“Uh – uh – oh, peppermint? Uh – no, thank you.”
She came up out of the book on her lap, shaking the words from her as a dog shakes water from its coat. She had the baffled, unfocussed look of a child roused from sleep. Grant wondered if perhaps she had fallen asleep while reading and been awakened by his persistent question, the rattle of the packet alongside her face.
“Where were you, Mum?”
She leaned back, closing her eyes, confirming his unspoken thought. He studied the lined face, the shadows under her eyes, the clenched jaw. He repeated his question. She opened her eyes, still with that other-worldly glaze, and shook her head slightly.
“I don’t know, Son. I was just ...” She fell silent once more, looked from her hands to the book, closed it and put it aside. Grant glanced at the title. It was the last of his father’s books, something of a biography, something of a travelogue, pulled together by the teaching he gave and the word he proclaimed as he travelled.
Leaders among the Church Youth, Gregory and Grace married young. They were fired with missionary zeal to carry the Gospel to needy people, but they did not join the missionary arm of the Church. They preferred instead to visit smaller communities where they knew people were experiencing hard times, to work with them, to share what they had, both physically and spiritually. They were not well to do but their energy and cheerfulness gained them friends, and their uninhibited sharing of the Gospel through story and song soon gained converts among people hungry for good news. When they were satisfied that a Bible-based church or fellowship was established they moved on to another area. They started again. But they kept in touch with the group left behind, and from time to time they visited. They encouraged others to follow their example. In this way they built up a network of small but vibrant churches, and a coterie of couples – young and not so young – working together throughout the network.
Gregory began writing his books. “Partners in Purpose” was the first, outlining their hopes and plans, the beginning of the work and the people who joined them in the work. Grace bore two babies, Grant and Genevieve. The babies grew and the books multiplied. The network of small churches increased, and the needs of the people changed. ‘Babies’ were growing up – milk was no longer sufficient to satisfy – they needed meat. Gregory’s books became increasingly doctrinal as he sought to answer the questions he was asked as he travelled between the churches.
Until the accident happened: after that there was no more travel. Grace took longer to recover. Because they were near to Grant’s home when it happened, Gregory spent that time in his son’s home. Between visits to Grace, he spent his time writing his last book, “Partners in Promise.” This was the book Grace held on her lap. The dedication read –
“For Grace, my Partner in Promise. It is many years since we dedicated our lives to the service of the King. Grace’s commitment to me has strengthened and enabled me to do the work to which the Lord called me. This is the story of her love.”
The book was published posthumously. Grace came home only weeks before Gregory was re-admitted to the hospital following a massive heart attack. Grant presented her with a copy on the eve of her should-have-been fifty-second wedding anniversary.
He repeated his question: “Where were you, Mum?”
Now fully awake, Grace laughed. “I was riding a bike down memory lane. Grant, you have no idea what a bike-rider your father was! We couldn’t afford a car but we had to have some sort of means of getting from place to place. A tandem was his answer. Two months before you were born we were still travelling tandem. In fact, the first four wheeled vehicle we owned was your pram!”
She chuckled again.
“Of course, after you were born things changed a bit. They had to by then. Old Daddy Cromarty blessed us with a buggy. That was in the early days.”
Her memories continued, her voice rising and falling. Grant listened, fascinated. He was well acquainted with his father’s memoirs, written and spoken. Heard for the first time in this way his mother’s recollections differed, contrasting in personality and perspective, deepening and enriching his own personal history. The son of Gregory was also the son of Grace.
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