Walking by Faith Alone

Archive for November 19th, 2012

As simple as a sneeze…

with 2 comments

Last Wednesday I went to visit my mom in Athens. As I was leaving, she handed me two stacks of papers folded neatly in a yellow over-sized envelope. They were my writings, hundreds of stories, from as far back as the age of seven. “Really?” I quizzed my mom surprised. “You saved them?”

Over the past few days, I have enjoyed reading my manuscripts and taking trips back in time. I wanted to share a story I wrote around the age of 16, back in 1979, for Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy its simplicity and message.

The Thanksgiving Gift

By: Nora Cordell, November 1979

Each year around November, I begin to think of all in my life for which I am thankful. The list seems endless and then an incident that happened on Thanksgiving Day six years ago reminds me that it is the little things in life for which we should be most grateful.

Stars were still bright when I left the warm kitchen of my home in Dublin, Georgia, and headed towards the barn. It was an early morning in October, a little colder than usual, with a tangy fragrance of autumn in the air.

I found her hovering in a corner. Dad had predicted that today was the day she would give birth to my namesake.

“Lucy,” I called out to her, moving carefully toward the black heifer. Lucy didn’t seem to mind my being there, for giving birth had become commonplace to her. This was her eighth calf.

Something seemed different this time, though, and I ran to the house and called my dad. He arrived just as the calf was born. Lucy died, having given the gift of life for the last time.

“She’s all yours!” Dad said, forcing a smile. She was a beautiful, wavering, pinkish Charolais, barely able to get to her feet. She gave a little squeak and started toward her mother on crooked, wobbling legs. I could see the hurt in my father’s eyes. Lucy was his best cow. She had been one of our first.

He lifted the little calf into his arms. “We had better fix Miss Nonie some milk,” he said with a wink.

“Can I really name her after me?” I asked excitedly.

He nodded. “As promised. You’ve got your work cut out for you though. Raising a calf isn’t easy.”

Miss Nonie became quite a project, not to mention a very special friend. Like all mothers, I bragged about her, claiming she had crystal blue eyes to complement her white furry coat. Dad would laugh at me, pretending to agree.

Every morning on my trip to the barn, I carried a bottle in one hand and M&Ms in the other. Nonie loved them. Each afternoon, we went for long walks through the woods, walks that always ended in a game of chase. I put a red dog collar around her neck and three bells. She was impossible to lose. One morning the house was awakened by a strange noise. My grandmother, Mama Dolly, thought I had the croup, but it was Miss Nonie, standing on the back porch demanding her bottle.

Spring arrived with its fresh green beauty and golden sunny days. On Saturdays Miss Nonie received a bath. She was probably the cleanest creature in Dublin, Georgia. I know she had me beaten!

One morning in early April, my younger brother Lindsey ran into the house screaming that our neighbors bull had jumped the fence. “He’s marrying every one of your cows, Daddy!”

At first we didn’t think Miss Nonie had been bred, but by September it was evident. I could tell Dad was worried. Miss Nonie was less than a year old. All he said to me though was, “it could be tough. We’ll have to wait and see.”

The night before Thanksgiving, I sat quietly in my room. I hadn’t talked much that day and Mama came up to see ‘what was on my mind.’ I remember our talk as if it were just yesterday.

“The calf will be born any day now. You worried about that?” she began.

“I don’t care,” I answered sullenly.

“Yes you do, Nora Cordell!”

“But what if Nonie dies like Lucy? It will be all that calf’s fault!”

Mama paused, lowered her head, and answered as only my mom could, “Nora, when you borrow things from people, you know that you have to return them one day, right?”

I nodded.

“Well, God loans us precious gifts of His to take care of. He picked you to care for His little calf Nonie. One day you are going to return her to Him. See, God has given your dad and me you to take care of.”

She kissed my cheek and smiled, “Now get some sleep.”

Turkey Day arrived and as usual my dad headed for the woods to hunt, my brother Lindsey close at his heels. The bare, leafless trees surrounding the barn seemed so peaceful, yet so lonely. My thoughts drifted…she could have that calf any day now…it’s going to be tough…one day you have to return. “Nonie!” I called out, running to the barn. “Oh God, please let her be all right!”

I had barely opened the stall door when I saw her, stretched out uncomfortably in the corner, her head caught under the trough. I tried desperately to move her but her size was too much for me. I called for my dad, hoping he was within hearing range. He and my brother came quickly. We moved her and waited.

I rested her head in my lap and gently spoke to her. She began to tremble. I put my face close to hers.

Four hours later a tiny head appeared and within seconds, legs and tail.

My dad noticed the calf wasn’t breathing. My heart sank. I thought of the horrible things I had said about it; now, its life seemed so important. Daddy picked up a tiny wisp of hay and tickled her nose.

What had always appeared to be a common, every day sound became a miracle. She simply sneezed.

Miss Nonie lifted her head to see her precious gift from God. I lifted my head too and thanked Him for saving mine.

On this Thanksgiving, put aside the time-consuming projects; they have no permanent value. What matters most are the simple, day-to-day pleasures we tend to overlook or take for granted. Enjoy the people around you for none of us know how long we will be near eachother. Today, forget the dire predictions of gloom with which we are constantly bombarded. The true joy of life is in living itself. Be enthusiastic and never stop dreaming. Miracles happen every day and can be as small, yet as significant, as a sneeze…

Happy Thanksgiving from a once 16-year-old girl – now 48-year-old girl.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

November 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm