TITLE: Born to Be Rich
By Genia Gilbert
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The birth announcement:
<I>Dr. And Mrs. Ross Brenner proudly announce the birth of their first child, Katie Lynn,
born June 4, 1946, weighing 7 lbs and 6 ounces. Grandparents are Senator Blake Brenner and Dr. and Mrs. Charles Hanley, all of the Washington DC area.
Little Katie will reside with her parents at 1700 Woodland Place.</I>
Less than twelve blocks away, in a run-down part of town, another baby girl was born that day: little Anna Ruth Stuart. Her difficult beginning was in stark contrast to that of Katie Brenner. No announcement was published. Anna’s father, Richard, an abusive alcoholic, soon abandoned them. Her mother, Leah, broken in health and deeply troubled, was hospitalized indefinitely in an institution a hundred miles away. To rescue Anna from state custody, her only grandmother, Liz, appeared, and reluctantly took the tiny girl. Liz, too, had a low income, but was a struggling Christian and had a compassionate heart.
Life brought Anna and Katie Brenner together some years later at the large Community Baptist church. Grandma Liz began taking Anna to services there. Although it was an affluent church, it was within walking distance of their small home, a plus on those days when their aging car refused to start. The Brenners were fourth generation members of Community Church, and attended somewhat sporadically. So Anna’s first encounter with Katie was in her new Sunday School class.
“What a pretty room!” Anna exclaimed, five-year-old eyes filled with wonder.
“Uh-huh, it’s okay, I guess,” mumbled Katie, “but I hate sitting still and listening to Bible stories!”
But little Anna drank in the soothing words about the Man called Jesus Who loved her. She was anxious to keep coming, as weeks turned to months, then years. Katie was often there, but her defiant attitude, only seemed to intensify. Still, Anna and Katie became friends, their only common bond being their birth date.
Anna and Grandma Liz always had limited material things, but they managed, and had a simple, satisfying life. Anna grew into a lovely girl. They continued to go to church, and Anna received that wondrous love of Jesus, and was drawn into His kingdom.
Anna noted that Katie, also beautiful, came to church less and less. She occasionally saw her at school, mingling with the wrong crowd; and Anna thought Katie’s parents seemed at a loss to cope with her strong, willful nature. Her rebellion grew worse.
Soon after they turned fifteen, Anna ran into Katie in town. Gathering courage, she approached her friend.
“Hey, Katie! We’ve been missing you in youth group.”
“I’m really too busy for that now, Anna. I usually hang out with some kids at the skating rink, “drinking cokes and stuff, you know.”
“Katie, please be careful. They’re heading for trouble. I think God has a better way for you.”
Katie exploded, “It’s none of your business! That’s why I don’t hang around with you; you’ve turned out so religious! I don’t need that, and I don’t need you!” And she stalked angrily away.
Anna lost track of Katie in the ensuing, eventful years. With scholarships and grants, Anna was able to attend college. Shortly after her graduation, her beloved grandmother passed away. Holding her hand, Anna tearfully whispered to her, “Oh! Grandma Liz, we’ve had such a rich life!” From Liz’s answering smile, Anna knew she’d understood.
Then her funny, loveable Luke entered her world. They were married, and in time, had three kids, and life picked up pace for decades!
The last time Anna saw Katie, they were both past forty, and she hardly recognized her.
“ Katie! How are you?"
Katie mumbled “Okay.” But her looks belied her words, as again she walked away. She was unkempt, worn, and sad. Rumors were that she had rapidly used up family funds after her parents’ death, and was deeply into gambling and alcohol.
The Death announcement:
<I>Anna Stuart Cole passed from this life September 8, 2007. A loving wife, mother, and friend, she will be sorely missed by all who knew her. She was a children’s Sunday School teacher and professional counselor. Memorial Services will be 2:00 PM, September 10, in Community Baptist Church, where Anna served for many years.</I>
A few blocks away in a dingy apartment, neighbors had found Katie Brenner, lifeless and alone. Only police investigation made identification possible. She was buried in a small local cemetery with no service.
"Our beginning is given,
our end, chosen."
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