass.

'That's fine. Do I get it three times a day?' When I told the Doctor he was amused.

'Do you want another dozen patients?' he asked.

The old man lingered for three months, enjoying his tonic and never once causing trouble.

One evening he said he just wanted to sleep and not to mix up any more medicine. I had a little prayer reading and benediction. He smiled, then drawing an envelope from under his pillow said, 'All my folk like their food. In the envelope are thirty names and 20. After my funeral give them all a steak pie.'

His wishes were faithfully carried out, a caterer supplying steak pie to thirty mourners.

VE (Victory in Europe) Day was celebrated quietly and humbly. For the first time since the outbreak of war the church bell tolled out its message of peace and hope. We lit a bonfire on the common and set off fireworks, including Verey lights. It was a welcome sight. The army supplied the fireworks which were really giant signal rockets. One rocket fell onto the ground after the fuse was lit and it shot along the ground making the youngsters rush about screeching in fun. Happier days seemed to be ahead of us all.

At last the day came when the war totally ceased and the church bell rang out this message: black-outs were torn down; lights were lit again; schools resumed; and church services started again. Back came the people; young and old, to church and all its organizations. It was a new beginning and the fellowship of the church came into its own again. Mission and service became the order of the day. A revival, quick at first, blossomed into radiant evangelism.

 NOTE: Appendix 7, Part 6, 'The lovable Wayfarers of Brother Douglas', recalls another great heart whose behaviour influenced the lives of many.

 

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This work, Going With God, is copywrited by Ronald R. Caseby, 1993.   All rights reserved.  Used here by express permission.