Prior to meeting Terry in January of 1994, I was part of the single’s ministry at FBC. We were in the process of trying to build up the program and we were doing outreach. Immersed in letter writing and phone calling, I was gung-ho!
One evening Tom and Marie (later to become my brother and sister in law) gave me Terry’s phone number and asked me to call and encourage him to come. In fact Marie said, “He gets tired of us asking all the time. He just needs some extra encouragement to come back to church.”
I took the number and tried to call multiple times over the course of about three or four weeks Every time I called, a deep throaty almost manly voice would answer and say, “Terry’s not here. He’s at work.” Every time I called, he was always at work.
Then I ran into Marie and she asked if I had gotten in touch with Terry. I told her that every time I called he was never home. She encouraged me to keep trying and then told me to call him Saturday morning because she knew he would be home.
I did and the same deep throaty voice answered but this time she said, “Hold on.” Then she started calling , “Terry. Terry. That girl is on the phone.”
From that moment on, I was “That Girl” to her. For the longest time, I didn’t even think she knew my name.
Over the years, I’ve thought so many times about her calling me “that girl” and I’ve come to a realization that she was testing me out. She knew that Terry’s heart was growing fond of me and I think she wanted to make sure that my heart was growing in fondness toward him too. In an odd way, I think she was trying to protect herself as much as she was trying to protect him. She didn’t want to see him hurt and she also didn’t want to get too close to me, if I were not “the One”.
Terry was her baby boy.
In fact most times when Terry would call her on the phone he would say, “Hey Thel, It’s Terry the baby of the family.”
He will argue with me and say he wasn’t spoiled by her, but I’m telling you she adored Terry. After Terry’s dad died, he moved in with her and gave her companionship. She knew if Terry and I married, he would move out and she would lose his companionship.
More than that, she knew that Terry would be taking on a huge responsibility by marrying me. He would become an insta-dad. She didn’t dislike the idea. She just knew it would come with difficulty because she too had brought two young children into her marriage with Terry’s dad. She knew the hardships of having a blended family. She wanted the best for her boy.
Do you blame her?
As our relationship grew, so did her affection for me, as did my affection for her.
Thelma was a very strong woman. She was strong minded and direct. You knew exactly where you stood with her and if she didn’t like something, she didn’t mind telling you. However, she was very quick to say she was sorry if she was wrong.
I remember one time, she said something pretty harsh to me. I pretended not to hear. Apparently she spent several days mulling over our conversation and she called me and said, “I think I really hurt your feelings the other day and I’m sorry.” In fact, when she called there was no small talk, not even a “hello”. She got straight to the point.
She also had a very good sense of humor and when she was in the hospital right before she died, she asked me to clean her teeth. She had trouble getting them out so I had to help her before I could clean them. She said, “Well, it’s obvious you’ve had no experience with false teeth.” Then she proceeded to tell me how to clean them for her and precisely how to get them back in her mouth.
Oh, how I loved her and she loved me. I don’t remember specifically when she began calling me by name, but I knew when she did I had earned her full trust.
You know sometimes it’s difficult to trust people, especially when we’re trying to protect ourselves or those we love. But we can trust God and trust that He always has our best in His mind. He is completely trustworthy.
“See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:16