Betsy threw herself on the sofa, scattering her papers all over the floor. Aunt Titus was washing clothes at this time but heard us come in. She came out, wiping her hands on her apron. 'Why Betsy, whatever is the matter child?' Aunt Titus sat down.
Betsy was crying and could hardly talk. 'Those kids at school said that there is no war. Daddy just went away to a 'police action'. Well, why can't he come home then? Those kids laughed at me!'
Aunt Titus took Betsy and put her on her lap. 'Sweetheart, our government has not declared this is a war. It is true they are calling this a 'police action'. However they call it child, it certainly is war. They have guns, bombs and many dead people. Your father can not come home right now. He did not leave you because he doesn't love you. He left because our country needed him. He went to help South Korea fight against those who would take over their county. What our government calls this situation isn't important to us. The fact remains there is a war over there and your father left to help them, and stand for our country.'
Betsy blew her nose on the tissue our aunt gave her. 'Now after you pick up this mess, you come on into the kitchen and have your snack. Oatmeal cookies don't last long around here.' Betsy smiled and hugged our aunt.
During the time that dad was away, our youngest sister Jane began having nightmares. She would dream of mom going away and then dad. She would wake up screaming. Sometimes she wet the bed. Aunt Titus would come in and pick her up. As I stripped the bed, Jane would get a fresh nightgown on. Aunt Titus would sometimes bring her downstairs with her and Uncle Sam. She put Jane in bed with her or she would rock her in the living room. Many other families went through this same situation with their families as well. Children are never unaffected by war.
The women in our church gathered together at my aunt's table to begin organizing a help program for families in our church. Aunt Titus did not do everything. She handed out jobs to those who would do things. The men needed to be alerted of boys who needed work or an extra amount of attention. Women needed volunteers for babysitters, so their mom's could work or go shopping. Sometimes handyman work needed to be done and a group of men needed to be called to see if they could help. There was a lot to be done at home when the men were no longer there. Still, Aunt Titus continued to teach as they got together.
One day there was a few women who became very angry. 'Tilly that Mrs. Beech refuses to do anything. We have called her several times for various things and she just says no. You need to step in. How dare she ...' Aunt Titus put her hand up and stopped the conversation.
'That dear woman lost a husband in the last war. She raised five children. Two of her sons are in South Korea as we speak. The woman does not need us gossiping or judging her. She needs to be on our prayer list. She needs us to go visit her, without asking for anything. We need to be careful here with judging and stirring up conflict or gossip. Turn to your bibles please, to Proverbs 16:28 Nancy, and Marion could you look up Ephesians 4:29? Jose look up Matthew 7 where it talks of judging...I can't remember the verse.
Silence ensued as all you could hear was the turning of pages. The women who were upset just sat quiet. My aunt pulled a lot of weight in our church. But the power came from love, and caring. She looked over at the two who were the loudest and asked them 'I know you two are such sweet ladies. Perhaps you could make it your own personal task to go visit Mrs. Beech. Bring a cake, or flowers to her. Ask if there is any way you could help her. Let her talk, she needs people with your gifting so much.'
The woman agreed that they would be the best ones to do this. Meanwhile the verses were read.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful to building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Proverbs 16:28 A perverse person stirs up conflict and a gossip separates close friends.
Matthew 7:1 Judge not lest ye be judged...
The ladies were quiet as they left the meeting. 'One day you all will have to teach others the lessons we women learn today. I know I am learning as I teach. Now, is everyone clear on what they have been asked to do? Are there any other issues we need to address? If so, make a list and bring them to the next meeting. If something arises that needs done immediately, use your own judgement as to what to do.
One evening the pastor called. A woman's husband had died. Suddenly, the women went into action. There was food prepared. A group of women who went to the home. They stayed with the woman until family arrived the next day. This became a regular thing for a while. The pastor held many memorial services for those who died. Us children didn't go to the services. We usually went into the nursery at church and helped with the babies.
Meanwhile, Jane continued with the nightmares and we other two girls began having them. We kept wondering if we would get the news our father had died. My grades in school took a nose dive. I remember Aunt Titus sat with me at the table one day as I did my homework. Uncle Sam came in from the fields and washed up as usual. Suddenly, he came over and sat by me. He was great in math and science. His English was good too.
'Why not let me help with the girl's homework from now on. I will make it a point to get here while they are working.' Aunt Titus was glad for the help. It gave her a little less to do. 'By the way, I hired two of the Charleston kids and Benny Jefferson to help me. They were the oldest boys in the church and doing a great job. You don't mind feeding them lunch do you?'
'Why no, I will love it! I can see how they are growing.'
The only day my aunt really had a day off was Sunday. Even then she put together a Sunday dinner. It was my job to dry and put away dishes.
I asked her once 'Don't you get tired Aunt Titus?' She smiled, ' I have times when my energy slips. But, I like what I do and that makes all the difference. Plus, you girls help out a lot. You clean your own rooms, pick up the front room, dust, and sweep the porch. I get a lot of help from you girls.'
I just shook my head. I knew we didn't help that much, but aunt Titus made us want to do our best.