I knew so little about our daddy because he was so sick during most of my childhood up until he died at home in bed in our front room on March 19, 1958
Our dad, Roy Earnest Hudson, was born on September 23, 1895, in Bethany, Illinois. He still seems like such a mystery having died fifty six years ago when I was only ten years old
I felt rootless and drawn to delve into the old family trunk because I sensed that there was much to be learned about our genetic lineage. I was very productive after the age of thirty, in 1978, while I located living long lost relatives with the aid of directory assistance and our old family trunk which was full of old family pictures, letters and other memorabilia.
Each call turned up a clue leading me to another line of our family, including the Morris line on my maternal side of the family tracing me back to the governor Lewis Morris, an ancestor from Monmouth County, New Jersey, tracing me back fourteen generations to Monmouthshire, Wales.
With each connection I was enriched because I have connected to more living long lost relatives than anyone I know.
But now I know that our greatest legacy came from what my daddy gave to my sister, Alice, and myself just days before he died.
He chose to speak separately to us because he knew that what he was telling us would lead us to a brighter day. His last words to my sister, Alice, and myself, just days before he died on March 19, 1958, gave us a foundation and the security that we needed to face years of suffering when we went to an orphanage after he died.
Our minister, Wayne Earnest, visited with our father at least once a week up until he died. Their conversations continue to play such an important part in our future.
Even though I knew little about my father until I began a family tree tracing jaunt at the age of thirty in 1978, I know he gave me what money cannot buy.
Shortly before he died he told us that he wanted us to become Christians just as soon as we were old enough to know what we were doing. Neither one of us told the other about his final request until years later even though we both heeded his advice.
Having the courage to step out and be baptized as a shy undersized girl of fourteen I needed all of the courage I could muster going into the cruel abuse that we would suffer in this church run orphanage.
I never questioned my faith because I knew that “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.”
Though I cried myself to sleep every nights for months on end I sensed that pain was a shaping device that God was using to bring me out stronger to a brighter day!
If I could live my life over and avoid the pain but lose the joy I feel today I would not change anything in my life. It’s what we go through that makes us stronger.
The lines from Steel Magnolias are so true: “that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” but being human we try to avoid pain. It is only natural.
Sarah Hudson Pierce is a syndicated columnist and president of Ritz Publications in Shreveport.